Taylor Twellman press conference transcription
REVOLUTION FORWARD TAYLOR TWELLMAN
Alright guys. We’re going to watch [the highlight video] one more time.
Today’s hard, not only for myself, but for my family, and I know for a lot of the fans watching here on the internet and teammates and everyone that has been a part of the Revolution family for the [nine] years that I’ve been here. It’s unfortunate to lose a career to an injury. It’s not a choice. I don’t have a choice, unfortunately. When you’re told that if you want to live your life and be healthy, then soccer needs to stop, the decision is made for me. So I’m here today.
I’d love to sit here and talk to you about how mad I am, how ticked off I am that an injury cut my career short at the age of 28 and how I’ve never gotten to play, gotten to bring a Cup to this city and to this organization – but it’s not who I am. I would have loved the opportunity to have done what Jaime Moreno and Brian McBride got to do and sit there and announce that, ‘Guess what? I can come out and this is my last year and we can celebrate the Revolution and the history and everything that I’ve done here,’ but unfortunately that wasn’t how I had this written out and that’s not how God had his plan for me. And that’s what I’m here to say today and to celebrate what really was the time of my life.
Growing up – I laugh because there were about seven words that were said to me from age seven on – that was, “Give ‘em hell; you never know when it’s your last game.” And I sit here thinking about it because my dad… I’m picturing my brother in the back of the car and he was like seven years old and we’re like, “Yeah, Dad. Whatever. Give ‘em hell, last game.” So my brother looks at me and goes, “Taylor, what does he mean? There’s like 15 games left on the schedule.” And that to me – unfortunately, Pops – I know what it means. I know what it means to give ‘em hell and I know what it means to never know it’s your last game. I sure as hell didn’t know that New York last year was going to be my last game.
The hardest part of this injury is that I can do zero about it. And that is the most humbling thing that has ever happened to me in my life. For those who know me very well – and I see a lot of friends here today that were also my teammates – anyone that knows me knows if you told me I couldn’t do it, guess what? I’m doing it. If you told me I couldn’t fix it, I’m going to fix it. And for two years, I have done everything from acupuncture for 12 hours, to waking up at 6:30 a.m., to sitting in a dark room for six months, and I can honestly sit here and say that I’ve done it all, I’ve tried it all. I’m sick and I’m injured.
But to do something you love and to do something you were born to do – and I’ll get into that as obviously for a million time we’ve heard about my family bloodlines – but I did something that I love and that I was born to do it, and I got paid to do it and have fun. Honestly, wrap your heads around that. All that I can say is: are you kidding me? It’s the greatest gift God ever gave me and that was the ability to do something that I was born to do. And that’s kind of where I want to get into this.
We all know about my family history and I’m going to tell a few good stories because I need a laugh, otherwise I can stand up here and have everyone look at me and be sad. But I’m going to tell some good stories and hopefully we have some laughs.
We all know about my family history. I grew up with a father who played pro soccer for ten years, a grandfather that played – and I’m sorry I know I’m in Boston here – with a grandfather that played baseball with Joe DiMaggio and the Yankees and won two World Series, and an uncle that played pro golf. Yet, when you talk to anyone in my family and met them, you would have never known that they were pro athletes. Ever. They were humble.
My first goal – everyone asks me about what my first goal was – my dad was playing his last year in Kansas City, and at half-time, they said, ‘Why don’t we have the kids come out and play?’ I scored a goal – a real good one on my own team – and ran around and celebrated for five minutes to everyone. I guess some things never change – right, Mom? And I went right into the locker room, and I don’t remember because I was five years old, but I pity my dad because I know what our locker room would have been like for the Revs. And the crap my dad probably got for that?
But when I reflect on – and I’m sitting here talking about my family and I reflect about it… I just thought every kid grew up with my family. I thought every kid had seven pro athletes. And I thought every kid, their dad played pro soccer, was successful at it, sat in that locker room, and I thought every kid did that. And to have your dad go through all your experiences, as a son, and I get choked up… and to have your dad be your role model – there’s nothing better. He taught me dedication, he taught me hard work, but mostly importantly, he taught me how to have fun. And that’s the thing that I’m most grateful from my dad.
