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April 30, 2024 42 mins
The path for this episode’s guest started in Wyoming where he was convinced, like so many other football players, that basketball was his ticket to pro sports.  Wyoming basketball worked fine for Clint Oldenburg, but to hit the next level, football became his ticket.

He chose Colorado State University, where Sonny Lubick moved him from tight end to the offensive line. He wasn’t crazy about the switch, but didn’t argue because it gave him playing time and Sonny told him he thought he had a chance at the NFL if he moved. Sonny was right.

Clint was drafted in the 5th round of the 2007 Draft, then his roller coaster began going from team to team including a short stint with the Broncos. Thankfully just as his pro career was coming to a close, Clint’s brother found an ad for an internship at EA Sports. The gaming company was looking for former college players to help with Madden. He got the internship and soon after his playing days were done, Clint went full time. He's been working there ever since on both Madden and College Football (which is returning in the summer of 2024). Reinvention at its best.
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Transcript

Episode Transcript

Available transcripts are automatically generated. Complete accuracy is not guaranteed.
(00:00):
Here. I am again, samemindset as Draft Knight, getting excited like
man, I could play for theBroncos. I signed a contract the next
day. Mike Shannon's fired. JoshMcDaniels is hired from the Patriots, who
had previously cut me. I knewvery early they didn't want me there because
I didn't get any reps. Istood on the sidelindering practice, I stood
on the sidelined during preseason games.When they cut me, I was not

(00:20):
surprised. I knew that Josh didn'thave a place for me. Welcome to
cut, traded, fired, retired. If this is your first time listening,
welcome. If you're returning for more, welcome back. This podcast features
conversations with professional athletes and coaches whohave faced a variety of challenges in their
careers and lives. I'm your host, Susie Wargen. As you know if

(00:40):
you've listened to any of these episodes, every professional athlete has a different path.
The path for this episode's guest beganin Wyoming, where he was convinced,
like so many other football players,that basketball was his ticket to pro
sports. Wyoming basketball worked fine forClint Oldenberg, but to hit the next
level football became his ticket. Hechose Colorado State University, where Sonny Lubick

(01:03):
moved him from tight end to theoffensive line. He wasn't crazy about the
switch, but didn't argue because itgave him playing time and Sonny told him
he thought he had a chance atthe NFL if he moved. Sonny was
right. Clint was drafted in thefifth round of the two thousand and seven
draft. Then his roller coaster began, going from team to team, including
a short stint with the Broncos.Thankfully, as his pro career was coming

(01:26):
to a close, Clint's brother foundan ad for an internship at EA Sports.
They were looking for former college playersto help with some small game you
may have heard of called Madden.Clint got the internship, and soon after
his playing days were done, hewent full time and he's been working at
EA Sports with both Madden and CollegeFootball, which is coming back this summer.
Ever since. His reinvention is fascinatingladies and gentlemen. Clint Oldenburg Cutt

(01:53):
traded fired retired podcast with Susie Wargenen. Clint Oldenburg, How you doing,
I'm good good. It's fun thatyou're in town for the spring game for
CSU, and we've been chatting awhile about getting together and here we are
finally. Yeah, it's amazing tobe back in Colorado. Rather, it's
a little bit different from where Ilive now in Florida. Right, yeah,

(02:14):
so you're in Florida all the timenow or all right, we're gonna
talk about your cool reinvention after yourfootball career, although you haven't really left
football, you've just stopped playing football, but you're still so involved with the
game and in a lot of reallycool ways. So let's kind of go
back to your beginnings. You're bornin Sheridan, Wyoming. You go to
high school in Gillette, home ofRyan Williams, the head women's basketball coach

(02:37):
at CSU. You guys are likethe two biggest alum from there. I
think, Yeah, I actually rememberwatching him play basketball. I was a
little kid. Okay, Yeah,he's a little bit older than you.
Him and his classmates were heroes inour town of Gelett, Wyoming. Technically
born and raised in Gelett, Wyoming. The only reason that says Sheridan's because
our hospital wasn't yet built when Iwas born, all right, so I
had to go to the Sheridan Hospitalbe born. But that group of guys,

(03:00):
the Gillette Camel's basketball team in Ryan'sera, they were amazing. I
heard they were pretty good. Theywere pretty good. Yeah, they made
me want to be a Camel.Is that right? You were three sport
athlete. Discus was so as basketballyour other one, and football. Yep,
basketball was actually my favorite sport.See that happens almost every football player
I talked with, They're like,yeah, I really wanted to be a
basketball player. Yeah, what'd youplay? So in high school? I

(03:22):
was six foot five. That's acenter in Wyoming. You don't do a
lot of ball handling. If youwant to play college basketball, that's point
guard. And I wasn't very goodat dribbling, so I was a post
player. Can't play college ball asa post player at six five. So
right, I went down the footballpath. Okay, very good and getting
involved with football. How did thatkind of start? How'd you get your
love for sports? Uh? Mydad? Actually, my dad coached sports

(03:45):
in Gellette, Wyoming for over thirtyyears. High school football coach, high
school track coach. I was raisedaround it. When I would get out
of school, I would go tothe high school and watch practice. That
was my daycare. So I wasat football practice from time I can remember.
I started playing organized football when Iwas nine years old. But I
mean I was being a ball boyfor our high school football team since I
was five, So I was alwaysaround sports. You loved it, yep.

