This One Time, At Band Camp

The Man in the Band, Greg Scruggs (photo via Greg Scruggs)

The famous line from American Pie will live on forever in our minds. But instead of picturing that squeaky little redhead (played by Alyson Hannigan), picture for a moment a 6-foot-3, 284lb guy padded up in a Seahawks uniform. Doesn’t conjure up quite the same image now, does it?

Meet Greg Scruggs, Defensive End for the Seattle Seahawks and former band nerd. Or band geek. Or breakout star athlete who just so happened to be in the band? Yeah, that’s it.

Together we decided to debunk the myth of band geeks once and for all. Sure, there are geeks who play instruments for fun, even on the weekends when there’s a raging house party next door. But there are also nerdy athletes, even Olympians.

“My ‘band thing’ is really my only hidden talent. The big myth that everybody in the band is a geek – that’s kind of a socially created myth,” says Scruggs. “People fail to realize that someone might play the flute, clarinet or the drums, but that doesn’t change who they are. I knew early on if I was going to be in the band, I was going to bring ‘cool’ to the band,” Scruggs laughs.

“I was unique and different because being in the band was something I did to have fun, to release stress and create emotion. I still played basketball, got recruited in college [for football] and was still considered ‘cool’ by others. My band director and I singlehandedly changed the direction of our program – we were strictly a competition band when I started, but then we decided we wanted to hype and entertain the crowd. My high school band to this day is a show band – people don’t look at them as nerds or geeks. I wasn’t the brightest – to this day I can’t read music. I went out there and made it fun. I was the only black kid in my band – there were only 37 minorities out of 1500 in my school, and that made me stick out even more. It gave me a determination to dispel that rumor about band geeks. I think it’s ridiculous. If people stepped away from this socially perceived myth, they’d realize people in the band are actually pretty cool,” Scruggs says.

But surely you can understand why some folks draw the parallel between bands and geeks, I asked?

Seattle Seahawks DE, Greg Scruggs (photo via Greg Scruggs)

“Take Dan Lewis, class president of my high school for example,” Scruggs explains. “He was the biggest comedian in school and he was in the marching band. You don’t become class president if you’re not cool or popular, do you?” Scruggs counters. “He made everybody crack up and they always wanted to be around him, and he was in the band.”

Point taken. What about a nerdy athlete, surely you know a few?

Luke Kuechly,” Scruggs says laughing.

“People see him on the field and he’s this dominant football player, but in school he walked around with his pants a little too high. He was always studying, all he cared about was school – he was a dork – he didn’t go out, didn’t party, but people see him on the football field and assume he’s got this cool factor,” Scruggs says.

Did you just call Kuechly, the ninth overall pick and linebacker for the Carolina Panthers, a dork? “He’s younger than me so I can talk about him like that,” Scruggs laughs. “He’s cool but sports don’t make you cool just like an instrument doesn’t make you a nerd, you know?”

Speaking of cool dudes that play instruments, it seems the drummer from John Mayer’s band, Steve Jordan, is at the top of Scruggs’ list.

“I listen to all kinds of music. To say I have a favorite drummer is tough. I listen to everything from Marilyn Manson, which is like the south pole of music, to Waka Flocka [Flame], the north pole. I guess if you go east, I really like Zac Brown Band and Jason Aldean, and west I’d go with Darius Rucker or pop like John Mayer,” Scruggs says of his musical compass. Scruggs admits he’s also big into classical music like Stevie Wonder and just downloaded James Brown #1 hits on his iPod a few days ago.

Scruggs, born in 1990 and barely of drinking age, admits he likes musical talent that’s “been around for a while.”

The 6-foot-3 defensive end didn’t play football until his senior year in high school (Xavier High School in Cincinnati), but somehow found his way onto a Division 1 football team (Louisville) after graduating high school. People train their whole lives just for the chance to play football at a big level, how on earth were you even on anyone’s radar, I asked him? “It was a process. My high school coach played a huge role and luckily the scouts came. I blossomed my junior year [college] thanks to my coach. Coach Hurtt molded me into this player and set me out to go train, working on my explosiveness and things like that. I worked hard, let it all go and it was out of my hands. That doesn’t take away from those that have trained their whole lives – it was mostly a blessing, but it was hard work, training, and coaching,” Scruggs admits.

If band members aren’t cool, then why are they wearing sunglasses? Answer THAT, America!

I’ve talked to a lot of players that say their skill is a blessing, I told him. Do you really think it is?

“Well, my oldest brother isn’t nearly as athletic as I am,” he laughs. “I think it’s an ability I was blessed with since it doesn’t necessarily run in the family.”

So you were a late bloomer in high school as far as getting on the football field, and you were the Seahawks final selection in the 2012 draft. Is the motto it’s better late than never part of your everyday mantra, I asked him?

“It’s definitely gratifying considering I didn’t even play football until I was a senior in high school, so I’m grateful to have been picked. There were 10,000 eligible players this year and only around 200 were picked, so I’d say I’m in pretty good company. Not only to get picked, but to play and lead the team in sacks in preseason. Am I a 7th round talent? I don’t think so. To go in the 7th made me a little angry, but I knew it was a blessing. I was just waiting around all day because I didn’t know if or when I’d get called. I could have been playing the drums or Call of Duty instead of being glued to the TV all day,” Scruggs jokes.

As for Scruggs, he’s still playing on the field, but hasn’t forgotten his drummer roots. “You never forget how to play, I still do what I can. The Seahawks have a band and I played with them once. That was pretty cool,” he says.

So next time you want to pick on someone in the band, remember the name Greg Scruggs. And then go buy yourself one of those “I’m in the band” t-shirts and wear it with pride.

Be sure to follow this band stud on Twitter: @G_Scruggs.

This post is part of The Blonde Side’s Momentum Challenge series to interview one active player from all 32 NFL Teams within the short time frame of 34 days. Greg Scruggs and his non-geek factor cross the Seattle Seahawks off the list.

To see this full article in its original format, check out CBS Man Cave Daily.