NASHVILLE, Tenn. —Eddie George has dealt with nerves in his day.
The former Titans running back felt the butterflies when he took the field on Sundays. During the 1999 season, he played on the game's biggest stage in Super Bowl XXXIV.
Former Titans RB Eddie George makes his debut in Broadway's longest running musical, "Chicago." (Photos: Jeremy Daniel)
Walking on the stage on Broadway for the first time, now that was different.
"It felt like my legs were going to collapse,'' George said with a laugh. "You have that moment of, 'What the hell am I doing here?' I have done stage work before, but to get out there and sing? You wonder how people are going to accept you.
"It is similar (to football) in that after that first hit, you are usually OK. After you are on stage, after you sing those first lines and you start captivating and start telling the story, you start relaxing a little more. It is similar, but in football, you can lose your life, you can lose your career that day. My thing here is just going out and having fun, living in the character. If I crack a note, skip a line … you keep going and keep attacking it."
George made his Broadway debut last week in New York City, playing the role of "Billy Flynn" in the Tony Award-winning smash hit "Chicago." It's part of a six-week show at the Ambassador Theatre.
George, who won a Heisman Trophy at Ohio State and ran for over 10,000 yards during his eight seasons with the Titans, now has over a half-dozen shows under his belt in the first week.
He said the work regimen is similar to the first week of training camp, in full pads.
"I am enjoying this entire experience. It is not every day you get a chance to play on Broadway, and that goes for people who have been acting for years,'' George said. "I am blessed to be in this situation, and it is such a thrill every time I have an opportunity to go on the stage and do this. It's been awesome.
"But there's a lot of work that goes into it. Everyone associated with Chicago has been so supportive, and so helpful to me. These are professionals, it is like jumping on a train moving 180 miles per hour. … I am so concentrated in what I have to do from one scene to the next to try and fit in."
George has been a big hit. So far, the reviews have been good.
But he's no stranger to the stage. George has played title roles in both "Othello" and "Julius Caesar" at the Nashville Shakespeare Festival. He's also made stage appearances in The Whipping Man (Nashville Repertory Theatre) and Topdog/Underdog (Amun Ra Theatre).
George's name is in bright lights in Times Square. He takes great pride in having fans in the streets of New York City stop him to compliment him for his work on stage, not just for his career in football. Back in the day, George was in the city to receive the Heisman Trophy.
"It is pretty gratifying that people are recognizing me for what I am doing in my second career, and not saying, 'This is a mistake,' George said with a smile. "The goal is to continue to grow, and take a branch off a different opportunity. I am really excited about it and now people are recognizing what I am doing on stage.
"(After football) it was my goal to try and build a career out of this, along with other businesses. And this is a door that opened up. I am just trying to enjoy the moment. It's been quite a ride."