(04:08):
In high school, I believed youplayed defensive end and tight end linebacker.
Actually I was our strong side linebackeron defense and tight end. They
called me a tight end, butI was more of a receiver. Oh
okay, yeah, I was areceiving tight end yep. Not on the
offensive line, though, No.I was a skilled guy at that time.
Guy, my senior year in highschool, I was six foot five.

(04:30):
I weighed one hundred ninety five pounds. Okay, very skinny. Did
not have the bulk to be onthe offensive line just yet, Nor did
I want to be on the offensiveline. It's one of those positions.
I mean, now that you lookback, Clinton, there's a badge of
honor with offensive lineman, But whenyou are younger, it's just not that
glamorous of a position. You wantto be that skilled player, you want

(04:51):
to get the name, you wantto you know, have the plays.
Yeah, when you're an adolescent,from the time you start paying attention to
pro football or college football, theonly time they talk about delphensive line is
when they give up a sack right, or the running right, or a
penalty. Everyone wants to be theguy they see on Sports Center or today.

(05:11):
I guess, TikTok the guys goinga touchdown. That was no different.
I wanted to score touchdowns. Ididn't want to play offensive line,
right. But then when I gotto college, I learned more about the
value of offensive linemen and you weredefinitely that for CSU going to college.
What all happened with that process?You're all state in Wyoming, I guess
for linebacker and tight end. Thenif you played linebacker, it says defensive
end in your Wikipedia so or somewhere. Who knows how this information is collected,

(05:36):
I know. Yeah. And youalso won the Millward Simpson Award,
which is to the best football player, right, best athlete. They have
a male and a female that theyaward every year in Wyoming, the Millward
Simpson Award, and it's across allsports best athlete of that class. Yeah.
Wow, that's quite an accomplishment.That was a huge honor being a
senior in high school. There wasa guy a couple of years in front

(05:59):
of me. He might know hisname. His name is Sundance Wicks.
He's a college basketball coach. Now, okay, he was kind of the
guy I looked up to as ayoungster in Wyoming. He won the Millward
Simpson Award his senior year and whenhe won it, I said, man,
I would really like to win thataward, And so that was kind
of the capstone of my high school. Absolutely to get that, that's amazing.
So back to recruiting, then,how many schools were after you?

(06:21):
Did you have a lot of opportunities? Did you take visits? Your five
visits? I didn't do five.I capped out at three. It's kind
of interesting story why it was three. I had a few D one offers
I had. Wyoming offered me ascholarship, Colorado State offered me a scholarship,
University of Nevada in Reno offered mea scholarship, and then most of
the others were like one double Aat the time, Montana Montana State.

(06:43):
Interestingly enough, I had pick ofthe litter for IVY League schools because I
had very good grades in high school. Oh okay, so I had Princeton
and Yale. You know, schoolslike this, they don't do full right
scholarships, at least at the timethey didn't. You had to go on
a grant. But I was kindof interested at least doing take a visit.
But my high school coach, hisname is coach John Kundle. He's

(07:04):
a man of high integrity, andhe knew that I was going to commit
to Colorado State, and so hesaid, I'm not going to allow you
to take visits to these other places. If you already know where you're going,
right, just to go. Sohe called the other schools and said
he's going to Colorado State. SoI capped out at my three villes.
Oh okay, so you didn't getto go make those visits and hang out
with all the co eds at theIVY League. That's right, And God

(07:25):
blessed coach Coundle because he was youknow, he was right. He didn't
want our program to have, youknow, that reputation, right of guys
already committed. Why is he spendrounds? You know, yeah, No,
that's smart in hindsight, probably suckedat the time, right, I
like to go there, I wouldhave loved. I'd never been to the
East coast at that point, nokidding, all right, So then what
made you decide on Colorado State?Between Nevada, Wyoming and c ISSUE.

(07:48):
Really the final two was University ofWyoming and Colorado State. Sunny Lubick was
the factor. How could he notbe? You know when you meet coach
Lubbick, the type of man heis. It was a slam dug.
I wanted to play for him.Yeah, you graduate in two thousand and
two, you red shirt your firstyear with CSU, and then you start
to play your backup tight end inthree and that's the year they go to

(08:09):
the San Francisco Bowl. Yeah,that was an interesting year. That was
my red shirt freshman year. Ireally wasn't expected to play because we had
a bunch of really good tight endsin front of me. Dresen I was
gonna say, Joel was there,Yeah, Bart's al Canso soundrap. We
had a lot of tight ends.I was like fifth on the list,
so I wasn't expected to offer thatmuch. But I got hurt during training

(08:31):
camp. I had a pretty badgroin poll early in training camp and it
turned into a worse injury later onbecause I didn't get it treated right away.
Same injury Joel Dreesen had that yearthat cost him about half that season.
Yep, him and I became bestbuds because we had to do the
same rehab every single day because wehad the exact same injury. I didn't
play any games my red shirt freshmanyear. Okay, then when does a

(08:52):
transition come from being a tight endto going on the offensive line. Doesn't
that come your sophomore year? Yeah, I recall that, David Lee.
We're in training camp. I wasexpecting myself to step up that year and
be a contributor if nothing else hasa blocking tight end. Our strength coach
had done a good job packing waiton me. So I came in,
like I said, at one ninetyfive out of high school. My sophomore

(09:13):
year, I was up to twoseventy. WHOA. There was a pretty
good amount of weight game that happenedin those two and a half years,
and so I became more of ablocking tight end. I lost some speed.
I'm sure that doesn't surprise me.That happens sometimes when you get bigger.
Yeah, So I was I wasour run blocking tight end. We're
in training camp, linemen are droppinglike flies. Some transferred, some quit,

