Bears RB/FB, Matt Suhey Interview
Matt Suhey played college football at Penn State. He entered the 1980 NFL Draft, and was selected in the 2nd round by the Chicago Bears. He played with the Bears from 1980 through 1989. He was the fullback for Walter Payton, and had a great relationship with fans off the field. He is often regarded as one of the best fullbacks in NFL history. He scored the first TD in Super Bowl XX in which the Bears were victorious. Check out the interview with one of the 1985 Bears.
Announcement : Hello, my name is Max Strauss with http://prointerviews.org/, http://facebook.com/ProInterviews/, http://twitter.com/ProInterviews/, and http://youtube.com/user/ProInterviews/. Please be a part of Pro Interviews. I’d like to welcome you to the interview with Matt Suhey. Suhey was a starter at running back at Penn State University. He then entered the NFL Draft in 1980 and was drafted in the 2nd round, 40th overall by the Chicago Bears. He played for Da’ Bears in his ten year career, 1980-1989. He was the primary fullback, and was a fan favorite for his personality on and off the field. He was a lead blocker for Hall of Famer, Walter Payton. He scored the first touchdown in Super Bowl XX. He was victorious in his only Super Bowl appearance. Let’s get started with the interview! I hope you enjoy the collage also!
Strauss : Who was your childhood star?
Suhey : Oh God… Probably my brothers to begin with. But, you know as a pro, probably Franco Harris is probably one of the big ones. But my brothers, because I grew up around them. Both of my brothers were very, very good.
Strauss : You were the youngest, how did that help you out in your playing days?
Suhey : Well, it certainly made me tough. I got my fair share of getting my butt whooped many times. It ended up very well. No problems, my brothers treated me well, as did my sisters. They were always a big positive influence on me. We certainly got enough rough-housing in to get in a lot of trouble from my parents. But, it was always a lot of fun.
Strauss : So, If football didn’t work out for you, did you have any other plans growing up?
Suhey : You know I did I didn’t really. There was always room at the next level. I was very, very fortunate that I did not get hurt. That was a big deal back in those days. I was very, very lucky that I didn’t. And, I kept working at football to the next level, and the next level got me to the pros.
Strauss : So, what was your high school football experience like?
Suhey : Fantastic. We had great players that I played with. We had a great coaching staff. It was just a fabulous experience. We won a lot of games. We did very well. I was truly blessed by having a great coach and great coaching staff. We won a lot of games, and it was a lot of fun in the locker room. Really, I’m not so sure if it wasn’t a good experience as you possibly could have a high school kid. I got a chance to see all my buddies. I got a chance to play with my brothers. I couldn’t have asked for anything better.
Strauss : Do you have a favorite memory from playing high school football?
Suhey : It was probably… playing in the middle school state championship game. Maybe that… or it could have be been… When we played a game and scored 69 points which was a lot in high school. That could be one. Again, I played with all my childhood friends, so that was always a lot of fun. The guys I grew up with in the neighborhood, we grew up playing together.
Strauss : Did you move onto Penn State with them?
Suhey : They all went to Penn State, but none of them played football other than my brother.
Strauss : Did you choose Penn State because your brother went there?
Suhey : Well, it was a factor. I originally wanted to go to Ohio State. And, when I really sat down and thought about it, it was actually the best place for me. I was a hometown kid. I wasn’t really ready to get away from home yet. So, it turned out to be a great choice, and I haven’t look backed on it.
Strauss : What was that like to learn from him?
Suhey : I had a brother that played fullback. He ironically got hurt, and I took his spot. That was not lucky for him, but fortunate for me. I got to play early. It was a great experience. I got to play with my brother, Paul who was a linebacker. It was a good experience all the way around.
Strauss : So, do you have a favorite memory from Penn State?
Suhey : Yeah. We played in a lot of big games. We played in some games that weren’t so good. We played in the Sugar Bowl where we got beat, and there were just a lot of great experiences, in all four of my years there.
Strauss : What was the most important thing you learned at Penn State that helped you in the NFL?
Suhey : Just the discipline, the work habits, and the ability to prepare… They are the typical things that Penn State teaches you that people take for granted. But, it’s very much not so. Just the discipline and the work habits… It really taught me how to take football to the next level.
Strauss : Speaking of the next level, what was your draft day experience like?
