I recently got the chance to talk with former Denver Broncos and New York Jets safety Steve Atwater about his playing career, personal accomplishments, the new NFL website schoolofthelegends.com, etc.
Atwater, known as one of the hardest-hitting defenders in league history, was selected to eight career Pro Bowls, two first-team All Pros and won two Super Bowls with the Broncos in the ’90s.
Possibly best-known for his leveling of the 253 pound Kansas City Chiefs running back Christian “The Nigerian Nightmare” Okoye in a game against KC, Atwater also totaled over 1,100 tackles and 24 interceptions throughout his 11-year pro career.
It has been a huge debate over the last several years as to whether or not Atwater deserves to be in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. If I had a vote, I would say yes. But apparently the voters have thought differently. Here is my interview with the member of Denver’s Ring of Fame…
All-Out Blitz: The creation of the interactive website Schoolofthelegends.com has added a whole new way of players interacting with current and former teammates, opponents and even fans of the National Football League. Has it had a huge impact on your personal life and how you go about your daily life? And if so, how much?
Steve Atwater: It really has had a huge impact on my personal life because I’m much more engaged with the sport that I love. I keep up with all of the news, rumors, etc. and love hearing all of the differing opinions regarding player talent, coaching decisions & on the field fundamentals.
AOB: What is one thing you miss about the game, and one thing you don’t miss about it?
SA: I really miss hanging out with my friends in the locker room and after games. I don’t miss running 100 yard dashes after practice.
AOB: Your take on the changes Roger Goodell has made since taking over as commish in 2006? (i.e. crackdown on illegal hits, moving kick-offs up 5 yards, etc.)
SA: I think Roger has done a good job given the situation. His job isn’t easy and he has to answer to the NFL owners and represent their best interests along with dealing with the players and their representatives. I dislike the fact that defensive players can only be fined (offensive players can’t or most often aren’t) in regards to tackling offenders. I agree with what he and his team are trying to do in terms of making the game safer (for offensive & defensive players), but I don’t think our current solution is the final one. I don’t like the kick-offs moved up – hardly anyone returns kickoffs unless it’s poor weather. We may as well eliminate the kickoffs if this is the resolution.
AOB: I’m sure your most memorable moment(s) throughout your playing career was winning two Super Bowls with the Denver Broncos, but aside from the two championships what would you say your biggest personal accomplishment was?
SA: Biggest personal accomplishment is raising my children and staying married to my wife for 21 years (and counting). On the field, my biggest accomplishment was simply making it to the NFL.
AOB: Anything you regret about your days as a player?
SA: I regret not spending more time getting to really know all of my teammates and other players around the league.
AB: What was it like facing off with Hall of Fame quarterback John Elway every day in practice for 10 years?
SA: It was a lot of fun going against John. He made me a better safety because I knew if I could give him false reads, that many of the other quarterbacks would easily fall for them.
AOB: Do you still avidly follow the NFL, and if so do you have any Super Bowl picks for this season?
SA: Yes, I do still avidly follow the NFL and the Denver Broncos in particular. Unfortunately I don’t think my team will win it this year. If I had to bet (which I don’t do), I would have to put my money on Green Bay. They are still playing at a very high level and getting consistent play from their QB, Aaron Rodgers.
AOB: I’d love to hear your take on the Tim Tebow situation in Denver. Personally, I’m a supporter of Tebow’s and am glad he’s getting his shot to sink or swim as the starter, but despite his two comeback-for-the-ages against Miami and New York (Jets) I’m already questioning his inability to pass the ball. Inconsistency has been the name of Tebow’s game in his five starts. Do you think he will turn in to an elite starting quarterback in this league?
SA: First off, let me tell you that I am a Tim Tebow fan. I believe he has what it takes to make it in the NFL. I definitely think he needs some work and he needs to get with a good QB coach, someone who can help him develop into the great player that I know he can be. I agree, the Detroit game was atrocious. Over the years, we’ve seen lots of QBs have terrible games. Do you write them off after a couple bad games? I think not. I do believe he will turn into an elite starting QB in the league.
AOB: Thank you very much for your time, Mr. Atwater.
Look out for more player interviews. Soon I will be posting interviews with 11-time Pro Bowler Larry Allen and former linebacker Dwayne Rudd.
(Note: I do not own the image above, and the video was found on youtube)