And from my mom, on the other hand... Other than, obviously, the good looks and the blonde hair – I thank God she gave me that. Everybody asks about my mom. My dad was the heart and soul of the family, but my mom was the brains and everything behind it. But when I talk about my mom, I talk about – it’s a good story. So I think Pat Noonan is actually a part of this story. We’re growing up and you’re having your first sleepover. You just played a ridiculous youth soccer tournament where you have like four games in one day. My mom goes, “So why don’t you have a couple of friends over?” I’m like, “Alright,” so I have them over. What did normal parents do? They order pizzas, soda, you know – just let the kids stay up all night. So we show up at the house, we had just played our third game… The table’s set – five course meal: steak, potatoes, salad, veggies – guys, we’re nine years old. How many nine year-olds eat salad and veggies? So I’m sitting there and I’m reflecting on this about my mom… I’ll never forget this – I think it was Noonan, actually. Noonan’s like, “What are these green things?” “Uh, they’re green beans, Pat.” And I sat there and just reflected about my mom, and the on-going joke in the family is ‘who has seen more sports games in their life?’ And the answer always is my mom. Her dad played 19 years pro ball, her brother is a golfer, her husband is a soccer player, and her two sons and her daughter played forever. But what she loved to do was take care of a pro athlete. And at age eight, I’m eating broccoli, green beans, salad, going to bed at nine o’clock. And I thought it was normal, right? But then my habits moved on to my college career. First time moving away from home and I’m treating my body well, and everybody’s looking at me going, “God, where did you learn that from?” And I’m like, “What do you mean? I’ve been doing this…” And it wasn’t forced, by any means, it was just love and it was what my mom knew to do. She just knew how to do it. But the greatest [thing] my mom ever did (for me) and is the reason why I’m standing up here – and she’ll laugh – she convinced me to give MLS a try.
I was in Germany, just done with my second season. And make no mistakes about it, I’ll sit here and brag a little bit. I was leading the reserves team with 30 goals in like 40 goals and I was like, “I can’t get a look at the first team.” And I said, ‘You know what? I’m done. I’m going to go back to school and play golf or baseball and get my education,’ and my mom said, “Listen. You can’t give up, but most importantly… Let me talk to the general manager.” She convinced 1860 Munich to let me to go back to the States – and this is just after September 11th – and she hit the right chord with the GM because he gave me one opportunity, and that was to go back to the States. And that, honestly, is the biggest [impact] my mom had on my career. But I’m not going to sit up here and tell all these stories without saying the most important thing I learned from my family, especially my mom and dad, is humility and it is something that has smacked me right in the face numerous times in my career.
From day one, if the team won and I played – it was a success. There were times in high school when I was scoring goals, the team was losing, but my parents – we were never sitting there talking about ‘me,’ we were always talking about ‘we’. And that was the greatest gift you two could have ever given me, is the sense of humility and the sense of using your god-given abilities to their greatest potential.
And now it goes to my extended family… The first time I ever met Mr. Robert Kraft – it was the one week that this field was name the CMGI Field, and for those of you remember, I think it was a week, maybe a month. We opened the stadium, it was the home opener… I had two goals, so I was feeling pretty good about myself. Right after September 11, so my dad comes on the field, and by the way, it was a security breach like no other. And I remember Robert walking over and saying, “No, we’ve got it, it’s alright.” And he’s coming over and I’m sitting here thinking to myself, ‘Robert’s going to be like, “Man, you’re good. What a great game.”’ He comes over and goes, “Yeah, you guys played well. Look at this beautiful stadium my family just built. Look at all the hard work my family did.” And I say that story because that is exactly what my mom and dad taught me throughout my whole life – it’s we, not me. And from that moment on, and my dad and mom will tell you, I made a conscious decision to represent Mr. Robert Kraft and Jonathan Kraft and their family to the fullest. It wasn’t representing a soccer organization; it was representing a family that stood for hard work, dedication and loyalty. It was an honor, Robert, Jonathan, and most important – I know she’s not here – but Myra. It was an honor to represent your family and organization.
