UFL Florida Tuskers C, Enoka Lucas Interview
Enoka Lucas played college football at the University of Oregon. He earned All Pac-10 honors during his junior and senior years. He was recognized as one of the best Pac-10 centers. He entered the 2007 NFL Draft, but went undrafted. He played for the Texans, Titans, and Cardinals. He was on the sideline during their Super Bowl appearance. He then played for the Florida Tuskers of the UFL for a couple of years, and became the starting center. He is now out of football. This interview was conducted shortly before the 2011 NFL season was over.
Announcement : My name is Max Strauss with http://prointerviews.org/, http://facebook.com/ProInterviews/ and http://twitter.com/ProInterviews/. Please be a part of Pro Interviews. I’d like to welcome you to the interview with Enoka Lucas. Enoka attended University of Oregon and received All Pac-10 honors during his junior and senior year. Enoka entered the NFL Draft in 2007, but went undrafted. He has been a part of the Texans, Buccaneers, Titans, and the Cardinals. In 2008, he was on the practice squad their entire season, and was on the sidelines with them during their Super Bowl appearance. He then signed with the Florida Tuskers of the UFL, in 2009 and has started numerous games with them since. If you check below the transcription, there are answers to personal questions. Let’s get started with the interview! I hope you enjoy the collages also!
Strauss : Have you ever considered making a twitter?
Lucas : I never really ventured off to twitter. Facebook was kind of like the big thing for me. But I have not had interest in twitter. I did not know what it was. I don’t want to be a social media hog. One thing works for me. I don’t think I needed a twitter.
Strauss : If you didn’t end up playing football, what were your plans?
Lucas : I think my first love was probably baseball. Only because I was always too big to play football when I was in pop-warner. I was too heavy. The first sport my parents let me play was baseball. So I think I would be playing baseball right now if I wasn’t playing football.
Strauss : When you were growing up, who’d you look up to in sports?
Lucas : To be honest, my favorite football team was the Detroit Lions only because Barry Sanders was my favorite player. When I was younger, I looked up to him. I was like, “I wish I could run the ball like Barry Sanders.” I noticed I was bigger than most of the kids and I was like I’m probably not going to be a running back. In high school, I was still bigger, so I started playing offensive line. When I played offensive line, a couple of the guys that I looked up to were local guys like Chris Naeole, Olin Kreutz, and Dominic Raiola. These are the guys that pushed the way for us younger kids that came out of Hawaii. I definitely look up to all of those guys. All of them went away to college, and they all had success in the NFL. They all played Offensive Line which is why I looked up to them and they had an effect on me.
Strauss : What was your whole high school football experience like?
Lucas : High school football in a way, I wasn’t sure I was going to make the team like everybody else. Everybody takes high school football real serious. It’s more serious, because the whole town shuts down and everyone is at the high school. Only hawaiians were accepted to my school. Everybody supported the football team. Why we didn’t get to be state champs? One year, we were one win away to get to the state championship game. I definitely thought I had an opportunity to continue playing after my junior year. When I talked to my head coach, he told me, “You have a real good chance of playing Division one football.” I took it with a grain of salt, I said, “Oh, I don’t know if I could.” I kept working in high school, I really didn’t think about college. Then, my senior year came around, and I was getting phone calls and letters. I thought, maybe I can actually really do this? I can actually do football for my work. I love the game, so… I might as well take it to the next level. It wasn’t probably until senior year when I started getting calls. I thought, maybe this could really happen. Afterwards, I got a number of offers from different colleges, and I started working and competing.
Strauss : What is your favorite memory from Oregon Football?
Lucas : My favorite memory from Oregon was probably my junior year. We played Cal-Berkeley. And, my best friend from high school, Abu Ma’afala. He played with the Golden Bears of University of Cal. Leading up to this game, he transferred from Hawaii into the starting role. I was starting at Oregon. We were talking, texting, and calling up each other before the game. It was an exciting game. We knew that Cal was good, and they beat us the year before, so we felt we had to beat them. We took it down right into the fourth quarter. We ended up coming back and tying the score. They went for the win. They let the clock run out, and we were like, “It’s going to be our first loss, we’re not going to remain undefeated.” And then, they missed the field goal. We went into overtime, and won the game. That’s how it ended. It’s kind of how the game went, seeing my teammate from high school, and talking after the game. That was the most memorable time I had at Oregon at a football standpoint.
Strauss : Who was your best friend at Oregon?
Lucas : I didn’t have a specific best friend at Oregon. When I first got there, my freshman year, Oregon didn’t have quality players there for a while. When I first got there, there were the five of us. We were the five original Polynesians that committed in the same class. It was myself, Matt Toeaina, Haloti Ngata, Chris Solomona, and Junior Siavii. We had a special bond because we were the first in a while, (there were a couple others before us). Oregon hadn’t had a team that had a lot of Polynesians in their recruiting class.
