How did your family handle your schedule back then and now?
Did it affect your decision to leave WWE? : Once I found out my daughter was on
her way that was what made the decision to leave. There was a lot thought that
went into this decision, but at the end of the day, I wanted to be home with my
children. I am lucky enough to have two children and I home every day with
them. Also, there were a lot of bad habits that I developed over the last
decade, especially when I was in the ring. I knew if I wanted to survive and
live a productive, healthy life, then I needed to get out in that environment. The
overriding feeling was that I really missed sports. I was craving sports. In my
last three years in WWE, I signed a deal knowing that I had three years to try
and get out. I knew how difficult it would be to find a regular sports job
after working in pro wrestling for so long. I spent a good portion of that
three year contract working at the MSG network in NY and CBS college sports. I was
working almost every day creating a bridge, because I was not going to go from
WWE to ESPN; it was not going to happen. The family aspect opened my eyes a
bit, as the travel became difficult. I began dreading going to the airport and
I don’t want to do something I would dread .I was burnt out.
Did your time with WWE help you in ESPN? : It was a lot.
Every time I sit on set on all the big shows I know, whether it’s on the 11PM
Sports Center or the Sunday NFL show, everything I do, I find myself mentally
referring back to the things I learned working with Vince McMahon and everybody
in the WWE. People do not understand how difficult it is to entertain, act and
make people believe, when most people don’t want to believe it is true. The one
thing about working with the Rock, and I have people mentioning it every day to
me, is about the skits that we did for so long. To see the evolution of our
relationship going from him abusing me to him coming back and us doing things
as we were at the same level, was awesome for me. The decision for me to get
into the ring and get involved on a physical aspect was a difficult one for me.
It was one I felt I needed to do because I had the size of 6’3 and 240lbs and
it was something that would earn me the respect of the boys, while making me
one of them. What I didn’t realize was what would happen and that I would
learn to entertain on the highest level… the timing, how you say things, your
facial expressions, you know all the little things I utilize today. I wish all
of our anchors could go through all that training, knowing that Vince is
watching your every move and he is ready to shred you and rip you apart. I
lasted almost ten years in that environment, and because of that, it allowed me
to be ahead of the game when I got here. I felt like I was working for Mr.
Rodgers compared to Mr. McMahon. The different things I did over my career with
WWE, has helped me when I am doing things at the highest level. ESPN is the
highest level and that is not lost on me, and I do not forget that. Every
single day when I come to work whether I am sick or I am healthy. I’m out to
give it all I got because I want to improve, because I care. I love people who
care and who show me that they want to give an effort in life, whatever it is,
because you know you are gonna get my best effort.
Do you have any personal stories that you can share with us
about working with Vince McMahon? : Vince McMahon is a very unique guy, and he
does not trust a lot of people. He had trust in me and because of that, he
wanted me around him a lot, whether I was hosting something or not. If he
wanted to yell and couldn’t find someone that he couldn’t yell at, he would
yell at me just to get it out of his system. Because of Vince having the
ability to trust me, and the fact I did anything he needed me to do, the first
time we went over to the middle east to Afghanistan, I was one of the 18 people
who got to go to represent WWE because I was able to talk, and get in the ring
if I needed to. I did get in the ring as I had a match with Ric Flair over
there, and I lost to him via the figure four leg lock, and it is a highlight in
my career. Some people call it the figure two, but it is what it is (laughs).
While there, I got to see firsthand what life was like out in the desert. It
was a scary, as we were in the line of the fire, and we went in places that
nobody really got to see up close. Those are some the greatest experiences I
will look back on because of that relationship I had with him. I will be
indebted to him. We get along great to this day, and if there was an
opportunity to be on Monday Night Raw and do sports Center at the same time I
would that in a heartbeat.