This is an article from the Nov. 1, 2010 issue
CHAIRMAN OF THE BOARDS
The 24-year-old has won two Olympic gold and 15 X Games medals in snowboarding and four X Games medals in skateboarding
Dan Patrick: Who's a better athlete, you or surfer Kelly Slater?
Shaun White: To be honest, I'm not sure. The sports are so different. He tans a lot better than I do. The freckles don't do so well. But I was lucky that I grew up in California, so I surf pretty well.
DP: If I gave you a year just to work on surfing, could you compete?
SW: I think so. I could probably figure out how to do some stuff. Boards and myself get along somehow. I've always been under the impression that it would be such a bummer to be in a peaceful place like Hawaii or the tropics and be stressed about catching waves.
DP: But you don't stress when you're snowboarding?
SW: A little bit. The weather can roll in. All of a sudden your buddies have dropped in and their runs are in the sunshine, and you're dropping in and it's just puking snow.
DP: Puking snow?
SW: It's a technical term.
DP: I was looking at these head injuries in the NFL. How many concussions have you had?
SW: I've had maybe four or five, which is actually pretty lucky.
DP: What about surgeries?
SW: I've lucked out. I've had two. One on my knee, which was a slight repair of torn cartilage in the meniscus, and I hurt my thumb.
DP: That's it?
SW: We have these new helmets, Burton makes them for RED, a company they own. These helmets are made to withstand one really big impact, and then that's it, you need a new helmet. It basically cracks in two and absorbs the impact. It's tough because you have to go get a new helmet, but it saves your head.
DP: What goes through your mind when you see what happened to T.J. Lavin [a pro BMX rider who was critically injured in a crash last month]?
SW: I try to not think about it. I always tell people that our sports aren't that dangerous. It's just that we [professionals] are in very different circumstances, where we have been doing these sports for years and years and years, and [the danger is] the result of being bored and wanting to do something new and exciting. It's like if you played guitar for 18 years. You'd never want to sit there and play some simple song. You'd want to rock out, you'd want to turn the amp on and do the pedals and do all these different things. When I go out to do a Double McTwist 1260 at the Olympics, it's not because it's fun. It's fulfilling to me. I'm receiving some satisfaction from doing these tricks and pushing what I'm capable of. On a fun day, I just go cruise with my friends, my family, and do big airs, simple things.
DP: If I said you could be a guitar player in any band right now, what band?
SW: Can I say Led Zeppelin? They kind of came back for a second there.
DP: Do you think you could handle those songs?
SW: I can play most of them. The White Stripes are probably one of my favorite bands. I was in New York and I was lucky enough to meet Jack White. Meeting actors and TV personalities is one thing, but I just feel like meeting musicians is the coolest.
• Clean Act
After the Rangers knocked off the Rays in the ALDS, they celebrated with ginger ale before they broke out the champagne. They did so because of Josh Hamilton's well-publicized history of substance abuse, and also because pitcher C.J. Wilson is a nondrinker. Wilson told me that being a baseball player "has been a job for me since I was eight." After seeing family members and peers have problems with alcohol and drugs, he swore off those things so his dream wouldn't be derailed. "I had to stay on the straight and narrow because I wasn't going to get a second chance," he said.
• New Kid
Tim Tebow told me that his transition from college to the NFL has been fairly smooth. "I've loved it," he said. But the Broncos backup QB isn't sure when he's going to get a chance to throw his first pass. As anxious as he is to show off his arm, the rookie knows his place, so don't look for him to call his own number. "No, I don't think I'm going to call an audible quite yet," he said with a laugh.
• Line of the week
Former safety Rodney Harrison has a theory as to why we're seeing so many jarring hits in the NFL: "Guys are so lazy nowadays, they don't want to tackle. They just want the big kill shot."
THE FINE PRINT: Denver flew to London after losing 59--14 to Oakland; 40 players were stopped by airport security for carrying more than three ounces of Whipped Ass.
Now Hear This
Listen to the podcasts at danpatrick.com/interviews
1. Auburn coach Gene Chizik discusses the BCS.
2. Matthew Stafford on his recovery from a shoulder injury.