Here is another interview that was thought to be lost. A great interview with Priest Holmes who is a very down to earth individual. Phone interview (audio will be added later)
Collector Empire: How did you get the name Priest and what was the background behind it?
Priest Holmes: Well, the name Priest is, is very unique as far as [laugh] that I really don’t know. All I do know is that my mother had 3 choices. She had the name of X, Fox, and Priest. And I think that was a no brainer for her. She went with Priest and I think that of, ever since then people have played a little bit of religious tone to my name at the same time. Not growing up Catholic by any means, but of course my religious beliefs in Jesus Christ in Faith like that, it really has some favor in my life to have that name.
Collector Empire: What was it like to play in the backfield with Ricky Williams in Texas?
Priest Holmes: Well, that was a unique situation because, one thing I can definately tell anyone that talks to me about playing in the back field with Ricky or with Jamal or different guys like that, is that I’ve always played in the back field with high caliber guys and always felt, you know, given the opportunity and given my own shot that I would excel at the same time. But going back at the time I was a Junior and Ricky coming in as a Freshman and knowing I just blew out my knee and had A.C.L. surgery that Spring in ’95, I really was in a situation that I felt confident, that when he came in, he brought back the running game at the University of Texas. Along since him, was a gentleman by the name of Shon Mitchell and I think just with that combination at the time that I sat out that year, they did some phenominal things. Ricky is a great guy. You know, I even heard he recently cut his hair. I’m not sure if he cut all the braids off or if he just cut a portion of the braids, but you know that’s kind of exciting to see a guy come out with a new look and see what he does this year.
Collector Empire: What would you say was the key factor in turning your 2102 yards rushing in 4 seasons at Baltimore into 3 consecutive 1400 yard seasons in Kansas City?
Priest Holmes: I think the biggest turnaround was getting the call from Dick Vermeil. He was the head coach. He really felt like. you know he told me, he said, “Priest, I remember me when I was commentating in the Big 12 Championship game between University of Texas and Nebraska”, and he was one of the commentators. He had talked to the coach at that time. and the coaches said that there were going to be a star in this game, but it’s not going to be Ricky. I ended up having a wonderful game, an exciting game, . and I really think it was, with him thinking back to that time, he gave me a shot. He called me up personally, asking me to be the running back on his team and I just took it from there. I think that any player that has the confidence of the coach that comes in and supports him, it’s what they need.
Collector Empire: Dick Vermeil is considered a “player’s coach” and gains respect and love his players. You basically just told me what you think about him.
Priest Holmes: Well, he’s a player’s coach. And the reason why, you know, you have Coach Vermeil call you up and say, “I want all the running backs and tight ends to come over on a Tuesday night. I have a nice roast that I’m going to personally prepare for you all, and I’m going to give y’all a nice bottle of wine.” You know, he’ll come and show us wine. He loves to have his guys over. And to get outside of the weight room, outside of the classroom, and just get a chance to talk one-on-one. And you know you don’t get that. You really never get a chance at a coach’s house, you know. Only, that happens, when it’s time for recruiting, you know. But here’s a guy that brings you over to his house and allows you to see that side of him also.
Collector Empire: How important is the single season touchdown record to you? As you got closer and closer, did the record become more of a goal?
Priest Holmes: Well, actually, that goal started a year before that, before I even started playing. When I decided I wanted to lead the league in rushing touchdowns in combined touchdowns, was the time I got hurt. When I was laying on the ground. in the stadium in Denver, the year before that, and I just messed my hip up. And I remember, as I was walking off of that field, I didn’t really realize that I was that close, even in 2002. Man, I said I had 24 touchdowns. I could have broke it then. But, when I was walking off of that field, I realized I just let an opportunity slip out of my hand. So I said the next time I get on this field, I’m going to break the record. So, that record was broken a year before it happened [laugh].
Collector Empire: Coming from hip surgery to break the single season TD record, what was your main motivation?
Priest Holmes: Main motivation was that I was at a point that I felt like, you know, I just mentioned early that . having an opportunity and not seizing the moment, and allowing circumstances to hold me back. So, I went on and started my rehab. And in doing that rehab, I really wasn’t given a clear definition of what was wrong with me. and it really didn’t come out until maybe 2 months later. And I finally had my hip surgery. the whole month of April, I was on crutches and I didn’t even start running full speed until July, which was 2 weeks before training camp. And that, in itself, was testimony because of the fact that, you know, I have actually not even a chance or opportunity to run like the other guys, who hasn’t ran in the last 6-7 months. So, I really took it as a challenge. And, you know, one thing I know I do very well is when there is an obstacle in front of me, I know I can clear it. And that’s just what I went after.
