Antonio Freeman: Ty Montgomery is 'a stud'
Green Bay Packers Hall of Famer Antonio Freeman was the guest on Monday's season premiere of Clubhouse Live, USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin’s live weekly football show.
Among the topics he touched on were playing with Brett Favre, his famous "Improbable Bobble" catch and Packers running back Ty Montgomery. The show can be seen live at The Clubhouse Sports Pub & Grill in downtown Appleton or at clubhouselive.com.
Here are select and edited answers from the interview:
Q: Is it true you can't wear your Super Bowl XXXI ring anymore because Brett Favre busted too many of your fingers?
Freeman: It's not just me. He broke three of Don Beebe's fingers. ... He broke five of Derrick Mayes' fingers. Probably six of Robert Brooks' fingers. And I'm sitting at eight (broken fingers). I've got two healthy fingers, really. So I spent my offseasons with at least two of my fingers in a sling just so they can stay (straight) and they don't end up like Larry McCarren. ... I'm good. (The ring) is a heavy thing to put on your hand.
Q: You were involved in a number of big plays throughout your Packers career, but perhaps the most incredible was that acrobatic, improbable catch you grabbed to cap an overtime victory over the Minnesota Vikings on Monday night in 2000 - a reception that ended with you scoring from 43 yards out. Is that the No. 1 play folks often ask you about?
Freeman: Absolutely, that's it. That's the first question, and the second one - a close second - is, 'What was it like to play with Brett Favre?' Dude, I had 52 other teammates!
Q: How did you have the awareness to know the ball hadn't hit the ground, get up and then run into the end zone for the score?
Freeman: This sounds like a cliche, but I remember my Pop Warner coach and my high school coach, Augie Waibel - rest in peace - saying, 'Hey, I don't care what happens. Never stop until you hear the whistle.' And to be honest with you, on that play, I never heard the whistle. And I was going down to the ground, just trying to brace my fall because it was an awkward play. (Then-Vikings cornerback) Chris Dishman had really made a pretty solid defensive play, he just didn't finish the play.
Q: The Packers' Ty Montgomery has transitioned from wide receiver to running back. Do you think you could have done the same during your playing days?
Freeman (shaking his head no): Ty Montgomery is the bomb. I want to compete against those 215-, 220-pound pound cornerbacks. I don't want to be running in between the guard and the center, which are two 300-pounders, to get through those guys to be met by a defender who's 300-plus pounds. And that's a pounding play after play after play. ... I give Ty Montgomery all the credit in the world. It takes a special athlete to be able to make that transformation from competing against a 220-pound defensive back - he can't hurt me if he tackles me. But running in between those tackles, being met by a 300-pounders. And if you get past the layer of 300-pounders, there's three 260-pound guys running to try to tackle you. Hey, (Montgomery) is a stud.