Often when I conduct an interview for Notinhalloffame.com, I have a fairly good idea where I want to take the interview.  With former New York Giant and current Hollywood actor, Jarrod Bunch, I was able to ask everything I wanted, but as it unfolded our conversation went to places I was not expecting and I received an education on an industry that I had never explored before.

Considering how Jarrod Bunch has been defying stereotypes for decades, I shouldn’t have been surprised.

Jarrod Bunch had a dream to play football for a storied Division One school and make the National Football League, and he did, playing Fullback for the University of Michigan and becoming a first round draft pick of the New York Giants.  That in itself is impressive, and makes him the envy of most armchair warriors, but if you have read other interviews that I have conducted there is far more to Bunch than what he accomplished on the gridiron. 

A quick look on his personal website gives you a laundry list of accomplishments:[ii]  After that I knew I had to find a way to play professional football.  That was where I knew I wanted to be a professional athlete.  To do that I knew I had to get to a college that gave me that opportunity. 

My main objective was to get to a Division One College and to get a scholarship to play there.” 

So when was the point in your career where you planned you’re post-playing career?

“My thinking was that I was first going to play professional football when I interviewed him (Kinicki).  I told him that I wanted to play pro football but that I only wanted to do it for three or four years.  Even at that age I knew that you would get injured.  I wanted football to get me started to do something else.  I wanted to use the connections that I made in professional football to get into other things and into another career.”

Was acting something that you thought of early on?

“Not necessarily acting.  Maybe reporting, or being a commentator at games, and I did do that for a little bit.  Right after I was done playing I was working for Comcast doing high school games, but that wasn’t my thing.”

Is it safe to say that you wanted to embrace more of the creative process?

“Yes, for sure.”

“I have read a couple of times, and I didn’t realize it at the time, that you were in one of my favourite HBO Films, Only In America, the Don King biopic, where you played George Foreman.  You were great in that.

“I got some good feedback on that.   That was the project that made me an actor who played football as opposed to a football player who acted.  That was huge.  It is hard for some people to get past me being a football player. 

I had to battle many other actors to get that job.  The auditioning process that I went through, that helped make me an actor.”

I have heard former athletes turned broadcasters say that one of the most flattering things that they can hear is when younger viewers are surprised that they were former players.  I imagine there is a parallel for yourself as you transitioned to actor and producer.

Granted with your size, I assume people naturally assume that you were or are an athlete at some point.

“Yes, you are absolutely right!  Actually, that is more of a compliment too!  I’m 47 years old and I still look like an athlete!  (laughs)

I am a few years younger than you, and I do not look like an athlete!  My natural Botox of thirty extra pounds helps me look younger!

“(laughs) I take it all as a compliment now.

What helped you channel George Foreman?  Foreman’s career has always been vey interesting to me.  When he fought Muhammad Ali in Africa he wasn’t known as the charismatic boxer he would become later.  At that time of his career, he was very much angry.

“What made it simple was the situation.  He was the biggest and baddest man that was boxing at the time.  I trained and made my body look really tight to play him.  I looked the part and it helped making the scenes in the ring really easy.  It was a look and a feeling of that person.

When it came to playing him (Foreman) in Africa it was real you know?  I know his brother personally.  His brother had a show in New Jersey when I was in Atlantic City and I did his show.  We stayed in contact and that made it really easy knowing his brother and being a professional athlete myself, knowing some of the feelings he might have on fight day or being a winning or losing fighter.  I just used those feelings.”

In that film, you were cast with some very experienced actors, Ving Rhames being the lead of course.[iv]  I said yes and they told me who it was and that he was a jiu-jitsu person.

The injury that put me out of football put me in touch with a guy who was a martial artist and we did training for years but not competitive fighting.  It was tai-chi for my knee and it was great for my health.  They thought I was trained in martial arts and I took the fight knowing that the guy knows jiu-jitsu, but I am a tough guy.  I have won tough man competitions and knew the fundamentals of boxing, but the guy got me in a chokehold.

