Friday, May 31, 2013

Getting To Know Your Favorite NFL Player

Spotlight on Sergio Brown - Indianapolis Colts

By: Lucy Rendler-Kaplan

I have always been more interested in sports games, movies, books when I’ve known more about the subjects or professionals. A glimpse into them as PEOPLE has always been fascinating to me. In my quest to find out more and more about my favorite NFL players, I was lucky enough to get to interview Sergio Brown, of the Colts.

Both Sergio and I are from Illinois, so immediately I felt that familiar home-town connection to him. As a WR and DB at Proviso East High School in Maywood, IL, Brown already showed NFL level skill. His senior year, he put on the boards 710 all-purpose yards and four touchdowns at the wide receiver, position, and 41 tackles, two sacks and six interceptions as a safety. At the University of Notre Dame, Brown primarily played special teams during his first two seasons, and became a starter in 2008 as a junior, starting 6 of 13 games and recording 28 tackles and one sack. As a senior, he started 12 games, and had 50 tackles and one sack (

Sergio Brown signed with the New England Patriots in 2010, and played for them until August of 2012. The very next day after being released from the Patriots, he was picked up by the Indianapolis Colts, where we will be watching him play this season.

Let’s learn a bit more about one of our favorite players, shall we?!

Lucy:      What do you think about the stereotype that “men know more about football than women do?”

SB:          I think people put that stereotype on women because they aren’t the ones playing the game every Sunday and practicing all week.  As players, we get to experience the game of football firsthand and nothing beats a first person experience.

Lucy:      That’s a great statement – I’ve never thought about that before, that perhaps if women were known to play football more than they currently are, that stereotype may not exist at all. What do you think the NFL could do to include women more?

SB:          I think the NFL has made strides including women more by having workshops, creating women’s design clothing, and involving the mothers of athletes more in the community.

Lucy:      Agreed! Women’s clothes used to be simply making large NFL-logo items, and now there are more and more fashionable ways we can show our love for our favorite teams! Did you grow up ALWAYS knowing you would one day play in the NFL?

SB:          I was in the 8th grade when I made up my mind that I wanted to be a NFL player.

Lucy:      Since we’re both from Illinois, I’ve gotta ask - what are some of your favorite memories of growing up here?

SB:          I have a lot of great memories growing up in Illinois, but one of the greatest was going to the Michael Finley Basketball Camp - it was the highlight of my summers.

Lucy:      That MUST have been exciting! Especially since it was held at your own high school! How often do you still come back? Do you have family still in IL?

SB:          Since Chicago is so close to Indianapolis, I try to get back a lot when time permits.  In the offseason, I train at EFT Sports Performance in Chicago, so I get to see my entire family and all my friends back home.

Lucy:      I’m sure EFT will have some ladies hanging out in front during the next off-season, hoping to have the chance to meet you after reading this! Everyone always really loves seeing that their favorite players are giving back, and it’s definitely a huge focus of mine…What are some of the charities you support?

SB:          I try to support as many charities and schools as possible because there is nothing like the feeling of giving back.  Some of the causes that I help out a lot are Baldrick’s Foundation, American Cancer Society, and I am working on creating my own Foundation for Inner City Youth in Chicago.

Lucy:      That’s great! I’d definitely like to work with you and your foundation. If you weren’t a football player, you’d want to be _______________

SB:          When I was coming out of college, I thought about doing something in fashion – possibly a marketing rep or a branding manager for an attractive clothing line and preferably one that works overseas. If I could be a part of their international marketing team that would be great since I love to travel.

Lucy:      WOW! That was definitely an unexpected answer…and sounds like that would also be a terrific career…who knows? You definitely still might have the chance once you are done with your NFL career! You mentioned you love to travel, what else do you do in your free time, when you’re not playing games or training?

SB:          I love to travel across the world to new locations.  I like thinking of new ideas and collaborations that I can work on like my LACER Headwear one – everybody should check out my hats! (

Lucy:      I’ll be ordering a hat TODAY! I hope everyone that reads this article checks out that site! I know that while some NFL players allow themselves the luxury of eating as they’d like, since they’re constantly working out, but do you ever let yourself “cheat” during the off-season? What’s a “cheat day” like for you?

SB:          I don’t have a strict diet, but it was one of my New Year’s Resolutions to eat better.  I can say that I am working hard towards that goal, but there is always room for improvement.

Lucy:      Something ELSE we’ve got in common! I think that’s also been MY New Year’s Resolution for the past 5 years! What would you call your “guilty pleasure?”

SB:          I LOVE potato chips and chocolate.  Flaming Hot Cheetos (the extra hot ones) are my kryptonite.

 Lucy:     What would you say if your son wanted to play in the NFL?

SB:          If you put your mind to it and work hard, you can believe anything. He needs to be well rounded in school and other things, so that he would know what he really wanted to do because growing up as a child I did everything from having good grades to basketball to track to karate to tumbling and numerous other activities. I give ALL credit to God for choosing football for me.

Lucy:      I really love the “attitude of gratitude” you speak with. It’s very refreshing. Knowing what you do now, what advice would you give to the 13 year old Sergio Brown?