(09:33):
some got hurt. We didn't havea starting five. We had three
and a half we felt good about. So Coach Luvitt calls me in the
office one day and during camp goes, hey, we would like to move
you to offensive line. How doyou feel about that? Internally, I'm
going I don't want to be anoffensive liman. I want to catch touchdowns.
So I didn't say that. Isaid, if it'll help me get
on the field and help the team, I'll do whatever you need. And

(09:56):
he said, awesome, good newsfor you, because I think you have
a few uture as a professional playerif you move to O line. No
one had ever said that to mebefore, right, So his wisdom,
yes, cemented it. I movedto O line and became our weak guard
that year. What did you startto kind of gain as far as being
an offensive lineman that maybe you didn'thave before and realizing that, okay,

(10:16):
this could take me places. Andit's also it's a very special unit to
be a part of. The lastthing you said, there's most valuable being
a part of that group. Unlessyou're in that group, you never know
what it's like. To be apart of that group, and nothing on
the offensive side of the ball worksunless that group gets their job done.
Everybody relies on the running back,the quarterback, certainly the receivers. None

(10:39):
of them have any room to doanything if the offensive line doesn't do their
job. And when you learn thatand you figure out as a group how
to work together and understand each other, it's a really special, underappreciated type
of feeling. And inside of thatroom, there's a lot of pride,
oh yeah, for how you goabout your business. And there's a lot
of pride within the unit with inthe room. And then also while the

(11:03):
general public may not appreciate the offensiveline that much, the players around the
offensive line do and that's why yousee quarterbacks and running backs reward their offensive
line with things at the end ofthe season or whatnot. What was one
of your favorite parts at CSU justI mean, you had Bradley, you
had Caleb, you had Justin.There were a lot of quarterbacks that came
through while you were there. Thosewere the three quarterbacks that I protected the

(11:24):
three years I was playing offensive line. Obviously, love all those guys,
very different guys too, extremely differentand they all had different ways to show
an appreciation, but personal favorite wasHolland. Justin Holland had a unique respect
for offensive lineman and off the field. Those were the guys that he wanted
to hang out with, whether wewere out getting some food or whether we

(11:46):
wanted to go watch a basketball gameor whatever. Justin was always going with
the offensive line. Interesting, soI think he had a not that the
other guys didn't appreciate the offensive lineman, but he had a very unique perspective
cool on how he wanted to hangout with his offensive lineman. I love
it all right. So you graduatein seven and you get drafted in the
two thousand and seven draft, fifthround by New England. Tell me Clint

(12:09):
about the draft process leading up toit Pro Days, What did you do?
How did you feel going into it? I'm sure you were told twelve
thousand things that didn't come true.That was a crazy time in my life.
So I'm going to back before Iget there. I'm going to back
all the way up to my junioryear. Okay, my goal since I
was six maybe was to be aprofessional athlete, and as I figured out,

(12:30):
it wasn't going to be basketball.It was going to be football.
So that's what I dreamed about,but I never knew if it was going
to be really possible. You know, you're in middle school or elementary school
and you do those quizzes that tellyou this is what you have an aptitude
to be when you grow up.Oh, what was yours? Well I
figured those out early how to manipulatethem. Oh okay, So I answered
all the questions to make sure thatpro athlete spit out the other end,

(12:52):
and every year that would be onthe sheet. And I remember having conversations
with guidance counselors and they'd say,really, what do you want to be
when you grew up? And I'dsay pro athlete. They say that's great,
that's super cute, but it's unlikelythat's going to happen. So what
would be the next thing you wantto be? And I never had an
answer. I want to be apropet And that was the end of the
discussion. So fast forward. Junioror of college told you what coach Lubick

(13:15):
had said. Once I when Ireally understood I might have a chance,
there was scouts that were coming toour practices to watch me practice, and
me and Joe Green and the PittsburghStealers. He was the scout at the
time that I came to practice andI met with him after practice. Whoa,
which was amazing. Yeah, thislegendary football guy and he's just he's
there being a scout. The mainquestion he wanted to ask me after practice

(13:37):
was, Clint, do you wantto play pro football? Are you interested
in playing pro football? And Isaid, yeah, it's my dream to
play pro football. He said,I got good news for you, because
I'm pretty sure you're going to getthat opportunity. And that's the last thing
he said to me. Holy.So that's when I knew that I had
a shot. Yes, me andJoe Green sanding to you. Yeah.
So anyways, now we graduate soearly in my senior season. This was

(14:01):
the probably the worst part about thatdraft process. I dislocated my wrist against
CEU early in the season at mysenior year, and I would have had
to miss most of the year toget fixed. So I elected not to
fix it and I wore a bigold cast on my hand all season.
So wait till the season's over,get surgery. I can't do any testing,
I can't go to the combine,I can't do any bench. There

(14:22):
was even one player agent who hadbeen recruiting me. I had three or
four agents that were trying to signme, and the day after I got
my surgery on my wrist, thisone agent dropped me. He said,
you don't have a shot anymore.Your wrist is going to prevent you from
doing any strength training. I don'twant to work with you anymore. So
I felt I thought, man,I may have missed my shot here.
But I ended up signing with anagent out of Reno, Nevada, Kevin

(14:45):
van Rye. Started rehabbing, moveddown to Reno for six months, really
got in really good shape, cameup here for my prote I tested very
well. I just didn't bench pressand was very blessed to get drafted in
the fifth round. Did you thinkyou would go soh hired? Did people
project you or did you kind ofthink, all right, I'm going to
be that around At that time,I was projected to be undrafted. I

(15:07):
was preparing myself to be undrafted toget that call in the fifth round.
And who called you from New England? Bill Belichick? Did okay? I
lived with my brother. We hada little apartment in four Collins huge Patriots
fan. We have a life sizecut out of Tom Brady on our wall
in our living room because he likesthe Patriots so much. So we're watching

(15:30):
the draft on TV. Mike Shanahan'scurrently on the TV. They had just
made their selection and he's talking aboutthat. On the bottom line. My
brother sees Patriots just trade for RandyMoss from the Raiders, and then my
phone rings. Mike Shannan's on theTV. Randy Moss on the bottom line,
This is Coach Belichick with the Patriots. We're going to take you with
our next pick. How do youfeel about being a New England Patriot?

