Hey, where'd you go?

Zoltan Mesko - former New England Patriots, Michigan Punter

January 26, 2021 Collin Kushner / Zoltan Mesko Season 1 Episode 4
Hey, where'd you go?
Zoltan Mesko - former New England Patriots, Michigan Punter
Chapters
Hey, where'd you go?
Zoltan Mesko - former New England Patriots, Michigan Punter
Jan 26, 2021 Season 1 Episode 4
Collin Kushner / Zoltan Mesko

In this episode of the "Hey, where'd you go?" podcast, Zoltan Mesko describes his childhood during the fall of communism in Romania, playing football at the University of Michigan, getting drafted by the New England Patriots, his Borat impersonations, and so much more. Today, he's currently an Account Executive at Snowflake, which is a cloud-based data-warehousing company, in Cleveland, Ohio. Zoltan uses humor as a vehicle to uplift, making people of all ages feel good. 

Show Notes Transcript

In this episode of the "Hey, where'd you go?" podcast, Zoltan Mesko describes his childhood during the fall of communism in Romania, playing football at the University of Michigan, getting drafted by the New England Patriots, his Borat impersonations, and so much more. Today, he's currently an Account Executive at Snowflake, which is a cloud-based data-warehousing company, in Cleveland, Ohio. Zoltan uses humor as a vehicle to uplift, making people of all ages feel good. 

Zoltan Mesko:

My motto is , uh, I like to kind of alleviate suffering a little bit. Um, I think, I think it makes me feel good to make people happy. So whether that is laughing with me or at me, I would love to laugh with you, but if it's at my expense, it's okay. As long as I made your day, a little bit better,

Collin Kushner:

Welcome to another episode of the "Hey, where'd you go?" podcast... I'm your host Collin Kushner The goal of "Hey, where'd you go?" Is to catch up with former prep, collegiate and professional athletes -- showcasing what they're doing today. This week's guest in my humble opinion is the most interesting man to ever play in the national football league. He played college football at the university of Michigan, went on to play for the new England Patriots and the NFL. And now he's currently an account executive at snowflake, which is a cloud-based data warehousing company. All right . Now we have Zoltan Mesko. Zoltan has his dad-JOKE PHD.

Zoltan Mesko:

This is true. Yeah. I appreciate you saving that content until I could genuinely react to it. But yes, I have terrible jokes to tell usually,

Collin Kushner:

You know what, to start things off, dude , let's start it off on a lighthearted note. Let's hear your best dad joke. If you have one off the top of your head ,

Zoltan Mesko:

Uh, it's very impromptu, so it's not like I have a lot of them. Um, and now I'm trying to like gloss through my dictionary of dad jokes, but they're, they're , they're not coming to me. So maybe, maybe I'll pepper them in as they come to me throughout this conversation.

Collin Kushner:

I want to start from the very beginning of your life. You have such a compelling backstory. You were born in 1986 in Timi ș oara, Romania , uh, right in the height of communism. And a couple of years later, the Romanian revolution took place. And I know you were just a little kid, but do you remember anything from that?

Zoltan Mesko:

As far as remembering , um, maybe my mind , uh , decided to have selective amnesia there. Um , cause I was only three and a half years old when that whole regime got thrown over and kind of the holiday season of 1989. So now 31 years ago. Um, but from the standpoint of like , uh, hearing the stories day in, day out, and then I could say, okay, well I was technically a part of that. Just never really remember it. Um, yeah, it's , uh , it's quite eyeopening to, to where I've come from. Of course I always forget my roots. You know, people do say never forget your roots. I mean, you can't really operate under always remembering stuff, but yeah , it's good to reflect back on where I've come from from such a terrible time. And in kind of a second world, I'll call it country.

Collin Kushner:

Did your parents ever discuss, or did you ever kind of ask them about life under a communist regime before?