SB:          I really don’t know – the 13 year old Sergio had no idea if he was doing things the right way, but he was living with no regret.

Lucy:      That’s the best way to live! I know you’re always watching NFL games - what other sports do you watch regularly?

SB:          I’m a big Chicago sports fan, so I watch everything Bulls and Blackhawks.

Lucy:      Again, as a fellow Chicagoan, you KNOW I’m high-fiving you after that answer! If you were to put together a “dream (NFL) team” who would you have on it?

SB:          My ‘Dream Team’ would be all my current teammates on the Indianapolis Colts with one stipulation -  I might just have to play QB!  (LOL JK, Luck is really good.)

Lucy:      HA! I love it! Is there anything else you’d like to say to the community?

SB:          We need more female fans because I love you all!!

Lucy:      And I know I speak for ALL your female fans, we ALL love YOU, Sergio! (and perhaps even a bit more now, after getting to know you better!)
For more player news/interviews, follow me on twitter @arkaymktg!

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Would I Make The Same Decision?


The world woke up to the news that actress Angelina Jolie chose to undergo a double mastectomy after finding out that she is a carrier of a mutation of the BRCA1 gene. Carriers of this gene are at a greater risk of developing breast and ovarian cancer. The news came following an announcement by Jolie in a New York Times op-ed article entitled “My Medical Choice,” early Tuesday. In the article, Jolie admits she has recently finished three months, beginning February 2 and ending as recently as April 27, of medical procedures at the Pink Lotus Breast Center (located in Southern California), which included both the mastectomies and reconstruction, which included breast implants.

“My doctors estimated that I had an 87 percent risk of breast cancer and a 50 percent risk of ovarian cancer, although the risk is different in the case of each woman,” Jolie wrote. “Once I knew that this was my reality, I decided to be proactive and to minimize the risk as much I could. I made a decision to have a preventive double mastectomy….I wanted to write this to tell other women that the decision to have a mastectomy was not easy. But it is one I am very happy that I made," Jolie wrote. "My chances of developing breast cancer have dropped from 87 percent to under 5 percent." Jolie’s mother, actress Marcheline Bertrand, died of breast cancer at a very young age, 56. Jolie is currently 37 years old. This procedure is recommended for people like Jolie -- those with a known genetic risk because they possess the BRCA1 or BRCA2, or have a strong family history of the disease, NPR has reported.

As one of the most high profile celebrities in the world, I wonder if this announcement will lessen the unfortunate stigma women often report feeling following such a surgery. Women seem to very often feel that their femininity and “power” as a woman is tied to their breasts. Angelina herself addresses this in her article – "I do not feel any less of a woman," Jolie writes. "I feel empowered that I made a strong choice that in no way diminishes my femininity." With a family history of ovarian cancer (my favorite grandmother died of ovarian cancer when I was 13 years old, after a long 8-year battle with the disease), I question if I would be strong enough to make this same decision. Though I do not feel any identity tied to my breasts, it is the fear of such an involved surgery that causes pause.

Locally, women are already seeming to agree with Jolie’s decision. “Having seen the tragedy that breast cancer inflicts upon an individual and a family I personally would also choose the option of a prophylactic mastectomy. Hopefully this will bring heightened awareness to breast cancer research,” says a Chicago registered technologist in mammography, who has chosen to remain anonymous.

Jolie is not the only recognizable name to undergo this procedure, but perhaps the most vocal about it, at least as of today. In early 2013, 24 year-old Miss America contestant Allyn Rose announced she planned to go undergo a similar preventive mastectomy because she has a strong family history of breast cancer in her mother. Actress Christina Applegate, underwent a double mastectomy in 2008 after she was diagnosed with breast cancer, and like Jolie, had reconstructive surgery which included implants, similarly to Jolie.

I’m interested in your thoughts, following this morning’s revelation. Tweet me @arkaymktg and let me know if you would undergo preventative measures like this, if you knew you also carried this “faulty gene.”

Friday, May 3, 2013

Green Bay Packers 2013 Draft Class & Aaron Rodgers Signs Record Contract Extension

It’s been quite the exciting week for the Green Bay Packers! Not only did they add 11 new players in the 2013 draft, but they’ve agreed upon a new five-year, $110 million contract extension with their star quarterback, Aaron Rodgers.

Aaron Rodgers
Aaron Rodgers

Rodgers is guaranteed an NFL-record $62.5 million, sources say, in a deal that will also set the highest salary per season in NFL history, eclipsing the $120.6 million over six years the Baltimore Ravens gave quarterback Joe Flacco in March. Good news for Rodgers’ fans – this extension will keep him in Green Bay through the 2019 season. The Packers are 53-27 in Rodgers’ five years as a starter, and he led them to the Super Bowl title following the 2010 season.

“Big thanks to the Organization, our coaching staff, my teammates, and packer nation for the last 8 years! Excited about 7 more!” Rodgers tweeted Friday. No sour grapes about the cash amongst Rodgers’ teammates, “Congratulations 2 my man @AaronRodgers12. Frankly, he deserves more, but thank you 4 saving some 4 the rest. Every dinner on u sir! Let’s Go,” Packers tight end Jermichael Finley @JermichaelF88 tweeted, following the release of the news.