And so, I really didn’t have a best friend, we were all a close-knit family. The guys that came in after us, in the same class that we were there. I would treat all thePolynesians players there as my best friend or as my family. And then, we kind of established ourselves as the Polynesians of Oregon. A year later, A.J. Tuitele had committed and then, PatSo’oalo had committed. Then another year later, you had Thor Pili who committed and Victor Filipe, DavidFaaeteete. ThePolynesians crew just started expanding. We actually during my redshirt sophomore year, all the Polynesianshad this house and it was maybe two blocks away campus. We called it the PolyCrib because we only had two other roommates that weren’t Polynesians. They wereNick SteitzandBrent Haberly. They were awesome roommates, but they ended up graduating. It was a house with all Polynesiansliving in it at one time until my senior year, and when we left. Then of course as years went by Palauni Ma Sun came and Fenuki Tupou came in.Matt’s younger brotherSimi Toeaina had committed and and lived with us. We had a close-knit family and I consider all of them to be my best friends. I consider them to be my friends and also my best friends because we still keep in contact until this day. I couldn’t really have just one specific best friend.
Strauss : What was it like to be All Pac-10 at Oregon?
Lucas : Of course it’s a blessing… You’re graded by you’re coaches and you’re peers. It also makes the University look good when you make All Pac-10. For me, it was a team effort. I would not have been All Pac-10 if I didn’t have the right guards or the right tackles along me, or the running back or quarterback too. My junior year when Kellen [Clemens] was there. I can’t say that it was all me, but my teammates definitely put their shares in. When I look at center, you can’t have a good center, unless you have good guards and tackles because the way it works in football is that the guards are the hogs. Of course, the center is that too. But, you got two guards and two good tackles, your center is going to be great. Even if he’s a mediocre player, but he’ll be good because of the guards and tackles that will be around him.
Strauss : I know you were undrafted, but what was your draft day experience like?
Lucas : To be honest, it wasn’t a good day. I was probably more disappointed then anything. Of course when you go to the NFL, you always expect to be drafted. I thought that’s my goal today. I set out, and I didn’t accomplish. It was a disappointing day just the fact that I didn’t get drafted. In a way, you’re kind of frustrated, you’re like, “Oh man, is this really what I wanted to do?” Of course, you’re expectations were so high, but draft day was very disappointing for me. It’s just that if I look back on it now, I think I should have turned that negativity into positive fuel. In a way like, that wasn’t the end of the road for me, you were just not drafted. It does not mean that football is over for you. It was definitely harder, but it definitely wasn’t over.
Strauss : What was your journey like in the NFL?
Lucas : I was with the Texans, and I got released right before training camp. The next day I ended up getting picked up by Tampa Bay. When I was in Tampa Bay, I went to training camp with them. That’s probably the hardest thing, going to a system. Whereas, different systems don’t learn the whole playbook within a month, and it’s play your best football. But, it’s hard, and people have done it, but it’s one of the biggest challenges. I got to be on the practice squad for three weeks, and then cut, and then I waited around for a while. For me, I thought football was done. I had a lot of workouts during that period where I was going to different teams and I was working out. The Titans had called and I was there with them in the offseason, I went from future, all the way through training camp, to making their last cuts, but I didn’t end up making their last cuts. I was called by the Cardinals be on their practice squad, and the whole season I was on the Cardinals practice squad. Including the Super Bowl. I went to the Super Bowl. Just the practice squad the whole time, and then I got cut in February. They didn’t end up resigning me.
Right then and there, I thought to myself, “Football must be over.” I wasn’t getting any calls. I have to do something, maybe look for a job. I then got a call from one of the o-line coaches from the UFL, Coach Laveroni (last year, 2009). He said that he would gave me another opportunity to play football, if I don’t get any other calls. I told him I love the game of football, but I’ll see. He said we would love to have you. I ended up going to play for the Florida Tuskers and then, making the team. It feels good when you actually make the team, and you’re not on the practice squad anymore. I made the team. I was the backup to Gene Mruczkowski. He ended up getting hurt the second game. I came into the starting role, and started for the rest of the season. Then, they wanted me back, and then I started the whole 2010 season.
Strauss : Throughout your NFL career, even though you were on practice squads, do you have a favorite memory from being in the NFL?
Lucas : Of course going to the Super Bowl was probably my favorite memory. Not every day, a local boy from Hawaii gets to practice and not get the opportunity to play. Being on the sideline with the rest of the team, and just to be there. Just to suck it all in. It is the biggest show in the world and you’re the front seat, and when you’re there, it’s just… watching the girl sing the national anthem, and it’s like she is right there! That was probably the biggest memory of football in the NFL.