Zoltan Mesko:

Yeah, that's the biggest , uh, you know , uh, piece that's kind of eye-opening to people. So both my parents are fairly educated. They're both engineers. Um , and my dad went to that master's level in, in uh, whatever post-graduate schooling. Um, but both engineers and, you know, it's very eye-opening to people to imagine that they were both , uh, I should say each making a hundred dollars a month. Um, and that's not exaggerating and , uh, food maybe have , uh, may have costs just slightly below what it costs here. As far as that , uh, what does that a shopping cart index that they use to kind of gauge , uh , consumer index something and gas , uh , for our car was costing about the equivalent of $9 per gallon. So of course our car , uh , was sitting in the parking lot. Most of the time, it was only used for like emergencies, Oh, it's raining. Let me take the kid to school rather than have him myself walk a mile or two to the school when I was in , uh , you know, first, second grade. Um, and funny enough , uh, just another example of communism is that my parents put down , uh, that car payment a hundred percent down payment on that car. And five years later they received the car. So that's how, how communism works basically. And uh, you know, you have to kind of fine tune stuff once you got the car, cause no one really cared. There was no competition to make a good product. So once you got that car, you had to kind of tighten up the bolts . So it , then it wouldn't fall apart. If you drove over it

Collin Kushner:

40 miles an hour, let's say so you're not even getting a complete vehicle. Really. You wait that long and there's

Zoltan Mesko:

Yeah, you're getting like a, a Ford Pinto. The thing that exploded if you got rear-ended, do you remember that thing? Oh , I do remember that. Yeah , but uh, you know, very much, you know, no air conditioning car, there was a story, you know , that I tell a lot with my mom when I , uh, when I was turning , uh, when I was one year old, it was my one year, first birthday. And she went out to the , uh, egg store, like specific egg story . There was no supermarkets with her little like coupon, like, you know, you could get like two dozen eggs for the month and then they would check you off the list. Like, all right , that's your quota for the , for the month. She picked that up. She, by the way, she waited in line for three hours, she got the eggs, she was jogging home, tripped on the curb and smashed the eggs as she was falling. So she cried for another, like three hours after three hours of waiting. So that's kind of like giving you idea of like what they had to do indoor, right.

Collin Kushner:

That's crazy to think about because it's the simplest of tasks, right. Going to get eggs, you know, like you said, right now, nowadays you go to the supermarket, you go in, unless you go to trader Joe's, you're going to wait a while , but you wait five minutes, you grab it, you're out. Same with a car, you purchase a car, you get the vehicle that day, drive it off the lot. And it's complete not

Zoltan Mesko:

To dive too deep into human philosophy or psychology, but, you know, we adapt fairly quickly, even on mentality sake. And you know, to me, it's like as is as if it never happened. And I'm sure with my parents as well, right. They use the same Instacart services of today. Um, but you know, 30 years ago they were doing that, you know, waiting in line at the egg store for three hours. Pretty ridiculous.

Collin Kushner:

Was the goal for your parents to get you guys to the United States or just get out of Romania in general.

Zoltan Mesko:

Yeah, just get out in general. So we have some like German lineage or whatever , uh , genetics. So they tried to prove out like, all right , if we can, you know, prove out to this Romanian government and this was after communism because you were not allowed to leave Romania Right. Uh , if you have to leave, you have to run across the border and get shot. Technically that was the risk. Um, so not at Como nature was a Olympian gold medalist gymnast. Uh, did that , uh, I believe she went to some, I don't know the full story, but I believe , uh, she fled , uh, with , uh, with her husband or then fiance or something, but yeah, you literally had to flee and, you know , um, there was tons of tons of more stories like that. Uh, funny enough , uh, you speak of the weather in Cleveland, so are heating in Romania, under communism was not turned on until after the Thanksgiving timeframe. So you were wearing two to three sweaters in a, you know, 40 high forties, low fifties degree apartment. Right. Uh, which is ridiculous. You had one channel, right. Um, that came on one hour a night. Um, you got 40 minutes of like propaganda news, then 10 minutes of weather and then 10 minutes of cartoons . So of course I was, that's when my , uh, my parents were like stuffing food in my face. Uh , cause I was paying attention to the cartoons. But , um, even from the standpoint of cooking, you had , uh , these , uh, propane tanks that you got, you got one a month. My grandfather, who was not of the communist ideology actually joined the communist party jug D kind of as a eavesdropper, like, Oh , uh , if I hear any like anti speak against this regime, I honor , uh , you know, to , uh , report these people right. To whistle blow . And he got a second tank of propane to cook and heat the house with before that Thanksgiving , um, surge of energy. Right. So obviously you never reported anyone. He was just like, yeah, just give it to me. I'll I'll join you. Uh, but yeah, that's, that's how you kind of have to get along, you know, jeans, you couldn't get jeans. Um, you have to go through kind of like connections and kind of the black market to get blue jeans. Right. It's ridiculous. It puts

