In The Trenches with Anthony Kelley

Oct. 24, 2002

While his impact on the field can be measured in tackles and sacks, AnthonyKelley's impact off of it is truly immeasurable. Over the past two years,the senior linebacker has made repeated visits to a township in SouthAfrica, working with a dance troupe designed to provide underprivelegedchildren with opportunities to express themselves artistically. This pastspring, Kelley raised over $25,000 to bring the dancers, all schoolchildrenfrom Guguletu, South Africa, to Seattle to share their stories with those inthe community, with the hopes that they could touch the lives of others inthe same way that they had touched Kelley's. A partial academic qualifierout of Muir High School in Southern California, Kelley found his spiritrenewed by his visits to South Africa, and earned a degree this summer inthe Comparative History of Ideas. By graduating in four years, Kelley wasgiven back a year of eligibility he had surrendered as a partial qualifier,and is using that year to pursue a second degree, in sociology, while alsopursuing opposing tailbacks across the football field. An obviously busyman, Kelley had just a few minutes in between classes and film review to sitdown with How does it feel to have earned back a year ofeligiblity?
Anthony Kelley: 'The opportunity to play at Husky Stadium is ablessing, and is a great opportunity for me.'

GH: You graduated on time with a degree in Comparative History ofIdeas (CHID), thought by many students to be one of the most demandingliberal arts programs at the University. How hard was it for you?
Kelley: 'When I first got involved, I didn't think it was thatdemanding. Once I really got into the higher-level courses, though, it washard, with tough, intense readings. I really enjoyed it, though, because itwas something that I could relate to, as far as comparing and contrastingdifferent societies. I'm really into that. It was almost like a secondpassion, because I was able to relate everything that I learned to mysearchings around South Africa. I think CHID is one of the great majors onour campus. Not too many people know about it, but I think it's almost, in asense, revolutionizing learning, because you actually get to stand back andlook at life through a different perspective, instead of the perspectivethat you've been raised with. You get to go to different countries and seedifferent ideas and thought processes.'

GH: Besides your degree in CHID, I heard you are pursuing anotherdegree.
Kelley: 'I was planning on pursuing a sociology degree, because someof the classes I took [in sociology] coincide with CHID, and so I was justgoing to see if maybe I could finish out and get my sociology degree. I'mdefinitely going to take a shot at the NFL, but if that doesn't work out, Iam probably going to go to graduate school in education.'

GH: Really? What do plan on doing with that?
Kelley: 'I like working with kids, and I'm starting to have this deeppassion for knowledge and education. Just speaking of my accounts ofeducation and how badly I think it's needed in communities, especially ininner-cities. I think I'm going to go back to the communities, likeSeattle's Central District or my own communities down in Los Angeles andPasadena, and give the kids more light. I want to let them know that theycan be more than just athletes, true student-athletes.'

GH: Are you talking about elementary school kids, or high school?Because if you were my second-grade teacher, I would be kind of scared ofyou.
Kelley: (laughing) 'I would like to do a wide range. I want to dosomething where I could teach at elementary schools, junior highs, highschools, and eventually get to the college level. I have a lot of ideas. I'mstill involved in South Africa and I want to build links there and get acultural exchange program going. I want to work on the aspects of culturalperformance, athletic, and academic education. So there are three aspects Ireally want to get involved in. I know I want to be a teacher -- I likeworking with kids, both in Africa and the community. I'm trying to figure itall out. I want to have my own foundation, especially if I go to the NFL --that's something I'm definitely working towards. I want to have my ownbusiness, too. There are a lot of things I want to do. I'm just trying tohave an influence and change the world a little bit.'

GH: Obviously you're a strong leader, so let's go back to footballfor a second. With the Huskies down right now, how can they come back?
Kelley: 'We need to understand what the Husky tradition is all about.It isn't just about putting on the purple uniform and suddenly transforminginto a tough Husky. A lot of hard work and sweat went into developing thetype of 'Purple Storm' defense that got after teams and would dominate. Alot of blood, sweat and tears went into that, and we need to understand thattoughness and the kind of hard work that requires. Right now I think we'replaying a little soft, and we need to pick it up.'

GH: I understand that you and USC tailback Sultan McCullough playedfor the same high school. What was it like playing against an old friendlast week?
Kelley:'When we [the Huskies] were out there on the field, our goalwas to keep him under 100 yards. When I was out there tackling him, I wastalking trash, but it was cool to be back there and see my friends. Afterthe game I went and talked to his mom. It was good to go back home and seemy friends, because I haven't been back home in a long time now. It was goodto go back and see him; I'm glad he's doing well.' correspondent Steve Hitchcock contributed to thisreport.

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