Football fans know Eddie George. He won a Heisman Trophy at Ohio State, was a first-team All-Pro running with the Tennessee Titans and made four total Pro Bowls. Theater-junkies know George too. He starred as lawyer Billy Flynn in the 2016 Broadway production of Chicago.
George's two talents were fused this fall when the 43-year-old guest-starred on the season two finale of Ballers on HBO. Playing a fictionalized version of himself, George served as an antagonist to Spencer Strasmore, the title character portrayed by Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson. Speaking with ThePostGame this past Friday, George talked about acting alongside The Rock, watching fellow Ohio State alum Ezekiel Elliott's success and the public perception of Jeff Fisher.
ThePostGame: Since the last time we talked, you were on Ballers? How was The Rock?
EDDIE GEORGE: He was great, man. It was funny because we're doing scene work together and I'm trying not to be a fan. I'm like damn, this is The Rock. This is Dwayne Johnson here. I had to snap back into like I had a job to do. That was surreal. We had a scene where he's trying to push in and we're being physical and I was wondering if he was just going to put on a fake slap on me.
TPG: You can't be a fanboy. You were the antagonist in the episode.
GEORGE: I know! I can't be all excited like, 'Take a picture with me and I'll send it to me wife.' I had to be like this is business, Dwayne.
TPG: He went to Miami in the 90s. Do you remember him in college?
GEORGE: Nah. He was a decent player, but clearly, he wasn't Jerome Brown or Warren Sapp. He wasn't that guy. He got on the field and did his thing. He obviously wasn't able to go to the NFL. He wasn't talented enough, but he was talented in other places.
WARNING: EXPLICIT LANGUAGE
TPG: You've made a name for yourself in theater. This was a TV role. What kind of feedback did you get?
GEORGE: People didn't realize I could get mad. But having experience on the stage and so forth, I just put myself in that frame of mind, that space, where I had to tell my story through the few lines that I had. The feedback was pretty good I thought.
TPG: Did you walk out with any photos or autographs?
GEORGE: Nope. As soon as we said cut, he said, 'Thank you,' and off to the next job he did. It's not like we got to hang out. He's a cool guy. The guy is on People. He's the sexiest man on earth. He's in movies and he's doing animations. He's into a lot.
TPG: How's he look in person?
GEORGE: Oh, he's decent. He's ripped up. He's shredded wheat now. He's in excellent shape.
TPG: You are a spokesman for the FedEx Air & Ground NFL Players of the Year Award. This year's finalists at quarterback are Matt Ryan, Drew Brees and Aaron Rodgers. At running back, the nominees are Ezekiel Elliott, David Johnson and Le'Veon Bell. As a former Ohio State Heisman Trophy-winning running back, did you see this rookie season coming from Elliott?
GEORGE: I think Zeke is good even without a great offensive line. He's got a high football IQ. I've been in meetings at Ohio State, where he's talking about changing his position on the field to get exactly what they're looking for. He's almost like a coach in that way.
TPG: When Ohio State recruits a running back, when do they let you know? Do you find out with everyone else?
GEORGE: It's a known fact they're going after the best of the best, every single year. Period. They're recruiting a running back every year. That's what keeps you on your toes. That's what keeps you in the weight room, that's what keeps you in the film room. That's what brings out the best of you.
TPG: Do you remember the first time you met Zeke?
GEORGE: I met him after they won the national championship game. He's a quiet kid, but very energetic. He has a gregarious personality. He gets along with everybody. He's a jokester and playful. He will give you the shirt off his back. That's the kind of guy he is.
TPG: Have you talked to him this year?
GEORGE: No, I haven't had a chance to talk to him. He's been kind of busy. (Laughs) But I talked to his father prior to this season, getting him acclimated with the NFL environment. With time on your hands, explaining how to manage that lifestyle.
TPG: Did his father reach out to you?
GEORGE: His father first reached out to me earlier last year. He had a few questions going into Zeke's junior year. It's good to see the success Zeke's had.
TPG: Who are the top five running backs in Ohio State history?
GEORGE: Oh, man. In no particular order?
TPG: Well, in order if you can.
