OXNARD, Calif. – The NIL experience in college is paying big dividends for Dallas Cowboys defensive lineman John Ridgeway.
Having learned well from his time at Arkansas while playing in the SEC, Ridgeway admitted he often keeps his brand back of mind regularly during an entertaining interview with the "Hang Zone" on Dallas sports radio's The Ticket.
Despite being a multi-Marconi Award winning station, The Ticket is built around "bits," which is why the crew was so excited to speak with the diamond studded earring wearing, high school bass fishing lettering man with his own personalized "Vanilla Gorilla" thigh pads complete with imaging.
Right away it was clear this wasn't going to be the typical, boring old sports talk show interview. Early discussion centered on proper air conditioning temperature, which Ridgeway officially designated as 66 while voicing his intolerance for the scorching indoor temperature of 68 degrees.
"I have to have it cold when I sleep or I will not be happy at all," Ridgeway said.
While it's not on the audio later posted by the station, talk during the initial on-air interview then turned to whether it's OK for football players to urinate in their pants while on the field. While Ridgeway didn't seem to thrilled with the idea, he admitted it was something he had done before, but that he was more a victim of circumstance and not a desire to just wet his pants.
"We used to play in an old national guard training ground where there's no bathrooms or water fountains," Ridgeway said. "It was just an open field and there was nowhere to hide and go pee."
His journey to Cowboys training camp was one that almost didn't happen. While in high school his junior year, too many recruiting visits coupled with an inability to understand his chemistry teacher caused him to be in danger of not qualifying academically for Division I programs.
"I had to make honor roll [my senior year], Ridgeway said. "I remember sitting at the kitchen table after wrestling practice and football practice reading chapters I didn't even have to read just in case they gave me a pop quiz."
During that time, the lineman was making his time through the high school wrestling ranks. While it ended in a state championship, he started his career by going 3-23 his freshman year and 8-17 his high school year.
"Every time they'd throw me in was against like some Catholic School, so they're like big dudes who knew their way around," Ridgeway said. "I didn't really wrestle like that. I was a little fat kid growing up. I was wrestling guys who looked like Brock Lesnar and I looked like Fat Albert. I had baby fat and they had grown man strength. Then, I was like, I'm hitting the weights. I ain't getting thrown around anymore."
But now that he's made it to the NFL, he says he is clear on his goals and what success will look like as an interior defensive lineman.
"I basically gotta make sure Leighton [Vander Esch] and Micah [Parsons] look good every day," Ridgeway said. "The fans might not notice it, but when you go in meetings and stuff, you get high fives and everybody will know you did your job because everybody else got paid for it."
Once the interview ended, the hosts gushed about Ridgeway and his how he the fans might react to him.
"That guy's great!" one of the hosts exclaimed when things concluded. "If he works out, he has the potential to be a fan favorite with the thigh pads, the diamond studs, the whole Vanilla Gorilla nickname and Step Brothers."
Also covered in the interview:
• Being surprised at how small Jerry Jones turned out to be when he was honored as an offensive lineman for the Razorbacks.
• His time on the high school fishing team.
• Trying to convince trainers to let him come back for the Rice game days after having emergency appendectomy surgery.
• Not being able to wear Ridgeway III instead of just Ridgeway on his jersey because the fine is too high.
• Being disappointed in how things ended with the Illinois St. coaches once he decided to go to the transfer portal so he could improve his NFL draft stock.
• Having trouble finishing up his college classes to transfer because so many coaches were blowing up his phone.
• Why he decided to come to Arkansas.
Not included in the posted cut from the live interview:
• Having a deep love for the movie Step Brothers.
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