Suhey : Well, you know it wasn’t that big of a deal. I can’t say I really got to involved in it. I didn’t realize how big of a deal it was until you start to getting involved and understanding the draft, and how high I was going to be drafted. ‘Oh my god!’ It was certainly a tremendous experience, and you certainly don’t realize it until you go through it and watch other players go through it. Jeez, it was a fabulous experience. It was nerve-racking too, you don’t know where you’re going to live. It affects your whole life. And, here I am in Chicago. I’ve never been to Chicago in my life until I came here to play football.
Strauss : What was it like moving to Chicago and what was your first training camp like?
Suhey : Well, the weather was very very similar so I was used to that. I didn’t love it, but I was used to that. I didn’t play very well my first year. But, from then on out, we played great. We had a great team, great guys, crazy guys. We had a lot of fun. Just a lot, a lot, a lot of fun. We got paid for it too.
Strauss : The 80s was the time when Da’ Bears were known as one of the most dominant teams in the NFL, what was it like being on a highly competitive team?
Suhey : We didn’t start off so well my first two years. From then on out, we had a really good team. We had some guys that could play. They drafted well. Some of the best teams I’ve played on, were in Chicago.
Strauss : What did the 1985 season mean to you?
Suhey : It was just… Again, we worked so hard, we kept guys healthy, we played dominant football. It was just a great, and a lot of fun. I can’t tell you how much fun it was, how intense it was, and we were definitely on a mission. We got beat the year before by the 49ers in the playoffs. We needed to step up. If you look at the team, what we went through and what we did, it was just one of the best times I had ever playing football.
Strauss : What’s your view on the Super Bowl Shuffle?
Suhey : Jim [McMahon], Steve [Fuller], and Gary [Fencik] were the only white guys, so there was no chance in me dancing.
Strauss : You scored the first touchdown in the Super Bowl on a run play. Do you remember how you got set up with that play and what that was all like?
Suhey : You know they were keying on Payton most of the afternoon. And so therefore, an opportunity came my way, and I got a chance to carry the ball a little bit. It was a pitch. They were trying to crush everything up on the edges, but once you get outside it was pretty easy to score.
Strauss : What was the Super Bowl like?
Suhey : It was fun. It was very, very intense. We got up so quickly and the game was over at halftime. So, it was again, a lot of fun, pretty intense. Having gone through the NFC Championship the year before, we knew what we were up against. When we got to the Super Bowl, we realized we weren’t going to be there to lose. And, certainly we had such a great team.
Strauss : You had a great relationship with Walter Payton. How did he impact your career?
Suhey : He had great work habits. He was a great guy. He was tough as nails. Even when he got sick, he was tough. He treated people very, very well and the fans great. His work habits, his toughness, and the best player I ever played with. Just again, like I said many times in this interview, we had a lot of fun.
Strauss : As you grew as a player, how influenced were you by your Coach Mike Ditka?
Suhey : Well, he completely changed our team around. He came in and got rid of some of the guys that couldn’t play. He kept guys who could play. He changed our attitude. He said, “We will win!” And, instilled the toughness in our football team. And, we played with a lot of personality, and a personality that I’m sure he really appreciated.
Strauss : What impact did Johnny Roland [RB Coach] have on your career?
Suhey : A lot. He played the game. He understood the game. He showed us how to get prepared. Another great, great coach.
Strauss : Who had the most impact on you choosing to play football?
Suhey : I’d say probably my father. Just the toughness he had. The way he played the game. It’s probably a good choice.
Strauss : Did you have a nickname when you played football?
Suhey : No, not really.
Strauss : What was the funniest moment of your career?
Suhey : Oh boy… We had a lot of fun playing… mostly in practice. I don’t know. We had a lot of laughs in the locker room. Most of the stuff I can’t tell you about.
Strauss : What’s the best advice you ever received?
Suhey : Probably from my father, “Be humble and be appreciative of what you have, and you got to work for what you’re going to earn. You got to work for it. You got to prepare. You got to have class in what you do.”
Strauss : If you could choose any moment in your career to define it, what would you choose?
Suhey : It would probably be the last high school game I played in. Or… the championship game my sophomore year or… the Super Bowl.
Strauss : For someone aspiring to play football in the NFL, what’s the best advice you can give?
Suhey : Play golf… Football is a tough game, there is no question about it. You think it’s tough, it gets much tougher. Guys are bigger. Guys are stronger. Guys are faster. It’s a really tough game. I guess you got to prepare early, and hope it’s realistic for you to have the ability to play.
Strauss : Thanks for your time!
Suhey : No problem. Thank you for calling!
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