Bret Eddins, #94, a defensive end on the 13-0 SEC Champions of 2004, was kind enough to answer a few questions for the ‘Blogle this week. Bret was an integral part of the defensive line on the undefeated squad, and was described by SI.com’s Draft Analysis as so, “Playing with a warrior-type mentality, Eddins is an overachieving prospect tough to keep off the field … his ability to play with leverage gives him a decided advantage. Has a special teams mentality, which could help him catch on as a team’s eighth lineman at the next level.” Bret’s younger brother Bart, #53, is currently an offensive lineman for the Tigers.
Eddins tells us where he’s been since graduating, his thoughts on Gene Chizik, gives us a look inside the locker room from that magical season, and more in this WarBlogle.com Exclusive (Past) Player Interview. Note: If you want to know why I picked him for the interview this week, watch the video below.
1. What have you been doing since you graduated from Auburn?
After I left Auburn I spent roughly a year with the New York Giants. I really enjoyed my time with them, but apparently when you have two Pro Bowl defensive ends, keeping a slow husky one on the roster isn’t that much of a priority. After New York I moved back to Montgomery and have worked in real estate, Eddins Properties, since. I had several opportunities in other parts of the southeast, but decided working with my father would be a great opportunity to learn the ins-and-outs of real estate. It’s been a great experience and I love what I do and where I do it.
2. What is your greatest memory as an Auburn football player?
There are so many it really is tough to choose just one. The LSU game at Jordan Hare in 2004 was definitely a high point. After a disappointing year and all that came with it in ’03 we finally played up to our potential. It was a great game from beginning to end and I think alot of our players realized just how good that team could be that day. The fans were great as usual and after a week of hurricane weather it was a beautiful day for football. Just remembering how excited everyone on the team was and how much we grew as a team from that game definitely stands out in my mind.
3. What attracted you to Auburn?
That is kind of an unfair question. I was born into an Auburn family and spent alot of time watching, getting in fights over, and attending Auburn sporting events as a kid. As I grew up I realized I just enjoyed being in Auburn and around Auburn people. While I liked other schools that were recruiting me, Auburn just felt like home to me and I could never see myself playing anywhere else.
4. What is something that most people don’t know about the 2004 13-0 team?
While I’m sure its common with all teams that team had an abundance of personalities that the fans never got to see, I really think the year before made us all that much closer. Alot of the guys on that team were very private people, but once you got them in their comfort zone they were like a Saturday Night Live episode (when it was good).
Jay Ratliff was one of the quietest people I had ever been around for the first three years at Auburn, then he started doing “Tron” from the Chappelle Show and it was down hill from there. Ronnie Brown could say anything about anybody and even that person had to laugh. Carnell who rarely spoke was hilarious when you got him going. Jason Campbell, in all his Mississippi country-ness, would be joked ON and just laugh his head off with everyone else. Courtney Taylor was one of the class clowns undoubtedly. Carlos Rogers constantly pointing out how much better looking he was than everyone was always entertaining. Jeremy Ingle and Danny Lindsey just joked on each other for their different habits and mannerisms.
I spent countless hours arguing politics in the training room with Tommy Jackson when neither of us really knew what the hell we were talking about. Marcus McNeil would light up any room he wanted with his personality and sense of humor. Jake Slaughter was constantly acting up. Just the mood of the whole team seemed to constantly be upbeat even during two-a-days. I could go on and on naming different guys and their personality traits and senses of humor, but it really was just a fun group of guys.
5. What was your first thought as you rounded the corner to de-cleat Marcus Randall in the 2004 LSU game, and what was your thought as you jogged towards the sideline?
GOOD LORD IM SLOW, GOOD LORD IM SLOW, and out of breath…
Honestly, on the rush I was just worried that he was going to pass it right before I got there, which happened to our defensive ends several times that game. I’ve caught some flack from friends over the years for not celebrating, but I really was just worried about getting a 15-yard celebration penalty. I just wanted to get off the field and have our offense get the ball. I don’t think I would be allowed back in Lee County if I had blown that game by dancing over a gimme sack.
Mobile readers view it here.
