This week CardinalSportsZone.com decided to sit down with former UL great and current NYG play by play guy, Roman Oben. Roman is preparing for the New York Giants’ visit to the Super Bowl this weekend. We were lucky enough to sit down and talk to Roman about his college career, Pro Career, and many other things…enjoy!
CSZ: What was your mindset coming into the University of Louisville?
Roman: I think coming to UL, I was in that first freshman class after UL upset Alabama in the Fiesta Bowl, the same Alabama team that won the National Championship two years later. I really thought that UL would be in a position to compete for a national championship like Coach Schnellenberger promised.
CSZ: What were some memorable moments here during your playing time at the University of Louisville?
Roman: My Sophomore year Texas came to Old Cardinal Stadium and we beat them 41-10 and back then we felt like everyone’s homecoming. That felt like a turning point for us because up until then we would be everyone’s homecoming game. We would beat lesser opponents but lose to the bigger programs and that was our first big win against a major program while I was there. We went to the Liberty Bowl that Year and beat Michigan State.
CSZ: How do you feel about Coach Strong, the current staff and the direction of the program?
Roman: I think Charlie Strong has done a tremendous job just in the very short time he has been at UL. I mean taking the team to 2 straight bowl games in his first two years, seeing those kids at the Army All-American game reach for and put on the Louisville hat over your Miami’s, Auburn’s and LSU’s shows that these kids know you can get drafted out of Louisville just as well as you can anywhere else. Whether or not he can bring a National Championship to Louisville is yet to be seen. But I have said for a while now that Louisville needs a Frank Beamer type Coach to coach here. A guy who will stay 20+ years who cares enough about the program to turn it into a perennial powerhouse top 10 team.
CSZ: Do you ever have time to catch one of UL’s games?
Roman: Because of my current work schedule, it doesn’t allow me to travel to a lot of games. But working in NYC I do go to the Rutgers games when Louisville plays up here and I go to a lot of the Big East Basketball games here in town including the Big East Tournament. I just can’t come to Louisville during the season though because of my work with the Giants. I do make it down for the Spring Game about every other year and Derby though if I feel like dealing with the craziness.
CSZ: What does being inducted into the University of Louisville Hall of Fame mean to you?
Roman: It’s humbling. When I took that recruiting trip, I just think about my 91 class. Anthony Bridges, Jamie Asher, they played in the NFL as well. You walk down the halls every day and see the history of players that played at UL, you never imagine, as an 18-19 year old kid being in their company, I still don’t. I think being inducted though has as much to do with my off the field career as on the field. I attribute that success to being around the people I was, and them promoting an environment for me to succeed. That environment and attitude helped me to reach and win a Super Bowl.
CSZ: You were a Super Bowl champion with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as you just mentioned. What did it feel like to reach the goal you had set and that all football players have from the first time they play the game?
Roman: It was a great year and to win a Super Bowl in my first year was great. It was an amazing road to the Super Bowl. We had to travel to Soldier Field and beat the Bears, which were tough, and then getting to the Super Bowl and blowing out the Raiders. It was just incredible. I also got to play alongside of guys like Warren Sapp, Derrick Brooks, Mike Alstott and John Lynch….It just felt like we had an All-Star team with all of those Hall Of Famers. It’s a great experience I will remember for the rest of my life.
CSZ: A lot of people don’t remember that you were a 2 sport star at the University of Louisville. What was it that made you want to participate in Track & Field additionally to Football?
Roman: I was already nationally ranked in High School in Shot & Discus Throw in High School. One of the contingencies to me committing to the University of Louisville was that I got to do Spring Track. I asked them to make sure it could be worked around Spring Football and they said OK. They said no one had ever requested that before and it wasn’t like I was going to be on a relay team where I could get injured so they allowed me to. I wanted to go thru through the same routines as I did in High School for one. For two, I was able to maximize my experience at Louisville. I’m not sure I could have done that anywhere else. It really allowed for me to have a well-balanced college experience.
CSZ: If you could say one thing to Card Nation after all these years, what would it be?
Roman: I would just really thank them; I would thank them for their support, thank them for just being who they are. I grew as much and learned as much at Louisville as I did at any time of my life. Those people and that city are both very dear to me. I live in NJ now where there are Rutgers fans and all the pro teams run rampant with support. Every once in a while someone comes up to me and says “You went to Louisville, what a great school and team they are.” I feel like to me to have been a part of something that was built when you were there means a lot. Louisville will always hold a special place in my heart. My son isn’t even in High School yet and he already has UL in his top 5 so the city has had a great impact on me and my family. I’m not sure if I want him to go to Louisville though because that would be a lot of pressure to follow in the father’s footsteps that just happened to also be a Hall of Famer. Ha-ha. I just really want to say thank you to the people there and the fans that came out to support me and remembered me. If I have ever made any kind of positive impact in the community, I’m grateful for that opportunity.
CSZ: You broke your leg against Southern Miss in 1993 and missed half of that season, how did you stay motivated throughout your injury and rehab?
Roman: The fact that it wasn’t an ACL but a fracture made it easier to deal with. It was tough seeing the team go on and win the Liberty Bowl and I would have loved to be a part of that but I still had 2 more years of eligibility left to be the type of player I wanted to be. Ironically, a year later I was faced w/ a decision whether or not to stay in school or leave early for the draft!
CSZ: Okay my friend, here’s my last question: who will win the Super Bowl and what is your score prediction?
Roman: I am going to say NYG 31-17, the pass rush is going to be on point and I feel that the Giants have what it takes to win it.
CSZ: Okay guys there you have it, 31-17 NYG. Roman I want to thank you for your time because I know you’re busy and you have always been a class act and a great friend.
Roman: I really appreciate the kind words. Go Cards!
For more info on what Roman is up to these days go to RomanOben.com and follow him on Twitter @R_Oben