Afterwards, I am thinking what is this jiu-jitsu stuff about and I went to go train in jiu-jitsu and it would become another thing I did every day, sometimes twice in a day.  I started competing in it.  It made me think about doing more MMA fights.  I took that fight without really knowing what I was doing, but I didn’t want to get cut up for the little money they were paying and risk my face for auditions or not get acting jobs because I have this injury or that injury, do I just do jiu-jitsu and I started winning all the tournaments. 

I got my black belt in five years.  I still fight in tournaments at 47 years old.  I won the Pan-Ams last year.[vi]  I trained him for a couple of years as his strength coach, and that was when he was heavyweight champion and he is still heavyweight champion!

I have met a lot of people through just jiu-jitsu, MMA and it’s like tree branches.  It reaches out and multiplies.”

One of the biggest roles you had recently was in Django Unchained, so much so that if you Google your name that is one of the first things that comes up.

“If you look on IMDB I have 30 some credits in movie and television.”

I spent some time on your IMDB page prior to contacting you.[viii]  Before this project started I was trying to get in on that.

It was frustrating for me though because a former football player couldn’t get in on a football movie, but there were times when I would audition for other things they would say ‘Oh, he’s a football player!’  It makes you wonder what the hell do I do?”

I could argue that Terry Crews takes all your roles!

“Terry’s a great guy and he works his butt off too!  I know him.  We talk, though we haven’t talked in a while, he hasn’t had the time to talk!  He is a hard worker. 

When you have somebody that really likes you, they’ll push you.  He’ll tell you that.  Stallone is always pumping him up to somebody from when they first did the Expendables, the first one.  When you have a buddy like that, and when you also have (Adam) Sandler it helps.  Sandler loves him because he’s a good guy. 

Then he goes on and does TV Shows and hosts shows.  There are some people who you are glad that they have done well.”

I have to ask, what was your favourite sports film?

“Off the top of my head the original with Warren Beatty, Heaven Can Wait.  North Dallas Forty, The Longest Yard, the original one with Burt Reynolds.”

That is one of my all-time favorites for sure.  

“I don’t know if you consider this a sports movie, but my favorite movie is Let’s Do It Again with Sidney Poitier, Bill Cosby and Jimmie Walker plays the boxer.  Actually, it was that movie that inspired me to be a licensed hypnotherapist.

[ii] Kinicki had a nine year NFL career, seven of which were with the Cleveland Browns.

[iv]That player was former seven year NFL veteran Wide Receiver, Michael Westbrook.

[vi]Werdum is a two time World Champion in Jiu-Jitsu and is currently ranked #5 in the pound for pound rankings from UFC.

[viii]That doctor would be played by James Woods in the movie.

On a weekend where the world of professional football is celebrating their Hall of Fame and the legends that made the sport great, one of the great ones has passed away.

 

It was announced today that Frank Gifford died of natural causes at the age of 84 at his home in New Haven, Connecticut.  

 

A star at USC, Gifford was drafted in the first round by the New York Giants, the only team he would play for and one that he would suit up for fifteen seasons.  As a player, Gifford would make eight Pro Bowls, and help bring the Giants to five NFL Championships, winning one in 1956.  That would easily be the best year of his career, as not only did he win the NFL title, he was also named the Most Valuable Player of the league.  

 

A testament to his versatility is that Gifford was a Pro Bowler at three different positions and his longevity was that he was a member of the 1950’s All-Decade Team.  Gifford, who would suffer a severe head injury in 1960, would return to the National Football League in ’62, winning the NFL Comeback Player of the Year.  

 

Following the end of his playing career, Frank Gifford would become a very successful broadcaster, notably as a commentator on the iconic, Monday Night Football, where he would work for over two decades.  

 

Frank Gifford is a member of both the College Football and the Pro Football Hall of Fame and this is a major loss for the community of American Football.

 

We here at Notinhalloffame.com would like to extend our condolences to the family and friends of Frank Gifford at this time. 

 

Oakland Raiders Defensive End, Justin Tuck has announced his retirement from the National Football League after an eleven year career.