6. Who was one unsung hero from that team?
A lot of the guys on the ’04 team were unsung heroes, but looking back I would give it to the seniors from the year before. Guys like Demarco McNeil, Reggie Torbor, Spencer Johnson, Karlos Dansby, Dontarius Thomas, etc. Those guys really showed all of us how to work when we got to Auburn, and when their senior season that started with so much promise went south, they showed us how to deal with adversity like men. I really think what we learned from them that season helped us more than anyone realized in ’04.
7. If you could have done one thing differently in your football career what would it be and why?
Gotten a Ronnie Brown-esque contract…
Really I don’t know if there is much I’d change. Maybe a few less injuries, but my time in the training room with guys like Demarco McNeil and Spencer Johnson are times I wouldn’t trade for anything. You learn alot about a guy when you are guessing which person on “Maury” that day is a real girl and which isn’t.
It’s hard to look back and think what Id change because, honestly, most of my memories are great ones with friends. Over time the memories of how hot it was or how bad stuff hurt has faded, but I still chuckle thinking about 6’8, 330lb Marcus McNeil talking about the movie TROY and running like Achilles. I laugh thinking about Spencer Johnson doing the “coon dance” he did as a child to keep the raccoons off his porch. Jeremy Ingle quoting Will Ferrell’s John Rocker as we ran scout team D-Line, and plenty others I cant put on paper. I’m sure it’s like alot of things in life, the bad was never that bad and the good was never that good, but I guess I’ll just keep lying to myself and say the good was even better.
8. What were your first thoughts about the hiring of Gene Chizik and what are your thoughts now?
I remember getting 30 phone calls a day before the hiring from friends thinking I had some inside knowledge. I also remember those same friends being convinced that I was holding out the whole time when the news came out. I was a little surprised, but excited. I knew the kind of coach and man he is, I knew he understood the SEC, and I knew he loved Auburn. Personally, I wanted him to throw the staff together immediately and hit the ground running, but when I spoke to him after his press conference he said they are going to take their time, do it right and get the best, which I really think he did.
My thoughts now are that I’m not shocked. Knowing coach Chizik and meeting this staff I felt we would be prepared to play and have the opportunity to win if we executed. Its a long season and we still have alot to learn about this team but everything Ive seen and heard has been good. I know the players are excited each week for the games because they trust their coaches and know they are going to put them in the best position to be successful.
9. Where do you see Auburn going during the Gene Chizik era?
I think it starts with recruiting. This staff knows the kind of kid they want to recruit and will do it relentlessly. There is no other way to recruit in the SEC. The one thing I see in this staff that you don’t in others around the SEC and country is their desire to really bond with the kids during the process and while at Auburn. They are doing alot to help develop the players into responsible young men, and that’s not something that surprises me knowing coach Chizik.
Secondly, I think we can expect to see a focus on the running game with a more explosive passing game than we are used to seeing. The players on the team are really excited about the new schemes and the ability of this system to open up big play opportunities for any player at any given time in a game.
I also think we can expect to see consistency, on and off the field. Off the field problems will not be tolerated. The players are held to a very high standard by the coaches and soon enough by each other. On the field it will be consistency in doing the little things right. It’s not running a route right one time, it’s running the route right every time, even when you know you aren’t going to get the ball. It will be a very disciplined team that should be alot of fun to play for and watch.
10. And lastly, who is the best professional wrestler of all time?
Hulk Hogan. No other wrestler has ever been able to top his cross over appeal. I REALLY wanted to go with Andre the Giant here because let’s be honest, the mythical stories about him are true and that is great. Plus who doesn’t like The Princess Bride? Hogan was in Rocky III, No Holds Barred, Tropic Thunder, Hogan Knows Best, and countless other shows/movies.
He did as much for bandannas and bald men as Brett Michaels. He pretty much held up the beard coloring industry on his own, while in the NWO. His finishing move was one of the few me and my friends could pull off in the yard and do it just like the “real” wrestlers. He did as much for matching gold with red as Ronald McDonald. He made tearing up my old t-shirts as a kid okay.
He told several guys from the ’04 team he met on Spring Break he liked them more than the “scrawny cry baby pip squeaks” his daughter was into, and said he would pull for Auburn all season “brothers”, and yes he really finished the conversation that way. He also lived down the street form one of my best friend’s parents and is apparently a genuinely great guy. So my vote goes with the one…the only…Hulk Hogan.