From The Trenches To The Pulpit: Interview of NFL prospect turned Christian Minister, Roderick Cantu

Many times the line between professional athletics and proselytizing the Christian faith have been crossed by the finely tuned machines that love them both. From boxing heavyweight champions like George Foreman and Evander Holyfield to football legend Reggie White and QB Tim Tebow the world’s most practiced religion has been confessed and believed by some of the biggest names in the game.  This particular relationship between religion and sports has caused ya boy 12 to invite a personal friend of mine to the corner store for an interview because his story rides this wave with the exception that he never played an NFL down.  It wasn’t because he wasn’t good enough, but to the contrary, he made the conscious choice to hang up his cleats right before his name would have been announced at Radio City Music Hall in NYC.  He instead chose to put down the playbook and pick up the prayer book.  Or was it that he was chosen to do so by the Higher power?  I’ll let my brother speak for himself.  Welcome my manz Minister Roderick Cantu to the Corner Store.

12. Peace my man.  It’s been a while since we spoke last. How have you been?
RC: I am doing very well man. I will be married for 12 years on September 7th. I have 2 girls, a boy, and a boy on the way in December. Our faithful marriage is one of the biggest on-going accomplishments of my life. I hope this greeting finds you well as well.
12: Since I’m a lover of hip hop culture I want to bite off of the movie Brown Sugar and ask you, When did you first fall in love with football?
RC: I think it was watching excerpts of the Luv ya blue days when Earl Campbell was a beast. He was phenmomenal…I used to pretend I was Earl not a lineman…..hence the footwork!
12: Yes, quick feet was your trademark. I remember when you were a freshman and sophomore at Cypress Falls.  I used to tell everyone that you would make it to the league because you were the hardest working dude that I’ve ever seen.  When I arrived  in the weight room you were already there.   When I got to the track to run you were already running laps and bleachers. Where did that work ethic come from?
RC: I think that I wanted the NFL so bad that even then I knew that If I out worked people my natural gifts would give me a chance. I just didn’t want anyone to be better than me. I took it personal. I always got a bad feeling in my stomach when I thought someone was being rated higher than myself.
12: Me too. That’s why you always saw me coming into the weight room and on the track when you were already there. lol. How was your time at McNeese St?  Any good stories about that squad you played on?
 RC: I loved it at McNeese they treated football players very well and fed us good. Lake Charles loved us. It’s a unique town that gets really excited about their team. The thing that sticks with me most about the squad that went to the National Championship was that it wasn’t because we dominated every game. It was the fact that so many things went our way that season. If you create your own luck….. we created a lot that year. Don’t get me wrong we were very talented, but very fortunate as well.  
12: My momz is from Lake Charles. Maybe that’s why I love the sport so much.  Plus growing up in Texas didn’t make it any easier not to love the game. What position did you play and did you get any interest from pro scouts?  
RC: I played Right Guard and started all four years from my red-shirt freshman year. I was second team all-conference my sophomore and junior year ( I should have been first team my junior year), and I was 1st team my Senior year.
12: I know that there’s a misconception from some potential student athletes, and people in general, that the smaller schools don’t get NFL scout representation so they feel like they have to go to major universities to get a shot at the NFL.  How do you feel about that?
RC: It’s not true. If you’re good enough they find you. A Miami Dolphins scout and Jet scout talked to me before and after practice during my senior regular season. If you’re special it shows no matter where you’re at.
12. I agree.  I remember seeing scouts at Sam Houston St practices all of the time when we were out there getting after it.  After hearing about San Diego State’s Adam Muema leaving the NFL combine because he said that God told him to, I immediately thought about you.  The word in the hood(we are from the same neighborhood btw) was that you had a shot at the NFL but decided to follow a calling from God that you received to go into the ministry.  I know how rumors can get the actual story all twisted so I would like for you to tell us what the real story is.
RC: The truth is I was becoming something that was not consistent with Christ like character, and that coupled with the calling of ministry on my life just wasn’t comfortable. Jesus Christ is my savior and I felt a nudge to go a different direction. I stopped all contact with agents and didn’t enter the draft. Some people thought I was crazy. I don’t think I would have been a high draft pick, but I do think I would have got my chance. And you know me. Once there I would have outworked everybody. The only solace I have is knowing that I played against guys who were drafted and I dominated them.
12:  You know that I have nothing but love and respect for you bro, but I thought that you were crazy too.  Out of the few of us that I knew could make it to the league, you were one of them.  I messed my chance up to go D1.  I would have outworked all of those super talented cats too but it wasn’t for me I guess. I’ll write about that later.  I do respect the fact that you stuck to your guns and made the best decision that you had to make for you. Anyways, where do you see yourself in the future?  Did your years playing football, or sports in general, help you develop any of the skills that are required to accomplish any of your future goals? 
RC: I will have my Masters in Organizational leadership soon, and I currently secure programming for at-risk youth. I want to have a youth/life skills center with a sanctuary in it for church services. I plan on seeing my 9 year old boy play for Manchester United one day so that will take up a lot of my time. He is a better athlete than me. I think the confidence gained from accomplishing football goals has bled over into every aspect of my life as well as the passion and hard work.
12.  Thanks for taking the time to lay it out there for us brother.  You have always been one of my favorite people because of the way you worked for what you wanted.  Really inspiring man.  Is there anything you want the world to know about Roderick Cantu that we haven’t discussed already? 
RC:  I encourage men to be men of integrity in all their  dealings. The future of  our families and nation depend on it.
12: If you have anything that you would like to pub here’s your chance. Where can you be reached online?    
12: Once again I appreciate you for hanging out and rapping with ya bro 12 at The Corner Store.  I put the energy out there that all of your aspirations are met because you deserve it.  One luv.
Til next time, 12

Interview with 3x World Boxing Champion Reggie “Sweet” Johnson: Is it Canelo vs Lara or Cuba vs Mexico world cup 2?


