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Pete did a press conference about this because people thought it was a setup. I was in a car service heading to my hotel in Seattle and I got a phone call from my producer. Pete was in the room and my producer said he had a question for me. Finally, Pete was just like, “Give me the phone!” He took my producer’s phone and made him leave the room! Suddenly, I’m on a 45-minute call with Pete Carroll. I was like, “Pete, don’t you have stuff to do?” It was nuts. I feel a real bond with him. We have a lot in common. He’s a very naturally curious person.
Are you a football fan?
I’m a football fan now that I’m in it. But I’m a playoff-slash-Super Bowl fan. That’s the way to put it. I get really into stuff once the stakes get higher. I have my fourth kid on the way and my travel schedule is insane, so sports unfortunately don’t make the top tier for me as far as what gets my attention. But I’m usually aware of who’s doing well in the NFC, AFC, various teams. I keep on it, just not watching games.
What was your knowledge of Aaron Rodgers and the type of guy he is?
I did my research on him. What’s interesting about Aaron—I realize where people are in their career, and I want to think like they think. I knew this is a guy who’s been around for a while. He’s 39 and his relationship with the media—I mean, you’re in the media, right?—people aren’t always doing what’s in his best interest. People want clicks and views. Sometimes that means getting him in a compromised situation or getting him to say something off the cuff that bites him in the butt later. So, I knew I had to break through his outer shell a bit to get him to trust me and open up.
We wanted him to sit in the front two rows, just from a production standpoint so we could see him and hear him clearly. He sat in the ninth row. I could tell he was a little bit nervous and on edge about doing anything, because he didn’t know if I was going to hypnotize him or make him cluck like a chicken. He doesn’t know me!
Throughout the show, I kept winning him over and getting his teammates to get him into it. Finally when we did the trick on him, he was very skeptical. You can see it in his face. When he opens his hands and he has a goldfish in his hands, the look in his eyes was one of sheer, sheer shock. That was one of the first times I’ve ever done that trick, period. I’d practiced it in my mind and practiced it in my hands, but I’d never done it for an audience before that moment.
Were you nervous?
I’m nervous in a different way. I would say I’m laser-focused. That’s better than nervous. Nervous means you’re on edge and you don’t know how you’re going to control it. My mindset is very, very focused and I plan for everything that can go wrong. Maybe before, there was a little bit of nerves. I have some nerves for a lot of other tricks, but that one was one that I thought would work quite well. Stage fright is something you can get when you’re in front of people you really respect. There’s still moments where I meet people that I’m a huge fan of, and that’s when it really hits. That’s not really football players. I like football players, but I don’t see them in that mythical realm the way I might a really big movie star or someone I’ve been watching since I was a kid.
How often are players and coaches coming up to you afterwards asking how you did it?
Oh, it’s bananas. There was one where I got picked up and passed around. I’m a buck 45 dripping wet. These guys are hugging me and picking me up like I’m a toy. When I did the Ravens, I did a trick with Lamar Jackson. At the end of the trick, I had my hand out and every single player and coach ran down and high fived me like I was in the tunnel heading out to play in the Super Bowl.