I recently asked former Syracuse Orange and NFL player Chris Gedney if he would be open to an interview. I can not express how grateful I am for him agreeing to do this. Chris had a great career at Syracuse and made me erase the nightmares he caused me as a former C-NS student. Also, in memory of the recent holiday Memorial Day, I even asked Chris about a former teammate of his who I respect and admire, Pat Tillman. If you would like to donate to the program, you can do so here. I would also like to point out question number two when he talks about the difference between a local talent staying close to home to play or going elsewhere, I could not agree with his statement more. As a fan, I enjoyed reading this and I hope you will as well.
12 Reasons Why.....Chris Gedney Was Arguably The Greatest Orange Tight End To Ever Play
CG: Beside John Mackey of course. I had a great surrounding cast with Marvin Graves, Qadry Ismail, Antonio Johnson, Dave Walker, Kerry Ferrel and Shelby Hill.
1. For the younger readers who may not recognize the name, who is Chris Gedney?
CG: Tall, one time skinny kid from Liverpool, NY.
2. You were a Liverpool High School product. Why did you choose Syracuse and is there a lot of pressure on local high schools students playing in your hometown?
CG: Chose Syracuse because of Pat Kelly, a great SU TE who passed away long before his time.
Yes, there is always added pressure to stay home and play and that is expected. It sends a strong message to recruits outside of the area. It tells them that you know what is going on a daily basis and you believe in the program. Conversely, if you leave, that message is equally as strong.
3. And as a personal side note, did you really have to beat on my high school (C-NS) so often and what do you think of the rivalry?
CG: Great times battling in hoops. Len Brutcher and I would go back and forth. I think I averaged 17 or 18 each time….but then so did he.
4. How would you define your playing days at Syracuse University and what were the highlights and low points of living the Orange life? What advice would you give a potential recruit if they asked about attending Syracuse?
CG: Great experience overall. However, like most young kids, I didnt always respond well to the demands of the game and the staff…but then you grow and mature. I love Coach Mac a lot more now than I did then. As for advice, be coachable because how you practice reflects how you play. Be trustworthy…play fast….ask yourself one question: Am I running? Or am I really running?
5. You were then drafted by the Chicago Bears in the third round of the 1993 NFL Draft (61st overall). How did it feel being selected and what was the draft day experience like leading up to the moment they announced your name?
CG: Best thing about draft day was that I was able to share it with my family. Dad, mom, grandmothers, aunts, uncles and friends were all at that house. I went where I was projected to go, late second to early third round. Funny thing though with draft day is that after it begins, your perception of where you should go changes. By mid–round one, I had myself convinced that the Giants or Rams were going to take me.
6. You were in the NFL from 1993-2000 with Chicago and the Arizona Cardinals, correct?
You played tight end and even returned a few kickoffs in that time frame.
CG: Played TE, long snapped for punts and held for FG’s and extra points. Returned kickoffs only in “squibb kick” scenarios.
7. What was it like living the dream that so many children desire to achieve everyday in Pop Warner and school fields all across this country?
CG: At first it was really great, especially beginning my carrer in Chicago because the support you receive there is like no place else. Then, like most things in life, you take things for granted. Everyone tells you how special it is to be in the NFL but at the same time, you go to work every day surrounded by 70 other guys doing the same thing. After a while it begins to lose its special meaning. When that happens it is easy to be distracted with lesser important things and not focus as much on the big picture of living, embracing and celebrating your dream.
Any great moments or regrets?
CG: Yes, both. Moments are the hard work, sweat and feeling like your lungs are going to explode and yet you find the strength somewhere to push through it. There are touchdowns and wins and losses that leave their mark….but overall, the best part was standing tall at the end of what you knew was a very hard and intense practice or game.
Regrets? I would say I would like to have not broken so many bones and missed so many games because of it. But I don’t know if I could have done anything else to avoid them either. Injuries are a part of the game. When they happen early in your career they begin to wear on your confidence and the confidence of the owners.
8. You played alongside a man I truly admired for his courage in Pat Tillman. I am a veteran myself and have the ultimate respect for the unfortunate sacrifice him and many others have made for this country. What was he like as a person and as a teammate?
CG: Pat was a great guy! Period. He fought for what he believed in and mostly that was doing the right thing all the time. Stand up for what you believe in and defend it with all you got. He applied that to his personal view of things and to how he played and practiced the game. Very proud to have lined up with him.
9. After your football career ended, you spent some time in the mortgage business. How did you happen to go from that to returning back home to work for Syracuse University?
CG: Basically the mortgage industry provided me with a great transitional outlet in moving on from the NFL. One day, I traded in my Arizona Cardinal playbook for a Fannie Mae guideline playbook. Living in AZ at the time, it was the right time to apply all the things I learned in school and the NFL to the mortgage industry (accountability, discipline, hard work, communication, etc.). While the great conditions of the housing market and the flexibility of the workday were terrific, there was still the athletic void that remained. Therefore, when the opportunity came to move back to Syracuse presented itself I knew that I needed to give it my undivided attention.
10. What exactly does an "Assistant Athletics Director For Major Gifts" actually do in an average day and what are some of your responsibilities? Which do you find more enjoyable, that or being an analyst for Syracuse football beside the voice of the Orange Matt Park?
CG: Basically, my main responsibilities deal with raising money to help further support and promote our athletic programs. This is accomplished within our season ticket packages and season renewals as well as outside of them. The biggest thrill I receive is knowing that my efforts are a part of the whole athletic departments commitment to providing the most spirited and competitive atmosphere possible for all of our athletic programs.
As for working alongside Matt Park on college football game day, I absolutely love it. I get to enjoy the game day atmosphere, whether it be in the Dome or on the road, and talk about it for 3+ hours.
11. What do you think went wrong previously under Coach Robinson and what are your expectations for Syracuse Orange football under Coach Marrone? Also, what should the fans realistically expect from the team for this upcoming season?
CG: Each coach at every level has their own set of obstacles to overcome. To look back and say where Coach Robinson struggled would be a disservice to him and his efforts.
Since Coach Marrone has taken over I can easily understand the message that he is sending to the team, recruits and even community. I can see this, because much of what Coach Marrone stands for is the same as what Coach MacPherson stood for….of which I understand completely having played for Coach Mac myself. I do believe, the community will see a team that regardless of its wins and losses will be proud of them and their efforts on the field as well as away from it.
12. What is your opinion on the growth of blogs, Twittering and other online networking tools and their effect on the game of football? Do you have any online pages yourself and if not, is there any chance of maybe seeing Chris Gendey popping up on Twitter or something anytime soon?
CG: The internet and its many parts are here to stay and there is no question that facebook and twitter and who knows what is next will continue to be a part of our communication landscape. Therefore, one might as well embrace it. I think you need a general understanding of these vehicles not only to help spread your message but also to understand the current mindsets of our kids. Today, kids not only want to be heard, they want to be answered, expect to be and to have a say. This is a product of twittering and I don’t always understand it but I understand it enough to know that it exists.