Collin Kushner:

So much into perspective, you know, for a guy like me, I was born and raised in Southern California where, you know, like we talked about, do you want to go get eggs? You go , you know , you go to the market. If you want jeans, you go on old navy.com or wherever you want and buy him . Um, it really puts things in life and perspective. Cause those, those little things we take for granted now , because it's so easy growing up there, post communism sports for sports, a big part of your life out there, like what was that scene? What did that look?

Zoltan Mesko:

I think there was a big emphasis put on sports. Funny enough , uh, with , uh , uh , communist regime. I think, I mean, sports in general is kind of like your marketing arm, right. Even at a university, like why are sports emphasized so much because they actually drive enrollment and enrollment drives demand. Uh, so yes, my dad was a good, you know, fairly realistic fanatic, not like crazy blind, but he kind of instilled that love of sports in me and kind of looking up to your, you know , sports heroes and yeah, I guess one day trying to become like them and all that good stuff, but yeah, there's , you know, saw plenty of soccer . So plenty of , uh , rugby, obviously soccer is the religion in Europe and , uh, it was in Romania as well. So grew up , um, uh, around that sport .

Collin Kushner:

And then where does football factor into all this? Because it doesn't seem, I don't believe that Romania was going crazy over football, particularly university of Michigan football. Right,

Zoltan Mesko:

Right . No , we, I , I had, I saw some highlights again, this was post communism. So post 1989 , um, it was, you know, I saw some highlights, Oh, they played the super bowl yesterday and it was like a 15 second clip of like, you know, someone like ripping the other person's head off. Uh , and I was like, Oh , that's pretty violent. So that's all I knew about football until I came to the U S but then I got acquainted to it. I saw that there was a part where you kicked the ball and I was like, maybe I can transfer these soccer skills too .

Collin Kushner:

You never wanted to be the guy that was the capitating somebody else. Right.

Zoltan Mesko:

Certain times , uh , even today where I do want to , uh, you know, get a little angry with work, but no, of course , uh, on a day-to-day basis, I was never that kind of aggressive, but yeah, I just found it very intriguing that there was a kicking aspect to it. There was a skill involved and of course there's skill involved in all aspects, all positions of football. So , um, to me, you know, that was , that only came later that, that really,

Collin Kushner:

When you and your family immigrated to the United States , uh, you all ended up in New York city and start, and then moved to Twinsburg, Ohio. When you first came to the States, what was your mindset? Were you like, what is going on? Was it excitement? You know, what were the range of emotion during that time? Because you were about 11 years old. So

Zoltan Mesko:

We first arrived in , uh, in Queens, right? Uh , one of the , um, I guess, segments of , of New York city, right. Greater New York city. And , uh, it was still, it was in 97. Uh, and my, you know, my family came over here through a green card lottery. Uh, funny enough, my dad applied for it because he always played the monetary lottery. So he's like, why don't I, you know, the us government has given out like 55,000 green cards. So we applied to that and out of 20 million applicants we were chosen. So I think that's like , uh , I don't know, I've calculated it before. It's like a 0.02 , seven or four something percentage. So instead of myself, lucky, of course, yes. I w you know, I want some sort of a sperm lottery as well in the beginning, but , uh , you know, I , I consider myself lucky to be in the States and , um , be realizing the American dream. But to your question of, you know, kind of the, a little bit of a shock factor that we went into and New York was , uh , that Queens, wasn't what it is today in New York city, you could easily , uh, you know, listen to about three murders being listed off on the nightly news. Uh, so my mom was like, wow, this is, this is terrible. Like in her Eastern European accent , um, she said, this is worse than communism. So she, I, she threatened to move back. She's like, this is crazy. But a family that came the year before us , um, landed in Cleveland, Ohio. And they're like, Hey, like, there's much more bang for your buck out here. Like, you can live in the suburbs, you don't need to live in New York city or whatever, where your dollar doesn't go that far. And , uh, you know, we , we ended up , uh, packing our U hall and getting out to Cleveland, Ohio. And , uh, you know, I find myself here today, you know what , 23 years later,

