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AN INTERVIEW WITH JON BON JOVI

8/5/2008
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Tonight at 8pm on ESPN2, the Philadelphia Soul play the Dallas Desperados in the first Arena League meeting ever between two teams 7-0 or better. We know what you're thinking: when does NFL start again? But seriously, this game is going to be cool, and who better to discuss it—and the one-on-one hoops skills of Richie Sambora —then Soul owner and bastion of coolness, Jon Bon Jovi. We chatted with him on the phone; click through to read the interview.

Mag: We gotta start with an ESPN homer question. Can you describe (Philadelphia Soul team president) Ron Jaworski in less than 10 words?

Bon Jovi: (laughs) Wow. Action-packed. Adrenaline-filled. Wealth of knowledge. Caffeine addict.

Why should more people care about Arena Football?

I know the purists look down on it. It's not 100 yards, 11 guys on the field. I understand that, because I too was one of those guys. It's really made for the football junkie, though; that would be me. It's affordable, it's accessible, there are men who are good role models playing for the pure love of the sport. It's something you can take the kids to. It's absolutely key to a bonding moment with your dad, which is important. Even if you can get NFL tickets, you probably can't bring your son and all his friends, because of price or access. Here you got football junkies loving football, people bonding, the game is being played by character guys, not guys in it for the mega millions.

Rank these owners 1-3: you, John Elway (Colorado Crush), and Mark Cuban.

(laughs) That's tough. Cuban's a pretty creative guy. What we both lack is what my wife calls "The Steinbrenner Face," or the ability to sit there stoic no matter what happens. I'm close to Cuban in that way, although I'm not in the ref's faces. That's more Jaworski's gig. Elway has more experience because he actually played the game; I think sometimes he has little patience with the marketing stuff. If you could combine the three of us, that would be pretty intense. I'd even like to sprinkle a little Bob Kraft in there.

We got this from your Wikipedia, so we apologize if it's incorrect or anything.

(laughs) Thanks for the warning.

But apparently, you're friends with Bill Belichick?

I actually talked to him earlier today.

But you're a Giants season ticket holder. So where were you for the Super Bowl, and how hard was it?

Yea, I actually met Bill when he was the D-Coordinator the Giants. I stayed home for the Super Bowl, watched it at my apartment in New York. It's tough, because I am friends with Bill, but I've been going to Giants games forever. I say to my best friend, "At 6:18pm, I'll tell you which way I'm gonna root." He says, in this very Budweiser Ad Buddha type of way, "Head coaches may come and go, but the New York Giants are forever." So, I come out of my room at 6pm wearing my Giants jersey, and I sat there like the rest of New York celebrating with the team.

In an ultimate underdog situation, like Giants/Pats, or 'Nova/Georgetown, what Bon Jovi song should the underdog team be listening to?

"It's My Life." It's now or never. How many halftimes does the Notre Dame marching band get through without playing that? Honestly, if you're a white guy sitting in that locker room, you're listening to that song.

So honestly, could you take Richie Sambora 1 on 1?

No chance. That (expletive) has a hell of a jump shot. He can definitely shoot hoops. You know what else he's good at? Bowling. He'll beat your (expletive) at bowling. The guy's got pollak blood running head to toe. Hell of a curveball on his bowling shot.

If Guitar Hero had ratings like Madden, would Sambora get a 100?

(laughs) Man, I'd hope so. But then again, I recently failed "Rock Band" twice singing one of my own songs. "Wanted Dead or Alive."

Who do you think the best athlete living right now is?

That's a tough one. I don't even know, but if you talk about a guy who, because of his dedication and commitment, I would go out of my way to shake his hand, then you'd talk about Jerry Rice. He's one of those guys that really impacted me.

Final one: the mascot of the Soul, "Soul Man," is Blues Brothers inspired. Did you ever try to get a "Prayer" or other Bon Jovi song mascot out there?

(laughs) I mean, how much more egocentric can I be? Some people play fantasy. I buy a team. (laughs) Do you think a band is just about the lead singer? But the answer to your question is yes. (laughs)