And on a side note: I know he’s not here today, but we spoke this morning – Sunil Gulati. He’s known me since I was 17 years old. And I’d be remiss not to mention him for the professional relationship that we had, and the advice he gave me led m in the right direction more often than not and I appreciate everything Sunil did for me.
In capital letters, it says Steve Nicol on my paper. I’ll give you a brief history of how I got here. I was in Germany. I left, wanted to come back to MLS. Sigi Schmidt was in LA, Bob Gansler was in Kansas City and I was 99 percent sure I was going there. I’m not going to bore you with the logistics, but I ended up going in the draft and ended up in New England. So you’ve got a kid who has lived in Germany, learned the German language… He’s a kid in a candy store to know he can go speak English, he’s in America – so what do the Revs do? Well, they take a nine hour plane trip to Brazil. So they said, “Taylor, we’d like for you to meet us in Sao Paolo.” So you land in Sao Paolo – and then Stevie will remember this – and then a little Volkswagen Bug picks you up and you feel like Mr. Bean in the car and go about 25 miles per hour for four hours into the mountains of Brazil. I get out of the Volkswagen Bug, can’t find anyone – it’s really in the middle of nowhere – and I walked through and by the pool are Fernando Clavijo, John Murphy and Steve Nicol. So you know, I walk up and am like “Coach, Fernando, how are you? Murph, how are you? Stevie…” and Stevie goes, “(trying to feign Scottish accent), eh?” And I was like, ‘you’ve got to be kidding me. Did I really just leave Germany and now I’ve got a coach who still doesn’t speak English? Really?’ So Stevie was the assistant coach, at times, an needless to say, for the first two weeks, I just nodded my head and said, “Uh-huh, yep. Sure, no problem.”
That preseason was a fun one. I was excited. I saw a lot of guys that I idolized growing up, that I played against. You know, the Steve Ralstons, the Jay Heaps’, Leo Cullen – I mean, all of those guys had a part in my career. To be on the same team as them, it was just something pretty cool. But at the end of that preseason, I remember we were having a couple beers and my counseling room on the team at the time was Jim Rooney and Steve Ralston. And I’d go in there all the time and be like, “Guys, I scored a goal. Am I playing, am I playing?” Really annoying, and no wonder why Steve (Ralston) hates me… And I remember sitting there and Rally looked me right in the face and goes, “Just take care of yourself because the coaches aren’t convinced that you’re 100 percent ready to be the starter on this team.” And I was like, “Oh, really? Alright.” And then Steve Nicol got hired and needless to say, 2002 I played with a chip on my shoulder to prove to him that I could be his leading goal scorer for years to come. But that ’02 team, I talk about it to a lot of people. The San Francisco Giants want to call themselves misfits right now? We were misfits. But the best hiring in the history of the Revolution organization was Steve Nicol and he got the most out of that ’02 team, and the rest was history.
The best thing that Steve Nicol ever did for me was 2004. We got called in, we were talking about the training facility. He didn’t want me to give everyone a lot of trouble that we had to travel and train at Wrentham, and I was ticked. So he was like, ‘Come on over, act like you’re included in the meeting.’ But he pulls me over and he says, ‘You know, I think I’m hiring a great assistant coach for you.’ I said, ‘Oh really? That’s cool. Who is it?’ He goes, ‘Paul Mariner.’ Well, the only thing I knew about Paul was he played for England and Arsenal, scored a goal in the World Cup, so I was sold. So I’m thinking alright, I’m the leading goal scorer for the Revs, I’m feeling pretty good about myself and Paul’s going to come in, put his arm around my shoulder, look at me and say, ‘You know what, you’re my man, let’s do this, let’s get better.’