Collin Kushner:

That's amazing. It is difficult though. When you, when you move from a place communism, post communism, then you come to the States and you're three yet, you know, you hear about the turmoil, like you said, in New York city at that time. And you're like, wait a second. I left my , my native country to come here,

Zoltan Mesko:

New America from funny enough movies, like including , uh , Rambo and Ninja turtles from that standpoint , um, you know , even post communism, I forgot to mention , um, you know, we thought life was going to be fine and dandy, like not having a dictator, but what ended up happening was hyperinflation set in to , to the point of like, you know, we were all millionaires in our local , um , you know, monetary figures, but your , your dollar or your, you know, your local money, which is, which was called the level or delay , uh , Romanian Lei , uh , didn't go that far. Right. So you had access to all these products now, you know, I mentioned you didn't have access to blue jeans before, and you only had rations. Uh , now you did have , uh, access, but you didn't have enough money to spend it. So that's where I went back to kind of , uh , how I started it with both of my parents being engineers, but only earning the equivalent of a hundred dollars a month each. Right. So , um, that's part of the reason why we came to America, right. And we're trying to desperately get outta there, period , uh, whether it was going to be Germany, which we couldn't prove that we were 25% German lineage. Um, and then my dad kind of serendipitously , uh, won that green card lottery

Collin Kushner:

In regards to settling down in the Cleveland suburbs. Then did someone present football to you because you told me about how you watched that 15 second ad, or where does, where does football factor to this? You're new, you're new to the U S and then was that something that came right away?

Zoltan Mesko:

Uh, it was in, I think, eighth grade gym class, you know, the gym teacher, phys ed teacher decided to play kickball that one day. And it was , you know , baseball combined , you know, I didn't even know, like, I did know some of the rules of baseball. Of course I was , uh , Indians fan growing up, as soon as I had picked that up, like, all right , what are the rules? But really didn't see the combination before, you know, someone just told me, like, you know, aim for the rafters over there. That's a home run. And I was like, all right , go out there. Then of course, like ball came bouncing awkwardly, and I , um, struck the ball and it hit one of the gym lights and like exploded it. And people had to run, I may have done it on purpose, just that was my fall ball. Um, and then the gym teacher came up to me after that. And it's like, all right. So you either have like the option of paying for that light, or we're losing our kicker on the varsity football team. So if you could kick for us, that would also pay for it. The rest is history from eighth grade and on ,

Collin Kushner:

That's an amazing story. You take out the light and they're like, Hey, this is all the time. You're either going to pay for this, or you're going to come kick for us. Was it ever a question in your mind you were going to do? Yeah,

Zoltan Mesko:

Of course it was tongue in cheek. Sorry . But , um , you know, to me, I saw the attendance of , uh , soccer attendees, you know, it was , uh , friends and family, and I saw Friday night lights , um, in America, especially in the state of Ohio in California and Florida and Texas, you know, pretty, pretty major football attendance and interest in high school football. So I saw a couple of thousand people and I was like, Holy crap. And look, there's cheerleaders. That's awesome. Like, so I already knew what I was getting into. I was like, yeah, that could be me.

Collin Kushner:

Well now, now we know why you did it. You did it for the cheerleaders. It all, it all makes sense. Now, dude,

Zoltan Mesko:

Never let anyone tell you that they don't change the game.