(15:50):
I didn't even know. Oh mygosh, Wow, that's surreal. Clint,
I know. And my brother's sittingacross the room. He knows they
picked next, and he's about tolose his mind. I can see it
in his face. And Bill Belichickis on your telephone, so I'm talking
to him at pointing. I'm like, you know, mouthing Belichick to him,
and he's freaking out, hang upthe phone, and then I come

(16:11):
up on the screen next. Wow, that's cool. But then that first
year you don't end up playing forhim, do you? No, that
was the start of my your rollercoaster. Yeah, so we went into
rookie camp. I knew right awayit was not going to be Pro football
is not going to be easy.From the first day. Dante Scarnekia was

(16:33):
the offensive line coach, long time, He's a Hall of Fame coach,
great coach. He was our offensiveline coach. He beat us down from
day one. We had a threehour practice. I had never done so
many repeats. We were doing adrill. I'd never done the drill.
I thought I was doing, Okay, do it again, do it again,
do it again, over and overand over and over and over.

(16:56):
So I was going, man,this is going to be really hard.
My wrist still hadn't fully healed yet, so I wasn't at full strength,
and I was joining a team thatquite possibly could be the greatest team of
all time. They went sixteenth justtwo thousand and seven. Yeah, they
were undefeated till the Super Bowl.So there wouldn't a lot of spots for
US rookies anyway, So getting repsin training camp was really hard. Get
to the end of training camp,they released me from the roster. They

(17:18):
put me on the practice squad andthen a week or two later, I
think it was two weeks later,I found out about what happens in the
business side of the NFL. Youlearned early on. So Coach Belichick calls
me in his office, Clint,We're gonna release you, but I want
you to stay in town. Don'tleave because we're going to sign you back
next week. We need a quarterbackthis week. He was always a master

(17:38):
of manipulating his roster limits. Hewanted an extra spot, which I understand
from his and that happens often wherethey're like, don't go anywhere, stay
in shape, because we're gonna callyou. We just we got to move
this around, this, around,this around. I remember sitting in there
because I never failed, I'd neverlost the job in football before. And
I was sitting there in silence,looking at Coach Belichick, going is my

(17:59):
career? You know, something likethat, and he actually verbally said,
He's like, do you understand whatI'm telling you? Because I didn't say
anything. He's like, Clint,do you understand what I'm telling you.
I'm like, yes, sir,I understand. I had literally three days
prior, just moved into an apartmentin Foxborough, just abought furniture. I
was ready to like, Okay,I'm on the practice squad. Let's figure
out you're in for the season.Yep. So I go back to my

(18:22):
apartment. I was still unpacking,still furniture all over, and I called
my agent. He goes, don'tworry, take a rest tonight, we'll
figure out tomorrow. He calls,first thing tomorrow morning, the Jets would
like to sign you. He's like, do you want to sign with the
Jets or do you want to waiton the Patriots? What do you think?
He's like, well, there's noguarantees from the Patriots. I better
take this off from the Jets.And they really, they really wanted me.

(18:42):
So I put everything I could inmy truck and I drew from Boston
to New York. My god wasin Jets practice the next day. Interesting,
just at the same time spygates goingon, Oh, Eric Manjani's the
head coach of Jets. So Iknew that they liked me in the draft.
They were one of the teams thatpotentially was going to draft me.
We had just played as a Patriot. We had played the Jets week one.

(19:03):
I was a member of the Patriotsweek one that's when Spygate happened.
Week two, I'm a member ofthe Jets. Wow, so that was
fun. Anyways, I'll skip pastthat. So week five or six,
Tampa Bay wants to sign me totheir active roster off of the Jets practice
squad, and the Jets go youknow, they call me in and say,

(19:23):
hey, do you want to acceptthis offer from Tampa Bay? Otherwise
if you stay here on our practicesquad, we'll pay you active salary to
be on our practice squad. That'sa difference maker. And four weeks prior,
I had just moved from Boston toNew York and I had no interest
in moving from New York to TampaBay. So I said, all right,
I'll stay here for the active money. So up until the last two

(19:45):
weeks of the season, I madeactive roster money on the Jets practice squad.
They activated me for the last twogames. I played in the last
two games, and so things werelooking really good as New York Jets.
I knew that they believed that Icould be a guy for them. Wow,
what a crazy way to have yourrookie season. B Yeah, not
what I expected. Well, no, not After getting that great phone call
on Draft Day, and then you'regoing from here to there and up and

(20:08):
down. Yeah. I was verynaive about the business side of the NFL.
And nobody tells you. No.You can hear all you want,
but nobody tells you you might notbelieve. I mean, you're yeah,
you're you're thinking it's my story isgoing to be different. You're twenty one,
yes, thinking I'm an NFL player. There's no way this can be
bad. So then in two thousandand eight, you go through three teams,

