We all remember Rick Stanzi’s moment atop the victor’s podium after the Orange Bowl and his comments about patriotism following a somewhat odd question by Fox’s Chris Myers, about if Stanzi felt like he was representing a part of America, or a special way of life?
In the event you have been living under a rock and didn’t see or hear Stanzi’s comments, or want to relive them again, here is a short 25 second clip:
That spawned an amazing bit of photo shop work around the web, with so many good contributions to be found at this link.
Here is a sample of what you will find there, and if you have 10 minutes, visit the link and be prepared to laugh out loud:
There is a lot more to Stanzi than just his being a great American. He is also generous with his time, spending a lot of it with sick children and their families at the University of Iowa hospitals, along with several of his teammates. He is also a great leader of men, as evidenced by his 18-4 record as a starting quarterback at Iowa. It hasn’t always been pretty, but thus far, Stanzi’s Iowa legacy has been one of a player that can deliver in the clutch. The last drive against Penn State in 2008, the winning drive against Michigan State, the winning drives against Indiana, 2-0 in bowl games and someone that doesn’t appear to get rattled when things don’t go his way in the first half.
I was able to catch up with Rick in Chicago to talk about several of these things, including his patriotic speech at the Orange Bowl from back in January.
Q: It looks like you have added a few bracelets. I know a lot of them are kids and cancer, have you added a few more?
Rick Stanzi: For the most part its the same people, but I met some kids at a dance marathon and through the hospital I meet people. They give you the bands and its a sign of support, that is what it comes down to. A lot of the guys on the team have them and wear them. You wear them for support but at the same time it lets you know that what you are doing pales in comparison to the battles they face each day.
Q: When did that start for you?
Stanzi: We try to be very involved in community service. Coach thinks that is a great thing and we feel the same way. The more we went to the hospital and visited people, that is how it started to happen. Probably Jenna Waters was the first girl that a lot of my teammates developed a relationship, with her and her family.
Q: Where did this come from?
Stanzi: I think we all have a spot in our hearts for people that are not only Hawkeye fans but young kids battling disease. If we are able to help them in any way, that is a great thing to do. They are just a short walk from the stadium, so if we have time to visit, why not?
Q: Could you talk about your expectations for the season?
Stanzi: We expect to work hard in camp. We expect to have a lot of tough ballgames and nothing will be easy this year. In order for us to have a successful season it begins Thursday when we start camp. We will have to play good football this year and that starts with hard work, which we think we have already started this off-season. That has to lead to camp and every week leading to a game, things have to be done wisely in regards to preparation to feel confident going into each game.
Q: Did the defense carry the team at times last year?
Stanzi: Yeah, in a lot of those games they did. You can see that on the film, they kept us in a lot of games while we figured out what we were doing and then we put some points on the board. The defense carried the team for the majority of the games.
Q: Do you feel the offense can be more explosive this year?
Stanzi: I hope so. I can’t guarantee it, but if we could have an explosive offense with a great defense, what team wouldn’t want that. We will do what we can and we know they will keep playing hard and we will keep trying, too. When both sides take care of their own thing and we all have the same goal, that is when you can have a good team.
Q: Quarterbacks are defined by winning and you are 18-4 as a starter. What do you think about when you have a rough start, or when the offense sputters to start with, how are you capable of forgetting some of the mistakes and then coming back and executing in the clutch?
Stanzi: As a team, when there is still time left, you know you have a chance in respect to whatever game you are looking at. Sometimes you don’t have it, but in all the games we have been in, there has always been a chance to win. You have to put everything behind you and you can ponder things the next week. As that game is going on, as a team, we have learned that you have to put the good and bad behind you and move on to the next thing, whether that was a final drive, or a big defensive stop. As long as there is time left we know we have a chance.
Q: What things did you notice in offseason film study from your games that you could correct this year?
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Stanzi: To be smarter with decisions, understand the game and that taking shots down the field early on is good, but it has to be in respect to managing the game. some shots don’t need to be taken. If its first down, you don’t need to score right away, you move the ball down the field. If something is not clear down the field, drop it down. Things like that where you realize that maybe you made a bad early decision and understanding that we have tremendous special teams and defense. When you have those things as an offense, you don’t have to go out there and score 50 points because we can stop teams
Q: Have you been surprised with how far the ‘Rick Stanzi; Great American Hero’ has gone?
Stanzi: A little bit. That just shows there are a lot of great Americans out there that are also patriotic (said with a sheepish grin).
Q: Have you seen the photo shop work that has been done with this?
Stanzi: I have. It’s very interesting. I saw some of them, my dad has seen them and he has shown them to me and my mom and they think it’s hilarious. I am glad that people got a laugh out of it.
Q: Were you shocked when Chris Myers asked you that question?
Stanzi: I was nervous. I didn’t know what I was going to say and I didn’t know what the question was about. Looking back on it, I wasn’t smart enough to answer it. At the time, I was excited about the win and was trying to keep my composure and he goes out and says America. So I had that trigger in my head to get a few quotes out there and let people know how Iowa feels about being patriotic.
Q: On TV, we could see your teammates behind you laughing, they got a kick out of your answer.
Stanzi: That’s the thing, because we would always say it, that is what is funny about it…we would say to each other at the house or the football complex, ‘Hey, if you don’t love it leave it; these colors don’t run’. It was funny that one of us got a chance to say it on national television. That was the funniest part about it, so I had to share that moment with them.