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September 23, 1996 - Image 11

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1996-09-23

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The Michigan Daily - SPORTSMonday - September 23, 1996 - 38

.&A Derc Aeane

The former Michigan wide receiver discusses
his days in Ann Arbor and life in the NFL.


Not everyone can fulfill their dreams.
Four years ago, 'Derrick Alexander
nrlked the busy paths of the Diag,
*ecked his e-mail in the Fishbowl, and
sat in the lonely floors of the
Undergraduate Library cramming for
his midterms.
On Saturday afternoons during the
fall, he d put on his No. I Michigan jer-
sey and catch passes from a guy named
TAmes have changed, and so has the
number on Alexander jersey
He no longer strolls the Diag nor eats
the Union. He no longer dresses in
maize and blue on game days, and game
days are no longer on Saturday. And now
hek catching passes from a guy named
Not everyone can fulfill their dreams,
but former Wolverine Derrick Alexander
has fulfilled his.
Chosen 29th overall in the 1994 NFL
draft by the Cleveland Browns,
lexander is in his third season with the
anization, which is now the Baltimore
He leads the team in receptions and,
as quarterback Vinny Testaverdes main
receiving target, he is tied for the team
lead in touchdowns.
Alexander recently talked with the
Dai yk Jordan Field about his career at
Michigan, his experience in Cleveland
and the team s move to Baltimore.
Daily: Did you have a chance to
*atch the Michigan victory over
Alexander: I got a chance to catch the
second half. They looked like, from
what I saw, that the team was playing
pretty good.
D: Have you been back to Ann Arbor
to see a game since you graduated?
A: I went back once. I didn't get a
chance last year, but the year before, I
came in for a game. I've tried to keep up
1 th the team since I've been gone.
OD: What was it like standing on the
sideline rather than playing?
A: It felt kind of funny. It actually was
a big game. We played Michigan State. It
felt kind of weird to sit on the sideline
watching, and I wasn't playing.
D: Have you been able to maintain
friendships with your former teammates
at Michigan?

A: Yes. We have Leroy (Hoard) and
Steve (Everitt) here
in Baltimore. And I
keep in touch with
Ricky Powers and
Alfie Birch. Those
are some of the guys
I've kept in touch
D: What does it
feel like playingr
against a former
teammate, such as
Elvis Grbac or
Tyrone Wheatley?f
A: You know it's
kind of funny. I've
played with those
guys for so long, and
to play against them
now, it feels pretty
weird. I always try to
beat those guys.
D: What would you say are the
biggest differences between playing
football in college and playing at the pro-
fessional level?
A: Well, it's harder here. The competi-
tion is harder. There are a lot of differ-
ences. I guess it's hard for college ath-
letes because you have to work hard and
get your school work done. But here, it's
your job. It's your way of making a liv-
ing. If you aren't doing something right,
or the coach isn't happy with you, that's
it, you're gone. All of a sudden you aren't
doitg anything.
D: How would you compare the rela-
tionships between teammates on a colle-
giate level compared to those between
teammates at the professional level?
A: Well, in college, I mean, you see
everybne everyday, at practice, or maybe
you have a class with them. Here it's dif-
ferent. It's your job to play football. You
see everyone everyday at practice, but
after that, that's it, everyone goes home.
And usually you don't talk to the other
guys, or call them on the phone. Except
for maybe a few guys, we don't talk
much outside of the football field, at
least not as much as you would in col-
D: Looking back on your career at
Michigan, is there a game or moment
that sticks out in your mind as your best
memory in maize and blue?

A: I have many of them. A 90-yard
touchdown, four
touchdowns in one
game against
Minnesota, a punt
return for a TD
against Penn State.
Games against
Michigan State were
pretty big, too. Those
are some of them.
D: Haw has the
transition been for
you, moving from
Cleveland to
A: It's been
alright. I had moved
in and was just get-
ting used to
Cleveland. I was just
getting settled in
really, arid all of a
sudden I had to move. It's a new city for
me and everything is new.
D: The Cleveland fans have:been very
vocal about their disappointment when
Art Modell announced the team's move
to Baltimore. Do you think Modell treat-
ed the Browns' fans fairly, and do you
think their anger towards him was justi-
A: It's hard to say either way. He made
the decision to move the team, and of
course everyone was angry at him. I
can't even imagine what would happen if
the Lions were moved out of Detroit. It
would be crazy. I grew up in Detroit, and
if they moved, well, I can see how the
Cleveland fans were so angry
D: At the end of the final game in
Cleveland last year, the team walked
around the stadium shaking fans' hands
and waving to the crowd as you received
a standing ovation. What did that feel
A: Well, it felt kind of good, knowing
we were so loved and appreciated. I
guess I didn't really realize we were
moving until we actually came here. It
was like I felt I'd be back to Cleveland,
but obviously we are here in Baltimore
D: Last season you had 15 receptions
for 216 yards. This season after only
three games you are leading the team
with 14 receptions and have 162 yards.

