Hey everybody, I hope the offseason is treating everyone well. It has been an amazing one for me in achieving new things and learning more about myself, what I'm capable of.
This offseason, Steven has completed a Nike internship, been nominated for a Webby award and chosen as one of the "Vegas Dozen."
The most recent development was receiving one of the five nominations for Best Online Sports Video of the 2011 Webby Awards for my documentary "A Week in the Life."
When I heard the news, I was very surprised, very shocked and elated at the same time.
We worked really hard on that project to bring a fresh perspective that we felt fans haven't had a chance to see. We wanted to not only give them a fresh sense and new appreciation for the grind that we go through week-to-week as players, but we wanted to make it educational as well.
A lot of the guys around the league have told me how much they loved it. Everyone commented on how well produced it was and also applauded me for being so forthcoming in giving a peek at the regimen of how I prepare week in and week out. We can be very secretive as players doing some of that stuff, but I felt it was a fun project. I wanted to be a pioneer in showing some of the things fans don't get a chance to see in the middle of an NFL season.
This Webby nomination honestly ranks really high on my list of accomplishments. I've been blessed to have a lot of things that I have accomplished in my life on and off the field, but it's definitely a Top 10 thing in my business and personal life.
Just to hear that we're up against some of these big time networks: Major League Baseball, ESPN, The Los Angeles Times and The Onion, to be in that competition alone is feat and an accomplishment in itself.
Once you're named a finalist, of course you want to win. But to have a dream and an idea, sitting down with a group of guys and then to have it come to the point where it has, it's amazing. To be not only accepted, but honored as a finalist for a Webby, it says a lot about not only me as a football player, but the creativity that we have here and where we want to go with future projects.
The thing that makes this nomination really special is that the winner is chosen by a fan voting. We've been doing a lot with Twitter and Facebook to let my fans know what we're up for and up against. I'm so appreciative of the support I've received from all my fans. It's truly humbling. I hope you can all keep voting. To do so, please click here.
Since this is such an interactive award, I decided to take it one step further. I'm taking the initiative to basically, every other night, call one of the fans that voted and retweeted on Twitter that they have and just talk with them.
To be able to talk to fans, people that really appreciate the hard work that I put in on and off the field and understand the brand of what I'm building here, has been great. For me, it's about 1) making myself available to fans, but also 2) I truly want to hear their opinions. What do they like? What do they enjoy? How can I makes things better in my social media usage and on my website? I want to make it all fan friendly and make them feel like they have a hands-on part in how we go about things.
It's just been a really great thing for me and for those I've called, I think. Not only allowing them to have a chance to talk to me for a moment, but for me to talk to them and learn about their backgrounds as well. Luckily I'm an easy guy to talk to, so it's pretty cool.
WORKING WITH THE SWOOSH
I've been lucky this offseason to have a lot of things to work on and keep me busy.
I recently completed an internship with Nike up at their headquarters in Oregon.
My Oregon State Beavers will be happy to know that as many Ducks as there are on Nike's campus, our Beavers are well represented too.
The opportunity was one of a kind. I can't thank Nike enough for allowing me the chance to do something like it. I spent two weeks interning there on campus.
I started out up there doing some work with their designers. In my first assignment, I was part of a cleated shoes design group and they had me actually sitting down and sketching. We were working on new concepts and ideas for a cleat for 2012.
Steven poses with the other members of his Cleated Shoes group.
I learned the whole process from the start, talking about what we wanted from the design. What was going to be the inspiration? Then we'd draw from that inspiration and jot things down, come up with a sketch and infuse it with new material or technology that Nike wants to push. It was very interesting to see the thought process, all the hard work and study that goes into a shoe.
After I did that for a few days, I went on to work on a uniform design with a gentleman named Todd Van Horne. Todd is really influential with uniforms with Oregon and Oregon State, as well as many of the teams in the Rival series that Nike does with different colleges around the country. He actually designed the 'Giant Killer' uniform that Oregon State wore in the last Civil War, which I thought was a phenomenal design. I thought, as far as uniforms, they looked better than Oregon in the Civil War last year.
Todd is also going to be the head guy for the NFL uniforms moving on in 2012. I had a chance to sit down him and sketch some things out for uniform designs. It was very cool to work hand-in-hand with someone like Todd, who is influential not only in Nike, but in the world of sports.
We were really just diving in on making things, not only individually unique, but to set them apart and make it kind of a coming out party for Nike. The goal is to show, not only the NFL, but the fans, what is in store for the new uniforms.
What's really cool about it is, the NFL has such strong traditions that you're not going and making anything completely new. But you're revamping and reviving things as if you're fixing up a classic car. You stick to the tradition of the car, but you're making it more modern and hip.