Strauss : What do you actually do on the practice squad? What did you actually do throughout your year with the Cardinals?
Lucas : The practice squad is where you work from Monday to Saturday. Sunday is off. You do everything with the team. We did travel to away games. There were only some games you travel to. You don’t suit up. You’re pretty much a practice player. You’re hoping that an injury comes up because a lot of time what happens is that if an injury occurs, the owner is most likely opted to activate a practice squad player to the active roster. It’s like we have you on reserve, but we can’t use you right now, because we have enough on our team. That’s pretty much a practice squad guy. When you do everything that the team does, the thing is you’re a sole team player. If they need you to run down on kickoff or even a kickoff return look. Especially for o-linemen, you’re the sole team for the starting team. You have to give you best look everyday because you’re going against the starters in the NFL. I think it actually made me a better player because I was going against the starting defensive line. We had a really good d-line with the Cardinals. You had Antonio Smith [Current Houston Texan]. You’re going against him everyday and you got to figure out what you can do better, so that’s what I think the practice squad does. You pretty much do everything the team does, you just don’t suit up and play on Sundays.
Strauss : This is your second year in the UFL, do you have a favorite memory with the UFL?
Lucas : All the memories in the UFL have been good so far. I don’t have a specific favorite one. Probably when we win the championship game, I’ll have a favorite one. Two years in a row, we have made it to the championship game, but we ended up losing. One year we ended up going undefeated and we went to the championship game and lost. This past year, we battled through some losses but ended up pulling it off and winning to go to the championship game. I don’t really have a specific favorite memory in the UFL?
Strauss : Do you have aspirations to go back into the NFL?
Lucas : Oh, absolutely! Another goal I would like to accomplish is just to get another shot in the NFL. Everybody in the UFL, that’s their mindset, even the coaches, and the players. We’re going to play here for now, but everybody knows what we want to do and who we want to be. I definitely just want another shot to prove that I can actually play in this league and that I can play this game.
Strauss : Do you have a nickname?
Lucas : When I was in Arizona I had a nickname. My teammate, Deuce Lutui. His son’s first name is Inoke, my first name is Enoka. When he would call up his son, his son’s name was Knox. He didn’t want to keep calling me, “Enoka, Enoka, Enoka.” So… he ended up calling me “Knox.” So, my nickname when I was in the NFL was Knox. And then, even when I went to Tampa Bay, the Special Teams coach asked me what my name was, I told him “Enoka”. He was like, do you have something shorter than that, and I told him, “Some people call me Knox.” Then he was like, “Okay, I like Knox.” So, in Tampa Bay, I was also called Knox.
Strauss : Who had the most impact on your career?
Lucas : I definitely think my family. My mom, my dad, my grandparents, and my girl friend. They have been the support group in my career. They have been the strong points if I had any doubts, if I had suffered any injury, and whether or not, I really want to play this game again. I have to give the credit to my family.
Strauss : Is there a reason why you wear 58 with the Tuskers?
Lucas : There really isn’t any reason. I definitely still wish I was wearing number 55, but my teammate, Terrence Melton had taken that number before. But, 58 was the only 50 number available when I actually entered the training camp. I was like, “Any 50 number you can give me, I’ll take.” So, our manager was like, “How about 58?” I was like, “I’d love 58.” And over time, I was like, “Hey. That 58 actually looks pretty good, I will just stick with 58.” There wasn’t any reason why I picked 58, but I really, really wanted 55. But, I got 58.
Strauss : What’s the funniest moment of your career?
Lucas : Okay, for the record, I want you guys to meet a person… His name is Palauni Ma Sun. He is the probably the funniest guy I’ve ever met in my life. He was my guard when I was at Oregon. He was the probably the funniest person, hands down, that I’ve ever met in my life. We were on an away game in college, and when we flew with Oregon, we would have these sack lunches when we got on the plane.
At the time, Palauni, he was probably 330, 330+, he was a real big guy, and still is a big guy. What happened was. He would walk on the plane, and he would be like, “Are you going to eat your Snickers?” He was asking everybody. We got snickers, we got sandwiches and we got chips. And, Palauni was walking around everywhere just like the whole plane from coaches and all throughout his teammates. He’s just collecting all these Snickers.
Another thing is that, our o-line coach, Steve Greatwood, he’s a stickler on weight. He would remember your weight. He wanted everyone to weigh in and be a certain weight. And so, he’s all upset that Palauni is taking everybody’s snickers. I think he was on the ninth eating. Then, when Coach Greatwood talks… I just want to let you know that Coach Greatwood is a real serious person. You’ll never find him joking around, he takes everything seriously.He can joke when he needs to joke, but when it’s time to play a game it’s like, common, common, everything is serious with him.
