Former Notre Dame OL, Chris Stewart Interview
Chris Stewart was a member of Notre Dame Fighting Irish from 2007 through 2010. He entered the 2011 NFL Draft, but went undrafted through the seven rounds. He then signed a small contract with the New York Jets, but was cut before the final roster cuts. He never made the 53 man roster. He is currently on the Arizona Cardinals roster and fighting for a spot in the 53-man final roster. Click here to read the interview that we did in the middle of 2011 NFL season.
[NEWER Interview as of 11/27/2011]
Strauss : How do you connect with your fans?
Stewart : I keep in touch with my fans through different forms of social media like Twitter and Facebook. I enjoy being connected to people that support me.
Strauss : Did you play youth football?
Stewart : I didn’t play youth football. I was told that I was too big haha.
Strauss : What was your high school football experience like?
Stewart : It was a love/hate relationship. I loved it because my school was huge. We played games on such a big stage in one of the hardest districts in the state of Texas. That was fun. I hated it because even then, football had politics. But it never changed my approach to the game.
Strauss : What was the transition like to Notre Dame?
Stewart : It was very tough. I left Houston, when it was the dead of winter. Few people bothered to tell me how much it snowed up at Notre Dame.
Strauss : What is your favorite memory from Notre Dame?
Stewart : Praying at the grotto is one of my most memorable times, chilling with teammates and other athletes, relaxing with some of my dorm-mates who were athletes, and countless other things. As I look back, I actually had more fun than I thought because I was always running around with football, school, and working on campus.
Strauss : What was something that you learned at Notre Dame that helped you in the NFL?
Stewart : This game is a business. The day you forget that is the day your career ends. Players rent the jerseys, coaches rent the whistle.
Strauss : What were some similarities between Charlie Weis and Brian Kelly?
Stewart : Both men have their own set of great characteristics, things that are tough to understand as a kid. The biggest thing you have to realize is that this is, one of, if not the hardest, college coaching positions in the country. The stress lets you know really quickly who the real person is, whether they think you know it or not.
Strauss : What was your Pro Day like?
Stewart : My pro day was okay. I did some good things and some other things, I would have liked to do better. But all in all, that was the best I was at that time and I could live with it.
Strauss : Even though you went undrafted, what was your draft day experience like?
Stewart : It was way too stressful and way too negative. I watched the entire draft with my girlfriend and her family. For hours, I sat there wondering if I was going to be drafted. I should have enjoyed the moment, not really cared about what was going to happen, but just celebrate the closing of one part of a journey… you know? I regret that some.
Strauss : What was your lockout experience like?
Stewart : I trained everyday and worked in a law firm in Houston. I was making money, and staying in shape, so it was actually quite okay surprisingly. Other than the fact that I was really itching to hit people everyday during training.
Strauss : What was your preseason experience like with the Jets?
Stewart : It was a good experience for me actually. I learned who I am, and who I can become as a player. Everything was positive for me in the sense that without a offseason program and so many other things that could hold a player back, I learned that I have the size, skills, and passion to succeed in this league and do very well. For me it was an affirmation of my abilities to play in the league and flourish, especially having camp with a successful organization.
Strauss : Do you have a favorite memory from JetsCamp?
Stewart : My favorite memory would probably be kicking it with (Greg) McElroy all the time. The guy is the funniest friend that I have made in a long time.
Strauss : What happened with the New York Jets?
Stewart : For that my friend, you would have to ask the Jets. Business is business, and I’ll leave it at that. But, what did happen has made me stronger and more hungry than ever before.
Strauss : What was Coach Callahan like?
Stewart : He is a technical genius and a great coach. Probably the most annoying part about being released was that I miss the opportunity to work with someone as skilled as him.
Strauss : How do you describe your style of play? Do you compare it to anyone?
Stewart : I don’t compare my game to anyone. I am seriously just a student of the game. I love it, and I respect the linemen that have come before that have shape this league. As far as my style of play, I think I’m still in some sense learning that. You can always learn new tricks as a lineman, the skills never end. But I play with a mean streak because its a physical game that’s meant to be smashmouth where only the strong prevail in the trenches. That’s something I have missed some this last year or so, and that’s what I love about the game.
Strauss : What was Coach Rex Ryan like?
Stewart : I didn’t get to know Rex during camp, because it was obviously camp and I’m an undrafted rookie concerned with making the roster. From what I could tell from others guys though, is they respect him and Rex fits the portrayal of a hard-nosed player coach. I respect that in him a lot, because that is hard to do and he does it well.
Strauss : Who has had the most impact on your career? How?
Stewart : I have learned a lot of skills from many people and a lot of people have helped shaped my career. Probably the most important in recent years are my offensive line coaches John Latina and Frank Verducci. I learned a lot of football from them and a lot about myself as a player. Truly remarkable men.
Strauss : If you could describe yourself as any ice cream flavor, what would you be and why?
Stewart : I’d be a swirl. A mix of plain vanilla and a little chocolate because it’s just normal enough, but still stands out among the rest. Plus, I’m all about the blending of cultures, ideas, and people. hahaha
Strauss : For someone aspiring to play football in the NFL, do you have any advice for them?
Stewart : Get ready for a serious business that is fun as hell. There is nothing like it in the world, but as with any job, politics and money run the machine.
Strauss : What are you doing that now that you’re not in the NFL?
Stewart : I am training everyday. I am a lot working as an intern for the Federal District Court here in Houston, Texas.
Strauss : Is there anything you want to tell your fans that I have not asked?
Stewart : Yes… Times like this make a man. When things are down and you depend on entities other than yourself, (mine is God). Keep pushing, you are bound to make it one way or another. This journey of life is unique in that you can’t change the past, but you sure can do something about the future. Whenever my next shot comes, I’ll be ready to fight like hell for what I believe I was born to do. After all, I definitely have nothing to lose and all to gain. I appreciate the fans who have continued to allow me to occupy their time in their busy lives.
Strauss : Thank you so much for taking the time to answer these questions!
Stewart : Thanks! I hope all of this helps you a bit! You’re a good writer, and I admire what you do, especially given your age. Don’t ever lose that voice and continue to listen to what the people you interview say and continue to give them respect as you have given me, and you’ll go a long way!
[OLDER Interview as of 08/12/2011 at JetsCamp]
Strauss : How is training camp is going so far?
Stewart : It’s going well. It’s definitely tough just it being my first exposure to everything in the game, just getting up to speed, and everything. Normally, you’d have a few months, but it’s good. You just learn as much as you can and play full speed.
Stewart : What was it like being undrafted and going through the NFL Lockout?
Stewart : It was tough. Up until like three weeks ago, I had no idea where I was going to be. It’s definitely good to settle here with the Jets. It’s all about just doing what you can to help out the team, and doing what you can to make the team.”
Stewart : What is the type of influence that Slauson has had?
Stewart : He’s been a big influence. Slauson, Moore, Mangold, Turner, all those guys… It’s a tough position to learn. The offensive line especially because you’re not just learning plays, you have techniques and other things. You have to get help from an older guy who knows it to get better at it each day.
Stewart : What do you really want to work on in practice?
Stewart : For me, probably getting the plays down and getting the techniques. Once I get that confidence too, but even if you’re not confident, you have to go full. It’s a fast-pace game, but I definitely want to get better too.
Stewart : What is Coach Bill Callahan like?
Stewart : He’s a genius. He’s definitely one of the best technicians I have ever worked with. He’s a really good guy. He’s a really good coach. He’s a teacher. I just try to take in as much as I can from him teaching and take that to get prepared.