Collector Empire: Did the draft of Penn State running back Larry Johnson serve as an additional motivational tool for you?
Priest Holmes: No, that wasn’t a detour at all. I didn’t even think twice, because I knew exactly what I was after. I knew exactly what needed to be done. And I knew who would help this team go into the playoffs. Unfortunately, we didn’t go pass that first game that we played in after the BYE week. But at the same time, I do know that, as far as the component of having me there in the backfield, means a lot to the team. And I tell you one thing, whenever the other guy come onboard, I say, bring him on because we need help during training camp, because it’s going to be hot out there.
Collector Empire: What would you say was the biggest difference in this year’s team and last year’s team, resulting in this season’s playoff berth?
Priest Holmes: Well, you said what was the biggest difference between the last 2 years?
Collector Empire: Yeah, this year and last year. The record difference and playoff berth.
Priest Holmes: Well, I think for us, the coach has always been preaching that we should actually look at the road to the Super Bowl under construction, always. And anyone can get there. And it was a matter of us putting the team together and letting us know that we can improve our record. And that was had only lost a number of games, in the matter of not being able to score at the last point. You know, giving up the last touchdown on our defense. And that’s one of the things that was changed. And we changed at the first 9 games. We came out of the gate running, but there is some things they say about football. If you don’t correct matters during the season, at the beginning when you see them, that once you get to the playoffs, it’s too late. Cause you get exposed. and I think we got exposed verses Indianapolis.
Collector Empire: What would you like to achieve before you leave the game of football and what would you like to do after the game?
Priest Holmes: Well, right now, I’m involved in an endeaver called Team Priest which is a foundation that I’ve started. And we really get right into the community and find out what’s going on as far as the concerns and the problems. I use my status and this opportunity, in this stage that I have been given to go to a major corporation and try to team up a major corporation in a need in the community. That’s one side of things we are doing. As a business man, I started up Team Priest and we sell apparel, and we’re just really going to go about getting into the community and helping out. I think that having this opportunity, it can be used in several ways. but I think that, as far as having influence and influence for all of those young people out there, I think that’s the most important thing I’ve been trying to do. And business is one thing I’ve always had passion for, but I stayed into football and say, “Hey, I’ll do that some other time.” But I think that now, over the past 2 years, I really dug deep into what I wanted to do and we started up Team Priest.
Collector Empire: I noticed Team Priest does a lot for the kids. what kinds of activity does Team Priest have?
Priest Holmes: We have a number of activities. One thing real big is that we have an active website where kids can download pictures and we have a coloring contest, combined with Comcast. We talk about the D.A.R.E. program. You know, don’t drink this. Don’t do that. Don’t smoke that. It’s, it’s not necessary. and those are some of the thing, some of the projects that we push. One thing kids can do is when they download these pictures, they can color them and send them back in. And we vote on some of the best entries, kids 1 through 10. And we just had a contest winner, and the young ladies name is Eva Kearney. And we presented her a gift certificate and came out there and took pictures and I had a chance to speak to her class, her 3rd grade class, for about 20 minutes. You know, those are the things we do. Try to be exciting. We also have the truck that’s wrapped. We try to take that to different events. And I think the kids really get excited just with the fact that I’m trying to get that.
Collector Empire: So far, in your football, career, what person you have the most respect for whether it be a coachor player?
Priest Holmes: Right now, I think the player that I’ve always looked up to is Tony Dorsett. And it’s been, I’ve always looked up to him at a far, by watching tape. Had a chance to meet him while playing for Baltimore. And one thing I try to do is, I know when I was young, I always tried to find someone that looked like me. I can actually run like them. You know, try to do their moves and try my best to emulate them. And I found someone like Tony Dorsett to pattern myself after throughout football. Because for me, it would be hard for me to pretend to be Shaq. You know, trying to get down low in the post with him. You know, I tell kids try to emulate someone similar to things that you can do and pattern them.
Collector Empire: Before the game, is there anything you do or listen to, to get you prepared or hyped up for the game?