Collin Kushner:

Oh man. That's amazing. So you, you start kicking and your first experience out in a game situation with , uh, you know, with tons of bands and the pageantry. Um, did you take a second to kind of soak that in?

Zoltan Mesko:

I don't , I , I think I was already , uh, I was too reactive in the moment. Like, didn't take too much of a proactive stance on it. I only learned after on how to kind of calm myself down, but I think the first or second game I had the urge of puking, that's how , um, nervous I became, right. As a freshmen , funny enough, I was like six, three, 150 pounds. So soaking wet every 10 yards. I had to pull up my football pants because my butt wasn't big enough.

Collin Kushner:

Your parents were, they nervous at all though for the , for you to play football because it's such a physical sport, but when you present yourself as a punter in the kicker, I feel like that's, that's like, you're , you're , you're easy street deployment .

Zoltan Mesko:

It goes hand in hand with me mentioning that I was a twig, right. Six , three, one 50. And my mom's like, again in her Eastern European Eastern European accent, no you're going to die. Like, no mom, I'm going to kick the ball, but yeah, once in a while you get hit as the kicker as well or the pie , but yeah, it's , uh , you know, after I convinced her that I wasn't playing a collision position, that it was , um, you know, welcomed by her. And when you started having

Collin Kushner:

Success on the football field , did that come as a surprise or is that something that after, you know, booting that ball up into the rafters or in kickball where you kind of anticipated something like that?

Zoltan Mesko:

It wasn't , I wouldn't say like I was really , um, good at kicking my freshman year in high school. Um, the, the big , um, magnitude of , uh, uh, of jump in power in a little bit of skill refinement and kicking the ball came from my freshman to sophomore year when I discovered the weight room. And I, you know, I dedicated myself and funny enough, I gained 55 pounds freshmen to sophomore year. So , um, you know , it was then became the six three, two Oh five. You did 55 pounds, 55 pounds, and all this powder, all that protein powder. And funny enough, like I just stuffed my face until, you know, it reached the esophagus. Wow. I mean, I've, I ,

Collin Kushner:

I was , I was impressed with myself when I was playing hockey that I gained 15 pounds from sophomore to junior year of high school. But you, you totally just took a crap on that with the 55 pounds.

Zoltan Mesko:

It's just like, I was very like back. So like there was a lots to be gained back, right. It's not like I was the average six with three person . So there was a big frame, you know? Um, and , and the first time I had ever gone out of a I'll call it homeostasis. Right. Never having lifted before

Collin Kushner:

Anyone ever look at you, the coaching staff as someone to play on defense or a quarterback, because although I know you were small your freshman year, but didn't ever look at you and say, we don't want you to kick, want you to do this

Zoltan Mesko:

Funny enough. Um, you're, you're hitting all the right notes in chronological order. Um, when , uh , when they saw me at, you know, two Oh five, they're like, Oh, Hey, would you like to try tight end and defensive? And I was like, all right, I guess I'm like big enough to take a , take a hit. And funny enough , my mentality, like I was never there to like collide every practice. And that's, you know, way back in the day when you had to do like two days and, you know, hit every single day. And by the time I got to week five out of a 10 week high school football regular season, I was like, guys, I can't do this. Call me whatever you want to call me, but I'm just going to focus on kicking. And that was a blessing in disguise because the opportunity cost , um, you know, I was doing very well. Uh, you know, I mentioned I took a leap , uh, um , in skill level and strength that was, you know , a big leap and, you know, it allowed me to be whatever first team, all conference that year as a punter kicker , um, that I was kind of like, if I focus on this, you know , tight end defensive end thing, like it's, it's not going to happen in front of funny . If I didn't like getting hit, I didn't like hitting , uh, I always , always thought you had to lead with your head. So I constantly got headaches. So I would Provan was part of my diet. And then funny enough, I was a straight a student in high school except for one class that I took in the fall of my sophomore year, which is when I was playing defensive end tight end. Um, and that was like, you know, hindsight 2020, that's like, right . It does kind of affect your cognitive ability a little bit.