Now that the 2013 draft has come and gone, let’s take a look back and reflect on the Packer’s draft picks:

Eddie Lacy
Eddie Lacy

Round 1 Pick 26 Datone Jones(at top of page), DE, UCLA: It’s no surprise to Green Bay’s fans that the Packers needed to work on their defense after last season. Jones is a great addition to the team, with his height and speed. In his final season with the Bruins, Jones had 5.5 sacks and 19 other tackles.  Jones will join the Packers proudly wearing a number 95 jersey.

Round 2 Pick 29 Eddie Lacy, RB, Alabama: I haven’t been able to see too much of what Lacy can do -  la problem with his hamstring prevented him from participating in the NFL pre-draft combine in February, and also kept him from working out for scouts until a couple of weeks ago on the Alabama campus. However, he is a strong, large, and powerful runner, which should complement Aaron Rodgers well. Lacy was also the MVP in each of his last two college games: the SEC Championship Game and the BCS Championship Game.

David Bahktiari
David Bahktiari

Round 4 Pick 12 David Bahktiari, T, Colorado: Bahktiari is a good strong pick. We need a better offensive line with bigger stronger guys and he certainly fills the spot. He’s a fast, versatile player that will be strong competition for starting position.

Round 4 Pick 25 J.C. Tretter, G/T, Cornell: By picking Tretter, Green Bay acknowledged what we fans already knew – the offensive line needs help! Tretter is a strong pick – he’s made 20 straight starts and was named All-Ivy League in each of his final two seasons at Cornell. I would venture to guess that we’ll see Tretter in the guard position once the season starts.

Round 4 Pick 28 Johnathan Franklin, RB, UCLA: Franklin is fast and should work well with Eddie Lacy. He set UCLA’s single-season rushing record with 1,700 yards in 2012, and also set the school’s career rushing record with 4,403 yards, giving him the title as UCLA’s “All-Time Leading Rusher.” I was surprised that it took as long as it did for Franklin to be picked up. This could be a terrific steal for Green Bay.

Micah Hyde
Micah Hyde

Round 5 Pick 26 Micah Hyde, DB, Iowa: Hyde had 240 tackles and eight interceptions in his four seasons with the Hawkeyes. In 2012 he was fourth in the Big Ten and 22nd in the nation with 1.22 pass break-ups per game. The question remains – how long before Green Bay moves Hyde from defensive back to the safety position? In my opinion, though versatile, he seems to be more of a reactive player, who will need time to come into his own this season.

Round 5 Pick 34 Josh Boyd, DT, Mississippi State: The selection of Boyd is the Packers’ fourth selection of a defensive lineman in the last two drafts. He is a very large and strong player, which should fill the hole in the Packers defense.

Nate Palmer
Nate Palmer

Round 6 Pick 25 Nate Palmer, OLB, Illinois State: Palmer started all 24 of Illinois State’s games over the past two seasons at defensive end. However, the Packers list Palmer as a linebacker. He’s registered 117 tackles, 17 sacks and 25 ½ tackles for loss in his final two seasons and was named all-Missouri Valley Football Conference second-team selection both years. He will have competition for a starting position, but we should be able to watch what Palmer can do for the Packers early in the season.

Round 7 Pick 10 Charles Johnson, WR, Grand Valley State: Former All-American wide receiver, Johnson looks promising and should be a huge playmaker for the Packers. He is coming off of two strong seasons as a Laker – in 2011 he caught 56 passes for 1,080 yards and 15 touchdowns and just this past season, he recorded 72 receptions for 1,199 yards and hauled in 16 touchdowns at Grand Valley State. Standing at 6’2″ and weighing 215 pounds, Johnson proved his athletic prowess at his pro day when he ran two sub 4.4-second times in the 40-yard dash and posted a vertical leap of 39.5 inches. While Johnson will be competing for time on the field with another draft pick Kevin Dorsey, he’s shown an athletic ability the Packers really need going into this season.

Kevin Dorsey
Kevin Dorsey

Round 7 Pick 18 Kevin Dorsey, WR, Maryland: The Packers clearly made adding strong and fast receivers into a priority in this year’s draft. Standing at 6’2″ and weighing over 200 pounds, it is understandable that Dorsey was added to the roster. Dorsey was a stand-out on his pro-day, running the 40 yard dash in only 4.47 seconds. After a less than impressive senior year, I am looking to Dorsey as more of a developmental player, that should receive more field time as he learns more about how to fit in with the Packers organization.

Round 7 Pick 26 Sam Barrington, LB, South Florida: With their 11th and final pick in the 2013 draft, the Packers selected LB Sam Barrington from South Florida. Following a sudden opening at the LB position following D.J. Smith’s release, the Packers were able to pick up Barrington, who we could end up seeing playing both the inside and outside linebacker position. I believe he will end up being a developmental steal – he’s got great size but isn’t overly fast. Speed can easily be learned and worked on, versatility will be what sets Barrington apart on field.

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