It's very challenging for the designers to do that within the parameters of what the team wants and allows, but, at the same time, have that edge. You want to make it cool for 17 year olds, but also for people that have been NFL fans for over 40 or 50 years. It's an interesting balance.
During the second week of the internship, I left the design side of it and got to work with some other great people as I learned about marketing, sales and merchandising.
I had a chance to sit in on some of their SAM meetings, short for sales and merchandising. In those meetings they pitch what they're going to come out with one year from that date. So basically I was sitting in on a meeting discussing what Nike will be launching in April of 2012.
It was all really cool, hip stuff, shoes that are iconic like Air Force Ones, Dunks, Air Max 95s. They've updated these classic shoes to be more modern looking. To see how far ahead these designers and the corporation have to think and plan is impressive.
The consistent thing that I learned about marketing is to understand and know your brand. You go out there with the things that are your strengths. Then, wherever you're weak, find people that will help you turn that around and fill the needs of your weaknesses. Nike does a great job of understanding that they're a sportswear line and athletic line that produces not only cutting edge technology, but that their product needs to be able to withstand some of the rigorous things that their athletes will be doing.
My favorite product of all the things they're working on up there actually has nothing to do with shoes or sportswear. It's something called the SST. These are glasses that have a flicker in them and you can speed up the flicker or slow down the flicker. It helps with your eyesight and your adjustment to catching a football.
So imagine having these glasses on, kind of the shape of 3D glasses, and it's flickering. It kind of acts like you're running through traffic or a defensive back put his hands up. They completely help you focus on the ball and the depth perception of the football. I thought it was really neat that they came up with something to train with like that.
One of the more impressive things that I saw in those two weeks at Nike was that they are a company that strives to always outdo themselves. I don't want to give anything away about some of the new stuff, but they're working a lot on stability, things that are comfortable and flexible for athletes.
Steven checks out the latest Nike sneakers during his internship.
For me, Nike's ability to understand what the athlete needs and wants is second to none. I think that's why they've separated themselves from their competition, because they do listen to athletes and they do strive to make their products better year-in and year-out.
It's not only about shoes. They're about bringing new products to their athletes to make them the best.
HONORED IN VEGAS
I had the unique opportunity recently to be honored in two different ways, both very humbling.
On April 13th, I was chose as one of the Vegas Dozen for my work in the community.
To be recognized by the Vegas Dozen and the Nevada Cancer Institution, I was honored. Going in with 11 other men, hearing and reading about their stories and achievements was just amazing.
Steven had the honor of meeting and talking with Carlos Santana at The Vegas Dozen.
I got a chance to talk to some of the other men for a little bit, men like Carlos Santana and Dana White. Carlos Santana is a very soft-spoken man, very nice and very polite. He's a very genuine person and his concern for mankind and the well being of it is undeniable. He doesn't talk with people based on status. He wants the best for everyone.
Dana is another great person. I talked to him a little bit, trying to understand how he came up with such great ideas for the UFC, to make it so successful. Being based in Las Vegas, he and his business partners, we have a lot in common. We know a lot of the same people. It was good to finally put a face with the name. He's just a great guy who I'm pretty sure would be a close friend of mine. I would like to continue to learn from him.
Among others in the Vegas Dozen were Dana White and Jerry Tarkanian, pictured with Steven.
The other honor I'm going to be receiving is to be inducted into the Southern Nevada Sports Hall of Fame on June 10th. That honor means a lot to me as well. This year marks the 10-year anniversary of my senior season in high school.
It's important to me to have developed as a football player in a city that really wasn't known for the sport. I had a chance to be involved in some great competition and bring attention to football in the area. To dominate there and then go on and continue to be a great representative of the city, it means a lot. I'm so happy to continue to be embraced in Las Vegas. As much as they're proud of me, I'm proud to be from the city as well.
I'm a kid from Las Vegas, Nevada who had these big dreams, but was not quite sure how life was going to work out. To be able to represent the city in a way that has been noticed and is being acknowledged by other people from the outside, it reassures that I'm going about life in the right way. I want to continue to do so and set the example for other young men and young ladies.
STAY WITH US
Lastly, I just want to reassure all of my fans that I'm working hard and preparing as if the season is going to come, just as I have for any of the other seven years that I've been in the league.
I've seen the schedule and though I don't like to look too far ahead, I was pleased to see that we have two Monday Night Football games this season. That's huge for this team. We had a three-year stretch where the Rams were overlooked. We weren't considered a contender and we weren't a team that people paid attention to.
So to be on the big stage twice this year and have the attention of the sports world, we're going to treat it as a coming out party. It's our chance to let them know how far we've come and show off all the hard work we've put in, turning this franchise around back to respectability.
I'm looking forward to leading this young team from its 7-9 season to a playoff berth!