I recently caught up with former Notre Dame and current Indianapolis Colts safety Sergio Brown. The past 13 months have been a bit of a roller coaster for Brown. After starting for parts of 2011 and playing for the Patriots in Super Bowl XLVI last February, he was surprisingly one of New England's final 2012 August roster cuts. The two-year vet was quickly snatched by Indianapolis and reunited with former Fighting Irish teammate Tom Zbikowski - the safeties helped the Colts embark upon an inspiring and unexpected run to the postseason. Sergio also spent some spare time designing and launching a DOMER hat with Lacer Headwear that he hopes is just the beginning of more collaborations off-the-field.
As he settles into his first full offseason with the Colts, Sergio Brown is looking ahead to a bright future for himself and his teammates - Indianapolis forms one of the NFL's youngest but most talented rosters. I also had the pleasure of informing him that he is the only two-time SubwayDomer.com People's Champ - something he seemed rather proud of.
You can listen to the full interview here, on iTunes or by playing the audio below.
Steve Herring: You helped design a hat for Lacer Headwear. Have you always been interested in fashion and design? What made you jump in to design this cool hat?
Sergio Brown: My marketing guy Brian Bradtke knew I had interest in design and set me up with Lacer to see if they'd let me design my own hat. They let me pick my own colorways and I went with Gold & Blue to try and represent Notre Dame.
SH: How long had you been interested in fashion design. Had you been wanting to design apparel, clothes or shoes?
SB: To tell you the truth I wasn't as big into designing. I was a Marketing major at Notre Dame and fashion was interesting to me but I thought about being a branding manager or marketing rep for a fashionable clothing line and be able to pick stuff out, see how things work, forecasting, trends, things of that sort. I thought that stuff was pretty cool and it was always on my mind. Then Brian came up with something that was totally different and I had to jump at that opportunity.
SH: You are the only two-time People's Champ of SubwayDomer.com - how do you feel about that?
SB: I feel great! It's all about the people! I love being the People's Champ. I've always kind of seen myself being with the people a lot ... even if you don't get the respect from others, I seem to have the people on my side a lot. I'm grateful to be the two time People's Champ of the Subway Domers. I'm gonna have to tweet em later.
SH: I'm just guessing here, but I think you're probably the first person who has actually been told he was the Subway Domer's People Champ.
SB: (laughing) I'm glad you're the one to tell me. Shout out to Subway!
SH: You played at Notre Dame under Charlie Weis. You've seen the changes since then and the Irish played for a National Championship this year. Have you seen a big difference in what went on while you were there and what you see now that has gotten them over that hump?
SB: It's like the swagger changed. He (Brian Kelly) is getting a lot out of his players. He's letting them show a little personality out there. You see guys running around having fun and they're really like a family. It looks like they really want to play for him (Kelly) as well. You see him on the sideline cursing people out and he doesn't seem to care who he curses out and I really respect that ... you treat everyone the same and he gets a tremendous amount of respect out of his players. It shows that when you get your players to play for you - the sky is the limit.
SH: When you look back at your time in South Bend - do you have that one picturesque moment that makes you smile and think about Notre Dame?
SB: One thing? That's a hard question thinking about one thing over four years ... I always think about winter time, snow everywhere, and you're just walking down Notre Dame Avenue and you see the dome in the back of the horizon ... you can tell you're somewhere special.
My first two years I didn't like Notre Dame. I was from Chicago and I wanted to leave every chance I got. I just remember once coming from a my friend and Notre Dame basketball player Thomas Kopko's house and walking down Notre Dame avenue and seeing the dome in the back ... almost like my "Mariah moment" ... you just accepted that you were somewhere special and you'd bought into the entire program and the university. I'm really glad I went to Notre Dame after that moment.
SH: When you finished up at Notre Dame and started preparing for the NFL - what do you remember most about the pre-draft part of the process?
SB: Just grinding. I was training in Chicago but still taking classes at Notre Dame. I was back and forth, back and forth. I remember getting an e-mail from (John) Harbaugh and the Ravens saying "we're interested in you and we might end up snagging you late in the draft or in Free Agency" and I get to the bottom (of the email) and it's from Harbaugh - the head coach. I'm thinking "Whoa!" this is so crazy - I have the opportunity to fulfill the dreams I've had since I was a young toddler.
I think I was at a spring practice sitting on the bench with Toryan Smith, George West and some of the seniors (when I received the email). I'm reading this email and they ask me what I'm doing and I say "Harbaugh just emailed me man!" and they're saying "Oh my God!" It was that extra motivation to get what you set out to get done.
SH: This will be your first offseason with the Colts after being a late add to the 2012 roster. What are your expectations of yourself in 2013 and what does the team need to do to improve and advance in the playoffs?
SB: I have very big expectations of myself. I'm really going to go out there and bust my butt and try to win me a spot, crack a lineup. I want to play more on defense. I believe I can do that so I'm going to put my best foot forward so I can accomplish my goals. As a team we were out there and pretty close. We made it to the playoffs and lost to the Super Bowl Champs. We were young. We were inexperienced. We didn't know exactly what we were doing and a lot of people hit that wall. We need to reflect on last season and harp on all the things we did well and we need to repeat it ... and all of those simple, stupid mistakes that we made last year we need to capitalize on them. We have a great, great, great group of core guys and if we do well, we could do well for a long time.
SH: You went to the Super Bowl last year with the Patriots. Are there guys in the locker room looking to you saying "Sergio what do we need to do (in order) to get to the next level?"
SB: We talked about it in the playoffs. Guys around my locker like Coby Fleener, (LaVon) Brazil, and T.Y. Hilton - we'd talk about going to the Super Bowl and what it took to get to the Super Bowl. It's really really not that hard. When you get to the playoffs, the team that makes the least mistakes is gonna win. Both teams are going to be good so you really gotta harp on those things. When we get back together as a team I'm going to talk to the guys and put my two cents in and give them what I think they need to hear.
SH: As the (NFL) playoffs progressed a lot of pundits and former players were going on TV saying the Ravens were a "team of destiny". On the field, laying in that Round 1 game (against Baltimore) did you feel that they may be a "team of destiny" or were the Colts just not executing on that day and there could have been other days where the Colts could have beaten what would become the Super Bowl Champions?
SB: Any given Sunday you can lose and you can win. Whoever shows up. I wouldn't say "team of destiny" but you could really see it in their eyes and their demeanor that they were not gonna take "No" for an answer. They really came prepared to play. They weren't making any mistakes and capitalizing on any opportunities that they had. It wasn't like there were angels in the end zone. These guys were just taking advantage of the opportunities they were having ... that's what a Super Bowl Champ does.
Make sure you follow Sergio Brown on Twitter or Instagram under @SergioBrown38 or check out his Facebook Fan Page. He also plans on launching the Sergio Brown Foundation this year which will run a youth camp for inner city Chicago kids. Portions of his Lacer Headwear profits will support these efforts so buy them here.