(20:30):
Jets, Rams, Broncos. Yeah, you'll love this, Okay.
So I get through my rookie yarwith the Jets. I go into training
camp the next year. With theJets, I'm looking to be the swing
lineman, so I'm the sixth guy. Basically, I'm the guy that's going
to back up both tackles, thatutility lignement. I was having an amazing
training camp, amazing first two weeksof training camp. Bill Callahan, legendary

(20:52):
offensive line coach, is known fordeveloping offensive lineman and I give him a
lot of credit for developing me.At that time, I was having a
great camp. I was confident everythingwas going the way you wanted to.
Go, I'm like, I'm gonnamake the team. The night before our
first preseason game against the Cleveland Browns, I get rolled up on and I
tear my meniscus. This is duringtraining camp. They don't have a lot

(21:15):
of options. They need bodies incamp, so they go, this is
six to eight week injury. Wecan't keep you around. So I got
what was called an injury waiver.That means they're gonna release me from the
roster, but they're gonna pay memy salary until the point that I'm healed.
So I got paid by the Jetsfor six weeks until a doctor cleared
me. But I was not amember of the Jets. I worked with

(21:36):
an external doctor in New York.The agreement was, when you're healthy,
we'll just sign you back. Atthe time. Oh guess what. When
I got healthy, they didn't.They didn't have a spot for me.
So I got picked up by theSaint Louis Rams and I finished out that
season on their practice squad. Andthe interesting thing about that experience was every
week on Sundays, the practice squadwould go to the stadium to work out

(22:00):
before the game. They had todrain my knee of fluid every Sunday morning
with a big old needle. Itwas amazing to see how much fluid could
build up in one knee. Sothat's how I spent my second year.
Oh my gosh. Were the Broncosinvolved in that second year? Then that
came up at the start of mythird year. Oh okay, all right,
started your third ye or so innine Broncos and Vikings. Man,

(22:23):
you know, I may be ableto write a book here. Yeah,
you have a lot of teams inthere. Yeah. So my contract expires
at the end of oh, Ithink it's eight, the end of my
second year. Rams want to resignme. They want to bring me back.
Jets come back, say we wantto resign you. They actually made
me the best offer. We wantyou to come back to the Jets and
a third team, the Broncos.Mike Shanahan was the head coach. I

(22:45):
was his zone blocking lineman. That'swhat we did at CSU. Yeah.
I always wanted to play in hisoffense and I could come home to play
for the Broncos. Their offer wasa little bit less than the other two
teams. I was like, Ireally want to go home. Oh yeah,
absolutely, So here I am again, same mindset as draft night,
getting excited like man, I couldplay for the Broncos. I signed a

(23:07):
contract the next day. Mike Shannon'sfired. Josh McDaniels is hired from the
Patriots, who had previously cut me. So were you literally a Bronco for
training camp? Training camp? Werea body I did off season and then
training camp with the Broncos. Iknew very early they didn't want me there
because I didn't get any reps.I stood on the sidelin during practice.

(23:27):
I stood on the sideline during preseasongames. I think I played maybe one
quarter during the preseason. So Iwhen they cut me, I was not
surprised. I knew that Josh didn'thave a place for me, honest team,
which is fine. I didn't signto play for him, my son,
you signed to play for Mike exactly. Yeah. So that's when it
starts to get really harry, thinkinglike, man, I'm about to run

(23:48):
out of opportunities here. So Iwait a couple weeks. I'm on the
streets. I'm just living in myapartment in Denver. Vikings have a rash
o line injuries. They need somebodyto get through a week of practice.
Call me up. Can you comein we need to tackle? Yep.
Go uh Monday, travel to Minnesota, get a rental car, get a
place to stays, hard to practiceWednesday. I had a great week of

(24:10):
practice. I'm blocking Jared Allen allweek Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Brett
Farv's our quarterback. I get thefamous Brett Farv butt slap, thinking,
oh, this is maybe I'll bea Viking. After the Saturday walkthrough,
I'm cut. Hey, our guysare healthy, They're gonna be able to
play the game. We don't needyou anymore. I spent four days in
Minnesota. Wow, it was amazing. At least you got a butt slap

(24:33):
from Brett Farr, learned a newoffense in a short amount of time,
went through a week of practice,practice very well. And I told the
GM when he cut me Spielman,I said, can you just tell me,
like, why do I keep gettingcut? Because I feel like I'm
playing good. He's like, youare. You had a great week.
We just don't have a spot foryou. All right, left and then
the best thing that happened was acouple of weeks later the Washington at the

(24:56):
time, the Washington Redskins signed metheir practice squad. Finished out that season
as a member of their practice squad. Jim Zorn was the head coach.
The next year, Mike Shanahan becamethe head coach of the Redskins, So
you finally got to play for him, just not at home. I did.
I got to play for Mike foryear and a half. So my
first year in Washington was Jim Zorn. My last two years in Washington was

(25:17):
under coach n And that's great.And what was that like? We had
an amazing coaching staff that was thedream team, Mike and Kyle, Sean
McVay, Lafleur, McCarthy, JohnEmbry was there Forrester from the forty nine
ers was there. Yeah, wehad an amazing coach. It was the
beginning of the tree that has nowsplit, but it was all there in
those first couple of years in Washington. Yep, Oh my god, I

(25:37):
was on that team. So thenlet's go to when your time in the
NFL is done. So I waswith Washington two and a half three years.
I spent one year on IR becauseI tore my bicep and dislocated my
ankle and then I got a concussionin my last training camp and got cut.
That's when I knew I was runningout of opportunities. In the NFL,
I played half a season with Atthe time, it was called the

