Montell Owens (Peters/JagNation)
JagNation’s Christina Hovestadt caught up with special teams ace and fullback Montell Owens to discuss this past off-season, the team’s new chemistry and his take on the pre-season games.
Christina Hovestadt: Last time I spoke with you, you were hoping to do some traveling in the off-season. What was your off-season agenda like?
Montell Owens: Actually, it didn’t end up working out that way. Our new trainer Luke Richardson brought in a new philosophy and training program. We pretty much had to stay in Jacksonville to do it and all of the guys accepted his new philosophy with open arms. I did do a little traveling, though. I got a chance to make a trip up to Delaware to visit my mother and father. I also took a trip to Maine with my college buddies. They all went skiing and those of us who play football waited on the bottom of the mountain and watched them attempt to ski down without falling. I also went to the Pro Athletes Outreach. Many players in the league gather to meet for one big fellowship. It’s a huge event that many players attend and it was an amazing experience. Other than that, I didn’t do much traveling. If Amelia Island counts as traveling, I went there a few times.
CH: You’re one of those players who always seems to be giving back to the community. You’re known for working with various charity organizations and making speaking appearances at schools. Did you have a chance to do any of that while you were off?
MO: As many people know, many schools in Florida were planning on taking music programs out of their schools due to lack of funding. I am completely against this move. I’d hate to see a kid’s talent go to waste. If God blessed a child with a musical talent, they should be able to utilize that talent and perform. I supported the movement of keeping music in the schools by being a guest performer in the St. Johns River City Band. I practiced for 3-4 weeks with the band and did numerous rehearsals with them. I play the trumpet, and after playing in a few events with them, including a performance at the Jacksonville Landing, it encouraged me to keep practicing and playing.
CH: Last year there was a lot of talk about the chemistry on the team not being at the level it should be. How is it this year so far, and how does it compare to last year?
MO: There has been a drastic increase in team chemistry this year. Our team went to play paintball together and believe it or not, just doing that really helped our bonding. We all had to work together, run around and do something that we all weren’t used to doing. It was a new experience for all of us and we all really enjoyed that time together. Joe Zelenka also hosted pancake breakfasts every other weekend at his home. A lot of the players would attend and it was a lot of fun and the pancakes were great. Zelenka would make the pancakes for all of us. He knows how to make the best banana and apple pancakes. He never gave me the recipe though.
CH: Tell me about the beards.
MO: [Laughing] That was a team bonding experience in itself. Our team decided we would grow beards out together. Some of us weren’t so fortunate to look good with a beard, including me. Unfortunately my beard grew in as patches, some hair here, some here there. It was rough. We had them all during training camp and finally when Maurice Jones-Drew shaved his off, we all starting shaving ours off.
CH: How do you feel the pre-season went?
MO: There’s a common misconception and lack of understanding about pre-season. Pre-season is a time where coaches and players try things they normally wouldn’t try. It’s the time that they condition the guys. There’s not game planning like there is during season. A lot of it is trial and error for the regular season. The best time to try new plays, and players at various positions is during a real game environment. Coaches can evaluate guys better this way. I think the guys did a great job this pre-season. It was obvious; you can see what we’re doing.