Collin Kushner:

It's amazing that you had the foresight, so to speak, to understand, because it's easy to go off what your coach has said, Hey , uh, you're huge. We want you to play quarterback tight , end , defensive , end , whatever. And I think it's great that you just said, Hey, listen, I'm not digging this. Uh, I want to focus on kicking and perfecting that craft. I don't know. I don't really know many high school kids that kind of just go in there and just say, Hey, Nope, I'm doing this. I want to make this it

Zoltan Mesko:

Well . Well, that's the thing, right? I had the , um, I had the stance, the kind of let's call it the , uh, the leverage or the negotiation , uh , stands where I could say that, right. It's like, well, are you okay with me providing you the best punching and kicking in the conference? Of course, like, you're not going to kick me off the team. Right. My last game in my freshman year in high school, I discovered that someone could get college paid for, for playing football, especially kicking an oblong leather object uprights, or punting it a spiral. Right. I was like, Oh my God. That's when I dedicated myself, I was going to say like the motivation to gain all that weight. And funny enough, I didn't have the goal of gaining 55 pounds. I was just like, I was literally, when my parents took me to a Catholic mass to mass , uh , I would pray like, Oh, please let me get to one 70. And when I reach one 70 in like two to three weeks, I was like, please let me get the one 80. And I was like, Oh, how high can I take this? Right. Yeah. Yeah. So , um, but by my senior year in high school, I got to like the two 40 range. So

Collin Kushner:

I feel like I did the same thing back in high school, you know, I'd go to temple and I'd be like, man, I'm four 11, one 12. Like, can I please get to one 20 gods and one 20, can I please get to one 23? And then that was it.

Zoltan Mesko:

Yeah . And you know, if , if you want to go down that path, like , um, I feel like, you know, any type of faith I might have had back then, I kind of looked down upon it. Cause it's like, I really used it as a rabbit's foot rather than like, Hey, there's more to this than, than, you know, asking what you want when you seemingly think you want. But that's another, maybe another conversation for another day. But if you want to dive down the rabbit hole, be my friend. We might get it.

Collin Kushner:

We can dive down. Well, we have, we have lots of rabbit holes that we have to cover. We have, we have faith. We also have dad jokes because people say, I'm not even a dad. I'm not even kidding .

Zoltan Mesko:

I still don't have anything. Um ,

Collin Kushner:

It's all good. It has to be natural. I get made fun of all the time for having dad jokes and pubic . Those are not funny. I said, dad jokes, that's the best type of humor. And I put a period at the end of that too.

Zoltan Mesko:

My motto is , uh, I like to kind of alleviate suffering a little bit. Um, I think, I think it makes me feel good to make people happy. So whether that is laughing with me or at me, I would love to laugh with you. But if it's at my expense, it's okay. As long as I made your day a little bit better, like, I feel like just giving in general , uh , makes the majority of humans feel good,

Collin Kushner:

Especially now, when you think about what we're in now in the middle of this pandemic, you can't see people's faces, you know? And , but you could just tell, like, if you look into somebody's eyes, you could tell what's happening and it's, it's terrible. And to your point, if you can make someone smile or laugh for a second to alleviate that, I think that's huge. And I have a similar thing. I tell people if I can make one person laugh or smile per day, I've done my job. A lot of people think that's a very low bar, but I don't think it is because it takes one person and then maybe they get inspired and then that kind of channels that .

Zoltan Mesko:

Yeah. Yeah, no, I love that viewpoint and I wish I could be reminded of it every day. Maybe I'll put a piece of paper up there, just, you know, it's free to smile and be nice. And I think too , to that extent, you mentioned the pandemic, but I also think like it extends , uh, into the political divide that we have today, you know, with the polarization of views. And honestly like, you know, and the , the cream of the crap rises to the top on Twitter and social media and whatnot. Um, so that sucks because it really doesn't represent the majority of the voices, but kind of the , the small, the small little subset of voices get kind of retweeted and like to the top. So you think, Oh, everyone believes this, but when you get into a conversation like that, you know, going back to like giving, like, just give your attention, give your open-mindedness a little bit, like, let's say you have to be convinced, just kind of like listen to each other. A lot of this stuff would be alleviated.