(25:59):
UF well for the Virginia Destroyers.I played there about eight weeks in Virginia
Beach. We won the championship thatyear. I played for Marty Schottenheimer.
That I was an experienced playing semipro football. Fun, weird, whole
team living in a hotel. Wepracticed at like a high school field.
It was odd, but it wasfun. We won the title. Then

(26:21):
I signed to play with the Saskatchewanrough Riders in the CFL the following year,
and this is when my life changedfrom football to what I'm doing now.
They had a mini camp in Tampa. I was in Orlando doing my
internship at Electronic Arts and they hada preseason mini camp in Tampa for three
days that I could just drive overto. And I went through that mini
camp. I didn't feel good.My ankle's still hurt. I remember thinking

(26:45):
my second day there, I needto get back to EA because there's things
I got to get done there.And that's when I knew I couldn't play
anymore. So I called Saskatchewan afterI said, I'm really sorry. I
know I signed that contract, butI'm not gonna come up and play for
you. I'm gonna I'm gonna retire. And then I got hired at Electronic
Arts. So you knew because youhad the desire to go to your other

(27:08):
job more so than you wanted toplay. Yeah, exactly the rest of
my life when I was on afootball field, there's nowhere else I'd rather
be than on a football field.But that day I wanted to be at
work. Right, and then explainhow you got because you got an internship
at EA Sports, right, Yeah, how did that happen? Because I
mean, you've been out of collegefor a long time and you were a
technical journalism major. Is that right? When you're a issue? I don't

(27:30):
know any other way to put itother than luck. I've always been a
big video gamer. That's what Idid as an athlete to stay out of
trouble, rest stay after fet Iplay video games in my free time,
and I just love video games.And you and your brother, right,
your brother a big gamer too,Okay, And so when I got done
in Washington, I was staying athis house here in Colorado. He comes
to me one day, He's like, check out this thing I found on

(27:52):
ESPN dot com. There's an NCAAfellowship with EA Sports where they're looking for
former college football players to come inon an internship and help with the college
football games. Like, would youever consider this? I was like,
I've never made it, made agame. He's like, yeah, you
should maybe look into it. Sohe found the opening on ESPN dot com
just randomly fune an ad for it. Oh my gosh. So I sent

(28:12):
a resume and a cover letter.I got a call back. They want
to interview me. I think havean NFL experience on my resume probably help.
Yes, I got the internship.The gal who owned that program,
she's a recruiter, is now themother of my kids and my wife.
Oh my gosh. So you alsomet your wife there. Yep, Oh
my gosh. That's so cool.So what was the job? I mean,

(28:34):
technical journalism. You're not writing gamesor doing anything like that. So
how did you go from what youkind of know in college? I mean,
I'm sure the communications part of ithelps, but how did you learn
how to do what you're doing now? And also kind of explain what you're
doing now because it's super cool whatyou're doing with NCAA Football and NFL Madden.
So at the time I was agame design intern. Over time,

(28:57):
I've evolved. Now I'm a producer. We'll get to that in a second.
Okay, a game designer, it'sreally not all that different. There's
a lot of technical stuff I didn'tknow at the time, and they had
to teach me. But the coreof what a game designer has to do
is take a concept, in somecases a complex concept like a football scheme,
and write a technical document, beable to break it down in a

(29:17):
way that somebody who may not knowanything about what you're talking about can understand
it and write it into code.So I was working directly with engineers and
animators, and I would say,I want to build a two jet protection,
which is a half slide to thewill Okay, well we could do
that, but you got to breakdown everything what that means to every player
on the field. And so mytechnical journalism background was invaluable in writing those

(29:40):
documents and then being able to communicateto my teammates about what I was trying
to call it right, and thenthey could write the code for it,
so you're basically telling them the plays, breaking it all down for every single
player, and then you give itto them in a way they can understand
and be able to write the codefor it. Yeah. Wow, yep,
that's how I started. I gothired from my I guess what you'd

(30:03):
call subject matter expertise of football.Uh huh. It just so happened at
the time Madden NFL. One oftheir big features the following year was an
overhaul of all things blocking, perfecttiming, Like I said, allowed to
look. So I started on college, got my feet wet, worked with
a number of really awesome people whotaught me at all the things I didn't
know about game development. And thenthe next year I got moved over to

(30:25):
Madden and I got to rewrite allof our blocking logic in the game.
And then the fact that you hadbeen at that, even though it stunk,
while you were going team to teamto team, you were exposed to
so many different offenses and defenses forthat matter. That had to be huge.
Absolutely what my teammates found a lotof value in. You can watch
a game, you can watch film, you can hear an interview, there's

(30:48):
still a level of translation that's neededin some cases to understand what you're seeing.
What I was really able to helpthem with. We'd watch a play,
the announcer might say, the offensiveline missed that block and that's why
the quarterback got sacked. And Icould watch that play and I'd say,
guys, that wasn't the offensive line, that was the running backs guy.
Oh, stuff like that. Wow. It was able to translate the game

(31:08):
so they could our team could seethat's actually what happened. And so now
these days you're just with NFL Maddenor do you still work with the NCAA
Football Division as well? Good question. College football has just come back to
EA Sports. I am the productiondirector of the Central Football gameplay team in
our American Football Department. So myteam's working on both Madden and college football.

