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Canzano: Getting to the NFL is one thing... staying is another
A conversation with former first-round draft pick Alex Molden.
Alex Molden was a first-round NFL Draft pick in 1996. He went No. 11 overall to the New Orleans Saints and played eight NFL seasons.
He’s now 48 and the father of eight children. One of them, Elijah, is a defensive back with the Tennessee Titans. Alex Molden is now working as a life coach and motivational speaker. He joined me this week for a fantastic 1-on-1 interview on a variety of subjects.
We talked about life after football, finding your identity, and why being drafted high makes getting to the NFL and staying in the league easier.
Alex Molden on Tom Brady coming out of retirement:
“He’s been playing football for three quarters of his life. Football is a huge part of who he is and he’s still playing at a high level. Of course, I wanted to come back. After my eighth year I was still working out and trying to get my ninth year and my 10th year, but I couldn’t do it anymore.”
On when he knew it was time to retire:
“My last year, I was playing in Washington. I was covering one of their young receivers and he jumped up — oh, my gosh — he was about 13 feet in the air. He made this catch and I said, ‘I think this is probably it for me.’”
On when celebrity treatment goes away when an athlete retires:
“We get passes. We get free passes. The higher up we go as a celebrity and athlete and you do things and people see your face and people want to take you out to lunch and play golf. What happens when you’re done playing? You don’t even know who you are. You think that what you did is who you are and that’s taken away from you. Now, here comes the difficult task and you’re looking in the mirror. All of a sudden, you’re not getting the passes, you don’t get that seat at the restaurant. You don’t know who you are.”
On getting to the NFL and staying in the NFL:
“The hardest part is staying. Getting in is tough, but staying is harder. I played eight years. Two percent of all NFL players stay eight years. (Former Oregon DB) Anthony Newman played 12 years — that’s in the top one percent.”
On being a high NFL Draft pick:
“Drafted in the first round, I can make mistakes. I can make mistakes for a year or even two. An undrafted rookie free agent? You might have a bad day of practice and that’s it. You’re done. As I got older in the league, I used to hate going up against a free-agent rookie in training camp. They’re going to give it their best. They’re playing on the biggest stage they’ve ever been on every practice. You have to have that mentality as a rookie free-agent. You’re one mistake, one bad play away, from your career being over as a rookie free-agent.”
Some quick Friday hits…
Stephen Curry sure is a blast to watch. I don’t know if I’ve ever seen a more joyful NBA player. That said, get that talk about a long-range, four-point line out of your head.
Pac-12 Commissioner George Kliavkoff is celebrating his one-year anniversary on the job. He’s been exactly what the conference needs. His next year (media rights, playoff tug-of-war, etc.) will include some bigger challenges.
A source at Nike tells me the Portland Diamond Project is talking with several prominent Nike executives about joining their MLB to PDX effort. I expect some of them will join.
Nike founder Phil Knight won’t be among them. He remains focused on owning a particular NBA team.
Those familiar with Knight tell me that he is a shrewd negotiator. I fear that trustee Jody Allen and Blazers vice chair Bert Kolde may unnecessarily muck up this sale. If Knight walks from this deal because of the antics of Allen and Kolde… it would be their biggest sin yet.
I talked with first-year Oregon football coach Dan Lanning this week. He told me that he and his family are going on a vacation in early July. He said he wanted to get some family time before the grind of the football season. It was nice to hear.
Long-time Arizona State sports information director Mark Brand announced his retirement this week. He tells me he and his wife, Lori, are excited about the next chapter. USC’s legendary Tim Tessalone retired recently too. That’s two prominent, longtime SIDS who are leaving the conference. I emailed with Tessalone recently and he said, “I highly recommend retirement. It’s a blast!”
The late Paul Allen had the smarts to build his NFL stadium in Seattle with the ability to include a regulation soccer field. As a result, Seattle gets to host some World Cup games in 2026.
If you’re in the Portland area this weekend, check out Worlds of Sport at the Oregon Convention Center. You’ve heard me crow about the event for months. All the brands and all the teams under one roof on Saturday and Sunday. Never in state history have the Trail Blazers, Timbers, Thorns, Hops, Winterhawks, Oregon Ducks, Oregon State Beavers and Portland State shared the same space for an event. It’s 90,000 square feet of sportspalooza.
FATHER’S DAY: I got my dad a rock one as a gift for Father’s Day. It’s true. He asked for a rock. So I found one of those fancy gem, mineral and fossil stores when I was on a road trip and I bought my dad a crystal geode.
Turns out, he really just wanted a plain, old, river rock. He’s a tough customer but I’ve learned he appreciates the simple things.
Father’s Day is Sunday. I have a special column coming on Sunday that I think your dad will love. In fact, if you’d like to buy your dad a gift he’ll really use, consider a JohnCanzano.com gift subscription.
It beats a tie.
It’s better than socks.
What you’re really giving your father is a simple, shared experience and a connection with the things you and I discuss here. You’ll laugh together, cry together, and think together. If you’re interested, please consider a gift subscription for your dad.
It sure beats a rock.
Thank you for reading. I appreciate all who have supported, subscribed and shared my new independent endeavor with friends and family in recent months. If you haven’t already — please consider subscribing.