My story is an interesting one, and one that begins different from most…a second string high school football player who wanted nothing more than to play college ball. Since God had not granted me the size to pursue a college football career, I decided to get back into karate. It was something my father had put me into when I was 12, and I was hoping it would quench my competitive thirst.
I met and became friends with my instructor’s sons, Josh and Shawn Rafferty. Shawn learned Thai boxing while serving in the Marine Corps, and together we took our current knowledge and added to it by training in styles other than what we were used to. At this point, I had my first taste of the UFC. After watching in disbelief that stand-up fighters could not keep a fight standing, I began studying some Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. We began training at a school down the road with a jiu-jitsu program, and we used Rafferty’s father’s facility to train. Training was short lived as our school shut down, and attendance dropped off at the jiu-jitsu classes. From there, we had no place to train, and refusing to quit, we cleared out an old shed in the Rafferty’s backyard and continued to practice. Josh and I continued to practice in the shed, even in temperatures reaching as low as 40 degrees at some points and topping out at about 110 degrees. I would meet Shawn at the field house on UC’s campus for supplemental training.
The three of us decided to watch our first local amateur show, at which point we decided to fight. This was a pivotal point in my life, since I had just graduated college, accepted my first job as a teacher, and found a solid training facility at Excalibur fitness. We began training with Kerry Schall and coordinated training sessions for a small group of fighters at the gym. During this time I had key victories over Gary Myers and Aaron Brink, at which time Monte Cox began managing me. I went on to beat Dennis Reed, Travis Fulton and Marvin Eastman. However, it seemed our skill level had peaked at Excalibur, and we needed more training partners and resources to excel in MMA.
Once again, I found myself at another pivotal point of my life. I met my wife, we bought our first house, I quit teaching to train full-time and I found several new training facilities and coaches. It was also at this point that I was offered my first fight in the UFC. I presently train at facilities run by Mike Ferguson, a strength and conditioning coach (Powerstation Gym), Jorge Gurgel, a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Black Belt (JG MMA Academy); Neal Rowe, a Muay Thai instructor (Sacan Martial Arts); and Rob Radford, a boxing instructor (Boxing 4 Fitness). Rich Franklin is represented in a management capacity through a partnership with Sprocket Entertainment and Average Joes Management.
Perseverance. For Rob Bironas, it’s more than a word – it’s a way of life. Besides his unmatched precision on the field, it’s perhaps the trait he’s most known for.
Early on, Rob set his hopes high. He always knew he wanted to be a professional athlete, but he didn’t expect it to be in football. Growing up on the soccer fields in Louisville, Ky., Rob wanted to make a career in soccer. Football didn’t enter the picture until his Dad mentioned that his powerful soccer kick might be a match for the sport. Rob’s younger brother, Greg, who was a kicker in the eighth grade, was Rob’s first coach. Their backyard became a practice field with pine trees and horse fences serving as goal posts.
Rob didn’t join the football team until his junior year at Trinity High School. Rob tried to make the team his freshman and sophomore years, but finally made the varsity team the third time around. Rob didn’t know he made the team until the night before the season opener. He went on to letter both his junior and senior years.
After high school, Rob turned down scholarship offers from smaller schools because he was determined to play Division I football. Rob was invited to visit LSU, but they offered the job to another recruit the day before his visit. Determined to find a place to play, Rob and his Dad did a week-long tour of the remaining SEC schools. Auburn held the greatest scholarship opportunity for Rob as the team only had one kicker. Rob walked on to the team at Auburn as a red-shirt freshman, and was offered a scholarship and the starting position his sophomore year. That year, he was a semi-finalist for the 1998 Lou Groza Award for making 12 of 16 field goals, including two 49-yarders, and all 18 PATs.
An injury in his senior season combined with a switch in coaches caused Rob to lose his scholarship at Auburn. Rob made some calls and joined Georgia Southern to play his senior season. That year, the Georgia Southern Eagles won the Division I-AA National Championship.
Despite helping win a title for his team, Rob didn’t generate much interest from the NFL and decided to finish his marketing degree at Auburn. After graduating in May 2001, he hoped to attend spring training camp, but instead landed at his father’s building automation business in Louisville. Although he was working for his Dad, he spent his lunch breaks and evenings kicking footballs and working out. Clearly, football was still Rob’s dream. Rob contemplated giving up that dream, but his father encouraged him to keep trying.
Rob famously attempted to make an NFL team three times – with Green Bay, Tampa Bay and Pittsburgh – before getting signed on with the Titans in 2005. Rob worked hard to stay in shape, training with Eagles kicker Dave Akers in the summers. Never giving up his dream of kicking for the NFL, Rob turned to the Arena League each time he was cut from a team. While playing for the Carolina Cobras, he worked as a Best Buy security guard to supplement his Arena League income.
