Yesterday I had a chance to speak with Saints linebacker Danny Clark, who is playing some very good football right now and making a big contribution to the Saints defense. The second part of our conversation can be found after the jump and includes Danny's thoughts on the future, the difference between NY and NO, his charity work and also included a five-question quick fire. Once again, thanks to Danny for his time.
Click here to read part one of my interview with Danny.
CSC: What's the goal for the team?
DC: The goal probably in every locker room across the league is to win your division. In our division right now Atlanta is ahead of us a little. We lost two close games that we felt we had an opportunity to win and we didn't get it done. We can't cry over spilled milk. At the end of the day we've got to handle everything that's ahead of us. Right now that's Cleveland. Cleveland is a ball club that is starting a young quarterback and we want to get win. Our second goal is to win at home. That's something we let slip against Atlanta so we've got to make sure we win the rest of our games at home. Of course hopefully a championship is our ultimate goal.
CSC: Do you have any game in particular circled on your calender?
DC: Being that this is my eleventh year, what's helped me be successful is to keep tunnel vision and narrow my focus. I've just learned that we're playing Cleveland after Sunday's game against Tampa Bay. I don't even look at the schedule. I don't plan or get tickets for friends. Of course I do know about the Thanksgiving game in Dallas. I had an opportunity to play there with the Giants, we played the first game in the new stadium. So that may be a game that's circled since it's a holiday. Remi Ayodele get's to go home and see his family so, of course, he's looking for tickets. But more importantly, I keep that tunnel vision. The next game is the next best game.
CSC: Well I don't want to make you nervous but after Cleveland it's Pittsburgh.
DC: I'm not worried about that. I can't play Pittsburgh this week so... This is what I like about our ball club: our preparation is second to none. I see why they were champions a year ago. Because we prepare throughout the week like no place I've ever been. Now it's a situation where once game time arrives, we know what our opponent does, we know what we have to do as far as the defense but more importantly we understand the tendencies of the offense and that gives us a small win and that's what these games are made up of: a combination of small wins.
CSC: This weekend fans watched three pretty hard hits that made headlines and now the NFL is cracking down and fining those players each different amounts. How do you feel about all of these recent events?
DC: It all needs to be done with the purpose of keeping our players safe. I understand this is a violent game. It's the only place you can hit somebody and not go to jail. So you understand that it's a privilege to play this game. As far as the hits, they're a part of football. I don't think the guys are intentionally trying to hurt other players. But I'm not sure what dictates the fine system. How much is one hit worth versus another hit? That's why I'm confused. Is one hit more expensive than another? I'm not sure how you value that.
As far as keeping our players safe, I'm a big fan of the NFL stepping in. You've got to realize these three, huge hits all happened within a matter of two or three hours. That usually doesn't happen in this league. Usually there's one every few weeks but there were three in the same day so everyone's ears definitely perked up. We just want to make sure that we keep our players safe.
CSC: What are your plans for the future and life after football?
DC: The funny thing is I was blessed to get a speech communications degree from the University of Illinois and a minor in theater so I definitely want to be in front of the camera. I want to talk about the thing that I love most: football. I think broadcasting is something I've done pretty decent during my playing days and I would like to definitely jump into that afterwards.
CSC: So you want to be like those former players I watch on ESPN and NFL Network.
DC: I would like to be an analyst. I would like to be on a panel. My mentor in that realm is James Brown of CBS Sports and Inside the NFL. I did the NFL Broadcast Bootcamp in Mt. Laurel, NJ last year which I did well at. It was extremely challenging but it definitely gave me a big dose of what it's like to be in that business. I got a lot of work - they say getting reps - in New York when I played there and that's the biggest market on the planet. I think I have the ability to do an above average job as far as broadcasting goes.
I'm also really close to Michael Strahan, who gives me so much insight about his transition from being a player to doing television. And again, I aspire to do all those things and more. Having great guys ahead of me, Tiki Barber even, I try to pick their brains and understand. The most recent addition to the broadcasting family is Antonio Pierce, one of my really good friends. He's doing a great job on ESPN so I think there are definitely some opportunities out there.
CSC: You seem to have a strong connection to New York. Would you say that was your favorite place to play?
DC: The experience in New York was fantastic. It was like Christmas when I was called by the New Orleans Saints to come back but New York is the biggest media market on the planet. I want to live there after I'm done playing. So that's the land of opportunity for me and I will always call that home. But my favorite place to play is New Orleans, by far. New York was a great place to live.
CSC: What's the difference between the fans?
DC: Oh, man those New York fans were brutal. New York fans have history. They made sure they made it unwelcome for the opponent to come into Giants Stadium. I didn't get to play in the new stadium but old Giants Stadium has a lot of history and the fans made sure they gave other people fits. I was glad to be on their team versus being an opponent coming to Giants Stadium.
And then here the people are the most amazing people. I truly believe that the tone of this city has resonated throughout our locker room; the people being so resilient. You've got to realize right after Katrina a lot of people didn't have places to live but they came to football games. We gave them hope that year and they gave us hope as well. Now that resonates through our locker room and our team has the same will and the same persistence as the citizens of New Orleans. I love being part of Who Dat Nation. It is by far the best culture of football fans I've been around.
Just a couple of quick fire questions...
Most memorable NFL moment? - September 25th, 2006. Gleason blocks the punt and my boy Curtis Deloatch gets it and dunks it over the goal post. To hear that stadium erupt like I've never heard a stadium almost brought me to tears because I realized all the stuff that happened in that Dome a year prior. It was great to see it breath life back into the city of New Orleans. That's by far my most memorable moment.
Closest friends on the team? - Jonathan Vilma. Will Smith, he's my lockermate. We sit next to each other. It's rare to find guys who were here the first time so Will is one of the old schoolers. And Reggie Bush from his rookie year. Lastly, all of the linebackers are really close. We go out every Thursday night to have dinner together. We rotate who pays and I'm afraid it might be my week this time. We'll see. They can run up a hefty tab.
Favorite place to eat in New Orleans? - One of my best friends lives here and we go to this place called Oceana Grill on Iberville and Bourbon. I love Ruth's Chris, doesn't matter where it is. With the team, we've been to Irene's and Mr. John's Steakhouse on St. Charles which were really good.
Favorite player growing up? - That's hard. I think Joe Montana. I was a quarterback from seventh grade through high school and I wanted to be Joe Montana. That's my lifelong dream, to be a quarterback in the NFL. I always told Coach Payton to let me do the kneel down or something. Maybe if we're up big enough he'll give me the opportunity.
Twitter or Facebook? - Right now I'm really starting to dive into this Twitter movement. As long as I'm careful and safe with it, I want to do it.
CSC: Last but certainly not least, tell us about your charity?
DC: The Danny Clark Foundation was started in 2008. I've played in five different cities so I've reached out to under-serviced kids across the country and pretty much given them a better way to think; a better outlook on life decisions and options that are readily available to them. They just have to know where to go look. That's something the Danny Clark Foundation has done in New York, Oakland, Jacksonville, New Orleans, of course, and my hometown of Chicago.
We're going to relocate our headquarters to New Orleans and basically reach out to our community, help our youth and give them some different insights. Whether it's about education, fighting childhood obesity, nutrition or personal hygiene. You'd be surprised at what kids are unaware of so I think it's our job to get my peers and teammates across the league, people that have a lot of influence on our kids, and give them a better sense of direction.
We're going to do a "Shop with a Jock" thing for Christmas, where I get 30 of my teammates to sponsor 100 kids, either from a group home or orphanage, and take them shopping for Christmas. We'll also do a turkey giveaway for Thanksgiving.