Collin Kushner:

I love that, especially now, not even just, I don't want to put a focus on now it should be taken pandemic or not. Whatever's happening in the political arena that your approach is , is great. And I think that'll serve tons of people in a positive way. And people that you won't even know that you, that you made an , uh , an impact with, were you a goofball,

Zoltan Mesko:

The football team? I was a goofball in general, like kind of the class clown. And I think , you know , some of it has served me well, funny enough that this self reflection had to happen. So I liked the entertainment part , um , you know, even joking with, you know, the most serious people out there, like a , uh, you know , uh, bill Belichick or a Lloyd Carr , or, you know, once you get comfortable and, you know, like you can push those buttons and it's like, you know, nothing bad will happen. Uh , I tend to push those buttons, but of course, like sometimes , um, there's times where you need to be serious and I've , I've kind of started to , uh, separate those two, which is a good thing. I just, some of the self-awareness kind of like, Oh, you shouldn't have said a joke while that serious topic was being discussed. Um, but yeah. Hey, we're human. We learn. And as long as we're self-aware, that's fine. Okay .

Collin Kushner:

Just like you, I've slowly been learning over the years, how to, how to channel, okay. Colin, this is an appropriate time to say something funny. Hey, Colin, this is not an appropriate time to say something. It's, it's, it's a challenge.

Zoltan Mesko:

Yeah. I mean, even , even my wife tells me like, Hey, here was the line you jumped over it. Like, didn't even pull it. You jumped off , but is it okay if I jump right back? Like,

Collin Kushner:

I think so. I think if you, if you jump over and then you have a five second window, this is just my theory all time . So take it, take it from you jumped back. You're good. That, that negates everything.

Zoltan Mesko:

Yes. Yeah. Um, I I've come up with a term for that, by the way, just kind of like, Hey , uh, how about five , five second travel , uh , time travel machine. Okay. We're going about, I said ,

Collin Kushner:

Oh man, that's awesome. I want to hear more about you trying to make Bill Belichick laugh. I feel like those stories , um , are great, but, but first I kind of want to go back to, I want to go to the recruiting trail. Uh , you were recruited by Michigan, obviously, Ohio state , uh , USC, and a few other schools. Why Michigan over Ohio state. You're you're living in Ohio. Everyone loves the Scarlet and gray .

Zoltan Mesko:

Uh, yeah. And funny enough, I was a huge, huge Ohio state fan. So the point of like , um , my freshman year in high school, they won the national championship against , uh, the hurricanes. Right. I was a huge Ohio state fan and I saw that double overtime victory. I was wearing my Ohio state , uh , uh, you know , Christmas president , uh , Mesko 15 Jersey. That was my high school number in a high school.

Collin Kushner:

You had a mess go. I have to hang up the call on that . You had a mess go, Ohio, state Jersey. Uh , no, no.

Zoltan Mesko:

Then. Yeah. And then , uh, you know, the way I got , uh, recruited by Michigan was I had laid out , uh , 14 different camps that I was going to go to , uh, and showcase my , uh , kicking abilities. And my , my mom was like, Hey, you do know that like, and she was all about academics all the time, or you do know that Michigan has a camp coming up, so do you want to sign up? And I was like, yeah. I mean, you know, as, as much of a bigot as I was, let's call it like, you know, blind faith, fanatic of Ohio state still, there was that little seed in me where , uh , I was giving the respect , um , to them right. To the Michigan. And , uh , while I was saying, Oh, you know, screw Michigan. I always had that respect. And when I went up to their camp , um, of course Ohio state that year did not need a punter . So sadly , uh, I did , uh, you know, I was kinda like, well, I'm not going to have a state, I guess. And , um, then I went to Michigan's camp and , uh, the Mike, the board, it was the special teams coach. He used to be the offensive coordinator back in that national championship year, but he was special teams coach at that time. And he's like, Hey, so , uh , you're from Ohio. Who do you like Ohio state or Michigan? And it was like , uh , both . Yeah, I'm, I'm really neutral, but yeah, I mean , uh, after that camp, I had a really good camp. I came out as the number one ranked punter and , um, they needed a punter. I knew that I kind of , you know , did that analysis beforehand and , um, like accepted the offer from Lloyd Carr a couple of days later. And funny enough , uh , two hours later , uh , Jim Tressel from Ohio state called me and said, Hey, we have an offer for you. Would you like to stay in Ohio and punt for the Buckeyes? And I was like, I was looking at my , uh , high school football coach who was college roommates with Jim Tressel. Wow. And he's like, don't do it. You already gave your word to Michigan. And I was like, really

