by Courtney Maciasz
September 29, 2009 – Former NFL quarterback and Louisiana native Bubby Brister was drafted in the third round of the 1986 draft by the Pittsburgh Steelers where he played for seven years. While Brister spent most of his time as the starting quarterback for the Steelers, a knee injury sidelined him, and he moved on to play backup quarterback for the Philadelphia Eagles and New York Jets. However, Brister eventually joined the Denver Broncos where he was a part of two Super Bowl championship teams. He quickly became a fan favorite in 1998 when he came into play for legendary quarterback, John Elway, who had to sit out a number of games due to injury. Brister and the Broncos went undefeated in his 4 starts and threw for 10 touchdowns and only three interceptions. After throwing for nearly 15,000 career yards, Brister retired from the NFL in 2000.
Today, Brister still embraces his love and knowledge of football through his very own Bubby Brister Quarterback Camp. He has also spent time helping develop area quarterbacks, such as current Arkansas State quarterback Corey Leonard. When Brister isn’t helping young quarterbacks polish their skills, he also spends time being a father and husband. The following interview takes a look into Brister’s life as an NFL quarterback, his life now, and the purpose of his quarterback camp.
LFM: What was your greatest moment in the NFL?
BB: I guess being a part of the Superbowl we won in 1997.
LFM: What was your most disappointing moment in the NFL?
BB: When I blew my knee out playing for Pittsburgh. I got hit, and I tore my posterior cruciate ligament. So, I knew my career was probably going to take a turn for the worst, and it did. After that, I really wasn’t a starter like I was before I got hurt.
LFM: Throughout your entire football career, would you say that hurting your knee was one of the most life defining moments for you?
BB: I was playing pretty well when I blew my knee out. The type of injury I had was one of the first they had in the NFL back in the early 1990s. Three places told me I would never play football again. So, it was a surgery they really didn’t do. I got a guy by the name of Freddie Foo, who is still at the University of Pittsburgh, who said he could fix it, and he did. However, I knew at that time it was such a bad injury that I knew I wasn’t going to be as physically good as I was before the injury. I came back to play a lot of years, but I just wasn’t as fast. My knee wasn’t as mobile, so, that was one of the most defining moments of my career; because I knew right then it was a bad injury. As soon as you get hurt, that’s bad. It’s hard to get back ever where you were.
LFM: How important is it to not only be physically strong in the game of football, but also mentally tough?
BB: You probably have to be more mentally strong than physically strong because so many things with the system, with the coaches, with the management, with the fans…you know, it’s a business. It’s not a game anymore once you get to the pros. So, you have to be mentally tough all the way around. The physical part of it speaks for itself. If you don’t have the physical talent, you’re not going to get there anyway. So, once you get there, you have to be mentally strong all the time. Win, lose, or draw. When you win, you can’t get too high on the highs, and when you lose you can’t get too low with the lows. The mental part of the game is crucial.
LFM: When did you start your football camps, and where are they held?
BB: I started them this year. I was actually doing Eddie DeBartolo’s football camp. He used to own the San Francisco 49ers. I was their featured quarterback instructor last year. I got a lot of good feedback. I was also doing Archie Manning’s passing camp with Peyton and Eli [Manning], and I got a lot of good feedback from parents. I told myself that I was going to try and do a few camps locally. I started one over in Laurel, Mississippi, in Jones County at Jones County High School. The people were super-nice to me. I did one in Lake Charles over at Sulphur High School, and then we had one here in Mandeville, one in Baton Rouge, and a couple in Denver, Colorado. I started doing one-day camps for quarterback and skill players. I had a pretty good turn out to most places, and hopefully, we can build on that this year. The main thing is helping kids get better and teach them the right fundamentals. Most of these camps I go to, there’s no one teaching the proper fundamentals and technique anymore. A lot of kids run the shotgun and Wildcat Offense, and none of the coaches aret concentrating on proper footwork and fundamentals. So, that’s what we try to do…get everybody balanced.
LFM: Who are other instructors at your camp?
BB: Brandt Quick was helping me. He played running back and wide receiver at Tulane. He’s one of the best speed, strength and conditioning guys probably in the country. He helped me with the skill players. I had several other people come in to help. Charles Allen helped a lot. Some of the older players that I’ve been giving individual lessons helped with the young kids. I didn’t have a whole lot of people where I’d bring in a bunch of instructors. I wanted to keep it small so I could work with the kids and be hands-on. We averaged around 20 kids at the camps. That way I can coach all the kids myself, unless they are skill players, then, Brandt would take the skill players, or I’d have some of the respective coaches from the high schools that we worked out of help out with the skill players. Mostly, I’m with the quarterbacks fulltime.
LFM: How can more people find out about your camps?
BB: It’s www.bubbybrister.com . There is all kinds of information on there. As a matter of fact, I have some videos that are coming out, and you can download them on your Ipod. It’s a new way of coaching and teaching. It’s Krypton Sports. You will be able to get online at kryptonsports.com and download stuff onto your Ipod or computer. I go through everything from A to Z of teaching fundamentals and techniques. We went out to California and filmed for about three days. Merril Hoge is doing running back. Soloman Wilcox is at defensive back. There’s going to be some great information the kids can download and can use right there on the field during one and two minute segments. It’s a great teaching tool coming out.
LFM: What advice do you give to high school players coming up that dream of playing college and NFL football?
BB: They need to concentrate on their footwork is what I see all over the place. They need to work on their footwork and balance. A lot of kids are just taking the ball in the shot gun and are trying to throw the ball without the proper foundation. I would then tell kids that nothing worthwhile comes easy. You’ve gotta pay the dues. You’ve gotta put the time in. Just like when you go in and take a test or you want to be a great student, it’s the same way when playing quarterback or any position. You have to be mentally and physically sound. You are not going to be the best player you can be if you don’t cover all your basics.
LFM: Have you had any success stories of players you have instructed that have and/are moving on to the next level?
BB: When I first got to the Mandeville/Covington area, I started working out with Corey Leonard, who was at Covington High School. He’s at Arkansas State right now, and I think he’s in the top 10 of quarterbacks coming out of college this year. He’s broken every record at Arkansas State. Right now I’m working with Tyler Scott at Covington High School. I’ve worked with John Wenzel, who’s at Mandeville High right now. I’ve helped kids even before I started doing my own camps. I help kids every time I get a chance, but those are some kids I’ve been working with lately that have a chance to do really well. I’m proud of all of them.
LFM: Since retiring from the NFL, what have been some of your other business ventures?
BB: I work for a company called Mossy Oak. They are a camouflage company in Mississippi. I do that during the fall and spring. I have my football camps, also. I also am a partner in a company called Tax Break, LLC. It’s www.taxbreakllc.com. I became a partner about a year ago. I also work for Ford trucks. I’ve also been busy trying to raise my kids. I have a 13 year-old and an 8 year-old. I spend a lot of time with them. I’m just trying to be a good dad and a good husband. It keeps me busy.