Tuck was drafted in the third round by the New York Giants out of Notre Dame in 2005 and was a large part of the Giants Super Bowl wins in XLII and XLVI.  Tuck was a Pro Bowl selection in 2008 and 2010 and holds the distinction of being the only player to record multiple Quarterback Sacks in multiple Super Bowls. 

Tuck would sign with the Oakland Raiders in 2014, but would be forced to sit out 2015 due to injury.  He retires with 66.5 Quarterback Sacks, 510 Tackles and 22 Forced Fumbles.

While he is not likely to earn a place in Canton, he has solidified a strong place in the history of the New York Giants.

We here at Notinhalloffame.com would like to wish Justin Tuck the best in the next stage of his life and thank him for the memories on the field!



40. Herschel Walker

It may be called the Pro Football Hall of Fame, but for all intents and purposes it only focuses on accomplishments from the NFL and to a lesser extent the AFL.  This is too bad for Herschel Walker who chalked up monster totals in his first three years of Pro Football, but did so as a member of the New Jersey Generals of the upstart United States Football League.

Walker would go to the Dallas Cowboys and would forever try to live up to the Play Station like numbers he put up in College and in the USFL.  Walker was still very good, and put up good numbers for Dallas in both receiving and running the ball.  He was however the focal point of one of the more lopsided trades in NFL history where the Vikings sent five players and a multitude of draft picks (three of which were Emmitt Smith, Alvin Harper and Darren Woodson).  Dallas would use this to build a dynasty of the 90’s, and Minnesota coaches took there frustration out on Walker who was not used to the best of his ability while as a Viking.  Herschel was still good, but his stock dramatically went down.

50. Phil Simms

Phil Simms is a two time Super Bowl Winning Quarterback, though many who watched his first five years of play may not have foreseen it.

Simms may have been inconsistent when he began his tenure in the NFL, but something seemed to click in 1984.  It wasn’t just the influx of talent to the Giants roster, as it was at this time that Simms became their leader and found ways to win.  He wasn’t the quickest or the hardest thrower, but he became a winner and most important he had the belief and trust of his teammates; something that not every Quarterback had.  Because of the Giants stellar defense, many have said that Simms only had to manage the game, but those who played with him always praised his high football I.Q. and his leadership skills.

54. Ottis Anderson

Ottis Anderson had one of the best rookie seasons ever for a Running Back gaining over 1,600 yards on the ground.  Too bad he did for a bad St. Louis Cardinals team that was barely on the National radar.

Anderson would prove he was not a one season wonder.  Although he would never again equal his rookie numbers he still posted decent ground numbers and was the highlight of a poor Cardinals team.  As it does in football, injuries piled up and he lost his explosiveness.  Anderson was however reinvented as a short yardage specialist by the New York Giants and he again accumulated impressive tallies.  He was a natural leader and as he rarely fumbled he was a strong key to the Giants ability to control the ball for extended periods of time.  As a Giant, Ottis Anderson twice won the Super Bowl, capped with an MVP performance in Super Bowl XXV.

58. Jim Patton

Although they only won one NFL Championship in the late 50’s and early 60’s, the New York Giants were a loaded team.  Jimmy Patton was a star Safety on this squad, but his exploits have largely been forgotten.

When the Giants won the 1956 NFL Championship, Jimmy Patton was really coming to his own.  He progressively got better and in 1958 led the league in interceptions.  Patton was a big part of the Giants defense and helped them make the NFL Championship game multiple times.

65. Charley Conerly

Many entries on this list discuss how you can’t compare offensive statistics from the 60’s and 70’s to today’s inflated numbers.  This is even more accurate when looking at the stars of the 1950’s.  Perhaps this is why Charlie Conerly, the Quarterback of the New York Giants during the 50’s was on the final ballot multiple times but dropped off seemingly for good after 1980.

80. Tiki Barber

When Tiki Barber retired, it was a decision questioned by many.  It was thought that he had a lot left to give on the field despite the golden path he was given to broadcasting.  The critics may have been proven right as the New York Giants won the Super Bowl the year after he left and he was chastised for criticism of his former players. It is too bad that is what he is known for now, as during his prime he was one of the best Running Backs of the game.