“If you wanna do-right, all day woman — (woman) — you gotta be a do-right, all-night man.”
–Aretha Franklin, “Do Right Man.”
NEW YORK — In the movies, he is easily spotted; tall, dashing, self-assured and everything flows to him with the ease of breathing. He cuts his eyes toward the camera, smiles the megawatt smile and then the word “Cut!” fills the air.
On the gridiron, New York Jets safety Kerry Rhodes is easily spotted. The rangy defender uses every inch of his 6-foot-3 frame to maximum advantage as he scans the field. Once the ball is snapped, the word “Action!” resounds within as Rhodes goes about his business of ensuring no one on the offense does anything positive with the football.
The camera seems to love Rhodes , and that love is not unrequited by any means. “I have always been fascinated with film,” confesses Rhodes, “and everything in front of and behind the camera.”
A communications major when he graduated from the University of Louisville, Rhodes’ fondness for the theater motivated him to consider this avenue long before being drafted to play in the National Football League. “I had theater/arts as a minor,” said Rhodes , but my love was the big screen — movies.”
“Performance on stage is an enjoyable experience, but I have always seen myself acting in and producing movies.”
Now entering his third season, Rhodes, who came to Louisville as a quarterback, transferred to strong safety and his acumen in reading defenses like the New York Times was an added bonus for the Jets, who snatched him up in the fourth round in the 2005 draft.
“The biggest adjustment in playing professional ball is just the realization you’re doing this a far different level — that and the speed the action occurs at are the givens you’re reminded of when I see film of past games. Learning to play smarter is an ongoing process, and that’s what I look to do as I prepare for this upcoming season.”
When asked which offensive player he looks to as the worthiest of opponents, Rhodes loves how Indianapolis Colts wide receiver Marvin Harrison goes about his work. “He’s a great technician, runs routes really well — you can set your stop watch by him,” laughs Rhodes.
Rhodes’ budding film career seems to be going at a pretty good clip as well. “I’ve done a straight to video production, “Misunderstandings” and Wendy Williams’ “Queen of All Media”.
When asked about directing, Rhodes didn’t say yes, but didn’t say no, either. “There’s a lot of preparation when you are in that chair — that’s something you really have to give your undivided attention to — so not right now.”
Taking care of right now is something Rhodes has given a lot of thought to. Last year, he established the RHODES Foundation (for Reaffirming Hopes Of Dream Endearing Scholars), supporting education and financial support specifically for youth in underserved high schools across the nation.
“Even though we give being in school a lot of lip service, we don’t do enough to ensure we take care of that most valued gift — the chance to improve our station in life through education,” inferred Rhodes, “and making sure those who really want get a fair shot at it is important to me.”
With the Jets apparently pleased with Rhodes’ actions on and off the field, it was apropos to ask why this country soul from Bessemer , Alabama seems to be able to enjoy the glare of the city spotlight without getting burned.
“You know, it might have to do with the fact your reality is magnified, especially in a place like New York City”, said Rhodes.
“It’s no secret the NFL is making how you go about your business to be their business, so you carry yourself knowing you don’t need to be getting caught up.”
“There’s nothing wrong with having fun, but that “home training” gotta kick in at some point,” laughed Rhodes. “If it don’t sound right, it’s not right.”
Apparently everything about Rhodes sounded right to the staff at Essence Magazine, who proclaimed Rhodes to be one of their Do-Right Men for 2007.
When asked if Rhodes knew he had the stuff to be a Do-Right Man, he paused. “Man — I have to admit, this was not something I could readily identify with.”
“A couple years ago, I didn’t have the mentality to handle everything that statement implies, because I was somewhat self-absorbed. When you’re focusing on succeeding in your dreams, you think this is the natural way of looking at things.
“But there’s an overall maturation that has to take place before you can see it. You have to have room for that, and seeing the fruits of your labor come forth liberate you to get to that place. I think it’s the key step in becoming a man.”
“Now you’re ready for working as one with someone special and it ain’t about material things — because you want her to succeed just as badly as you do.”
So is the next production a role in this year’s Super Bowl? “You never know, my friend — but I do like a good mystery. Hopefully, we’ll (Jets) put together a convincing performance for all our fans.”