Tony Lombardi: Willis many are speculating that a trade involving you is imminent. Can that be a distraction? What do you do to maintain the focus needed to perform between the lines?
Willis McGahee: Sure, I guess it could be a distraction if you let it, but I don’t let that stuff get to me. Until someone tells me to pack my bags, I’m going to continue to be 100% focused on my training and winning! I just don’t pay any attention to rumors and all that…never have.
TL: You seem to have settled into your role in Baltimore. You’ve also been quietly active in the community and you’ve personally made sure that many underprivileged families have enjoyed Thanksgiving Day. What motivates such generosity of your time and money?
WM: The kids motivate me. When I first set out to come up with a mission for my foundation, I wasn’t totally sure what I wanted to focus on so I chose to just do a simple toy drive with some kids. Well, we blew it up and our very first year we were able to help over 250 local kids. It was the best feeling in the whole world. With Thanksgiving, I didn’t ever want any parent to have to explain to their kids why they were eating leftovers or frozen pizza on Thanksgiving. I enjoy Thanksgiving with my family and I want to make sure they enjoy theirs too.
TL: What is your most pleasant surprise regarding the city of Baltimore?
WM: The most pleasant thing? Probably the people I’ve met here. People generally have been very supportive of me on and off the field and of my community efforts. The people here are pretty cool.
TL: The Ravens will wear the black uniforms three times this season. Is that something that the players get jazzed about?
WM: Well, yeah, we like doing the black jerseys thing and I think it gets the fans fired up too.
TL: Recently you agreed to support the Baltimore Blackout (see video below), an exciting new way for Ravens fans to support the team. What about the concept caught your attention?
WM: I liked the all-black theme and the thought of seeing all black versus all of those nasty yellow towels at Ravens/Steelers games just gets me going! (laughs) I like how the guys at Baltimore Blackout incorporated a charity aspect into the promotion, because, you know, that’s real important to me and it’s what I’m all about.
TL: Imagine 70,000 screaming fans waving Baltimore Blackout towels. How might that affect you and your teammates down on the field and the sidelines? Do you think such support can really alter the outcome of games?
WM: Man, I really do think that would get a lot of people fired up…fans and players alike. I can’t wait to see what the stadium looks like in “blackout” mode.
TL: It has been rumored that the creators of Baltimore Blackout want to present a Blackout Meter concept to the Ravens to measure decibel levels. The idea would be to disrupt the opponent with bursts of sound at strategic points during the game allowing the meter to help choreograph the effort. How might that make the home field advantage even more of a detriment to visiting teams?
WM: Baltimore has always been one of the loudest stadiums and one of the hardest for opposing offenses to play in and if we can amp that up even more, well, that would just blow those other teams away!
TL: Is there a way that the beneficiaries of the Willis McGahee Foundation can be positively impacted by the Baltimore Blackout?
WM: YES!!! The people behind this kind of tough-attitude blackout theme are really a couple of kind-hearted guys from right here in Baltimore and they’ve pledged to support my foundation with a portion of the proceeds from sales of Blackout merchandise. So every towel has a two-fold benefit…intimidate opposing teams and help kids in need. Can’t get much better than that, can it?
Great stuff Willis. Thanks for your time and by all means, don’t pack your bags anytime soon.