He walks up to the front of the team room, after Palauni had grabbed all the Snickers and put them in his bag. We were in our team meetings and Coach Greatwood goes, “Palauni!” Palauni is like, “Huh?”. Coach, “Palauni! Come here!” Palauni walks up to the front of the team room. And so, Coach Greatwood holds him, and he goes, “See these snickers? Palauni, you know when you go to the zoo, and the sign says, ‘Don’t feed the animals!’ Well, Palauni is an animal, nobody should be giving him any Snickers bars. Nobody give him any more food. He doesn’t need anymore food and he doesn’t need any more of this.” I feel bad for Palauni because I know his intentions were just to get a lot of Snickers. What big guy doesn’t love Snickers. I love Snickers. He had the whole room just balling out laughing. I felt bad for Palauni because he wasn’t laughing, but that was probably one of the funnier moments in football for me.
Strauss : Do you have a favorite charity?
Lucas : This offseason, I had an opportunity to down for the Capitol with the community projects. I ended up with a job as an office manager here in Hawaii. The biggest thing in Hawaii is probably homelessness and drugs. From a student standpoint, that’s probably the number one issue that we need to tackle, is homelessness and drugs. That’s one of the biggest issues in Hawaii that we’re trying to knock off right now. There was this charity called “Aloha Beachside Services.” This man ran this service where you go down, you help influence a lot of the homeless people living on the beach, and living in certain areas. You help them seek shelter. You may help them maybe with finding some or any job opportunities, if something comes up. Especially with family and kids, anything that was donated, they definitely took it in. That was one of the charities I’ve actually worked with and been a part of.
Strauss : For someone who wants to play in the NFL, what’s the best advice you can give them?
Lucas : Of course the battle is getting to college. Then from college, and into the NFL. The biggest thing just from the college standpoint is to study, and work on your grades. You definitely want to put school first. When I went away to college, I knew I wanted to graduate and get my degree. I made sure I did that before I left.
Another thing is that if you want to get into this league, you’re going to have strive and push for it. If you know you want to be here, and that you don’t want to give it up, because it could be all gone from an injury or just from the organization cutting you… That’s another thing.
Lastly will probably be, being at the right place at the right time. In different situations, you might get that call to the NFL and to the big league. I think it’s one way that I can see people getting into the NFL.
I definitely want to say, hard work, lifting weights, there’s all that. There are all those variables in entering the NFL. There are also things that could help you. That would probably be my understanding of how to get in the NFL.
Strauss : If you could describe yourself as any ice cream flavor, what would you be and why?
Lucas : Well, my favorite is Vanilla, but I don’t want to call myself Vanilla. Maybe rocky road… I don’t know why. I guess the road that I’ve been on throughout my football career has been rocky. It also tastes good at the end. You can write me down as rocky road.
Strauss : Alright, Thank you so much, Enoka!
Lucas : There you go. It was good, I liked it man!
Announcement : Thank you for listening to the interview with Enoka Lucas! I hope you enjoyed it. I hope you leave your comments below as well! Please check out the Facebook page at http://facebook.com/ProInterviews/, and follow me on twitter at http://twitter.com/ProInterviews/. Please subscribe on YouTube at http://youtube.com/ProInterviews/ and check out my website http://prointerviews.org/ for other interviews. Thanks again for listening! Stay tuned for more, and feel free to contact me!
->Here are the personal questions that Enoka Lucas answered.<-
Strauss : When did you see your first live NFL game?
Lucas : My first live NFL game wasn’t until I actually got into the NFL. My rookie year with Tampa Bay. We played the Jacksonville Jaguars. That was my first NFL preseason game.
Strauss : Have you ever watched the Pro Bowl?
Lucas : The Pro Bowl in Hawaii is a real big thing. It costs a lot of money to go the Pro Bowl. When I was growing up, we didn’t have money. We watched it on TV though. Now, it would be so nice to come back home and actually play in the Pro Bowl. That’s one of my goals. I can assure that every Hawaiian kid is like we get to watch the pros play right in our backyard. To this day, I’ve never been to one Pro Bowl. I’ve only been to one practice because I’ve been too busy or I just didn’t have the opportunity to go.
Strauss : What’s your favorite TV show?
Lucas : My favorite TV show is Hawaii Five-0. It’s just another opportunity to showcase Hawaii. Family Guy is up there. But, the best are definitely AnthonyBourdain Man vs. Foodof the Travel Channel. Those are my favorite shows of all time.
Strauss : What’s your favorite movie of all time?
Lucas : My favorite movie of all time is probably, Braveheart. You probably get that a lot, though.
Strauss : What is your favorite type of pie?
Lucas : Liliha Bakery Custard Pie. It has to be from LilihaBakery though. That’s probably the best pie I’ve ever eaten. It’s to die for. I can walk there and get me a piece right now, it’s open 24 hours a day.