Interview with former Nebraska Cornhusker and Carolina Panther Mike Minter

Husker Faithful@@huskerfaithfulContributor ISeptember 11, 2008

Every Husker football fan knows the name Mike Minter. Most of you know he was a four-year letterwinner and one of the best defensive backs Nebraska has ever seen. An All-Big 12 selection and team captain in 1996, Minter was also part of two Husker national championship teams (’94 & ’95) and a 2nd round draft pick of the NFL’s Carolina Panthers. Mike played 10 years in the NFL, all with Carolina, and was a defensive captain in each of his final five seasons. When he retired, he was the team’s all-time leader in tackles (953), starts (141), consecutive starts (94), interceptions returned for a touchdown (4), and fumble recoveries (9). What you may not know is how much time and money Minter has given to off-the-field endeavors like the YMCA, Boys and Girls Clubs of America, United Way, The Ruckus House, Special Olympics, Athletes in Action, Habitat for Humanity, and Pacific Pals. And we haven’t even touched on his business ventures. In other words, his bio easily takes up a full page, but what's most impressive is how humble Mike remains.

Mike has authored a book entitled Driven by Purpose…The Power of a Dream, which he says isn’t a “rags to riches story” but rather how “doing the right thing and trusting God” got him to where he is now. The book was released on September 6th and is available at the following link: get your copy here. Mike was gracious enough to grant Husker Faithful an interview in conjunction with the book’s release.

HF: You have a book out called Driven By Purpose...The Power of a Dream. What is the #1 thing you want the reader to take away from the book?

MM: I’d like anyone who reads my book to feel that no matter what life throws at you, you have the ability to overcome all obstacles and achieve your dreams.

HF: Besides the book, what else is keeping you busy these days?

MM: I have several business interests including a very active consulting business, a group of day care and learning centers, a property development group, an upscale salon and spa with my sister, and a publishing company that includes two business oriented magazines as well as my ventures as a public speaker and preacher.

HF: What was the most important lesson you learned growing up?

MM: When I was growing up, I learned very early that life is full of decisions and choices. Making the right ones is more a factor in success than is the environment in which people grow up.

HF: Who was the most influential person in your life and why?

MM: The most influential person in my life was my mother. No matter what life threw at her, she had the willpower to forge ahead, keep our family together, and teach us values and work ethics that were important for us to succeed.

HF: Who are some people you look up to today (other than T.O.)?

MM: Other than God, probably the person I admire most is Jerry Richardson, the man who owns the Carolina Panthers. I studied how he ran his team from a business standpoint, and I can only hope that I learned those lessons well. It’s not only the bottom line, but how he treats people and relates to them that I admire so much.

HF: You were the Panthers defensive captain from 2002-2006 as well as a Husker captain in 1996. What makes a good leader in your opinion?

MM: It sounds like an overused phrase, but a good leader sets a good example. In football and in life, the leader has to get the job done and, at the same time, show others how to get the job done and, at the same time, motivate them to get the job done…and if the leader does all that, the job gets done.

HF: In Super Bowl XXXVIII against the New England Patriots, you broke your left foot in the third quarter, yet managed to stay in the game and tie a career high for tackles with 18. What was the Super Bowl experience like for you?

MM: The Super Bowl experience was unparalleled as far as my football career was concerned. In fact, my book devotes an entire chapter to the game and the experience, so obviously I can’t do justice to it in a short answer.

HF: Rumor has it that you predicted the Giants beating the Patriots in the last Super Bowl and that you had a bet with former Husker (and former Panther teammate) Mike Rucker on the game. The winner got a car wash from the loser. Has Rucker paid off his debt to you yet, and if so, on a scale of 1-10 how would you rate his car-washing skills?

MM: I did predict that the Giants would end the Patriots run at a perfect season, and Ruck and I did have a bet on it. As regards to Ruck’s car washing skills, let’s just say I’m glad he has other business interests for his career after football. The rating is a three.

HF: You have said that from the age of six, you knew you wanted to play in the NFL. You have also said you knew early on that you wanted to play college football at Nebraska. Has life always been this easy for you in terms of knowing what you wanted and working hard to get it?

MM: Just because I set goals for myself and ultimately attained them, doesn’t mean that it was easy to do so. There were a lot of challenges and some disappointments along the way. That said, I did set my goals and I worked very hard to reach out and grab that brass ring that everyone talks about. Having and setting those goals was very instrumental to my success because without them, I’d have been nothing more than a rudderless boat.

HF: You’ve been described as “always being more than a football player.” Some guys have a hard time divorcing themselves from the game. How were you able to balance football with so many other commitments?

MM: I’d like to think that I learned from the mistakes of others. We all hear about the ex-athlete who made millions of dollars and finds himself broke just a few years after retirement. That made me realize that I needed a game plan for life after football…and I didn’t wait until the end of my career to begin implementing that plan. I surrounded myself with some trusted people, and I set about making my plans a reality as evidenced by the business interests I spoke about in question two. For me, it’s always a matter of having the right plan, getting the right people and communicating the purpose of it all.

HF: Now that your playing days are over, what haven't you accomplished yet in life that you want to do? What's on your “Bucket List”?

MM: I can’t say that there’s a concrete accomplishment that would have a defined end. Rather, I have set myself on a life-long mission to help others realize their dreams. That may be through my consulting company, it may be from a personal relationship, it may be from motivating someone to reach out for their dreams, or it may be from helping someone develop a closer relationship with God. However it may happen… if people see me and use me as a guide and example of how to achieve their dreams, I will have done my job well on this earth.

HF: What profession other than your own would you want to attempt?

MM: Well, so far, I’ve been a professional football player, a business person, a motivational speaker and a preacher…I’m not sure that there’s a whole lot of other things I want to take a shot at.

HF: What profession would you not like to do?

MM: I hope I don’t make any enemies over this, but I wouldn’t want any job that had to do with cats. Now I don’t mind the big ones, like lions and tigers, but I have always been afraid of the little ones. I guess it goes back to when my oldest sister used to throw them in our bed at night…that’s another story from the book.

HF: What is your favorite word?

MM: Faith is my favorite word. Faith is the foundation upon which all of life is built whether you are talking about your professional success, your love life or whatever. No matter what you are trying to build, you’d better have faith as your foundation.

HF: What is your least favorite word?

MM: My least favorite word is actually the phrase “I can’t.” People who say “I can’t” have simply stopped trying. Trying and falling short is no sin…failing to try is.

HF: What would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the Pearly Gates?

MM: “Well done, thy good and faithful servant.”

HF: When it's all said and done, how do you want people to remember you?

MM: That I made a difference in the lives that I touched.

HF: One quick Nebraska football question, what are your expectations and/or thoughts about the 2008 season and beyond?

MM: This year could be a bit of a disappointment for Husker fans. We could lose as many as 4 or 5 games, but this is usually the case with a new coaching staff. I have every reason to believe that when they have the time to teach the young men how they want them to play and get a couple of recruiting classes under their belts, Nebraska is going to be back in the National Championship hunt…and it will be sooner (is that a bad word?) than later.

HF: Thanks for taking the time, Mike.

A big thanks also goes out to Wendy Kitchen of Minter Consulting for helping to set up this interview.