Shining a spotlight on celebrities and athletes who love to travel. Created and developed by Stacy Steponate Greenberg.
The sound, the cheering, the boos, the roar, they are like no other. Until recently, The Guinness Book of World Records said it was one of the loudest stadiums in the world. And that noise, that deafening roar, was among the main reasons Patrick Kerney couldn’t wait to get to Seattle. It is, after all, the stuff that dreams are made of for NFL defensive ends. Originally recruited by the University of Virginia for Lacrosse, Kerney quickly established himself as a star before turning his attentions to a different field, walking on to the football team where he greatly exceeded expectations, becoming an All-American. He was drafted in the first round by the Atlanta Falcons and, again, quickly established himself as one of the best pass-rushers in the NFL. From the South to the Northwest he would go, finishing his NFL career with the Seattle Seahawks, for whom he led the NFC in sacks and was voted a starter in the ProBowl. The Overhead Compartment caught up with Patrick Kerney recently to learn about the noise and chaos of life on the road in the NFL and how it compares to the noise and chaos of being a Dad to four children under the age of four!
The Overhead Compartment with Patrick Kerney begins now…….
OC: What was your favorite city to visit when you were playing in the NFL?
PK: I’d have to say San Francisco (by default).
OC: NFL road trips are so brief and busy – did you ever have time to truly experience the cities you visited?
PK: Not really. For most away games I would just stay in the hotel and off my feet. The “default” in my previous answer comes into play because we played San Francisco and Oakland in back to back weeks in 2000. Rather than flying back and forth, we stayed in San Francisco for the week and practiced at Stanford. That gave me the opportunity to visit Alcatraz and appreciate the beauty of the city’s surroundings. I’d have to say the Bay Area is one of the top 5 NFL regions to get “stuck in” for a week.
OC: What was the toughest stadium to play in on the road?
PL: Seattle. Hands down. It’s deafening noise for every Seahawks defensive and special teams snaps at every game up there. The 12th man was a big reason I decided to make that my new home stadium when I hit free agency in ’07. Crowd noise is a defensive end’s best friend.
OC: Which team had the craziest fans?
PK: Screaming obscenities at and signaling “You’re number 1” (using the wrong finger…) to the away team is cliché. I’m going to give this award to the bipolar fans of Green Bay. They take part in the aforementioned greetings before and during the game, but when it’s all said and done these fans treat you like a long lost friend. Fans that “stay mean” are humorous. The Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde act up in Green Bay made me a little uneasy.
OC: What was the wildest thing an opposing fan ever said to you?
PK: I don’t know about “wildest”, but the most absurd was in college when we were playing at our interstate rival, the University of North Carolina. Some foolish, over-served frat guy started screaming at a bunch of us about our dependency on scholarships to pay for college, how we could clean the pool at his vacation home someday, etc, etc. My guess is that someone with that level of class did in fact hit the fast track to the executive suite right out of college….at Enron.
OC: How about an opposing player?
PK: Nothing too wild. Just the occasional mention of my shortcomings to which I was quick to respond in kind. It may disappoint NFL fans, but as much as we tried to destroy each other from snap to whistle, the vast majority of exchanges from whistle to snap are respectful.
OC: You played many years in Atlanta…top three favorite restaurants in Atlanta?
PK: This question makes me miss life in Atlanta. Genuinely friendly service. Lots of outdoor seating. Good Southern cooking.
1. Two Urban Licks. I’m not usually much of an “experience” guy, but this place is a cool experience. Totally off the beaten path. You’re in an industrial area and pull into a very unassuming turnaround for a valet to take your car. You walk up feeling like you’re going into speakeasy. Once inside, it’s a huge space with jugs of infused liquor hanging everywhere around the bar, an enormous psychedelic mural on the dining room’s largest wall and giant glass garage doors for the back wall that offer a glimpse of the Atlanta skyline. And as if all that wasn’t enough…they have a bocce court out back. A 15 minute wait?….Can you make it an hour?
2. Fontaine’s Oyster House. It’s right in the heart of the Virginia Highlands neighborhood, which is a great place to walk around. Even if you don’t like oysters, the food is good, the atmosphere is old/rustic and the crowd is generally laid back
3. Canoe. A little more formal than Two Urban Licks and a lot more formal than Fontaine’s. Nice spot overlooking the Chattahoochee River between Buckhead and Vinings. Great food. Great Service.
OC: Next stop, Seattle….What are the top three things no one should miss in Seattle?
PK: Really? Only 3 things? We’re talking about the Pacific Northwest. At least cap it at 3 restaurants like we did for Atlanta. I’ll keep it within Seattle city limits to keep me going down the path of “floating the Yakima canyon pulling out trout with your fly rod” or “kayaking in the San Juan Islands as seals and orca pods swim by” (had to sneak those two in…)
1. Discovery Park. Just like when you’re at Golden Gardens or Alki beaches (yes, still sneaking in bonus “things no one should miss”), you won’t believe that you’re 20 minutes from downtown Seattle. Calling the views from Discovery Park “beautiful” does not do them justice.
2. Green Lake. Particularly now that we live outside of New York City, where a dip in any body of water might give you a third eye…or worse, visiting a lush city park with a swimmable 260 acre lake is a refreshing sight. Great surrounding restaurants as well.
3. West Seattle. The aforementioned Alki Beach is the headliner in this part of town. There are also a great selection of restaurants along the beachfront that offer good food and casual atmospheres. A continued drive past Alki offers great views of the Olympic Mountains. Lastly, while I’m not the type to get star-struck, Eddie Vedder is a resident of this part of town. Eddie freakin’ Vedder….
