Kenny I’d like to thank you on behalf of myself and EbonyBird.com for giving up your time to take part in this interview today.
Firstly I want to start by thanking the creator for allowing me to do another interview for an awesome blogger named Paul Frances, thank you very much.
Kenny, how does it feel being a part of one of the most successful sports video game franchises in history?
Well it’s bitter and sweet. It feels good to know that I can always take reference and say I did something that was iconic in our existence, but at the same time I really wish I was part of the payroll of that billion dollar history making video games.
But all in all, I know what I signed up for and I have no regrets. I am thoroughly happy and enthused when I go there to do it. I play the game myself ,so it’s an honor to be part of a fabric of history.
Do you research the player’s style before playing them?
Not at all, for the most part I just got to watch them once or twice. I have been gifted with the ability to see something and be able to mimic it. I’m not going to say I can watch a gymnast do his flips and cartwheels and I can do that, but when it comes to movements in football and also basketball I can do a lot of things.
When I am working, they show me reference cards on the spot and I will just mimic it or improve it with a little splash of magic. It’s not something I need to look into deeply unless it’s a celebration dance or something like that.
Is there a specific player you’re better at imitating?
Yes – Kenny Bell, I’m pretty good at imitating him (laughter). I really don’t have a guy that I can’t wait to do when I get into the studio. At the end of the day I am there to work for EA Sports, Madden NFL and represent 3rd and 1 Inc.
If it’s a legendary player like a Jerry Rice, Barry Sanders, Walter Payton, Herschel Walker or Gale Sayers, of course I look forward to that, but for the most part I go in there to do a job for a billion dollar company and I carry myself that way.
How do you feel when you’re doing your thing in front of the cameras?
It feels like exercise. It feels like I’m doing something a lot of people wish they could do and that a lot of people don’t understand the rigor and the pounding that it takes to do this. You know you got to consider that anything could happen when you’re out there doing what football players do every Sunday.
There are a lot of things that are at hand when I go out there; I can’t speak for anyone else though. The way I feel is that I’m doing something that’s special, the kids love it. The stats for the game have exploded more each year, the game takes another leap year after year.
But that’s not thanks to me, its thanks to the company that hires the talent and the talent agency that’s gets the talent. It runs down the ladder. At the end of the day I’m happy to be a part of it.
What’s going through your mind before each take?
I only want to do this once (laughter). To be honest with you, because we’re going to do it about 12 times from every angle of the clock and one move could be about eight takes. I’d rather be what they say in the industry as a “one take Jake”, just get it done.
If they say to you you’re going to get hit, spin, jump over a guy and land like this, that is all you have to tell me. I’m not going to ask any questions, I’ve already seen it in my head. I think time is money and money is time so the faster we get this done the more money you get paid and the more rest you get.
Could pro players just come in and do what you do on the virtual football field?
You know, to be honest, yes a lot of guys can and a lot of guys can’t. It’s about whether you want to get hit and take half a season of hits in a week. Do you want to go and do hundreds of sprints in two days, do you want to cut juke, spin, and get hit on purpose?
Do you want to let people hit you time after time when you cannot avoid it. When you know it’s coming, cant clench up, and have to make it look like you did not see this person coming. There’s guys who can do it and a lot of guys who can’t. You have to have a stuntman’s mentality and that’s what I have. I do not fear injury, I’m just looking for success.
Who has been your favorite player to play and why?
My Favorite player is actually all of them. All those guys are talented, I feel blessed that I go and represent the players that I do. I especially enjoy playing the fast, speedy, electric guys that make all the big plays that appear in the ESPN highlights and on NFL Network.
I’m honored to be the person that represents them on a video game. I sometimes wish those guys knew it was me because I want them to hear my appreciation and want them to know I thank them for making me step my game up to another level when I’m on that floor. Because these guys who play on Sundays are awesome athletes.
Moving on from your motion capture career, NFL players are great athletes. You look to be in amazing shape, and you must train very hard. What type of things are you doing to keep yourself in “football shape?”
It’s not about the amount of pressure you put on your body or how big you can make your body to be strong. Firstly it starts off in the mind – you have to see where you want to be and where you want to go and the body is going to follow.