(31:30):
So it was gone for a whileten years. Do you remember the
Bandon Brothers. Yes, when theydid a lawsuit about likeness about a decade
ago that stopped production of college football, the one that I worked on originally.
Yes, that got shut down becausethere was no way we didn't have
their names. But in the gamethey looked kind of like themselves. There

(31:52):
was some likeness there, and thatwas deemed no longer acceptable and there was
no way to pay them for theirlikeness, so the game was shut down
decade now and I owe we havea pathway to compensate college athletes for their
likeness. So every college player,if they're used in college football, are
they going to get paid. Theyhave to opt in. But if they

(32:13):
opt in, they'll all make theseexact same amount of money and they'll get
a free copy of the game.If they don't want to opt in,
that's okay, they won't be inthe game. We won't allow anyone to
make them and put them in thegame. But really exciting because college football
is coming out for the first timein a decade this summer and how many
players have opted in. It's wellover eleven thousand players I've opted in.
Holy crap, plant, that's cool. That's very cool. What a project

(32:37):
though, I mean, technology ina decade is going to be. It's
not like you could just go,well, let's just take what we used
ten years ago and did it likestart from scratch. Yeah, we had.
We had to rebuild the game andCollege and Madden are still very separate
teams and products. And that team'sbeen working and that, you know,
no one knew for a while.We knew, so college football was kind

(32:58):
of being built up for a whileright then we announced it recently that was
coming back. So when does itofficially come out? We haven't released the
exact release date yet, but itis coming this summer. How fun?
And then what do you do onlike, okay, once the new game
comes out every season, whether itbe Madden and now with college football,
then what do you do in themeantime tall the next version comes out?

(33:22):
Your visiting places all the time?I know, and I've seen the you
know you got the fancy yeah,yeah, Well on the development side,
we really don't have an off seasonanymore. As soon as we final one
game, we're working on the onefor because we're a yearly title on Madden
and college likely will be too.You only have about eleven months. I
wish I had another an extra yearof year because there's so much more that

(33:44):
we want to do, So there'sno off season. We roll right into
the next one. I am fortunateenough, to your point to be a
part of the Esteemed Ratings Addressors teamon Madden NFL, so I get to
go do cool things with Peyton manningand stand on sidelines and make notes about
player performances, right, and sowhat do you do with those? Like
do you because I'm sure guys willcome to me like, hey man,

(34:05):
you got me wrong all the time. That has to be not no pun
intended maddening because they're on you allthe time, thinking that they should have
better stats, or look better orbe quicker. There's only been one player
I think I've ever met who iscompletely happy with their ratings. It was
from before my time, but itwas Emmitt Smith. Emt Smith, the
only guy that ever said that's good. I'm happy. One freaking player.

(34:25):
One guy, Oh my gosh.Everyone else thinks we got something wrong.
Usually it's what's the biggest Okay,speed, speed, always speed, always
speed. Most of them take itin stride, though a lot of it
is tongue in cheek, and theyunderstand it's a video game, but they
also understand the cultural relevance of theirrating. They take it seriously because they
know whoever kid bought that game fromWalmart, who lives around the country is

(34:47):
going to evaluate them based on thatrating. They know it's important decided by
a Jersey based on the rating,decide to do a lot of things.
Yeah, so it's part of theirbrand, so they take it seriously.
I have some crazy stories about playersand their ratings. Can you share any
You don't have to name names.Well you'll know one of them. Okay,

(35:07):
Pat McFee, Sorry, Pat,if you're here this, don't get
mad at me. He's got enoughother things going on. He's not listening
to my podcast. So when hewas still playing, we went to do
face scanning it for the Colts,and we went to their facility. We
take our scanning rig out there andwe sit in like a lounge room,
and players come and go as theywant if they want to get their face
scanned and put in the game.McAfee comes through, doesn't want to get

(35:28):
scanned, only wants to walk throughto tell me how upset he is with
his tackling rating. And he wasliterally upset, not joking. He's a
punter. He's a punter, andif you look at his highlights, he's
got a lot of really, reallygood tackles in his career. But geez,
maybe six he was ready to gotoe to toe with me in that
lounge. God bless him. Now. I think we came around and made

(35:52):
full circle and made right because justthis year in mad An Ultimate Team,
which is one of our fantasy footballmodes, we released a Pat McAfee linebacker
with ninety nine tackling. So eventhough he wasn't happy at the time,
I think we made him happy thistime. Oh my gosh, that is
so funny. I can see wherethey would get upset with certain things.

(36:12):
And what's your response to them.I mean, do you say you know,
well, let me I mean,do you reevaluate guys and go,
well, let me look at that. Absolutely. We like to think of
ourselves as the men in black,and we'll take any information you can give.
So if they'll say you got thatwrong, our first response is okay,
tell me why, and they willusually they will. The best is
if they give evidence. This isa story I've told many times. Two

(36:35):
pieces of evidence. One Graham,you know, former kicker of the Redskins.
I played with him. We wereteammates from Florida State. Great guy.
He was upset about his speed rating. He dm me one day on
Twitter and said, why am Iso slow? You guys got my speed
rating wrong? I said, well, you're a kicker. Does it matter?
He goes I set the state recordin my two hundred meters dash as
a senior in high school. Ohmy god, I said, do you

(36:55):
have video of it? He's like, yes, he sent me the video
of his two hundred meters dash staterecord and we up to speed rating.
Oh how funny. On the oppositeside, one day, Cam Newton comes
to the studio and he's with thePanthers. He's at the height of his
career. He's walking through saying hito everyone. He wants to know about
his ratings in the upcoming game.Looks our ratings guy? Why is my

(37:17):
speed so slow? And my ratings? Guy? Looks down Cam Newton.
I just said surgery on his foot. He says, Cam, look down,
you're wearing a walking boot. Camlaughed at that. He's like,
Okay, after I get healthy,you'll have to update it. That is
funny. Do you love it?It's a great job. Might getting some
crap sometimes it's got to be prettycool. And it's different. I mean,

(37:39):
it's athletes, it's jabs, it'swhatever, as long as it's not
too serious. But it's a videogame. I can't think of a better
thing to do post football than makea football video game. And we really
are treated like the thirty third NFLfranchise. If I have a question about
a rule, I can get incontact with refs. Heck, two weeks
ago, I just had a callwith Mike Tomlin to talk about special teams.

