July 30, 2009

Where are they now: Eric Warfield

Few players have experienced the amount of success that Eric Warfield did during his college career at Nebraska. In just three seasons in Lincoln, Warfield played on two national championship teams and lost a grand total of just two games.

In this week's edition of "Where Are They Now?" we sat down with the former Husker safety and long-time NFL cornerback to catch up on his life since his final game as at Nebraska.

What was the toughest transition for you going from college football to the NFL?
"It was a big change going from trying to survive off a scholarship check to going to making thousands and millions of dollars. I tried to stay humble, but at times you find yourself kind of out of character by shopping, traveling, cars, you know, material things."

What was the first thing you bought with your first NFL paycheck?

"I bought a Lincoln Navigator. That lasted me every bit of two years, and then I went on to buy a Yukon Denali after that. So I was definitely into the vehicles."

I know a lot of NFL players tend to go a little crazy with the shopping sprees when they first get into the league. Looking back, is there a part of you that wishes you could change how you managed your money?

"For my first year, I would change it entirely. Especially the way I spent money. But also, there's the saying that would you would change about your past wouldn't make you what you are today. I mean, I definitely regret some of the money that I spent, but I enjoyed every bit of it and every minute of it.

The only bad thing that really happened was I completely went broke my first year (in the NFL). My best friend is a banker, and I called him up after that and he kind of helped me with budgeting money and stuff wit investing. He came aboard, and it's been golden since."

Where are they now?
Player: Eric Warfield, 1995-97

Current city: Lincoln, Neb.

Family: Single

Current profession: Warfield has worked with the Lincoln Lighthouse, a community based after-school program for youth in 6-12th grades, for the past three months, serving as a mentor for underprivileged kids from low-income families in need of positive role models. He also helps organize blood drives and other charity events to help raise money for the organization.

Professional career: Warfield was selected in the seventh round of the 1998 NFL Draft by the Kansas City Chiefs, where here played eight seasons. In 2006 he was signed by the New England Patriots, but was released shortly after training camp, never playing a game with the team. He officially retired from football following the '06 season.

NU career accomplishments: A three-year letter winner at strong safety, Warfield was a member of the 1995 and '97 national championship teams and was a third-team All-Big 12 selection as a senior. During his career at Nebraska, the Huskers lost just two games, both of which coming in 1998 to Texas and Arizona.

His best individual season came as a senior in '97, where he racked up 52 tackles (23 solos) with two interceptions and a pair tackles for loss. Overall, Warfield finished his NU career with 107 tackles (48 solo), to go along with five interceptions for 27 yards, one forced fumble, nine passes defensed and three blocked punts.

Considering the amount of success you had at Nebraska, how difficult was it for you to see the program fall upon such hard times in recent years?

"It was definitely difficult for me. I mean, coming into the University we were one of the best teams in college football, and through my time here we were the best team in college football. So to leave on a championship note and immediately watch the team go downhill after that and not show any signs of progress, it was very difficult, disappointing and disheartening.

"And the way that a lot of the former player were treated, as far as feeling left out and feeling like they weren't wanted around here, that nobody really knows who you are or really cares who you are. Right now it's a different atmosphere. Bringing Coach Osborne back has changed it a lot, and Pelini's attitude and personality has really brought a lot of confidence back to the program also."

Well, that kind of answers my next question. I guess I can assume you're a fan of Bo Pelini and the direction he has the program going?

"I like him a lot. Especially to come in a take over somebody else's team that was mentally just completely out of it, and to change their mentality and to get them to play the way that they did, I never thought that it would happen last year, but he ended up winning eight games and a bowl game.

So he came in and did a real good job of working with players that weren't even his guys and then to go in and change the mentality of kids that were just out of it and get them to perform the way that they did, that just gives you a lot of confidence. I don't want to set my expectations too high on him, but I do have a lot of confidence in his coaching ability."

You won an awful lot of games as a Husker. Is there one game or one play that stands out as your all-time favorite moment at Nebraska?

"I can't really pick one game. I'd have to go with all the championship games, because we had only two losses within my entire college career, which were Arizona and Texas, so if anything was memorable it was those two losses because they were just shockers. We never thought it was going to happen.

"With the wins - we expected to win. We were going out and blowing teams out at halftime, so then we'd sit out the second half and just enjoy camaraderie with your teammates. That's why the real memories I have are those two losses. I mean, when you go you entire college career and you've only lost two games, and those two games come in one season, everything else is just so blended to the point where you only take note of those two bad games."

Sticking strictly to Husker defensive backs, have there been any players that you've especially enjoyed watching since you left NU?

"I liked (Cortney) Grixby. For a guy to be so undersized, he played with a lot of intensity. Great speed. Great contact. I liked his intensity. Then there's Zack Bowman - great size, great speed, and good awareness to the ball. Fabian Washington, one of the fastest guys I've ever seen. You didn't really get to see too much of him in college, but you see the player he was by what he's doing in the pros. We've had some guys that have come in that I'm very proud of to know that we can put out good corners here."

When was the last Nebraska game you attended at Memorial Stadium?

"I'd have to say probably the Missouri game. Yeah, it wasn't too good. It was a butt kicking. But we ended up bouncing back and having a decent season."

Do you still keep in touch with any of your former teammates?

"I keep up with a lot of guys. Actually I just saw Mike Rucker the other day and saw Mike Minter at Old Chicago when he was in town recently."

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