Friday - Dec 6, 2019

Home / Commentary / From Third and Long to Lights, Cameras, Action – An Interview With Simeon Rice

From Third and Long to Lights, Cameras, Action – An Interview With Simeon Rice

All too often, fantasy football becomes an impersonal game played with playing pieces rather than real live people. While many football players live a life that is well publicized and seems like a dream life to many of us, the reality is that they are real live people, just like us.

To many, playing football is a journey to what one wants to do with their lives. If a career is handled prudently, the financial benefits lay a solid foundation for a player and his family to spend the rest of their lives comfortably.

Simeon Rice is one of those players who has been able to transform his life from being one of the best defensive ends of all-time to having a second career fulfilling his further dreams. Born in 1974 in Chicago, he went to Mount Carmel High School, a breeding ground for sports excellence. Other noted graduates include former NFL QB Donovan McNabb, NBA star Antoine Walker and the last MLB pitcher to win 31 games in a single season, Denny McLain.

Rice went on to have a great career at the University of Illinois. In an NFL career that lasted from 1996 through 2007 and saw stops in Arizona, Tampa Bay, Denver and Indianapolis, Simeon Rice emerged as one of the all-time greatest pass rushers, finishing his illustrious career with 122 QB sacks.

Following his playing career, Rice attended the New York Film Academy and graduated in 2009. His first feature-length film as a director is Unsullied. Click here to view the trailer.

Simeon_Rice_1
Simeon Rice

Recently, Simeon agreed to sit down with me and visit with our Fantasy Sharks family.

Mike Nease (MN)
Simeon, when your career ended after thousands of physical collisions over the years, did you suffer from concussions like so many players have over the years?

Simeon Rice (SR)
As I expected, Rice replied like you would expect a player used to delivering punishment, rather than receiving it. He told me that his “bell had been rung” a few times, but it wasn’t ever any big deal.

MN
During your playing days, what was your greatest accomplishment as an individual?

SR
He quickly replied that his greatest game was back in 2003, a 48-21 win over the Oakland Raiders in Super Bowl XXXVII. He sacked Oakland QB Rich Gannon twice and helped lead the Bucs to an overwhelming win.

MN
What was the low point of your career? Did you ever feel like quitting and have to force yourself to continue?

SR
After a hesitation that seemed like an eternity, Simeon talked about having to accept retirement. His fierce, competitive spirit wanted to keep going, but nobody would give him a chance because of recurring shoulder issues. He then explained how he took that energy and refocused it into a new career.

MN
Out of all the players you played against, who were your greatest rivals? Were there any players that you felt intimidated by?

SR
Without hesitation, Rice reflexively responded with a name from the past, Jonathan Ogden, the Hall of Fame OT, whose career with the Baltimore Ravens paralleled Rice’s.

Next came the answer to the single question I feared asking. After chatting with Rice for several minutes the answer did not surprise me. This is a man with an intense aura of confidence. He hesitated a second, chuckled and said “Of course not! How can you be the best in the NFL at what you do if you let others intimidate you?”

After feeling like I had just committed a major gaffe, we continued.

MN
With 122 QB sacks, what was your most memorable big play? A sack I presume…

SR
Thank goodness! I was back on safe ground.

He took me back to a multiple sack game where he continually victimized QB Marc Brunnell. When he speaks, you almost feel the bone-crushing power right there. It is uncanny that a man who played so all out and had such a great career is not in the Hall of Fame, as yet.

MN
When did you start to have a desire to get involved in the film industry?

SR
Suddenly, a different side of this man was present in the discussion. We spoke about his long-time desire to be a story-teller. He intends to do that creatively through the film industry.

MN
Why did you decide on being a director early on, rather than acting?

SR
He quickly made it clear that as a man, he is so much more than an ex-jock. He spoke of his passion for entertaining others through stories, be they on just about any subject. He kept repeating his role as being the story-teller and leaving the acting to others. You could feel his enthusiasm as he went on and on about his love for what he is doing.

I thought about how lucky we are to experience passion in our careers and here sits a man who is enjoying that opportunity for a second time. Many of us are hit by circumstances that may end a great career, but so few of us are fortunate to find that feeling again.

MN
Without giving too much away, please tell our readers what Unsullied is all about.

SR
Sounding like a proud dad talking about his newborn baby, he told me… “Mike, this is a thrill ride, a real thrill ride. It is the story of Reagan Farrow, a young athlete on her way to a race. After her car breaks down she is confronted by two bad guys who have stopped, but definitely not to help her. From that moment until the end it is like a roller coaster ride of excitement, with one thrill after another.”

MN
Where will people be able to see Unsullied? How is it being distributed?

SR
With an excitement in his voice, Simeon Rice was completing a transformation from being one of the most intimidating men to play football in the last twenty years to being an entrepreneur. “We open this weekend in over 30 major markets. Everyone can go out and get tickets at Fandango.” You could sense that if he needed to, he would be out front of the theater to invite people to come in and see his story unfold on the screen.

I checked it out locally and found several theaters in the Chicago area that will be showing it. For an independent film this is a promising start. And for anybody looking for some excitement this weekend, check it out!

MN
How does waiting for a film to be released compare to the time leading up to kickoff?

SR
With a bit of hesitation, Simeon described how the experiences are the same, yet different. “Mike, the two are similar in that there is anticipation, but it’s so different, too. In football, you are part of a team and by the time the kickoff happens you are all set to go out and hit someone. Being a principal behind a business venture like a film, there’s anticipation, but there are so many worries, too.”

When you have so much personally, emotionally and financially, tied into something you feel a breathlessness as the whole scenario unfolds.

MN
How closely do you follow the NFL now? Do you play fantasy football?

SR
He spoke about having just visited the Bucs at camp and went on about not really having time to follow it as closely he would like. As for fantasy football, he mentioned that a lot of his friends play, but he hasn’t taken it up as yet. With that “as yet” he did sort of leave the door open a crack to taking it up one day.

MN
What is next on your agenda, Simeon? Is there another film in your future?

SR
With this final question on the table, Simeon Rice, that toughest guy on the football field, thought momentarily, choosing his words carefully and replying slowly and firmly, he said “everything hinges on the success of Unsullied.”

He could not have put it more concisely. Simeon Rice was a player who went all out playing football until his body just could not do it anymore. Now he is the new guy in the film industry. With his all-in tenacity and fierce desire to win, I learned in the time I spent with this man that he exudes the fact that football players can be much more than athletes. Today, he stands out as he says, as a story-teller. We have not heard the last of Simeon Rice.

Thank you for joining us for a few minutes, Simeon. I appreciate the time you have taken to talk football and to tell us about your new film. I also want to send out a big thank you to our friend Michelle Gracie, the Producer of Unsullied for introducing me to Simeon Rice and setting up this interview. We welcome both of you to our growing Fantasy Sharks family.

About Mike Nease

Mike Nease is a member of the FSWA and has been playing the game since 1985, while also writing about it since 2001. Over the years he has sampled about all the playing scenarios that fantasy football offers, including re-drafter, keeper, dynasty, auction, IDP and salary cap leagues. He and his wife Bonnie reside in West Chicago, IL You can contact Mike at mnease23@yahoo.com anytime and during the football season follow him @mikeinsights.