Jay Adams: What is keeping you busy these days?
Jamal Anderson: I'm currently a contributor on CNN and Headline News, as well. I'm writing my blog on JamalAnderson.com, and I just signed on to be the brand ambassador for Imperious Watches. I'm starting a stint on Shop NBC Feb. 14, in a couple of weeks, so I'm very, very excited about that. I'm also in the process of finalizing a deal to do at least one speaking engagement each quarter this year. That's something I was actually trying to do more of, so I'm excited about those opportunities. I'm fired up about 2012. It's going to be a big year.
Jay Adams: As someone who follows the team closely, what are your thoughts on the 2011 season and how things currently stand heading into 2012?
Jamal Anderson: Like everybody else, I was frustrated and disappointed with the way the season ended, but I'm excited that Matt Ryan played the way he played this year and that he's the quarterback of the football team. He's had success here. You know when you have certain people who work hard and believe in working hard, when they don't have success as Matt Ryan and Coach Smith haven't won a playoff game, but you know the way they work that they're going to continue to work hard and it's something they're going to think about all the time until they do have success. You want to see these things happen immediately, but you've got to work. I think the nucleus here with Julio Jones and what he was able to accomplish last year — the way he played and the way he produced while missing several football games and being a rookie who was still trying to learn the game on the professional level — the sky is the limit for him. I was very encouraged and fired up watching (Curtis) Lofton and (Sean) Weatherspoon on the other side of the ball. Sean really, really, really bounced back quite nicely from his rookie season and I'm excited to watch those guys take over and really mature and become bigger leaders and vocal parts of the team on the defensive side of the ball. The pieces are in place and there are expectations, but you can't discount the fact — and I try to remind people — that there's been a good amount of success with this group and you just want to see that success continue and increase and improve until you can get to a championship level.
Jay Adams: At the start of the season, Ovie Mughelli tried breaking out the Dirty Bird dance again before he got injured. What did you think about his attempts to attach it to the current Falcons?
Jamal Anderson: That was exciting, man. The thing is, the fans are so excited. I get at least a tweet every week, especially during football season, where people are like, "Why don't you teach these guys how to do the Dirty Bird?" I'm like, "Hey, I'd be glad to." You go back to Billy "White Shoes" Johnson and his dance, you go to Deion Sanders and his dance and then you take the Dirty Bird — it's like there's been a history of not only guys who are getting it done and scoring touchdowns but then entertaining the fans in A-T-L, the city where all these celebrities live. I think that's something the fans in Atlanta like, so I was excited for them because they were so thrilled about it. And Ovie, listen, it was a great effort, you know? But I've gotta work with him. I don't expect everyone to be able to moonwalk like Michael Jackson, Jay (laughs).
Jay Adams: Years after leaving the game, the dance is still popular with football fans. What kind of reaction do you get when you're in public, meeting people who still associate the dance with you?
Jamal Anderson: It's crazy. I was just down in Miami. As I said, I signed on to be the brand spokesman for Imperious Watches and I was down in Miami shooting a commercial and there was a large photo shoot for Shop NBC. I go to a Miami Heat game, I walk into the stadium and there's a section of people (yelling) "Dirty Bird!" right away. It was so crazy that, obviously, I don't want to see anyone do the dance against us, but the fact that I haven't been on the roster — I mean, I've been out of football longer than I played football, you know? It's amazing to me that it's a Trending Topic on Twitter and that my name is associated with the dance. I'm glad I always get the followup. Jay, if it was always about the dance, I'd probably cry. But as long as I get the followup where they go, "Man, he was a heck of a running back," I'm like, "Phew, there's the followup. Thank you." It's awesome, man. People come up to me everywhere I go, every single place I go. I can't walk through an airport anywhere where someone doesn't recognize me and immediately associate me with the Dirty Birds.
Jay Adams: You're a lot like Jessie Tuggle in that you look like you could still play the game. Do you get that often, and how much do you miss it?
Jamal Anderson: There's nothing like the group. There's nothing like putting it on the line and competing on the highest level. You cannot replicate the experience of playing in the NFL. I started playing football when I was 7 years old and it was one of those back-of-my-mind aspirations. My parents used to hammer to me, "You think you can play football? Get back to school." But there's nothing like it. There's nothing like that battle and the memories that you have, especially when you're able to accomplish something. Like I try to remind people, this day and age with how things are now, everybody remembers the glorious stuff and we had some tough years, as well. I love the things that they have in place now for the current team and the ability that they have to succeed each and every year. I envy it. I wish we had that. But there's nothing like that. When we look back and talk about the Super Bowl, you talk about the great things that happened — Morten (Anderson's) kick (that won the NFC Championship game) and some of the other things — I'm just so happy that my time here, we were able to at least bring an NFC Championship. We would have loved to have won a Super Bowl, but the fact that we at least have that banner to say, "Hey, we were the best and we did work hard enough to become the best," I'm very proud of that.