Rob Riggle Spills About The New NFL Season

The comedy genius and Fox NFL Sunday panelist talks Chiefs football, epic crying, and superstitions.

What in your mind are the best storylines this season?

There’s been some unfortunate offseason things happening. But hopefully that will all get pushed aside and we can focus on football. Now it’s time to play the games, that’s what everybody wants. Peyton Manning, I think he starts a really wonderful journey this year on his way to the Super Bowl, which is really hard for me to say because I’m a Chiefs fan and he’s a division rival, but I think from the AFC the Broncos are looking really strong.

As a Chiefs fan, what are your goals for this season?

We were 2-14 last year and the worst team in the NFL, statistically speaking.

So there’s nowhere to go but up.

Exactly. So let’s go up. Let’s start with that. But I genuinely believe with new coach, Andy Reid, with new general manager, with a new quarterback, Alex Smith, with the number one draft pick, building up that offensive line. Plus Jamaal Charles, Dwayne Bowe, I think we can make a decent run at a wild card playoff. And I think we can go 4-2 in the division. Going from 2-14,  I will take 7-9 or 8-8, so long as we’re building.

Alex Smith kind of took his team to the Super Bowl.

I’m telling you, he absolutely did, and I love the fact that he probably has something to prove. Probably has a little chip on the shoulder. I want him to come to Kansas City and exercise that chip off. So I am excited about the Chiefs. But every year I always predict that they’ll go to the Superbowl and they’ll win, and one of these years it’s going to happen, it’s going to be true.

You’ve done some traveling now; Is KC still the best barbecue in your mind?

It is. Kansas City barbecue is fantastic. And I know there’s some North Carolina folks who want to argue with me, but they’re vinegar-based barbecue. Kansas is molasses-based barbeque and, to me, that’s where it is. Molasses-based barbecue. It’s so good, and Kansas City does it right. They have some really good barbecue there’s so many good places, mmm! Just thinking about it right now, I’m getting hungry.

So this year we lost Ray Lewis, who was probably the NFL’s best epic crier. Do you think there are any candidates that can take his place?

Haha! I don’t know. He really had cornered that market. There was no one better. You’ve got to find a passionate player, cause it’s not so much about the tears, it’s about the depth of the emotion. Maybe it’s me.

Are you ready to take that mantle?

I’ll take it, I’ll take it. I don’t know how far I’ll carry it, but I’ll take it.

Who is your favorite fanbase in the NFL?

Again, I’m biased, but Kansas City fans. A game at Arrowhead is really special. That’s my number one. I also think the Seattle fans up there, they do a really good job. It’s loud and they’re passionate about their football, which is great because it’s not traditional. You always think the Steelers and those teams in the AFC Central because those are the teams that have the deep roots. The Philly fans or the Chicago fans, and those are great fans, don’t get me wrong. But they make a lot of noise in Seattle and it’s pretty passionate. 

Are you a fantasy player?

Yes, I’m in three leagues this year. I’ve got one with my high school buddies, one with a bunch of friends from Hollywood called the “Hollywood Phonies,” and this other one with a bunch of guys from Chicago that just asked me to join their league. So I said sure, why not? I did all my drafts and I’m very happy with the way they turned out.

Can you give us one sleeper who you like?

I’ll tell you who people overlooked early on, and it’s in the quarterback row. Andrew Luck. Everybody knows he’s a good quarterback, but he’s going to have a good year. And you can probably get him, I’ve heard people like, “Oh yeah, he didn’t get picked up till like the eighth round.” Get him. When it’s time to pick a quarterback if you can get Andrew Luck, you’ll be ahead of the curve. Absolutely. And running backs – get running backs early. Your first two or three picks should be running backs. Don’t start going receiver, quarterback, until third or fourth round. I think that will help you this year. This year should be running backs early. Little tip.

On FOX NFL Sunday you do the sketch and you also make the picks. Which one of those is more difficult?

Haha, well probably the picks. The reason is cause we have a point system and so a lot of times I’ll pick the teams I pick because I get more points if I pick underdogs. So people go, “Why did you pick this team against that team? They’re never gonna do anything.” Well, because I need a longshot. If I get the underdogs I’m getting more points. So that gets a little tricky. And writing the bits, we have a great team. We like to write sketches about what’s going on in the football world and try to make jokes about it. We just try to find whichever angle we can. So when I write sketches having to do with that stuff, it’s in my realm and hopefully it’s something new that the fans, FOX people who watch that show, haven’t seen before. So that’s what I’m bringing to the table. Maybe people like it, I don’t know.

What team do you think would be most likely to survive a plane crash scenario, like if they had to live out on a mountain for a couple weeks?

I would say the Ravens.

Even without Ray Lewis?

No, with Ray Lewis. Without Ray Lewis, they would devour each other probably by day two. Like when they’re not even hungry yet. But with Ray there, I think everybody would calm down, he can calm everybody down.

Do you have a Super Bowl prediction you’re willing to part with?

Tough call. I don’t have a prediction but I have like a final four: Chiefs, Broncos, 49ers, and Falcon with a caveat – Seahawks as my dark horse. So those five teams I feel will somehow be in or around the Super Bowl. I’m making the call early. I say it every year, I’m saying it this year…the Chiefs.

A lot of your comedy is based around being intimidating. Is there anybody on the FOX NFL panel that intimidates you?

All of them. Every single one.

Who the most?

I don’t know, it’s tough. I mean, they all are, in a way, teddy bears. Like they’re all really sweet guys but they all have the capacity to become alpha-male athletes again. Howie’s got a wonderful stare and obviously his size and stuff, but he’s the happiest guy. They’re all happy guys. It’s kind of a jolly little crew. There’s nobody that walks in with a grumpy attitude. They’re all pretty jolly guys. And I have a healthy respect for their size and speed.

Can you tell me a little bit about the Bud Light superstitions research you’ve seen?

So Bud Light went out and did all this research about fans. I think they interviewed close to 10,000 fans. About 300 for each team and asked them a series of questions about superstitions, and turns out the Baltimore Raven fans are the most superstitious fans in the NFL. Which, there’s got to be something to that because they just won the Superbowl. There’s just fun little stats like that for all the NFL teams. The New York Jets, their fans are most likely to put a curse or hex on the other team. They gotta do whatever they can, I guess. The Raiders fans are most likely to wear the same clothing to games. There’s all these cool interesting facts about each fanbase and it’s a fun part of the game, superstition. I remember watching a Chiefs game in my hotel room literally thousands of miles away from the game and having to turn it off because I felt like I was jinxing them. Because every time I watched they start playing really poorly, so I’d turn it off, then turn it back on and they’d have come back. I’m like “It’s me, It’s me, thousands of miles away.” “You think you’re having an effect on the game?” “Yes, I do.” It’s a feeling I’m there, so I literally turn it off. I think every fan has something that they buy into, you know, wear the same socks or… So they did this research if you go to they have a lot of these cool stats and stuff. They’re fun to play with.

Photos by Fox Broadcasting Company