Karl Mecklenburg Interview

Patrick SchusterCorrespondent IMarch 25, 2008

Recently, I had the opportunity to pose a few questions to the NFL All-Time Great about what he has been up to since he left the NFL, the current status of the game, and a lot more.

Can you share a little about the REACH Foundation that you started after retiring from football?

The REACH Foundation is challenging Colorado kids to step outside of their comfort zone and try new things. I have found that kids make positive choices when they are well rounded and pursuing a passion. Learn more at http://www.karlmecklenburg.org/


Since you were a 12th-round pick (No. 310 overall) when you came out of the University of Minnesota in 1983 and still had a brilliant career, what advice would you give players as they prepare for the NFL Draft and worry what round they may be selected in?

Take advantage of the opportunity you have. Be a great special team player. Enjoy playing football and be decisive on the field. No decision or slow decisions are always wrong.


Did you ever think you would see the day when the NFL Draft was such a media event?

When the Broncos called to inform me that I was their 12th round pick it was 12:30 at night on the second day of the draft and I was asleep. Jenny Anne, the secretary was on the phone, not Dan Reeves. I am amazed at the coverage of not only the draft but the combine too. I didn't even get invited to the combine.


What is your fondest memory for your days playing for the Denver Broncos?

Going into Cleveland with my teammates and taking the AFC Championship home in 1986.


What do you think has changed the most in the NFL since you retired in 1994?

The league has gone out of their way to protect quarterbacks and receivers. They have taken the element of courage away from those positions. It has gotten so bad that now receivers and quarterbacks are talking trash during games.

The league has taken away the self-policing effect of big hits on these guys. I discount any records in the passing game that are set without the threat of being hit.


Is it flattering when people refer to prospects as a Mecklenburg-type player?

I played all seven defensive front positions for the Broncos, often in the course of a single game. If they mean versatile then yes it is flattering. It isn't flattering if they mean, too slow to play linebacker and too small to play lineman, like my scouting report read before the 1983 draft.


Have you ever considered getting back involved in football in either a coaching or front office capacity?

I have a career as a motivational speaker now and I love it. I can't say I haven't considered coaching or managing, but the thrill of helping people and companies achieve their dreams is awesome.

Who was the toughest player you faced during your career?

The NFL is full of tough guys but someone who stands out in my mind is Browns running back Kevin Mack.

I remember when Tom Jackson and I both tackled him at the same time and his face mask was bent so badly that it had pinned his nose to one side. I thought he must have been hurt but he jumped up and ran to the sidelines while ripping off his damaged helmet. He grabbed someone else's helmet and made it back into the game for the next play.

Any current player you especially enjoy watching now in the NFL?

The hustle and pass rush ability of Elvis Dumervil of the Broncos reminds me of myself at that age.


Besides your work with the REACH Foundation, how else are you spending your time these days?

I have more time to spend with my family than I did as a player. Most work days are spent writing and marketing for my speaking business, preparing for speeches, or speaking.

My mission as a speaker is to inspire long-term, positive change in teams and individuals. This will be helped by my new book, “The Heart of a Student Athlete,” due out in 2009. More info at http://www.karlmecklenburg.com/