By Alex Skillin
A star NFL player and team leader on the field for the Arizona Cardinals, Kerry Rhodes is a busy man off the field as well. Whether he is working with his foundation, which supports underprivileged kids and under-supported high schools, or finding time in his busy schedule for some acting, Rhodes possesses a wide variety of interests. With the Super Bowl less than a week away, the eight-year NFL veteran talked to TheCelebrityCafe.com about the upcoming re-launch of his foundation, his interest in acting, and just who he thinks will win the big game on Sunday.
TheCelebrityCafe.com: Give us a little background on your foundation, what is the overall mission? What types of events have you done in the past with your foundation?
Kerry Rhodes: It’s called the Rhodes Foundation. I started it back in 2005. It was just an initiative for me to start giving back to underprivileged kids and under-served city schools back in my hometown in Alabama. I started doing that with my high school, just giving them whatever they needed, whatever the case may be -- gym equipment, books, whatever it was, I just helped out with that. Then it evolved to the point where I give a kid a scholarship ever year to go to college. That’s my main mission: I want to help educate children and make sure that they have the necessary tools to further advance themselves along their careers as well.
TCC: When will the re-launch be taking place and what do you have planned for the Rhodes Foundation in the near future?
KR: I have a couple of big events coming up. I have a black tie dinner, and that is going to be in May. I don’t have the exact date yet, but it will be in May. And then I have another event, a celebrity softball tournament that’s going to be in June, actually in LA, so I’m hitting two big cities, and the two main places for me to get it going again.
TCC: You spend some of your time off the field acting. First off, tell us about where your interest in acting has come from.
KR: Yeah, I’ve done a lot of stuff behind the camera. Actually, my minor in school was theater at Louisville, so I had experience with it way back then. I also did plays and all that stuff back in high school and even middle school, all the way back to those days. It’s always been a mainstay, it’s always been something that I wanted to get into once I have time to do it. I’ve also had a couple cameos in a couple feature films that I’ve been in.
TCC: Is acting something you would like to pursue once your NFL career is over?
KR: Right now I’m just trying to do as much acting as I can with the little time that I do have to spend on it. As soon as I’m done with football and really have the chance to pursue it full time, I will do it.
TCC: You have a new head coach with the Arizona Cardinals in Bruce Arians. You’ve experienced this situation twice before with the New York Jets in your career, what has it been like in your experience when a new coaching staff takes over?
KR: It’s like that, it’s new. Sometimes you dive into a situation headfirst knowing it’ll be different, knowing you have to embrace a change. I think that’s the first step in making it work is embracing it. It’s going to happen, which you already know, so you have to embrace the new guy and the new system. You know that in this league, if you don’t win, there is gonna be change. Being a professional, you know that.
TCC: Do you know Bruce Arians at all?
KR: No, I don’t know him at all actually. I’ve never met him at all. But all the buzz about him has been positive, everybody’s run-ins with him have been good from what I’ve heard. I’m eager to meet him once I get back to Arizona and get a chance to sit down and talk to him and see his ideas and what direction he wants to take the team. For me, I’m excited. You never want to see a guy like Coach Whisenhunt leave, but like I said, you know in this league, if you’re not winning and it’s not going right for you, there’s going to be change.
TCC: You just finished your eighth season in the NFL, how is your role different now than from your first few years in the league?
KR: It’s weird because you come in as a rookie and you see the veteran guys -- I had great role models and guys who taught me the ropes when I was in New York as a rookie. I had Curtis Martin, Wayne Chrebet, Chad Pennington, and Vinny Testaverde. I had all those guys there to tell me what to expect and what was gonna happen. Those guys used to always tell me, “It’s gonna go by fast, you gotta experience it, you gotta enjoy it while you can.”
As a rookie you come in and you’re like, “Nah, it’s going fast for you, but not me.” [Laughs]. And eight years later, I’m that guy now giving the same advice to the Patrick Petersons and Daryl Washingtons on my team. It’s weird, it goes by fast. That’s my role now, I’ve had one of the biggest contracts for my position in the league, I’ve made All-Pros, I’ve done that type of stuff. Now I want to win and just share my knowledge to the guys who are coming up after me now. I’m just trying to be a role model for those guys, somebody they can see doing it right so they can do it right as well.
TCC: Do you feel like you’ve become more of a leader in the locker room?
KR: I’ve always been a leader, I’ve been a captain on my team before. But it’s just the knowledge that you gain when you are in this league for a longer time, you just get to see different situations, different things that happen. You know how to handle them, and you can just pass your knowledge on to the younger players.
TCC: So the Super Bowl is coming up this Sunday, do you have a rooting interest in this game at all?
KR: I know a lot of guys on both teams. You really don’t root for anybody, but I personally think the better team is San Francisco and I hate saying it cause they’re in our division [laughs], but I’ve seen them twice, I know how good they are. Then you get the added boost and fanfare behind their new quarterback, Colin [Kaepernick], who is doing well. He’s a weapon so just adding that additional firepower to an already really good team, it just makes them that much better.
TCC: So you do think the 49ers will win?
KR: I do, I think they will. I think it’s a great story with the Baltimore Ravens and everything with Ray [Lewis] retiring and how they’ve jumped on that emotional bandwagon and followed their leader. All that stuff, along with the emergence of Flacco has been great, but I just think, with all those story lines being said and all that stuff being said, that San Fran is the better team and they have a little bit more balance.
TCC: What do you think the scoreline will end up being?
KR: Hmmm, I think it’ll probably end up being 31-21 or somewhere around there.