A month goes by. About six weeks into my career with Paul Mariner, he hasn’t said two words to me. Then about three weeks into the season we’re sitting there, it’s our first tape session, so he calls in Clint Dempsey, Pat Noonan, me and Andy Dorman, right? So we go in there, he’s like, ‘Clint, you’re so powerful with the ball, you’re so technical. Noonan, you’re a great target, you’re really linking up with forwards. Dorman, great runs out of the midfield. And Taylor, you run hard.’ I run hard? I was a little ticked off to say (the least). I just sat there and for six weeks it bothered me. One practice I’m trying to be like Clint Dempsey, which as Steve Nicol will tell you, any backheel I ever tried he was pounding the boards on the side of the field. Then I was trying to play like Pat Noonan, and let’s be honest, I don’t have a cut like that. And I’m going through the list and finally I went up to Paul and I said, ‘Paul, I’m lost. What do I need to do to get better?’ You would’ve thought I’d just given him the greatest gift in the world. He smiled, put his arm around me and said, ‘You’re about two months too late. Now let’s get to work.’
I honestly can say I had the best player-coaching relationships any player could ever have. And any player’s dream is to find one coach – not multiple – to find one coach that believes in his ability. I found two. They let me be me, and for the players that I’ve played with that are in the room and for a lot of the staff, it was jokes, it was pranks – it was just me being me. But they had a positive attitude any day of the week. They showed up to practice, it was contagious.
But the greatest compliment I ever got from Steve Nicol – and this comes from a little reflecting because at the time I didn’t take it as a compliment – but when Preston North End came in and made an offer to the Revs, and Steve Nicol called me – and I could tell from his tone of voice that it was a very difficult phone call, because he was a player, he knew it was a dream and it was – but he said, ‘I cannot see myself coaching without you on my team, and I am not letting you go.’ Did I agree with him? No. Did I have choice words? Yeah. But when you sit back and reflect on what was a short, but fun and good career, that’s a player’s dream, is to find a coach that believes in you and finally says, ‘You’re my man.’ Stevie, thank you so much for calling my number every night. And, more importantly, for the memories.
And on to the memories. The video doesn’t do it justice. And I’m not talking about 100 goals, I’m not talking about any trophies I won, we won - doesn’t matter. Memories last a lifetime. Trophies, awards, all that – they collect dust. I was blessed to play with the greatest group of men and teammates ever. And I heard an athlete once say that when you like players off the field, it makes it that much easier to sacrifice yourself on the field. The group of players and men that I played with from 2002 until now is the only reason why I’m standing up here with however many goals I have, however many trophies I have.
I’ll tell a couple good stories. First ESPN interview, I’m feeling good, finalist for the MVP. So I’m coming back, look at my car in the parking lot – because we were training at Wrentham – notice a tire’s missing. So I’m going, ‘OK.’ So I’m a little weirded out. I’m like, ‘Someone stole my car.’ I walk into the locker room, everyone’s normal, no one says anything. And my spare tire is sitting in my locker.
First playoffs, it’s cold, we’re playing like our seventh game of the playoffs or something ridiculous. And I’m warming up, sweating, I’ve got Under Armour on, and my sliders are itching a little bit. Everything’s a little warm down under and I’m going, ‘Huh, that’s weird.’ Someone put Flexall in my sliders.
Playing cards for hours. And for everyone that played cards with me, I mean we played cards for hours in the back of the bus.
But the greatest thing about the locker room that I was a part of (is) there were zero egos whatsoever. Anyone was fair game for a prank, anyone was fair game for a joke. And I know we didn’t win an MLS Cup, but we were one hell of a successful team because of that locker room.
The hardest memory and the memory that I will remember the most is the four finals. The blood, sweat and tears of sitting in that locker room and looking at grown men sob and that put everything into it. And I know the parties afterwards – as Stevie and Jonathan and everybody – it was kind of like the movie The Wedding Singer. You just really didn’t want to go into those rooms. But it was the greatest group of guys, their parents. It was men that believed in each other. And of course it can’t last forever, but that’s what I’m going to remember.
I needed every single guy that’s in this room tonight that I played with and that I’ve ever put on a jersey with. I needed them to be successful and that is the greatest and the thing I’m most thankful for, is the players I played with, because no award, nothing I got would’ve been possible without those knuckleheads in that locker room every single day, putting on a Revs jersey with. (Muttering to himself) Is he done yet?
