South Floridian, former New York Jet goes from the
Gridiron to the Greens
It is hard to find two sports that are polar opposites more than golf and football. But for Stevie Anderson, who spent five-years completing acrobatic catches in the National Football League (NFL), he is connecting the dots between the sports by making serious inroads in his hot pursuit of a PGA tour career.
Anderson is one of three brothers from Jonesboro, Louisiana - a small bucolic town - who remarkably all played in the NFL. Now he finds himself, in of all places, on the links, where he is traveling throughout the country playing PGA qualifying tournaments. Anderson recently passed the extremely difficult Playing Ability Test (PAT), a key component of the Golf Teaching Professional Certification.
While it is obvious by the power of his swing that Anderson has the physical goods to play on the tour, it is still a gargantuan challenge that he has ahead of him. Anderson has spent his whole life-time overcoming obstacles. He defied all odds when he was drafted in the NFL's eighth round by the Arizona Cardinals in 1993, after playing at Grambling State, an obscure university with an enrollment just shy of 5,000 students.
Anderson was a very special player at Grambling State, a historic, black university where he had the luxury to play for legendary football coach Eddie Robinson, the second winningest coach in division one college football history. However, playing for Robinson had its drawbacks.
Robinson maintained a strict rule, where every senior on the team - whether you were a superstar or bench-warmer - was given an opportunity to play. In Anderson's case, this resulted in half a game playing time. Robinson applied this measure to give seniors the opportunity to be seen by scouts.
While this unconventional coaching philosophy was noble of Robinson, it severely handicapped Anderson's ability to put up the lofty numbers as a wide receiver often required from players on teams that are not on the NFL scouts' radar.
Anderson's senior year was by far his most successful. He made the most out of everyone of his 36 receptions by converting them into a staggering 12 touchdowns. For math geeks, this translates into one touchdown for every three receptions.
These numbers were good enough for Anderson to be invited to play in the Hawaiian Hula Bowl - college football's all-star game - a rarity for players from small programs like Grambling State, despite their heritage to produce NFL alumni, which list includes Doug Williams, the first African American quarterback to win a Super Bowl in league history.
Anderson, the 6-6, 215 pound wide receiver - gifted with blazing speed, size, and length - was rewarded appreciably for his stellar collegiate career when he was drafted in the 8th round by the Arizona Cardinals in 1993. Anderson went on to play five-years in the NFL with both the Arizona Cardinals and New York Jets.
In his fifth NFL season while competing against the Seattle Seahawks, he suffered a career ending injury after running a routine pass pattern. Anderson's defender tripped him and subsequently landed awkwardly on his knee - tearing his Posterior Crucial Ligament (PCL). After his football career ended, Anderson successfully transitioned into a modeling career and his life appeared to be on track.
But in 2003, while in Houston, Anderson was a victim of mistaken identity, which ultimately led to a scuffle outside a Houston nightclub. He and his brother Scotty - also a NFL professional football player for the Detroit Lions - were both stabbed by another club patron. Stevie's knife wound to the right femoral artery was so severe that he was pronounced dead at the scene of the crime due to blood loss. Anderson, much like a cat with nine lives, was miraculously resuscitated later on at the hospital and he fully recovered from his life threatening injury.
Then three years later in 2006, Anderson was arrested under suspicion for drugging and sexually assaulting a woman whom he met in a Scottsdale, Arizona restaurant. The alleged victim said she was slipped a date-rape drug by Anderson at a downtown Scottsdale nightclub. She reportedly lost consciousness before midnight. The woman told police she woke up screaming at an apartment and then proceeded to lock herself into a bathroom.
The charges were suspiciously upheld even after the plaintiff's toxicology report failed to find any traces of a drug that she purportedly claimed to have been given to her by Anderson. After three-years of court proceedings, the charges were quietly cleared and vindicated Anderson once again found himself victorious, albeit at a significant cost.
The emotional toll the trial has still placed on Anderson is exacting. It is as if he literally is experiencing Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) as he recants the story. Although, Anderson has withstood seemingly bigger blows in his lifetime like the loss of his best friend, his mom during the trial, he still can't shake the demons that hang over him from the drug and rape allegations on 6-6-06 that proved to be unfounded.
While he could easily out maneuver opponents on the football field with his blinding speed, his three year legal battle has left him understandably hurt, depressed, and victimized by the court system in Arizona. Anderson's only solace is the toxicology report revealing his innocence.
Nevertheless, rooted in a foundation of faith and prayer through his mother and father's upbringing, Anderson finds healing and strength. His internet broadcast The Stevie Anderson Radio Show and motivational speaking via Stevie Speaks Out, empowers Anderson by helping others to be disciplined and determined.
As Anderson meticulously prepares to hit another skyrocket drive while competing on the PGA Qualifying Tour, perhaps a spot on the esteemed golf association tour, can provide some relief from the mental anguish the 45-year old ex NFLer has encountered after retiring from professional football.
If history repeats itself for Anderson - the comeback kid - you will see him competing on the same green grass as Tiger Woods one day in the not so distant future after an illustrious career on the gridiron.
Interviewed & Written by Sports Writer Scott Brand