The NFL’s Paterfamilias is a Super Bowl champ (times four), a preacher, and a pundit. And he'll quit when he's dead.
Did we wake you?
Are you kidding me? I get up at 4 a.m. We’ve done all our milking. We shot a hog.
And where are we calling you?
My ranch in Oklahoma.
Maxim named the ’78 Steelers the greatest team of all time. Was that the time of your life?
I’m not a guy who likes to finger a moment, because there could always be a better one. But career-wise, the ’78 Steelers—that’s a nice team.
You don’t like looking back?
That’s just how I am. Always. I’ve never gone back to high school. You know what? About the only thing I care anything about is my college [Louisiana Tech], but not necessarily when I played. It’s just that my love and loyalty is to my university. I just love my school.
You donated your Super Bowl rings to Louisiana Tech.
It made me feel so good to do that. I thought it would help if the kids would come in there and see our small school and go, “Wow, if he could do that here in the ‘60s…” They put it all on display, and it’s beautiful. I’m really proud of it.
How is your alma mater doing this year?
Not very good. We’ve got a lot of work to do.
Coach should send you out to do some recruiting.
I can’t do that. That’s illegal.
Are you a rule follower?
Very much so. It’s scary—one single action could destroy a whole group. If it’s just me that’s gonna be punished, that’s different. I mean, I’ve gambled—so if something bad comes of my gambling, I’m the one who pays for it.
Do you still enjoy doing Fox NFL Sunday?
Yeah. I love the people I’m doing it with. Honestly, it’s hard for me to imagine not being able to do that show until I’m late in my 70s, which I would do, because I don’t think anybody is going to get tired of hearing us talk. We’re all different personalities, and there’s a lot of energy and a lot of entertainment.
When does your contract expire?
Three or four years, I think. I’ll be 66—that’s still young enough. I’m in good shape, and I’m cute as a button. That’s what I tell myself.
How do you prepare each week?
You read all this stupid material on the Internet, and you know by Thursday which games you’ll talk about. It takes four hours, maybe five.
What did you think about the Darrelle Revis holdout last summer?
I’m not a holdout kind of guy. Here’s the deal. These players have to stop signing these five-year contracts. Start signing three-year contracts. I can’t imagine any of us going up to Rupert Murdoch and saying, “You know, I won an Emmy last week. I want a new deal.”
How do you handle making predictions every week?
My picks suck a lot. And you know what? Everybody’s laughing at me, and that hurts. But you know what really burns my butt? Jimmy Johnson was winning them all the first few weeks.
You’ve been very critical of Ben Roethlisberger.
Ben is not the only quarterback to get in trouble with women for sexual…you know. It’s unfortunate that when we critique them and criticize them, which I did heavily, there’s almost a black list. If I criticize a QB, that’s pretty much it with me and him.
But that’s your job.
I wish we didn’t have to comment on it, and people wouldn’t ask us for our opinions. But, boy, I am dead set against this woman thing, and I
made that clear on my opening “Fired Up!” segment.
There’s a lot of bad behavior in the NFL today. Is it because there’s more scrutiny, or have things just changed fundamentally?
With 1,500 or so players, it doesn’t matter if there’s more media coverage, more stardom, more money. There’s always bad character people, always will be. We’re a 24/7 media dog now in the NFL, or in our society in general, with cable TV, the Internet, and Facebook. Oh, my God…People don’t go anywhere that they don’t have their cell phones to their ears. I always like to say, “Hey, you got somethin’ in your ear there.” Twitter. Who in the world wants to Twit? Who cares?
How has the game changed?
Today NFL football is very much like the Internet. It’s fast-paced, quick, quick, gotta have answers right now, gotta score right now. It’s just not the way it’s done in my opinion.
And the players?
Howie Long and I were standing on the sideline at one of the games, and we both looked at each other and went, “Can you believe that we used to play?” It’s like, “God! Look at the size of these guys!”
Have you ever been watching Wheel of Fortune when your name was the answer?
No, but it’s pretty cool when you’re an answer to a question. It means people are thinking about you and know who you are.
Are you a drinking man?
I like Crown Royal. I don’t want my preacher to read this. I also love a great margarita, but they have lots of calories and carbs.
You’ve had three wives. Do you like being married?
I love being married. It’s been 14 years since my last one. I don’t like being by myself.
Would you ever go on The Bachelor?
No, those guys are really good looking. I’m just cute.