Priest Holmes: Well, it’s not in any particular order. But it’s a matter of getting 2 different type of massages. Um, one is keep of a type of manipulation of a massage where they work with, getting you stretched out. Another one is where I can use the needle and to do some acupuncture. There’s stretching that goes on, getting ready for the game. And, you know, music hey, whatever, whoever listening to music in the locker room, that’s what I listen to. But in terms of making sure I get that routine, of making sure I get that massage, I get that stretch massage, that I go to the Bible studies we have because we have a Chapel service before the game, then I get taped up and ready to go. I’m just trying to get out there when it time to play.
Collector Empire: I know all athletes prefer to be at home playing, but what is your favorite, on the road, stadium you prefer to play in?
Priest Holmes: I actually like any stadium with grass. That was my main concern about free agency when deciding which team I go to. And people were saying, “Man you crazy. Why ain’t you in Dallas? You know you back there, close to where you from in Texas.” And I said, “Man, they just don’t fit because they have astro-turf.” so, for me, if anyone has grass. You know, it’s really exciting that they’ve come up with this new grass they just put in Baltimore. The Baltimore Ravens have in their stadium. Seattle has it in theirs. It’s more of that still turf with that rubberized rubber that’s shredded and then laid down. That’s a real good turf to. But I’m telling you, the one thing I think about, is playing on grass.
Collector Empire: What is the most important advice that you would give a rookie that just got drafted into the league? I mean like what to expect or anything like that.
Priest Holmes: One thing I would tell a rookie is that he would have to plan out his first year. That he can’t go in blind which I think that most people do, because either you don’t have an uncle or older person that you can take to. Or you really don’t know anyone in the league. But you really have to try, someway, or somehow to reach to some of these older guys and set up a plan of what you want to do your first year. How you going to accomplish your goals. You know, because, one thing that happens to plays their first year, is that the time that they spend on their own, with nothing really to do. It kills them. Because then, you start to have that idle mind. You start to get into too many different things. And here it is, you only have a game on the weekend and you have all this time during the week to do whatever. But you gotta stay focused. You gotta try to take up that time with some things you can do.
Collector Empire: Ok, from a sports hobby stand point, how do you feel about autograph signing? I know a lot of athletes have mixed feelings about it.
Priest Holmes: Well, autograph signing is not a problem. I think that when you dealing on a level of giving something to the public, giving something to what the public wants, giving them something they need, and they actually had waited and anticipate you to come to this particular signing, or you promise them that you would 3 times out of the season, you’re going to go out here and sign some autographs, I think it’s well worth it. I think that at times, I can get discouraged at times, because it can get overwhelming. You know, because it could be that one day, where you tired. You frustrated. You dropped a few passes. You made some mistakes. And that’s when you’re at the grocery store and someone asks you for your autograph, or ask you, “Hey, would you mind signing for for some kids?” You know, and you give them one of those looks like “Don’t bother me right now.” And that’s the only thing. We’re just human like anyone else. We have our good days and bad days. But overall, I think that, that is a part of the game. And that’s our part of giving back and showing our appreciation to the game.
Collector Empire: What are your hobbies or is there anything you collect? You know there may be some athletes that collect sports memorabilia of yourself and other athletes.
Priest Holmes: The biggest thing right now is collecting jerseys. Actually from other teammates or getting some of the other throwbacks. I think that for me, that I’ve kept my own personal jersey. The one when I broke the rushing record and uh lead the rushing record 2 years ago. Actually, 3 years ago. That was something that was monumental for me. I framed that jersey. And just get balls signed. Um, some footballs signed by different players, is something you get a chance to describe. I got a Hall of Fame ball by Tony Dorsett. You know, things like that really tickle me and I’m not overly bored. I don’t have that one room dedicated quite yet. But I got a few pieces. But you’ve should see some of the places I’ve seen. Some of these players really go after it, boy, when it comes to collecting items.
Collector Empire: Ok, last question. Is there anything you would like your fans to know about Priest Holmes?
Priest Holmes: Well, I can tell you one thing, and this is something funny. I’m somewhat of a perfectionist. My thing of being a perfectionist is a lot different than a lot of people’s and how it is defined. I’m a perfectionist in a way that I could have a really messy room. But just don’t move nothing, because I know where I threw everything. I know I threw the shoe over there. I got this paper underneath this dresser. I had a key underneath this blanket that I can’t find ’em, but I know I’ll find them eventually. So, just don’t mess with them.