The greatest memory, for me, and it’s one that I will tell – first of all, as we all know, I’m pretty good story teller, so imagine these stories like when I’m 60, 65? They’re going to be pretty good.
The greatest memory I’ll ever remember – and it was the most humbling thing that’s ever happened to me – was my 100th goal. All 11 guys on the field came over. And my Dad – first of all, who was there for goal number one, 25, 50, 75 and 100, which by the way cost the family a lot of money because, being a baseball family, when you’re superstitious, if I’m on a three-game goal-scoring streak – and Stevie will tell you – he’s going to the game. So Christmas presents were mileage.
But that 100th goal memory, I don’t know how to explain it. Every goal was special for the team and for myself, but the 100th goal, having the goalie come up, having Jay Heaps head-butting you – which is probably why I have another concussion. But those are the memories that I will remember. And in the back of that picture, there’s a 100 stars banner.
And for the fans, it’s been a hard two years I know for the fans. And I know they’ve had some choice words for me and some good and some positive, but that’s part of being a sports fan, and I’m one myself and I love every bit of it. I don’t know how to thank the fans other than I hope my play on the field made you proud and excited to be a Revs fan. I hope it also made you a believer in the brand of MLS and especially the brand that Jonathan and Robert have put on this field. But those banners – the 100 stars banner, the Taylor’s Team banner, which is above my sister’s bed in our home back in St. Louis – those are awesome. And I said it to Paul Mariner on the phone this morning. I said, ‘If you can’t put something into words, it means a lot.’ And whatever I’ve said today, it’s difficult. It’s words. It doesn’t mean anything. From the bottom of my heart, this is the best my words could describe how I felt.
As for my future, my roots will always be here in New England. I’ve started a foundation here in Boston to help rebuild city athletic fields, as I want to make sure the city players and the city kids are having a good field to play on, and that will continue. But I have an opportunity – I don’t know why, but it was God’s way for me – to help educate about the injury of concussions.
And the last month has been a change in the front of sports. Sports Illustrated, TIME magazine calling it the invisible injury. And I take that as a challenge. I hate the fact that my career has ended on a brain injury as a concussion, but I have an opportunity to educate parents and kids the dangers about concussions and the effects of concussions.
I will always nurture the growth of MLS in whatever I am doing, while pursuing whatever I’m doing in the sport of soccer. I will also start Twellman soccer camps here in New England in 2011. I didn’t have a chance when I was playing to give back to the youth and they are my real fans and they are the ones, because I was once that kid in the locker room with my Dad. And I want to give every kid in New England an opportunity to achieve their dreams the way Steve Nicol, Paul Mariner and especially my Dad allowed me to be here today. So thank you.
INVESTOR/OPERATOR JONATHAN KRAFT
When MLS was conceived in the mid-90s, the goal behind it was to try to give kids who were great athletes – but who didn’t see a future in professional soccer in this country – a chance to stay with the sport, build the foundation and ultimately allow the United States to compete at the highest level in the World Cup. This league, Major League Soccer, would be the foundation of developing young American soccer players. And as someone who was in the room at the time the league was being conceived, I didn’t know Taylor, but Taylor was the prototype, the model. It was the classic case – Taylor was a three-sport varsity athlete in high school, could have done anything he wanted. MLS started, I believe, you’re senior year, or just as he was ending, and while he went overseas when he got done with playing in school in this country, MLS was his destiny. To have an American player with the name “Taylor Twellman,” – which is a magical sports name, I think – come into this league and for eight years and not only be the poster child of the Revolution, but the poster child of the league: five-time all-star, league MVP, four MLS Cups in eight years, more games won in those eight years than any other team in the league, and on top of it, 101 goals with much fewer games than the other five people who have scored over 100 goals in this league. Only player to do it before the age of 30 and to do it in much fewer games. And all the other guys on the list have scored 10s of PKs. Taylor had three PKs because I guess Stevie (Nicol) wouldn’t let him get any of those goals easily, or because Shalrie (Joseph) could strike the ball a little better, I don’t know, when he’s in close like that. So, you think about Taylor, you think about all of that, it’s a sad day for us, Taylor, it’s a transition.
