Everything Under the Sun

Share
Share

Although UCLA left tackle Conor McDermott and quarterback Josh Rosen hail from parts of the country that could not be more different — Nashville and SoCal, respectively — the two have become great friends during their time in Westwood. The senior lineman and the sophomore signal caller recently let The Players’ Tribune sit in on a wide-ranging conversation that touched on, among other things, Chief Keef, oversized noses, death metal, a mutual disdain for USC, talking teddy bears and Donald Trump.

Conor McDermott
So I think it’s only right to start off by letting the people know about your newfound love of country music. You’ve become such a big fan since you met me.

Josh Rosen
Come on, man. That is false.

Conor
Admit it. When you came to visit Nashville this summer and got all countrified, you loved it. After we hit up the CMA Music Festival and four straight days of country music, you told me you were a fan.

Josh
O.K., that’s like 50% true, and 50% complete b.s.

I had a great time with you in Nashville — it’s a unique part of the country, with a different vibe. But the humidity there sucked. And I still hate country music. I was trying to be a good friend at the time by saying that.

Conor
Come on. You loved it!

Josh
I mean, it was a cool visit overall. It was all country — involving internal combustion engines, and southern food, and country music, and hunting.

Conor
Doesn’t get any better than that.

Josh
Um.…

Conor
Nashville is so awesome!

GettyImages-497728858

Josh
Right, sure. But, to reiterate: I hate country music.

Conor
Well, I’m gonna get you to like it eventually. As a country boy, it’s my duty. But, for real, since we’re talking about music, can we discuss how bad the music sucks in our locker room? It’s just constant, terrible rap. I used to be able to get my country songs on every now and again, but everything changed when guys just started bringing in their own personal speakers.

I’d just love to hear any music in our locker room other than Chief Keef. Literally anything other than Chief Keef would be a win.

Josh
Yeah, it’s bad, man. I’d just love to hear any music other than Chief Keef. Just literally anything other than Chief Keef would be a win. It could be literally anything else, and I’d be happy. And it’s the DBs who monopolize the music.

Conor
This morning at practice, I was in the locker room at 5:40. There was no one in there other than like three people. So I’m in the equipment room and all of a sudden, out of nowhere, I hear rap music just blasting. It was too early for that, man.

Josh
Hahahaha. Remember when Alex Redmond would come in last year, hours before anyone else, at like 4 a.m., put his phone up to the speaker, blast death metal and run around the locker room going berserk.

Conor
Dude, I have numerous funny videos of that.

Josh
That was insane! Locker rooms are such strange places, man. This year it’s been that weird fake-fight thing.…

20150905_zan_o44_001

Conor
Yessssssss. It’s so bizarre. I don’t get it.

Josh
Like, one guy pretends to jump another guy. Someone gets fake-punched, and that guy goes along with it and drops to the floor and acts like he’s knocked out.

Conor
I don’t get it. At all.

Josh
And it’s every day.

Conor
It’s crazy. I just stand there and watch … and take videos.

Josh
It’s all fun and games, I guess. People just messin’ with each other. It’s what we do.

Everyone knows you for the nose, man.

Conor
Like Jaleel Wadood always calling you “Nosen.”

Josh
Aw, man, come on, that is soooo old. I tell him every day to come up with a new joke, ’cause it’s not creative anymore. We went to high school together, so it’s been like five years with this Nosen stuff. I started calling him “Jaw-leel,” because his jaw’s all crooked. So it’s all good. But the Nosen thing gets old.

Conor
Everyone knows you for the nose, man.

Josh
It’s true. Everyone recognizes the nose — the nose and the ’stache. But, hey, can we talk about how you and Mike Fafaul both wore Thunder Buddies T-shirts to go see the Ted sequel?

Conor
Oh my gosh … nooooooooo.

Josh
Yep. It was a high point.

Conor
Come on, man. We don’t need to go there. How did you even remember that?

Josh
Hahahaha

USATSI_8959205

Conor
There’s not much I can really say. I mean, Mike and I have been roommates for four and a half years, and we love that movie. We used to watch it over and over again. So we were in Venice one day and passed a T-shirt shop and saw those things and we were like, Oh man, we gotta get these. So we got ’em and shamefully wore —

Josh
No, not shamefully … pridefully. You guys wore those things with pride.

Conor
O.K., we pridefully wore them to go see Ted 2.

[Long period of awkward silence.]

Josh
So, because I’m a nice guy, I’ll change the subject. Let’s talk about road trips. What’s been your least favorite place to play in the Pac-12?

Conor
We haven’t been there since my freshman year, but the trip to Pullman — Washington State — it must have been 10°. I was 240 pounds at the time, skin and bones, and —

Josh
Yeah, because 240 pounds is skin and bones.