Tonight marks the night that all of the talking will be brought to a head.  Bank accounts, popularity, reputations, promoters, hardship stories, or who beat common opponents in greater fashion won’t mean a thing in the ring.  The only thing that will squash the talk and settle the beef is who brings it tonight and ” throws them thangs” the best like we say on the block.  I never saw Lara fight before seeing his face on the promo poster in Mission Tx a few weeks ago so I pulled up some of his fights on demand and youtube.  I liked what I saw from Lara.  He does not have the one punch bomb type power, but he causes accumulative damage throughout the duration of the fight.  Against El Perro Angulo Lara was dropped twice by powerful left hooks that dazed him, but didn’t finish him off.  He, on the other hand, applied steady south paw jabs and straight left hands to Angulo’s face all night until Angulo’s orbital bone cracked over the top of his left eye and caused El Perro to turn his back on the action signaling to the ref that he could no longer continue.

The Austin Trout match was more of a technical chess match between two south paw counter punchers.  Lara used his patience and Cuban school training to lure Trout out of his comfort zone by making him be more offensively aggressive than he normally likes to be.  Lara dropped Trout with a mean right left 2 piece that sent the usually stout chinned Trout to the canvas in a James Brown styled split in the 11th round.  HAAAAYYYYY! GOOD GOD!

Canelo had the opposite amount of difficulty although the red head emerged victorious in both fights.  He dominated Angulo for the entirety of the fight causing the ref to step in after an uppercut landed flush against Angulo’s chin.  Trout, however, gave Alvarez trouble in the later rounds after being wobbled and dropped by a straight right to the mouth.  I’m more than sure that this is exactly what Canelo wants to do to Lara in order to shut him up. Even though Trout was obviously hurt by the shot that sent him to the canvas for the 1st time in his previously undefeated career he got up to hand some really good shots on Canelo causing some ,including Trout, to think that the match should have been judged a draw.  I personally think that the knock down swung the decision Canelo’s way.  No controversey here.

Enough of my thoughts.  I’m not as qualified to discuss the sweet science as my distinguished guest and 1st time visitor to the Corner Store is.  Introducing The 3x World Champion Reggie “Sweet” Johnson.  He was gracious enough to grant me an interview in regards to his feelings about tonight’s fight.

12: Saturday July 12th is the date that Saul Canelo Alvarez and Erislandy Lara face off in a much anticipated junior middleweight showdown. I think the different styles will make this an interesting fight. How do you feel about the Alvarez- Lara matchup?

RJ: I think it is an Awesome match up and will be a plus to boxing and the fans will be well pleased.

12: Who does Canelo remind you of as a fighter? What about Lara?

RJ: Canelo reminds me of Vargas.. Lara reminds me of a little of Vernon Forest but with less power.

12: Both fighters come from countries that are very passionate about their boxing champions. Mexico and Cuba have reputations for having tough skillful fighters that don’t turn away from a fight. do you think that this fight will turn into a good old fashioned World Cup brawl at any point?

RJ: I think this will turn out to be the classic boxer beating the slugger or the classic slugger beating the boxer.

12: This is the biggest fight of Lara’s career, outside of his fight to split from the Cuban government, how do you think he will respond?

RJ: I think he will deliver in great fashion.

12: I would love to see Canelo fight Miguel Cotto or Maidana. What do you see in the future for Canelo if he wins? Who do you think he should fight?

RJ: Likewise as a matter of fact I would love to see the winner of this fight take on Miguel Cotto or Maidana.

12: Lara had said that after he disposes of Alvarez, he will take out Floyd Mayweather. What do you think about that sentiment? Who do you think he should fight next if he wins?

RJ: I think he should fight the man that will secure him the most security (MONEY), which is Mayweather.

12: Angulo knocked Lara down twice. Do you think that he fall victim to Canelo’s power?

RJ: When that bell ring the square circle becomes the arena of the unexpected. Anything can happen. Lara got up twice and got the job done against Angulo which means Canelo’s power will be challenged and tested as well.

12: Canelo had problems keeping up with Mayweather’s movement/foot speed and defense. Lara has similar traits. Do you think he will be too tricky for Saul to figure out?

RJ: I think if Lara takes Canelo into the late rounds he will win. Canelo must get to Lara early to win this fight. Lara’s skill set enables him to win this fight easy after 8 rounds.

12: Lara trains in Houston, Texas, our hometown, with Ronnie Shields.  Have you had a chance to meet him?  Are you familiar with Shields? What do you think he brings to the table as a trainer?

RJ: Yes I’ve been to their gym and I’ve had the pleasure of meeting Lara .  Ronnie shields is every fighter that he trains secret weapon. I’ve been knowing Ronnie since I started boxing at the age of 12 and he was a great fighter as well.

12: Lastly, what is your prediction for this fight?

RJ: This is a tough fight to call but being a smart man in the ring I must go with the smart man. I like Lara in a upset 12 round split decision.

12: Thank you for your time and for stopping by the Corner Store to chop it up with your boy 12 Champ. We’ll be in touch again soon.

12 is dippin out.

Throwback pic of 3x World Champion Reggie "Sweet" Johnson and Lara's Trainer Ronnie Shields.

Throwback pic of 3x World Champion Reggie “Sweet” Johnson and Lara’s Trainer Ronnie Shields.