Ex-Packer Dorsey Levens: "Football is easier. Way easier."
By Lyle Fitzsimmons,
Contributing Boxing Editor
Ocala, FL (Sports Network) -
Here's a little advice for the wannabe world-class athletes out there.
If your choices are down to a career in boxing or a career in football, make it easy on yourself.
"In my opinion, football is easier. Way easier. And it's not even close," said former NFL running back Dorsey Levens -- a veteran of 144 games, an All-Pro selection and a world championship win over an 11-season gridiron career between 1994 and 2004.
"I've only tried it in the ring a few times and I knew right away that it was not a good place for me."
The 40-year-old Levens, a product of Georgia Tech, established himself as a go-to member of Brett Favre's Green Bay backfield through 2001, including a defeat of the New England Patriots in Super Bowl XXXI at the Superdome in New Orleans in January 1997.
He gained a career-best 1,435 rushing yards as the Packers returned for a Super Bowl loss against Denver a year later, then scored a personal high of nine touchdowns in 14 games -- sixth-best in the league -- in a 1,034-yard season behind Favre in 1999.
He played for the Philadelphia Eagles, New York Giants and the Eagles again over his final three seasons, finally walking away for good in 2004 after coming to grips with the idea he'd lost a step.
He officially retired as a member of the Packers in 2006.
Dorsey Levens has a another rendezvous with boxing planned for Oct. 21 in Atlanta.
"I'd lost something. No question," Levens said. "There's a difference between just hearing it from other people and knowing it yourself. I realized it and was able to tell myself, 'OK, you've had a good run but your time is up. It's time for the next venture.'"
Among his pursuits since quitting have been the typical (NFL game analyst), the atypical (stage/movie actor) and the unpredictable (wide-eyed boxing gym rookie).
The latter prolonged a love of the sport that began when he followed Sugar Ray Leonard and Mike Tyson as a teen-ager, then participated in and hosted frequent pay-per-view parties with other NFL players in the '90s.
"Living in Atlanta and having so many current and former players around, that was always one of our biggest things," he said. "We always looked forward to the next fight coming up, because it would mean someone was going to have a party and we'd all get together.
"There's nothing out there right now that really intrigues me, but I just wish Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather Jr. would hurry up and get it on already."
Levens has a another rendezvous with boxing planned for Oct. 21 in Atlanta, where he'll host "Atlanta Corporate Fight Night" to benefit Hirsch Academy, a highly-specialized school for special needs students with developmental and emotional disabilities.
Set for the Atlanta Marriott Century Center, the show will feature a series of bouts matching corporate foes in three 2-minute rounds sanctioned by USA Boxing and Georgia Amateur Boxing Association.
Participants were chosen based on commitment to the event, charisma, athletic ability and sponsorship potential. Once chosen, they were involved in a series of media events and a 10-week training camp with professional trainers Terri Moss and Xavier Biggs.
"You get in the ring and you're talking about constant movement for three minutes at a time, which is completely foreign to a football player," Levens said. "A typical football play lasts 5 or 6 seconds and then you rest for 20 seconds. Burst and rest. Burst and rest.
"Going for three minutes at a time is a completely different animal. And sparring was even worse for me. You hit the pads and it's one thing, but when you're in there with someone who's quick and they're trying to punch you in the head, it's like 'Oh my God.'"
The brief experiment swayed the Syracuse native and Atlanta resident away from the field-to-ring evolution rendered infamous by Ed "Too Tall" Jones, Alonzo Highsmith and Mark Gastineau.
Ex-Dallas Cowboy Jones beat six non-descript foes in 1979-80. Former Houston Oiler Highsmith was stopped by a 7-20-2 foe at the tail end of his 30-bout career in 1998. And controversial New York Jet Gastineau was dumped by Highsmith in two rounds to end his own 18-bout run in 1996.
"Some guys are really good at football and really tough guys, but boxing is one of those things that you have be doing for a long, long time to be great," Levens said.
"You pretty much have to start at a young age."
Levens hit another post-retirement peak on the big screen, working as an Xavier assistant coach in "We Are Marshall" -- a 2006 college football film that starred Matthew McConaughey and Matthew Fox.
Earlier this year, he produced and starred in "Torn," a contemporary Christian play that premiered at a church in Marietta, Ga. and later moved to Atlanta's 14th Street Playhouse.
"It's almost like a two-a-day out there, it's brutal," he said. "Many people are surprised at my transition from football to the arts but I have always been a movie buff and decided after retirement to pursue my dream of acting. I studied the craft, took classes and stepped out on faith. This has been a great experience and I'm glad the audiences have been so receptive."
This week's title-fight schedule:
WBA cruiserweight title -- Panama City, Panama
Guillermo Jones (champion) vs. Valery Brudov (No. 1 contender)
Jones (36-3-2, 28 KO): First title defense; Began career at 148 pounds in 1993
Brudov (38-2, 27 KO): Second title fight (0-1, 0 KO); Undefeated since 2007 (5-0, 2 KO)
Fitzbitz says: "Champion idle since 2008, but still better against top competition." Jones by decision
Last week's picks: 2-0 Overall picks record: 233-81 (74.2 percent)