The spirit always wants what’s best for you, so your mind commits with it and then the body does what they’re talking about. What I do personally is eat a lot of vegetables, seeds, oatmeal and fruits. I don’t eat a lot of red meats. I exercise, whether its basketball, running track, running on grass, running with my wife and kids, football or speed training. I’m always active.
I believe you have to stay active until you die. You have to put the right things in your body. You must be right spiritually and want it. I do it to be able to see my grandchildren. I love doing it. I’m not doing it to play on a football team for 50 years, I want just three years. Two years I lost at Hofstra University and a bonus year. That’s all I want.
Through your experience with “Madden NFL” you probably know every play there is. Has that helped you improve your game?
Yes, no joke. You’re going to see all different offensive and defensive sets. I have also coached at all levels, other than at the pro level, as far being on a coaching staff. I think being part of Madden NFL and doing all the moves and the whole nostalgia associated with that football game has helped no end.
We talk football all the time. There’s a lot of new concepts that we see that you don’t that goes into the games. It has helped me constantly sharpen my game and I’m not lacking on my hit count for sure. It has definitely been a reward for me.
Do you feel you can play pro football?
Yes no doubt.
What do you feel are your strengths?
My strength is leadership, and also I have a tendency to not give up. I don’t even like saying the phrase. I feel if I’m in a locker room with some younger guys, the first thing I want to do is make them stronger. Not just in their athletic ability, but in their mentality. I want the guys to be great tax payers and to learn about life skills. That’s why I am part of S.E.L.F (Supporting Education Leadership and Fitness).
I want change in this sports industry, that’s the first thing I want to bring to any team. I’ve coached, been coached, I know how to be a player, I know how to listen and learn. There are things I don’t know and things I want to know. I want to connect with a lot of people and build bridges.
I’d bring a hell of an athlete to any team. Not patting my own back, but I would probably be one of the best athletes on the field every time I stepped out there. I challenge any wide receiver or defensive back on any day, any route, any catch to match my ability. I am very confident of what I can do and what I bring to the table.
What are you currently doing to pursue your dream of playing in the NFL?
I have been standing in a very positive group of people. I have been training with Dale Baskett, I practice catching punts with all-pro NFL great John Carney, I have been getting some good field knowledge with Joseph Lee Jr., catching balls from former NFL quarterback Jeff Garcia, and training with quarterback coach Cree Morris in Escondido.
I have also been to the San Diego Chargers facility about 13 times, they have never said no. I just want to get a chance to prove what I can do. I have been sending out blogs and trying anything I can to get a chance. Like I’ve said, it’s the upset that it makes, it’s the “Madden Man” in the NFL it’s a great story behind it.
It’s about what I can do to change this sports image, there’s too much negativity surrounding the game with people beating someone and being charged with this felony and that felony. The “Madden Man” story will bring positivity to the game. This is not a challenge to me, it’s a goal, and there may be an obstacle in the way but I will climb over it.
How much would it mean to you to get a try-out for a pro team?
A tryout is good and it would mean a lot, but I can get a tryout and they can just say no. I want a team that needs somebody, a team that needs someone with speed, knowledge and know how with ability.
Someone who can help the players in the locker room, that will talk to the community, and is not afraid to say I love you to his fellow man. A team that needs a player to come in and contribute. I don’t want a tryout if there’s no interest.
What advice would you give to any young footballer trying to make it to the pros?
Be realistic and know your goals. Know your surroundings and do not quit. Do what you got to do to live, make money and have fun but do not quit.
Who has been the most influential person in your career and in life?
Finally Kenny, is there anything you would like to say to any NFL team that may be reading this?
I think at this point if I was going to ask for anything it would sound like begging. I would just want them to read this article, I have an Instagram page (@kennybell07) where they can watch me train and run routes.
I’m right here in San Diego, I’m local. I just haven’t had the time to go to a team and go to the semi-pro teams. I have a family, situations, and I am a heart guy. Teams tell you don’t give up, don’t quit or don’t do this, keep your head in the game. And then when the real guys come in to challenge that, nobody wants to step up.
I don’t envy NFL players, I don’t put them down. I just know I have a talent and I just want to see it through. It’s your job to do that, if you don’t do that you’re going to lose you pay check metaphorically speaking.
It would be great if they could donate to S.E.L.F., as we are a real program that’s going to do great things. We are going to change the face of how people look at the way we train and mentor people. This is what I would say to any teams. Peace.
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