Shredding With Legends Of The NFL
With a "lei day" called yesterday for the Volcom Pipe Pro, I pounced on a once in a lifetime opportunity for an NFL fan and went surfing with a few of the greatest football players to ever grace the gridiron. It all happened thanks to a bit of wheeling and dealing by Quiksilver's Todd Kline, you know, the guy on the mic at all the Quiksilver contests. Kliney was looking out for his boy and I got the green light to come join the hush hush (as all surfs should be) surf session at White Plains beach near Barbers Point on the West Side of Oahu.
We met up at the Ihilani Marriot Hotel and hung out around the pool bar with guys like Chargers offensive lineman Scott Mruczkowski, bad ass wide receiver Steve Smith, retired All-Pro quarterback Doug Flutie, Falcons All-Pro tight end Tony Gonzlez, and a slew of very large and happy dudes feeling the aloha spirit with the assistance of a few mai tais. The surfers on hand were mostly Quiksilver riders including Kelly Slater, Mark Healey, Fred Patacchia, Reef McIntosh, Sunny Garcia, and NFL über fan Gabe Kling who literally popped out of the kiawe bushes and said, "Hey guys what's going on? Where's MJD?"
Above: Doug Flutie, Tony Gonzalez, and Drew Brees surfing Oahu during Pro Bowl week.
After piling into a van provided by Hans Hedemann Surf School, we immediately started telling stories about how gnarly the sharks are on the West Side and how deadly the reef is. Flutie bought right into it, "That's why I ride a jet ski, man--they can't get to you on one of those!" We also joked about the irony of us surfers getting beat up by jocks in high school and how we now held the upper hand as we headed into the water.
The surf was perfect for the NFL guys; 2-foot wind swell that broke way outside and gently rolled to the beach. Tony Gonzalez, who grew up in Huntington Beach and was even on the surf team in junior high, was the standout among the players, but Brees seemed to have the most fun, he even did a superman dive into the camera as I was filming him on a wave. It was as if he diving into the end zone for the winning TD.
The good-natured ribbing didn't stop on the beach and Brees gave Kelly a tip on firing up Flutie, "Call him an old man and he'll get pissed." Kelly, being a bit long in the tooth as well, was all over it, "Hey Doug! Drew told me you were too old to be out here!"
It was on.
"I can still kick your ass Brees!" he yelled back.
Classic stuff and just like the rest of us who heckle our bros in the water.
Above: Pre-surf interviews with the crew…
The thing that I really took out of the whole experience was how completely normal and cool the guys were. We put them up on a pedestal because they play the game of football at an abnormally high level, but at the end of the day, they're just like us and just want to get into the water and have some fun. Thanks to Kliney from Quiksilver for the good times, Hans Hedemann Surf School for the boards, and Abe Lerner for the safety factor. For the record, Tony G. won the heat--a fact that is sure to light a fire under Brees and Flutie.