Is there anything that you can attribute
your improved play to?
A: Not really. Last year I wasn't get-
ting along with the coaches so well, and
then I ended up getting hurt, and missed
four or five games. This year I'm back as
a starter, and I'd say I have more confi-
D: Earlier this season, you lost your
brother Garrett to lung failure. How has
that affected your life and/or your game?
A: Well, it's tough. I took some time
off, and it's something that my family
and I have to deal with. I don't think it
really is affecting my playing. It's just on
my mind a lot.
D: You mentioned that you grew up in
Detroit. Would you like to come home
and play for the Lions one day?
A: Yes, but it might be expensive to
buy all those tickets for my family for
every game. But I don't know, I wouldn't
mind. I guess I'd be pretty comfortable.
I'd know the city and be close to home.
Actually, Cleveland was a nice spot for
me, it wasn't too far from home. I still
watch the Lions, and root for them. I
guess they'll always be my home team.
D: Have you set any goals for your
future with the Ravens?
A: Well, I haven't really set any goals
in particular. I want to do the best for
myself, which would mean eventually
making the Pro Bowl. And do the best
for my team, which would be to win the
Super Bowl.
D: I'm sure you are familiar with Bo
Schembechler's promise that "those who
stay will be champions.' This year could
be the first time since 1975 that a senior
class won't have made a trip to Pasadena.
What do you think this year's team's
chances are to win the Big Ten?
A: From the way they've been play-
ing, they looked pretty good. I think
they're going to do well, but they have
some tough games against Ohio State,
Penn State and Michigan State. They
need to play good football against those
teams. They've just got to win a few
tough games and they can do it.
Michigan State will be a pretty big
game, because no matter how we are
playing, it's such a big rivalry. We can
look like the best team or the worst team
in the conference. We just have to be up
for the challenge.

Sollenberger in Paradise\
Sullivan fights more
thanijury these days
evin Sullivan is proud he's at Michigan. He is proud to run with a big block
'M' on his chest. He is proud he's become one of the best long-distance run-
ers in school history. And he is proud to be a college student in the United
The decision to go to college in America was an easy one. Over three years ago,
the senior cross-country runner left his Brantford, Ontario, home for Ann Arbor.
"I wanted whatever would 5e best for me," he said. "That's what I found here at
Sullivan loves Michigan.
In fabt, he said that nothing bad has happened to him as a Wolverine, with the
exception of his injury. Sullivan has been forced to miss the cross-country season due
to bursitis in his right ankle.
But he doesn't blame Michigan for the injury. He blames bad luck.
"Injuries come to athletes at every level," he said. "And unfortunately, mine came
at a bad time."
There are people, however, who think Sullivan's injury could have been avoided,
because he was overworked by the Michigan athletic program. They are mad that the
injury kept him from representing Canada in the Olympic Games.
They think Sullivan owed them something.
Canada is not at war with the United States. There are no mine fields along the
Canadian-U.S. border, and there is no no-fly zone in North Dakota.
But by the actions of some Canadian officials and coaches, you'd never know that
this is a time of relative peace. You see, Sullivan has recently been the focus of a war
of words and false accusations, a war instigated by a few jealous Canadian coaches
and officials.
Late last winter - after it became clear that Sullivan's injury would keep him out
of the Olympics - an article appeared in the Toronto Sun, criticizing the runner and
the Michigan men's cross-country program. The Sun said that Sullivan was "treated
like a bloody piece of meat" and was "forced to run in meets for points,".becausehls
coaches were afraid of losing their jobs. Apparently, a few Canadian officials ettd
coaches were frustrated that Sullivan missed a shot at the Olympics. They had war-
ed'him to bring a medal back to their country.
They felt he owed it to them.
"I took a lot of criticism when I was injured," Sullivan said. "And I had a lot of
high-ranking Canadian officials and coaches saying, 'Look at what the Ameriep
system had done to Kevin. The University of Michigan has just run him into the
ground.' And it was totally unfounded. None of the people had even asked me what
we did here."
What Sullivan has done at Michigan is develop into one of the best long-distanlcp
runners in North America. He is a three-time All-American and Big Ten champtoti
and has run the mile in 3:52, just eight seconds off of the world record. He also has
a Commonwealth Games silver medal, has a World Championships fifth place, acid
has run the second-fastest 1,500 meters in Canadian history.
"He is known in track circles in Europe as a 1,500-meter runner" said Rco
Warhurst, Michigan men's cross-country coach. "Around the United States, in co1-
lege track circles, he's known as the best mile runner in the country."
Sullivan has achieved all his accolades despite a relatively light training schedule.
When healthy, he runs 75-85 miles per week during the cross-country season and W
60 miles per week during the track season. And that's what upset Sullivan so much
about the Sun article. The claims that he was run into the ground were ludicrous.
Sullivan was so enraged by the article that he fired off a letter to the editor of
Athletics Magazine, a Canadian track and field publication. In the letter, he present-
See PARADISE, Page!?b




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