In three short years, Rob has come a long way from his days in the Arena League. Rob got his break when the Tennessee Titans invited him to training camp in 2005. However, once he signed on with the Titans, he was careful not to rest on his laurels. Rob spent the entire season in an extended stay hotel to remind him that nothing is a guarantee and to keep focused.
That year, Rob found a quote very indicative of his character and his journey: “The
road to success is lined with many tempting parking spaces.” He has kept that quote on a post-it note in his car ever since.
Although Rob always dreamed of playing in the NFL, he never imagined that he would set the NFL record for most field goals in a game, lead the NFL in field goals and make the Pro-Bowl and All-Pro Teams all in one season. However, in 2007, Rob did just that. He nailed eight field goals, including the game-winner, against Houston to set both franchise and NFL records. The ball from that game now resides in the Football Hall of Fame. He also led the NFL with 35 field goals and had a career-best 133 points.
Rob is quick to point out that he cannot take full credit for his success – he always recognizes that he could not be successful without a great holder, Craig Hentrich, team punter, and a strong offensive line.
Although there have been numerous people who have helped Rob along the way (Randy Brown, a kicking consultant, who recommended that Auburn give him a shot; Frank Novak, Packers Special Teams Coach, who told Rob he could play in the NFL and recommended him to other teams; and Alan Lowry, Titans Special Teams Coach, who insisted to management that Rob be brought into training camp), Rob credits his perseverance, in large part, to his Dad.
Rob sums it up best: “He is the guy I look up to, the guy I hope to be like one day. He has succeeded in life in spite of where he started. He is a man of principle and truth; and has supported me every step of the way. My Dad is my true hero and I can’t thank him enough for believing in me.”
Jim McMahon“Outrageousness is nothing more than a way to wake people up.”
~ JIM MCMAHON
Jim McMahon burst in to the national spotlight playing quarterback for BYU and setting 70 NCAA
records. He was drafted 5th overall in the 1982 NFL Draft by the Chicago Bears and went on to
become one of the most interesting and controversial stars to ever play in the National Football
League. His personal style on and off the field drew the attention of global corporations such as
Coca-Cola, Boost Mobile, Honda, Kraft, Adidas, Taco Bell, Burger King among others.
McMahon won the Bears' starting quarterback job as a rookie and quickly established himself as
a premiere quarterback in the NFL. He made a habit of changing the play both in the huddle and
at the line of scrimmage, a practice which frustrated head coaches but usually led to success. His
knowledge of the game and an instinctive, intuitive grasp of in-game situations were significant.
In 1985 McMahon lead the Bears to a 15–1 season, becoming a media darling, not only for his
outstanding play on the field, but also for his personality. He appeared in a rap record made by the
team, "The Super Bowl Shuffle," in which he proclaimed "I'm the punky QB known as McMahon."
He ended the season with a strong performance in Super Bowl XX, which the Bears won 46–10
over the New England Patriots... The lighting rod of controversy struck again in New Orleans at
the Super Bowl when he "mooned" journalists inquiring as to the status of a minor injury.
Throughout his career, McMahon was known for both on- and off-field antics. Most famously, his
wearing of a headband while on the sidelines led to him being fined by then NFL commissioner,
Pete Rozelle, as it had an unauthorized Adidas logo on it. The next week donned a headband
with "Rozelle" written on it. Before Super Bowl XX hundreds of fans mailed McMahon headbands
and Pete Rozelle gave him a stern warning not to wear anything "unacceptable". In response
McMahon brought attention to Juvenile Diabetes by wearing a headband simply stating "JDF Cure",
before switching to one stating "POW-MIA", and finally one with the word "Pluto", the nickname of
McMahon played 15 seasons in the NFL with Chicago as well as San Diego, Philadelphia, Minnesota,
Arizona, Cleveland and Green Bay accumulating two Super Bowl rings, a Pro bowl appearance,
Come Back Player of the Year award and status as one of the most recognizable figures in sports.
Since retiring, McMahon has devoted time, energy and capital to charity. He has created a personal
line of golf wear and accessories, Swang Wear™, inspired by his unique style and love of golf. A
portion of the proceeds from the sale of Swang Wear™ merchandise benefit The Lynda McMahon
Ferguson Memorial Foundation for Literacy. McMahon participates in a variety of charities
throughout the year benefiting a variety of causes ranging from Juvenile Diabetes to Wounded
Warriors. He has visited US troops in war zones as part of USO tours and enjoys thanking the men
and women who serve or have served in the US Military.
He currently resides in the Phoenix, Arizona area with his girlfriend, Laurie and their four dogs.