OC: You are the father of two young girls and within the past couple months, fraternal twins! Have you gotten any sleep at all?
PK: My wife and I like challenges. 4 kids under the age of 4 has fallen under that category. As for sleep, there has been far less of it since the twins arrived. With that said, I have to pass along a great piece of advice to other sleep deprived parents. I learned this great lesson from a business school classmate of mine who was a Navy SEAL. When he told me the total number of hours he slept during “hell week” I had to ask how that alone was humanly possible. He replied, “It’s impossible to fall asleep when you’re on your feet and moving.” Indeed it is.
OC: What will be the first trip you take as a family and how do you think you will handle it?
PK: The ambitious side of me wants to say Seattle, but we’ll probably wade in a little bit by making it Charleston. We’ll handle it with modern technology. Our kids rarely, if ever, get their hands on tablets and only receive TV shows in exchange for small victories (read: potty training). We expect this depravation to pay off on airplanes when we drop tablets loaded down with Paw Patrol, Sofia the First and Team Umi Zoomi on their laps. Those 2.5 hours of quiet will totally be worth the 20 minutes of crying that will occur when we remove them from their possession.
OC: What was the first trip you took with your first child and was it a success?
PK: One of my wife’s best friends got married 6 weeks after our oldest daughter was born. East coast? Nope. Back in her hometown of Kansas City? Uh-uh. Palm Springs, CA. We survived it by purchasing a third seat to serve as a crib, changing table and storage space. Yes, we kept it well covered with blankets. We also got by with the help of my sister-in-law who flew in from KC.
OC: What happened when you added the second to the mix?
PK: Charleston…or rather the “ Great Charleston Debacle of 2014”. Our two oldest don’t sleep well with changes in scenery. By week’s end we were zombies with our then 2 year old sharing the bed with my wife and our then 11 month old in her crib at the foot of that bed. Where was I? In the room originally intended for our oldest daughter with my feet and head pinned up against the headboard and footboard of the bunk-bed. Ahhhh, relaxing vacation.
OC: First thing you do when arriving at a hotel in your room?
PK: Not a fan of hotels. We prefer to rent homes.
OC: Biggest pet peeve about hotels?
PK: Nickel and dime, nickel and dime. To be candid, I don’t get the business model. I can’t relax at hotels because every employee is, per management’s instruction, trying to sell you everything all the time. When it comes to spending on vacation, I can “take an immense right hook” after which I’ll get up and leave my defenses down. But try to “throw little jabs” all of the time and I’ll keep my guard up for all 12 rounds.
OC: Complete the following sentence: I never leave home without:
PK: Books (I know, I know….I’m that grown up nerd I used to make fun of).
OC: You went to University of Virginia on a lacrosse scholarship, but ultimately you were a walk-on to the football team and went on to a successful career in the NFL. What advice would you give to aspiring young athletes hoping to turn pro someday?
PK: Diversify! If you’re a good enough athlete to become a professional, you don’t need to specialize. If I had specialized like I considered doing at age 15, I would have become a story of athletic failure that never quite cut it on the hockey rink. Instead I played three sports and grew my overall athleticism. It was this athleticism, not my lacrosse skills, that drew the eye of Dom Starsia.
OC: After overseeing Player benefits and financial literacy for the NFL, you now work for NFC Investments to oversee client financial literacy and business development to put client assets side by side with yours and have been quoted as saying “You’re only as wealthy as your lifestyle”. What’s the lesson there?
PK: If you want to live in a cave, eat what you kill and drink from the stream, all you need is one penny to your name and you’re richer than Bill Gates! But if you want to meet the lifestyle expectations of ignorant outsiders and cave to every leech who thinks you owe them something, it doesn’t matter how much money you have. You’re broke. You just don’t know it yet.
OC: Of all the places you’ve never been, where are you most eager to go?
PK: So many rivers, so little time…. I’ve heard great things about the size and variety of trout out in the Green River in Utah. I suppose that would currently hold the top spot on my list.
OC: One secret about you no one knew until now:
PK: I have two tattoos. Though I am in the market for removal as my 3 year old daughter occasionally gets a wet towel and tries to scrub off the one on my ankle. I tell her that I need to use special soap to get it off and that I’ll work on it harder. I had best get that “special soap” before her long term memory kicks in and she uses me as the excuse for why she will someday need Turlington’s Lower Back Tattoo Remover (http://www.nbc.com/saturday-night-live/video/turlingtons-lower-back-tattoo-remover/n11881)
Patrick Kerney, please use care upon departure as items may have shifted in The Overhead Compartment during our journey. Thanks for choosing us for your travel tips! Have a wonderful day!
Stacy Steponate Greenberg brings over 15 years of travel and marketing experience to Pursuitist. With her column, The Overhead Compartment, Stacy interviews celebrities and athletes bringing an insight into their lives and travel habits. Stacy spent 11 years at Starwood Hotels and Resorts Worldwide in various capacities, serving stints as Director of Marketing for the St. Regis and Sheraton brands, and Senior Director for Starwood Residences. Prior to Starwood, Stacy worked as Manager of Marketing for Hyatt Hotels. A native of Chicago, Stacy resides New York City with her husband and two kids, who like to “rate” the various hotels on their travels with their mom. Reach Stacy via Twitter twitter.com/StacyGSG.