After a stellar senior season in which he averaged 20.8 yards per catch, sprint football wide receiver Jon Amoona celebrated in the end zone with Sun Senior Writer Per Ostman.
1. You’re from Long Island. Does this automatically make you cooler than everyone else?
I think that’s the rap. People think that we have that kind of feeling about ourselves.
Does your whole high school go here? Isn’t that the stereotype?
Well, I live with my best friend from high school. But I think that’s just a bad rap we get. Maybe because of the attitudes we have.
But not you. You’re a nice guy, right?
I wouldn’t say that people from Long Island aren’t nice to other people. Everyone has different cultures. I think Long Islanders are the most stereotyped people on campus, and I hope that doesn’t carry over to me, but it probably does.
What kind of reactions do you get when people find out where you’re from?
Basically, I could tell from the beginning that Long Island people are looked at a little bit differently. People would say, “Oh, you’re another one.” When I first got here, [head] coach [Terry] Cullen was joking around saying that there was only a limited number of Long Island kids he’d take on the team.
You made the cut, I guess.
Yeah. We get a lot of garbage from our coach. He’s kind of anti-Long Island.
Where’s he from?
Here. He’s lived in Ithaca all his life.
So, he’s got an inferiority complex?
Yeah, I think so.
2. What’s your reaction when people call your sport “Fake Football” or “Mini-Football?”
Strap on the pads. Most of the people that would say that would never put on a helmet and shoulder pads. I take it personally, to be honest. I’ve played football since I was eight years old, and I’ve never taken hits like I have against teams like Army and Navy. These kids are in the military. Kids here can say whatever they want about sprint football not being a “real” sport, but they’ve never been hit by a linebacker from Navy. There’s nothing fake about it.
3. There’s a notion floating around that sprint football is actually more violent than regular football, because everyone is the same weight and runs much faster. Is this true?
I try to use my speed to do everything. In high school, I knew I could run circles around at least seven of the other people on the field because they were too big and fat. But in this game, that’s not the case. Everything’s much quicker.
I’m not going to say that it’s a tougher game than what the varsity guys play, because they’re going up against 300-pounders. It’s obviously different than getting hit by a guy who’s 172 pounds. But, it’s still a very, very physical game, and you can tell by all the injuries on the sidelines – it’s football, it’s a contact sport. There’s just a weight difference.
And that’s the only difference, right?
Yeah, just the size. A person coming to a sprint football game wouldn’t say, “oh, these kids aren’t varsity football players.” There are kids at Army and Navy who were recruited to play on the big teams or played on the big teams before, but for whatever reasons decided to play sprint. So, it’s not as if it’s a drop-off in talent.
4. Okay, let’s remove weight from the equation. In a 7-on-7 game (no linemen) could you guys beat the varsity team?
The preparation that goes into being a varsity football player here is a lot different than what goes in to being a sprint football player. They have spring football – we don’t. They’re so much more intense into their sport – if you and I were vying for the same position, and you trained 10 months out of the year but I only trained three, I’m already at a disadvantage. And just on sheer size, we’d lose.
But as far as the talent goes, I can’t say who’s better at what. I will say that the sprint football team has a lot of talented athletes. I wouldn’t say that we’re more talented than the varsity guys. Not at all. I mean 90 percent of those guys are all-state athletes. We have nothing but respect for the varsity team. We always root for them, and we hope they root for us. Both programs want to see each other succeed.
It’s all Cornell.
5. Do you guys feel marginalized? As if being just a “sprint” player is something derogatory?
Yes and no. No, because I don’t think Cornell is such an ignorant place that people would look down on you. It’s still a varsity sport. There’s still contact. You’re still wearing the same equipment. But at the same time, I’d say yes because people will say, “oh, you’re not getting hit by huge 300-pound people.” These people have either never been to a game or have never strapped on the pads themselves.
How much would you pay to have a chance to play a few downs against people like that?
I’d pay nothing, because they wouldn’t do it. They wouldn’t do it.
6. What’s the hardest part about playing a sport with a weight restriction?
Luckily, I don’t have that problem. I’ve seen a bunch of players on my team have trouble with it. We had a QB on last year’s team who didn’t play this year because he just weighed too much. I saw how hard it was for him last year, to not be able to eat as much as us after practice and things like that. I don’t think people appreciate how much some people have to go through to be a part of this team. I think it speaks volumes of the dedication and of the program.