But aside from everything he did on the field and the winner that he was and the goal scorer that he was, but from the day he got here – he says he hasn’t had a chance to give back – but he’s given back to the community in spades. He was always talking to the people in our front office about what he could be doing to go out work with kids, go to hospitals, develop a presence for the Revolution and give those kids the dream that you could stick with soccer if you loved it and play professional sports in this country.
So Taylor, back in the mid-90s when we were thinking of the league, it hit me standing here looking at you, you were the person we were thinking of. While It’s a sad day, but it’s an honor to be here. You’ll always be a member of the Revolution family, and the Kraft family. Thank you.
REVOLUTION HEAD COACH STEVE NICOL
It’s kind of hard not to smile when you think about Taylor, because if you can’t see him, then you can always hear him. It reminded me of that Brazil trip when he came in, we had a bunch of old guys, experienced guys, and then this whirlwind came in and tried to tell them a thing or two. Eventually, you did play and you did score goals, which was no shock. We did have a couple of arguments about PKs, but I always won that one.
As I said, Taylor hit it on the head. We had a great group, but he was the spearhead of getting our goals. We had a right tactical plan for Taylor – just get it on the box and get your big head on it. That was it. That was it: get it in the box, and you knew that guy would get on the end of it.
You hear Jonathan talking about his achievements, but for me, the biggest compliment I can pay him is that in all my time in MLS, he has been the purest and best goal scorer in the league, without doubt. And I’m proud that he was playing for me. Taylor, all the best.
TWELLMAN QUESTION AND ANSWERS
On who taught him how to score goals …
He’s not here, but my brother had a huge part in it. His career – it’s funny, we have something in common now – his career ended, too. He tore his knee really bad stepping on a sprinkler head in Spartan Stadium playing for San Jose. The crossing and finishing game that we do, I’ve done it since I was six. And we put my Dad in goal, but he was the worst goalie possible, ever. You know, he’d sit there and just [waves hands]. But my Dad had a huge part of just scoring goals. But really Frank, to answer your question, it was just something that I talk about when you just kind of don’t know how to describe it. You just kind of know how to do it. I was fortunate enough to know where the ball was going, and like Stevie said, I had a big head.
Steve Nicol interjects …
Frank, it should’ve been 100 (goals), not 101. Because when he got his 50th, we were screaming at him to get in the corner, and he wouldn’t do it.
Twellman responds to Nicol …
It was actually. And Andy was wide open, but I shot it.
On becoming the “face of the Revolution” …
If you think about when I came here in ’02 – and it was a little bittersweet because the Patriots had just beaten my St. Louis Rams in the Super Bowl, so when I really shook Robert’s hand, I was really in my pocket going, ‘Kurt Warner’s better.’ – but since that time, I’ve [seen] two World Series, I’ve seen an NBA Championship and three Super Bowls. And it was after my ’03 year. My season ended, I broke my foot, and that year I kind of made a conscious effort. I wanted to get the Revs in the top four in this town. And at the time, the Bruins were nothing. If we would’ve won one – maybe in ’05, ’06 – I think we [would’ve gotten] there. But under no circumstances am I the face of the franchise if we’re not winning and my team’s not playing well. So I was just really doing my job and thanks to my mom’s blonde hair, ending up in New England, they don’t have a lot of blonde-haired people, so they’re like, ‘We’ll make him the face.’ It was an honor to do it, but it was really just me representing the 24 guys in that locker room.
On his legacy …
I hope it’s one that while I was dedicated to win, I hope it was one that made people smile and made people have fun. Whether it was my teammates, coaches, fans, I just hope I brought a joy to the game that some people didn’t get. And it’s unfortunate that didn’t come with an MLS Cup trophy in that office where those stupid Super Bowl trophies are, because we need one there. And we’ll get one. The Revs will get one.
