Catching up with Danny Wuerffel is always fun. For one thing, Danny always has something encouraging to say about everyone. In this exclusive audio interview, Danny reflects on a number of subjects including a some ex-Gator quarterbacks — Shane Matthews, Kerwin Bell and Chris Leak — and tells us about some of things that are going on with Desire Street Ministries.
Some people never change and that’s especially so with Danny Wuerffel, who will always have a higher calling.
To listen in, scroll down below the transcript and hit the play button.
BRADY ACKERMAN: Danny Wuerffel is here from the All-American Football League. Of course, many of you know Danny from the Heisman Trophy winning year in 1996 with the Florida Gators, when they won the National Championship. He also has done a lot of great work over in New Orleans with Hurricane Katrina and the ministries and all that kind of stuff. We are going to visit with him for a couple of minutes. Danny, thanks for coming on the show.
DANNY WUERFFEL: Yeah, thanks for having me.
BRADY ACKERMAN: First of all, let’s talk about the All-American Football League. They just hired a new coach. This guy know anything about offense up there?
DANNY WUERFFEL: (laughing) Yeah. Shane Matthews. It’s funny, I’ve been calling him coach for about, you know, 10 or 15 years now. And he’s finally got the shot. I think he’s going to be…he is a great offensive mind. He understands football well and I think he’ll have a great staff around him. So I’m really looking forward to the team doing well.
BRADY ACKERMAN: What about the, you know…this type of league? You know, I know you won, you know, an award for not only being a great football player but also academics. This league you have to graduate to play in it. That’s got to be something pretty cool.
DANNY WUERFFEL: Oh, I think it’s great. I think it stands for something. It encourages what college is all about, and it’s really going to be an incentive for a lot of guys. You know, there’s a lot of guys that go through college and they’re close, and then they try to go in the NFL, and they may or may not make if for a couple of years. And what this does is it just really sets a standard that, you know, you’ve got to get over that hump and get back, go back and take that class, the two classes. Whatever you need. Get your degree, then you have a chance to keep playing football. So it catches this thing that college is about, the academics. But then it also catches the spirit, the passion of college football. Um, university towns and stadiums and players. And so I think it’s got a great chance, and I’m excited. A lot of my friends are going to be playing and a lot of people are asking me, you know, “are you going to play?” And, you know, part of me would love to, but I’m…I’ve got my calling with Desire Street Ministries. I’m working hard, staying busy. And, so, you know, I’m not going to be playing but I’ll be rooting them on that’s for sure.
BRADY ACKERMAN: Now you’ve…for the last several years you’ve had a camp, a quarterback camp. Kerwin Bell, now the JU Head Coach, you and Shane have been doing that working with young people. Are you going to coach? Are you going to help out? What are you going to do with the All American Football League and Team Florida?
DANNY WUERFFEL: Well, I’m just officially a fan.
BRADY ACKERMAN: (laughing)
DANNY WUERFFEL: Really. Just a fan of the guys playing and of the concept, and you know, they asked me to be here today, and so I was just thankful to be a part of this. I think that it’s just something, the concept, that I really do believe in. And so I think, you know, you’ve got all these people like I mentioned in the press conference, that never got a chance to watch Chris Doering or Travis McGriff play. Because they couldn’t afford a ticket, or there weren’t tickets available. And now there’s a chance to do that and there’s a lot of Gator fans around here. I think this thing’s going to catch on and people will be excited.
BRADY ACKERMAN: What do you think about the debut performance of the 2007 Florida Gators last Saturday?
DANNY WUERFFEL: Well, it’s always hard to tell, based on your competition, but they sure looked good to me. They looked like they had a lot of speed. They got some guys that can fly and they got them in good positions, and any time the quarterback, you know, can pass like Dan Marino and run like a fullback, you got a weapon there. So I’m excited for Tim and all that they’re doing.
BRADY ACKERMAN: I know you were a big fan of Chris Leak’s, the way he carried himself at the University of Florida. Didn’t really have a great camp with Chicago. Didn’t get a lot of chances. I know you…obviously you signed with the Saints but you bounced around a little bit in the NFL. Do you think Chris should stick to it? Do you think he should…you know, what advice would you offer him if, you know…with the NFL?
DANNY WUERFFEL: Oh yeah, I mean, you know, he just had his first shot here and things didn’t go well for him, and I think it’s definitely worth it. You’re at a point in your life where you’ve trained so hard, and if you have the ability to give it a couple of shots I think that’s great. So I do encourage him to do that. At the same time, that’s the other reason why I think this league is a great idea, because you’ll get guys like Chris Leak, you know, maybe a year from now or whenever that can play, should play, deserve to play, but there’s just so limited opportunities in the NFL, that this provides a great avenue.
BRADY ACKERMAN: Alright, last question, Danny, and I want to get back to your Desire Street Ministries. Obviously we’re a couple of years removed from Hurricane Katrina. The Saints have actually really kind of galvanized that city with their play last year. Tell us about the other part of it. Have you been able to go…you were living there for people who don’t know. Obviously started Desire Street Ministries. All that really kind of wrecked by Hurricane Katrina, but you’ve gone back in. Tell us about that, what you’re doing, and if people want to find out more if they still want to get involved and help you and…
DANNY WUERFFEL: Right.
BRADY ACKERMAN: ….as you restore what you were doing in New Orleans.
DANNY WUERFFEL: Yeah, well I came along in ’97. It actually started in 1990, and so I was blessed to get involved, and we’re going a lot of great things to revitalize what was once one of the worst neighborhoods in the country. And then the storm hit and just devastated us in so many ways. I mean we didn’t know if we’d continue. We didn’t know if kids were alive, and yet these last 2 years as difficult as they’ve been, a lot of people have stepped forward. The Gator Nation has been incredibly supportive. And not only have we been able to stay afloat, not a good word. Not only have we been able to keep our doors open, we’ve been able to grow. And so our school now is in Baton Rouge and doing some great things in that community. We’ve got another program in the 8th ward of New Orleans, and we’ve got a guy that we’re helping start something in Montgomery. So what started in one little place and looked like it was done from the storm, God has even used that to open our doors to do some great things, and our website is desirestreet.org. Desirestreet.org. One long word and spell out “street”. It’s got a lot of great information and updates, and ways for people to partner with us.
BRADY ACKERMAN: I know it’d be tough for Florida to repeat, but it’d be pretty cool to see them back in New Orleans at the Sugar Bowl, where the National Championship is this year where obviously you guys won it back in 1996.
DANNY WUERFFEL: Oh, that’d be a blessing. I’m scheduled to be doing some things at the Sugar Bowl this year.
BRADY ACKERMAN: Okay.
DANNY WUERFFEL: Just, uh, for the community. And so I’m expecting the Gators to join me.
BRADY ACKERMAN: Alright. Coach Meyer’s got the directive from Danny Wuerffel. Appreciate you stopping by.
DANNY WUERFFEL: Alright, thanks Brady.
BRADY ACKERMAN: Danny Wuerffel. Heisman trophy winning quarterback at The University of Florida, former Gator, and appreciate his time.
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