Sunday, May 28, 2006

R.I.P. "Ironhead"

About a decade ago, while logging some freelance work with an Atlanta Falcons publication, I was contracted to do a piece on Craig "Ironhead" Heyward. I was immediately intimidated, considering my subject was a guy nicknamed "Ironhead."

Right away he recognized my trepidation, calling me out in front of a gaggle of reporters camped at his locker. If I felt I could've rescued a shred of dignity running out of the room, arms flailing over my head, I would've done so. But after briefly pondering that unpardonable option, I persisted, and eventually Heyward relented. A (barely) serviceable Q and A was conducted, salvaged by a consistently great quote. Bravado aside, I left our chat thinking Heyward was a cool cat.

The onetime Falcons FB died today, and I thank him for one of my more memorable "celebrity" interviews (better than Paul Newman, Kathy Bates, Duran Duran and even Jerry Clower). The guy was an original; funny as hell (even when putting down yours truly) and doggedly candid. That ranks one high on the Office character scale.

"The one thing he's still got and that hasn't changed a bit," former Falcons QB Bobby Hebert (an even better interview than "Ironhead") said two weeks ago, "is that devilish sense of humor of his. Hopefully, that will keep him going for a while."

Unfortunately, it didn't, but I'm guessing someone in the afterlife is quite entertained right now.

--CB

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