It’s a difficult thing. I’ve been pretty familiar with a lot of lightweight rowers, and they’re absolutely emaciated during the season. They’re tough as nails, but they’d always get cranky when they were cutting weight, and have to watch the heavyweights scarf three trays of food.
I just have so much respect for that kind of dedication. I don’t know if I could come home from practice and be starving, and not eat as much as the other guys. I don’t think I’d be able to do that.
7. Your bedroom is completely covered in pictures of Deion Sanders. Is this a “man-crush” situation?
Growing up, Deion Sanders was my idol, and he still is to this day. He gets a bad rap for being very cocky and arrogant, but how many people do you know who have played in the World Series and the Super Bowl, who are unquestionably future Hall of Famers, and who have been on the cover of Sports Illustrated a thousand times? He is what I’ve always wanted to be, because he took the criticism and used it as motivation.
And don’t you need to be at least a little arrogant to be the best at something?
I don’t even think it’s arrogance, to be honest with you.
Yeah, it’s confidence in his ability. And he’s such a competitor. He’s always up for the challenge. When he’s speaking out, he’s challenging himself. That’s what makes the game so fun.
What about a guy like Terrell Owens?
T.O. is a little bit of a different case. I don’t really agree with the contract stuff, but as far as being a player, he’s another guy who I think gets a bad rap for his antics and stuff. But that’s what people talk about – that’s what people like. And the bottom line is that he’s a Pro Bowl receiver, arguably the best in the league.
And he keeps thousands of sportswriters employed.
Do you follow the Ravens now that Deion’s on the team? What’s your favorite team?
Yeah, definitely. But I’m a Jets fan.
I’m sorry to hear that. Do you agree with my esteemed colleague Bryan Pepper, who recently penned a column in which he explained how the Jets would be best served by tanking the season to secure a good draft position?
No Herm Edwards team would do a thing like that. No way.
See, I tried to tell him this.
The bottom line is that they’re professionals. This is their job. Attitude reflects leadership, and Herm Edwards wouldn’t stand for something like that.
It’s not officially football season until Herm Edwards is screaming incoherently at a press con
ference. He plays. To win. The game.
8. What is it like growing up with three sisters? Did fighting for the bathroom every morning prepare you for the violence of collegiate football?
It was kind of like having four mothers.
They were all older?
No, but the little one is old enough now to treat me like her son. My two twin sisters are 27 years old.
What are their numbers?
Hahaha, yeah. You’re not the first person who’s asked me that. They’ve both modeled professionally.
Wow. [Pensive silence] Okay, how did this shape your childhood? You had to learn at a very early age how to deal with women.
Concerning my older sisters, it benefitted me because they always watched my every move. You know – how I was with girls, how I was doing in school. And they’d always try to coach me up a little bit.
Oh, so you’ve had training, then? You’re much more prepared than the rest of us poor saps, huh?
I think we’re all hopeless, to be honest.
With the little one, I like having her around because I get to see her through high school. I like that challenge as an older brother, you know, to watch her successes and watch out for her as she grows up.
She can never visit you here, can she?
No. Neither can the older ones.
9. What’s the hottest women’s team at Cornell?
You didn’t even blink. What makes you so certain?
I was recruited to run track here, but due to many hamstring injuries, I’ve had to stop since last winter. It was a great experience running for Cornell, and they have a real championship program, exemplified by all the –
Yeah, so they’re hot?
Oh, well, they’re runners.
Yes, yes they are.
They have the best bodies on campus.
And they work very hard for them.
Oh, they do. And I think people should recognize that. Those girls work hard.
10. Sun Sports Editor Chris Mascaro is the vaunted third-down running back on the sprint football team, and your teammate. Is he as cool as he thinks he is?
He’s cooler. He’s a lot cooler.
Why? Because he’s from Long Island?
That’s number one. Number two, no matter what, he can always make you laugh.
All you have to do is look at him.
10 Questions With Per Ostman will appear weekly, or until he gets fired. Comments, suggestions, and threats can be sent to [email protected].
Archived article by Per Ostman