On his relationship with Paul Mariner …
I talked about the greatest thing that Stevie ever did for me, but at the time I didn’t know. I mean, you don’t know. I’m 23, thinking I’m on top of the world. When Paul came, Paul – one thing that we had in common, we approached the game the exact same way. I guess we were both goal scorers. But we approached the game the same way, and our whole goal in mind was to get chances. It was never, ‘I’m going to score four goals or five goals,’ or whatever. It was never the end, it was always the means. But what he did, and what Stevie did for me, is clean up the middle of the field. They really let me go around the goal. They kind of just said, ‘You’re doing alright around there.’ But in the middle of the field, I needed to get light years better because I really wasn’t helping the team out being a good target and being good with my feet. And I never got to that ultimate point, which is what always my goal was every year was to be a better target. But when you see your four defenders, your goalie and your four midfielders behind you sweating, slide tackling – because our team was the hardest-working team in MLS – and then you play it up to me and I lose it? Paul finally said, ‘Listen dude, we’ve got to clean it up.’ And that’s what the whole reason was. It was I was doing my job in front of the other goal, but I wasn’t doing my job which is the other 90 percent of soccer. And that’s the greatest thing that Paul ever taught me. And honestly I thank Stevie for that because he gave me the opportunity to work with Paul. And you talk about Paul – we had a phone call, it lasted about 30 seconds because we both said, ‘I don’t know how to describe what we had, but we had it and it was a lot of fun.’ And these are friends forever.
On what it was like watching from the sidelines …
It’s the most frustrating thing to not do rehab for an injury and you know you’re rehabbing. And it’s also the most frustrating thing to have people look at you and not know you’re injured because you don’t have a cast on your arm and you’re not on crutches and it’s an invisible injury. TIME magazine said it perfect. That’s the frustrating thing, because no one can honestly look you in the eye and understand what you’re going through unless you’ve been through a concussion problem. As for the Revs, to come to every game is the hardest thing in the entire world. To come to every game knowing you’re not going to play but somehow walk in that locker room and look every one of your teammates in the face – and they’ll tell you, I’d come in loud, obnoxious. That’s the hardest thing. And every single time – and I’m tearing up now – I’d walk right in the car and I’d cry. Because I did nothing for them and it was the one thing this team needed. We didn’t make the playoffs this year, I’ll tell you why. They needed a goal scorer, and I wasn’t there. It’s hard. Very humbling.
On the decision to step away from the game …
I’ve done every treatment. In 2009 I did every single treatment that I could possibly do. But at the end of ’09 and early this year, I was working out and I was feeling pretty good. But then I completely had a memory lapse and had no clue where I was. And I went to Game 5 of the NBA Finals and I saw Phil Jackson sitting two feet from Doc Rivers. And I looked at the guy I was with and I looked at him and said, ‘Where are the coaches?’ And he goes, ‘Sitting on the bench, what are you talking about?’ My peripheral vision was the worst I’ve ever had. So I went and saw the right doctors, and I saw Dr. Cantu – who by the way, looked me right in the face and said, ‘Do you want to have the rest of your life healthy, or do you want a shot at it?’ I said, ‘Yeah.’ He goes, ‘Then soccer’s over.’ Was it a relief? Kind of. Because I had been fighting so hard and working out. But I’m sick. I will have an injury that will be with me the rest of my life. It’s unfortunate. It’s not really a decision, because if there was a percentage of a chance for me to beat this and play, you know damn well I’m doing it. When you hear, ‘If you want to have the rest of your life, quit soccer,’ – well, that was pretty easy.
On a possible future in broadcasting …
When I was playing, I was Bull Durham. As Brad Feldman – where’s Brad? Brad would be like, ‘Dude, really? Same quote every time?’ I don’t know. I know one thing is that whatever I do, whatever it is, whether it’s being an amateur golfer – and Jay Heaps is sitting in here shaking his head – I know I’m going to work at it and be pretty good at it. I don’t know what I’m going to do. I know I want to be in the sport of soccer, there’s no doubt about it. Preferably in MLS, whatever it is, because I think we’re embarking on something that’s pretty cool here. Especially when you see the playoff games in Seattle. Portland, Vancouver, these teams coming in. The sport’s here, and I’m going to be a part of it. But as for the future, I’m going to go to dinner with my family and just really enjoy my whole experience with the Revs and what it was.