(38:00):
The access that we have because ofour relevance in the football world.
It feels like I'm still very muchpart of the game. I bet it
does. Yeah. How many formerplayers, pro players work at EA Sports
or just with the Madden group ingeneral? Are there a lot? There
are? Not? Really? Areyou one of the few? You're the

(38:20):
I was the first. You werethe first. We've had a few.
I've been kind of driving internally totry to get pipeline set up for retired
players, to see if there's opportunitiesfor them. We've had a few come
in on short term. I wasthe first and only full time employee former
pro football player. And then lastyear I hired the second Kenneth boat Right,

(38:42):
he was a defensive end for Seattle. We hired him a year ago.
He's doing an amazing job. Sowaiting to get your job there.
I've been at EA for twelve years. Yeah, so it took eleven years
to get the second former player inthere. I would think guys would love
to do that. And like yousaid, it keeps you so relevant and
in with today's game and meeting theplayers and coaches and referees and just you

(39:07):
have. The connections are insane.They are. There's a lot of guys
who are interested. We I mean, I do countless job fairs and speaking
engagements with former players every year,and I really enjoy it, and they
really enjoy it. It's kind ofhard to figure out if you're coming in
from an outsider. First, it'sreally scary because you're like, game development
is really scientific ass. Oh yeah, code and animation and art, and

(39:29):
I'm not sure if I can dothat. So that's the first obstacle.
And then the second obstacle is itis work, Like this is a lot
of hard work. Yeah, Andso there are cases where a guy will
say, I just want to bea ratings adjuster, and well, that's
not a real position, right,It's part of a bigger position. That's
an extracurricular activity in addition to areal role. Yes, you know what

(39:49):
I mean. Oh yeah, absolutely, it's real work. It's it's sometimes
hard and long, and that's notas appealing as a retirement gig for some
former players. Right, there's someguys who retire and they just want to
like have a nice, cushy,easy job and sail off. God bless
them if they can find that.Absolutely. Yeah. All right, So
you live in Orlando, met yourwife there. You guys have two boys.

(40:10):
It sounds like just life is good. You do a lot of traveling
or able to hang out with thefamily enough. I do a lot of
traveling. I actually need to travelless because my boys are getting to the
age where they're starting to play sportsand I want to be around more for
that. But good for you.Family's doing great. And hopefully those two
boys of mine will be csu ramsone day. Oh that would be awesome.

(40:30):
That'd be fantastic. All right,Clant, we're going to wrap this
up, but I want to askyou a question. You've gone through so
many especially even just that rookie seasonthat you described, and just all of
the ups and downs and wondering amI actually going to make it in the
NFL. When you talk to peopleabout the down times, what advice do
you give them to just kind ofkeep moving forward? How did you do
it? I don't know, Iwouldn't call my career a success. I'd

(40:52):
call the experience a success. ButI think, at least for athletes,
what I tell them is, don'tput so much pressure on yourself. Enjoy
it. It's a time in yourlife that doesn't last very long, your
days of youth. That was probablythe biggest mistake I made. I was
such a perfectionist, and I wasalways so stressed out if I made a
mistake. I should have enjoyed itmore, talked to more people, had

(41:15):
just had fun with it while alsodoing my job. So enjoy it.
Feel like you're doing that now though, Oh yeah, and had you not
had all those you know, Idon't. That makes me sad that you
don't think it was a success,because what that did was build the foundation
for what you're doing now, whichis something you love. Yeah. Absolutely,
I wouldn't be nearly as successful asa game developer without having that.

(41:36):
From just a football point of view, someone looks at my career, they'll
say, you played on six teamsin five years. We can count on
one hand the number of drives youplayed in a real NFL game that wasn't
preseason. That's true, but Ilearned a lot from it. Oh my
gosh, invaluable information. Hey,this was great to catch up. I'm
glad that you love doing what you'redoing. One of the cool things about
the podcast is being able to showjust the reinvention and what do you do

(42:00):
for sports? How do And there'sa lot of people that need to do
that in the real world because theyjust they don't love what they're doing.
It's not for them anymore. Wegrow out of things, and the fact
that you found such an awesome jobafterwards is pretty awesome. Yeah, I'm
really blessed, very fortunate. Sothank you. All right, Thanks Clint,
Thanks so much, Clint. Newepisodes of Cut, Traded, Fired,
Retired are released on Tuesdays. Pleasefollow, download, rate, and

(42:22):
review this podcast wherever you listen topodcasts. Keep up on podcast releases and
updates on Twitter and Instagram, atctfur podcast, and on the website ctfurpodcast
dot com. I'm your host,Susie Wargen. To find out more about
me, visit susiewargin dot com.Thanks for taking the time to check out
this episode and any others. Thereare so many great stories out there.

(42:45):
Until next time, Please be careful, be safe, and be kind,
take care,
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