Checkout this CCS interview with former Northwestern RB Damien Anderson. Damien Anderson finished 5th in the Heisman voting in 2000 and, is the all-time leading rusher for Northwestern. Be sure to follow him on Twitter.
What are you currently up to these days?
Damien: Since football has ended we all know life must go on and although I’ve hung the cleats and retired the jersey I still look forward to coaching my son Drake, and watching the game of football. I currently reside in Phoenix, Arizona, where my wife and I are raising our two children. Professionally I’ve been working on my masters at the University of Phoenix and developing my broadcasting career on the voiceamericasports.com show titled “Planet Gridiron”, analyst on FOX Phoenix, and Co-host “Calling All Sports Saturday” on the Fan AM 1060.I developed a social networking site titled planetgridiron.com for football players, coaches, and fans under the premise that people who love football need their own place too.
Many remember you as a standout at Northwestern, what was your favorite memory from your playing days at NW?
Damien: My favorite memory while at Northwestern was winning the Big Ten Championship and the friendships I developed on the field, locker room, and class are things I will cherish for the rest of my life.
What was it about Northwestern that drew you into attending their university? What other schools were you considering at the time?
Damien: I chose NU over Nebraska, Notre Dame, Iowa, Michigan, and Ohio State; Northwestern represented everything I valued in a University, a place that that didn’t compromise academic integrity for athletic performance. Coming off back to back Big Ten Titles and an opportunity to stay home and be part of one the best recruiting classes and best teams became an easy decision for me to attend NU.
Can you elaborate a little on your experience when you finished 5th in Heisman voting?
Damien: Finishing 5th in the Heisman was a great achievement and it represented how hard I worked and my dedication to be one of the best players in the country. I would be remiss if I didn’t acknowledge my teammates primarily my offensive line who did an incredible job of blocking and allowing me opportunities to showcase my talents. It was a great year… the season flew by game after game just remembering that I had to go out there and do it again!
You played for the Arizona Cardinals from 02-05 and the Edmonton Eskimos from 07-08, what was your most memorable professional experience for each team?
Damien: Playing professional football was a dream come true and the Cardinals giving me an opportunity that I will be forever grateful for. My best experience was my first as we went on the road to play the number one defense in the NFL the Carolina Panthers, and left there with a win in which I had three big plays on the final drive to set up a game winning Bill Gramatica field Goal and to gain the respect of my teammates, coaches, competitors, and league meant the most to me. My stint in Edmonton was a humbling but enjoyable. Enjoyable because football was fun again and I wasn’t concerned about salary or coaches decisions just wanted to play and played not for money just for the love. Humbling in that the one thing I was able to do for most of my life was coming to an end and I would need to apply the same tools that allowed me to become one of the best backs in NU history and have an opportunity to play in the NFL and CFL would allow me to be successful as I made my transition out of the game.
This video on youtube ESPN Sports Century details the game winning TD catch over Michigan in the 54-51 shootout, what is going through your mind after watching this?
Damien: The ESPN Sportscentury was great experience for my teammates and I to garner National attention and show the world we do have athletes at Northwestern, and the documentary provides a great archive so my children and kids that I coach can see Coach Anderson doesn’t just talk the talk, he walked it.
Regarding the game Michigan game and dropping the ball in the back of the end zone, it’s funny thing because I actually asked the Offensive coordinator to call the play because I knew I would be wide open and coincidently I remember in pre game walk through the night before we had lights brought in for the game and walking through our game plan thinking to myself “I feel sorry for whoever has to catch a ball in these lights they are brutal” and just my luck as the ball left Zach Kustok’s hands I was blinded by the lights so I through my hands up…to no avail of course. Felt like crap after I dropped the ball, but I had to man up and get to my feet because in life when you try your best and lord willing it works out, but if it doesn’t have comfort in knowing that you did all that you could and that’s what gave me strength to look my teammates, coaches, fans, and family in the face because besides that play I played my ass off.
What are your thoughts on the current Northwestern football team? Do they have a chance to potentially contend for the Big-10 title this season?
Damien: I love what Fitz continues to do with the Northwestern program I truly believe he is one of the best coaches in college football, his ability to be transparent, accountable, and consistent with his players enables him to have a unwavering buy in and commitment that is hard to match which makes the Wildcats so competitive because they are more
than a team they play as a family and we all know how far we would go and endure for our family. What Pat has is truly a gift and I am proud to say Im a Wildcat. I love the current position of NU football always evolving and the perennial underdog but you can ask Auburn, Iowa, and Wisconsin if they think twice about playing the Cats. Teams may be bigger, faster, and stronger but with the Cats we find a way to win. Some may say it’s intelligence or scheme, but I say it’s an unwavering will to be the best.
What professional sports teams do you follow, or are you a fan of?
Damien: Living in Arizona and being involved in the sports media I follow all the local sports teams, but I am always connected the Chicago sports scene…rather the Sox, Cubs, Blackhawks, Bulls, Bears, and till the day I die always the WILDCATS.
Damien: Chicitysports.com I appreciate you guys taking an interest and wish
you nothing but success.