Not many NFL players have accomplished what Desmond Howard has done on the field. Very few, to be exact. After all, being only one of four players to win a Heisman Trophy and Super Bowl MVP is pretty rarefied territory. Nowadays, the originator of "The Heisman Pose" provides football insight as an analyst for ESPN College Gameday, and more recently, as the author of his autobiography, I Wore 21: The Legend of Desmond Howard. During the ESPN College Gameday media event in New York City, we spoke with the football great turned analyst about his greatest college and NFL memories, and his hilarious behind-the-scenes moments with Lee Corso and Kirk Herbstreit.
What song do you have on constant rotation?
Desmond Howard: I like to workout, and I don’t get a chance to do it as much as I’d like because I travel so much. But my point is, I make a little workout list on my iPod and I put certain songs on it, so some of the songs that I listen to the most are probably on my workout list. And there’s a song by Kelly Rowland with Lil Wayne, “Motivation” that I think is a hot song. I think that song is straight fire. And the crazy thing about it, I’ve told about three of my friends about that song; they go and listen to it and they say, "You know what, damn, I’ve heard it before but I never listened to it." I tell them, you got to listen to it.
What's the most money you have ever spent on an article of clothing?
Desmond Howard: It would probably be my suits. My suits are custom-made. I don’t think anything else I buy would rival in price to a custom-made suit.
How much are we talking here?
Desmond Howard: I’ve probably paid upwards of $3,000 for a suit.
Desmond Howard: That’s not the norm. I’m just saying I may have paid $3,000 for one suit. That’s not the average at all. Trust me, I don’t spend money like that. [Laughs.]
What would you say is your greatest college football memory?
Desmond Howard: I had a blessed career, and I was very fortunate. I played for a legendary coach who helped me become a man. I think that those years that you go from high school to college are some formidable years. We go to college at the age of 17 or 18 and we’re young men, but we come out at the age of 21, 22, 23, at that point, you are a man. And you’re expected to go out there and make your mark in the world. And I had a great coach and leader in coach Bo Schembechler. Just being around him, observing him, and learning from him, those are probably the greatest memories I have of my college football career.
What would you say is the greatest moment of your NFL career?
Desmond Howard: The Super Bowl MVP. It doesn’t get any better than that in the sport of football. And to be on the team of such legendary players, like the late, great Reggie White and obviously Brett Favre. I mean, these guys are Hall of Famers. And guys like Keith Jackson, the best tight end I ever played with, my man “Bad Moon” Andre Rison, and the list goes on and on. It was such a fun run. We went through a lot of adversity during that season, and I went through a lot of adversity myself throughout that season. So, to go through all the trials and tribulations and stand on that podium at the end of that Super Bowl and be crowned the MVP, there isn’t a sweeter moment in football.
Were you nervous going into the Super Bowl?
Desmond Howard: I actually spoke to my religious leader the night before, so there was a calm over me. I wasn’t as nervous as I thought I would be.
Do you catch many NFL games?
Desmond Howard: I don’t watch a lot of pro football because of my schedule. I’m usually travelling back home on Sunday since we’re doing the games on Saturday, so you miss a lot of it. Sunday is a travel day for me. Getting back home from wherever we’re at. We don’t leave on Saturday when the show is over. Often times, we have to do stuff on site as well.
Since you’ve competed in both, how would compare playing in a bowl game to playing in the Super Bowl?
Desmond Howard: I’m going to tell you, there is no single event as big as the Super Bowl. Period.
Were you able to keep up with the NFL Lockout situation?
Desmond Howard: I wouldn’t say I was keeping up with it. I was a casual observer. With them going to the different courts, mediators and judges, it just got to be a bit much for me personally.
From what you do know, do you think that both sides got a fair deal from the agreement?
Desmond Howard: That’s a good question. I was actually speaking with someone about that last night, who’s probably closer to the situation than I am. I need to talk to some more people who know more about it. I don’t think we will actually know how fair or unfair the agreement is to either side until, I’d say, 4 to 5 years from now.
Do you have a surprise team in college football this year?
Desmond Howard: We always have surprises every year. It’s hard to pick out who will be a big surprise. At this point, I don’t know if I have one team that I think will shock people. Not yet at least.
What would say is your favorite part of working with the ESPN Gameday crew?
Desmond Howard: My favorite aspect of working with the Gameday crew is our production meetings the day before our show, to be honest with you. I mean, we could film those and sell it, and they would be a smash hit. It’s unbelievable the time and fun that we have. It’s a tremendous amount of work, and we all take great pride in the product we put our there for our fans and supporters. But when we’re back there in our meetings, man, it’s just the best of times. We laugh, crack jokes with each other, we argue and debate. It’s just that raw passion for the game that really comes out and you would probably see when a group of guys get together, and start talking about something that they really love.
Out of all the guys in the Gameday crew, who would you say is the funniest person?
Desmond Howard: [Laughs.] Wow. I think coach Corso. He’s hilarious. What you see on TV is what you get. That’s who he is. He’s not acting. His energy alone will crack you up.
So you’re saying that the person we see on air is the same person off-air?
Desmond Howard: Funnier.
Can’t even imagine that.
Desmond Howard: I know. Tell me about it. But I’m telling you, those production meetings are hilarious, hysterical.