GEORGE: I can't. I'm going to do no particular order. I'm gonna say top five are Robert Smith, Raymont Harris, of course, Archie [Griffin]. You know what, Antonio Pittman was really good on those Jim Tressel teams. I'm not including myself. I'm gonna say…that's tough…there's Zeke, there's Carlos Snow, Carlos Hyde, Maurice Clarett. There's been lot of great backs. I'm gonna have to throw Zeke in there. He won a national championship. He's second all-time in rushing. Passed me last year.
TPG: Ohio State did not win the National Championship Game this year. Where were you for the Michigan win and the Clemson loss?
GEORGE: I was home during the Michigan win and I was home during the Clemson loss. The same television, fat Bulldog laying next to me in a onesie. That particular angle in front of the television, you don't have to worry about crowds and my wife won't ask me questions. I just get to go in my mancave and watch.
TPG: Do you have any Michigan players you played with or against that you still trash talk?
GEORGE: Oh, yeah: Amani Toomer. Charles Woodson, Desmond Howard. Any Michigan player that I'll see. Any of the Fab Five members that I see: Chris Webber, Jalen Rose. That rivalry never goes away. I've had the upper-hand as of recently.
TPG: The media has not put Jeff Fisher in high regard since he was fired by the Rams. How tough is that for you?
GEORGE: Well, Jeff is a friend first. He was my coach. And it's tough to see that. He did have some successful years. People are like he's the losingest coach in history, tied with Dan Reeves. But they don't mention he's in the the top 11 in terms of wins. It depends on how you look at it. As of recently, no, he didn't have a winning team. The past five years that he's been there, you think about what he's inherited. He didn't inherit a great team. You think about moving. That takes a toll on a team, mentally and physically. I've been a part of that process and it takes time. The lack of wins is what it comes down to. That's the nature of the business. I think he'll resurface at some point in time again.
TPG: Do you exchange messages with him?
GEORGE: Yeah, I've talked to Jeff quite a few times. Right now, I think he's at his cabin in Montana -- Big Sky Country. He's enjoying the life, the serenity, the peace that it brings. Whatever comes up in his life next, I know he's gonna attack it with the same love and ferocity.
TPG: People say he wasn't a great motivator with the Rams. When was a time he motivated you with the Titans?
GEORGE: He was always that way. In fact, that's what got us through those tough years. Having us look at the fact we didn't have a great fan base or great NFL stadium experience, he'd use that against the other teams. They're going to come in distracted playing in front of like five people. We're gonna use that to our advantage. We were motivated. We were talented and we had a good locker room. That's something he tried to develop with the Rams, but it didn’t get where he wanted it to be.
TPG: This week is the 17-year anniversary of the Music City Miracle and The Tackle. Do you have intentions of watching either highlight?
GEORGE: I have no intentions. I'm gonna catch up on Westworld. I want to catch up on my shows. I know the outcome of those games. I don't know the outcome of these shows.
TPG: What's next for you in acting?
GEORGE: Right now, I'm going to do some more traveling shows for Chicago. I've got a play coming up, A Raisin in the Sun, in Nashville. After that, who knows? Maybe some television or movie roles.
TPG: People talk about CTE affecting former NFL players. You're remembering lines for theater, week-in, week-out. Do you ever worry you're too banged up to remember lines?
GEORGE: No, I don't think that way. I don't bring that on myself. It's something that could be an issue later down the line. But I try to live in the moment. Theater really helps me in terms of thinking and processing. It really exercises my brain to the point I'm not trying to go down that path. If I go down that path, there's nothing I can do about it at this point. It's something that still needs to be explored, CTE.
TPG: You have a second career. What's your advice to former players about that?
GEORGE: Begin the journey with the end in mind, meaning build a skillset, build a network that will support you. Build a Plan B, something to fall back on. Build your celebrity, your platform, to create what you want to do after you're done playing the game. And if you don't know what you want to do, go explore. Go out there, try everything, from acting to dance to commentating to business school to real estate classes. Go and be the best at that. Take the same things that allowed you to be at the top of your field as an athlete and transition that to the next thing. The only way you find out is if you try. The only way you fail is if you don't go after it.
TPG: And who are your picks for the FedEx Air and Ground players?
GEORGE: I'm going to go with Ezekiel Elliott and Matt Ryan.
Fans can vote for the FedEx Air & Ground NFL Players of the Year here.