Conor
Well, compared to what I am now. Anyway … Coach Klemm wouldn’t let us wear sleeves, and I didn’t play, so I was just standing there freezing the whole time. I’ll never forget that. It was the worst. What about you? Any favorite places to play?

I disliked USC even before I came to UCLA. Being here works out great, because I’ve kind of always hated SC.

Josh
You know, low-key Oregon State is one of the loudest stadiums. Whoever was the architectural engineer for that place deserves some credit, because there were like 30,000 people there, but it sounded like 80,000. Utah’s a really cool stadium too. That place gets loud.

I like playing in loud stadiums because it’s always awesome when you can shut the crowd up and have your sliver of parents in the corner of the stadium end up being louder than 60,000 people. That’s the best. What else … well, USC is tight, because I know all of the L.A. kids.

AP_354755379385

Conor
That’s a fun rivalry, and it’s always a good game. It’s funny for me because my family had always been diehard Notre Dame fans, so I disliked USC even before I came to UCLA. Being here works out great, because I’ve kind of always hated SC.

Josh
Not me! A lot of people don’t know this about me, but I haven’t always hated SC. I was actually a huge Reggie Bush and Matt Leinart fan. I loved, loved, loved Reggie Bush. I almost threw the remote at the TV when the Texans drafted Mario Williams No. 1. But then moving into middle school and high school, I just grew to dislike them. I have such strong societal ties to that school — with friends and family — but yeah, I just don’t like SC very much at all now. I could probably say more, but let me stop there before I get myself into trouble. Let’s talk about something else, how about the future? Where do you see yourself in five years … and then in 25 years?

I think it’s cowardly to run a campaign based on demagoguery and bigotry, and to incite fear so you can rally support for personal gain.

Conor
Whoa. Heavy question. Well, in five years I definitely see myself in the NFL playing left tackle. And hopefully I’m fortunate enough to have a long career. But in 25 years, it will really be about my being a UCLA grad and using everything I’ve learned to find a new path in life. What about you?

Josh
One of my big goals for the next five years is to get an MBA while in the NFL. So that’s a big five-year goal. In 25 years, I see myself as a successful businessman who has used his connections after a long career in football to be successful outside of the sport. And I also want to be passionately fighting for civil rights around the world. I really admire people who have gained some fame and then given back — Leonardo DiCaprio, Bono, people like that — and I hope to be able to do that as well. Obviously I’m going to have to work my ass off to achieve a certain level of influence, but I really want to be successful in life not for my own sake, but for my ability to have a platform to help others.

Conor
O.K., so, going out with a bang, do we dare talk about the upcoming election?

Josh
Why not?

Conor
For me, this whole presidential election has been unlike anything I’ve ever seen before. I don’t really have a feel for either candidate, but the presidential race has been more like a celebrity talk show. It’s weird. What are your thoughts?

I’m willing to sit down and debate anyone in the country — anyone! — about Trump and the current state of our society.

Josh
Well, I think it’s no secret that I’m not a large fan of Donald Trump — from a policy standpoint and from a human-being standpoint. I think it’s cowardly to run a campaign based on demagoguery and bigotry, and to incite fear so you can rally support for personal gain. He’s feeding off of racial tension and a lack of religious understanding, and a lack of sympathy and empathy for people who are different from him.

I think it’s sad that he’s not even trying to understand important issues and propose legitimate policies to make the country a better place. It seems like he just wants to be president … so he can be president. There’s so much I don’t like. I don’t like his policy positions, and I really don’t like him making racially charged statements to people who don’t know better or understand what it’s like to come from poverty or different backgrounds.

KK1_0961

One of the reasons why I love the sport of football so much is because it’s exposed me to so many varying circumstances and all different types of people. And the same goes for college. That’s part of why after getting to college I’ve formed such strong political stances, and it’s cool going to a school like UCLA where we’re encouraged to dig into important issues and freely speak our minds. I mean, we both come from money. We’re both well-educated people — or are becoming well-educated — our parents are educated, and we are privileged. We can come to college and not really have to worry about finances. We can focus on school and football. Meanwhile, we have guys on the team who are sending every dime of money they have home to their families. College has really opened my eyes to those disparities. I just feel really strongly about this topic, because I believe there’s a level of ignorance in this country when it comes to empathizing with others, and that needs to change. And I’m literally willing to sit down and debate anyone in the country — anyone! — about Trump and the current state of our society. I welcome the opportunity to discuss this stuff further. I care about it.

You probably shouldn’t have gotten me started, man. But, yeah, I think it’s safe to say that me and Donald Trump will not be getting matching Thunder Buddies T-shirts anytime soon.

Bruin Walk

When I visited Coach Wooden at his home in Encino, Calif., I sort of expected it would be like the legend himself: Larger than life. Maybe it’d have a full-size basketball court, a statue of Kareem and an Olympic swimming pool. But it was not as I had imagined.

Read More