Sports, Thrill of Victory

Tennessee State alumnus and former Atlanta Falcon Randy Fuller talks Super Bowl LI

Randy Fuller (right) on the field, covering the NFC championship for Fox Sports Latin America. PHOTO COURTESY OF RANDY FULLER

Among the standout TSU players in the post-Richard Dent era is Randy Fuller, who left Big Blue Country to play cornerback for the Steelers (1995-1997) and Falcons (1998) during his NFL career (He also played for Denver and Seattle).

Fuller now resides in Houston, host city for this year’s NFL championship game.

“I want at least one of my teams in the Super Bowl,” Fuller said prior to the divisional championships.

S&E Nashville spoke with Fuller this week about the Super Bowl, his TSU days, and his post-NFL career.

On the significance of the end of the season:

I was excited about the possibility of having both the Falcons and the Steelers play in the Super Bowl in Houston. The Steelers have always been my favorite team growing up and the Atlanta Falcons are my home state team. I also had the chance to play in the Super Bowl with both teams. With only one team making it, I am still very excited to participate in the activities taking place in Houston where I am currently living.

Randy Fuller (right) with Jonathan Martin (former WSMV anchor and now anchor for Houston’s Fox 26). PHOTO COURTESY OF RANDY FULLER

You covered the NFC championship for Fox Sports Latin America. What was that experience like for you?

As a commentator it was super-exciting to be on the field for a NFC Championship with players and Fox Sports Latin America. The Georgia Dome was electrifying; the energy from the fans and the spirit of the Falcon’s players vibrated throughout the stadium. It was definitely a memorable experience being with my home state team, fans and former players as the last game in the Georgia Dome was played.

On covering the Super Bowl:

I am thankful to Fox Sports Latin America for allowing me to be a part of the pre- and post-game activities. I look forward to seeing the Atlanta Falcons win the Super Bowl and receive recognition for being an outstanding team. They have some seriously talented players yet they contribute their winning to the efforts of the entire team and I believe that is commendable considering all the talent on the team.

Pittsburgh certainly has contributed to the highlight reels of the game. There was Franco Harris’s Immaculate Reception, and, of course, your play that thwarted Harbaugh’s “Hail Mary” pass in the 1996 AFC championship game. Would you talk about your experiences in the Super Bowl?

I call that play the “Immaculate Deflection” and it was one of my most memorable career moments. Being able to play at the highest level of the game with my family and friends supporting me was special to say the least. Even though we did not walk away with the Lombardi trophy, we were still able to hold our heads up high, having left everything on the field and competed at the highest level of the game. There really is no other feeling like it.

You are among several former Tennessee State University football players to have NFL careers, including Pittsburgh and Atlanta. What has made TSU so attractive to the league? What did you learn from your time as a player at TSU, and what inspiration did you draw from the greats who preceded you there?

I was attracted to Tennessee State University because of its rich tradition in producing quality people on and off the field. Tennessee State was not only concerned about you for four years but for the next forty years. They made it a point that each student would have the necessary skills to contribute to society in a meaningful way. It was a great honor to follow in the footsteps of the legends that Tennessee State produced and continues to produce. Having worked with one of the greatest football minds ever, Joe Gilliam, Sr., and a remarkable coaching staff, I had the opportunity to play with some of the best teammates. My experience at Tennessee State University on and off the field helped shaped me into the person I am today. It is where I became dedicated to “Work hard and live humble”. I credit the coaches and staff of TSU and Spencer High School with my successful transition to the NFL.

Fellow NFL cornerbacks Troy Vincent and Randy Fuller at a recent game. PHOTO COURTESY OF RANDY FULLER

On his post-NFL career:  

 I am currently working for a residential treatment facility, Timberline Knolls, as the professional outreach representative for the South-Central Region. I currently reside in Houston with my lovely wife, Gussie, and our two children, Ellington and Eden. My passions still include public speaking, partnering with nonprofit organizations, and training and coaching our youth. I continue to support the following organizations; Gridiron of San Antonio, Cure for Our Friends-Nashville, and the Sickle Cell Foundation of Columbus, Ga.

Fuller’s prediction for the game:

I really feel Atlanta can win because they believe in themselves and have protected the ball with not a lot of turnovers. If they can control the time of possession, then this will give them the greater chance of becoming Super Bowl champs.