Collin Kushner:

Like , but I can just take my , my mess , 15 Ohio state Jersey. They don't even have to give me a new one.

Zoltan Mesko:

Right, right. I'm like, can I just pull this over my shoulder pads? And , uh , yeah. I decided to go with the, go with my, my first choice. And I, I really, I mean, I viewed it as a really like foolproof plan because if football never worked out and of course that's a low probability play , uh, the academic side would, because, you know, I took a tour of their business school and of course you still had to apply once you were , um, a Michigan student to get into it, but it was still a top 10 program. Uh, and I was like, you know, I mean, this is, this is great. And I think, yeah, Michigan has a hundred of Vive programs or, you know, career, not career tracks, but the gree fields , um, better in the top 10 ranked in the top 10. Right. So that was kind of just mind boggling to me. I was like, that's , that's a great university , uh , national TV exposure potentially. Right. If I started and all that good stuff and yeah . Um, I was quite comfortable with the choice. Of course my friends and my friends were not so comfortable. I got a good amount of , uh, crap for it, but that's okay.

Collin Kushner:

I just find it hysterical that your high school coach roommates with Jim Tressel looks at you and says, you gave your word to Michigan now. I mean, that, that is true. There is something to be said for your word. I, I just think the rivalry is so heightened, you know, and in the spotlight, you know, everyone just thinks it's okay .

Zoltan Mesko:

Yeah. W we'll just show you what a good person he is. Right. Cause it's like, even now, like when I graduated Michigan, I was such a big fan of them and still am, but now, now I hang my hat more on the academic side, the, the research part of the university, right? Like anytime someone gives me crap about, you know , how bad the football team is. It's like, okay, well, you're very welcome for the polio vaccine made available through the university of Michigan. Right. Um, so that's, that's kinda like the, the, the prideful thing, the , the control, the really the, the things that you can control in life , um, are the things like, you know, your intellectual , um , self, right? Your, your academic side, how do you,

Collin Kushner:

I stress the importance, I should say, of the academic side of things, because if you're a top recruit, or if you're just getting recruited in general, it's like football, football, football, football, and all the cool things that come with it. And I feel like there's very little conversation about if you go to the university of Michigan and you want to study business, you have the Ross school of business, a top program in the country. I feel like there are very little conversations that go that Avenue and it's always football or athletics focused.

Zoltan Mesko:

Yeah. I mean, I think , um, you know, as a youngster, like, I always , uh, look that , you know, the potential to play professionally. Um, of course I got more and more realistic about it as I went through my Michigan days. But I guess you emphasize the academics to the people that it matters to . Right. Even if it's important to them, it's not important to everyone. And honestly, like you can get a good, like a degree is just like, like, you don't need to go to Harvard to get a good job, like, right. Even if you go to any big 10 school, you're going to have an amazing alumni base. And I don't care if you go to freaking ITT tech, like it's how you apply yourself. Um, that's really what the mental transition I've come to. And , um , of course, you know , um, a lot of, a lot of people let's say get their MBA from Harvard business school or Stanford. Right. Um, for the network, it's not that, Oh, I can build financial models so much better. No, it's like, I know who to call, and I know who to trust because I spent two years with this person. And I , I know he's not a schmuck or he or she. Right. Um, and you build your network. It's all about the network and the alumni base. Right.

Collin Kushner:

I guess my question is, how do you convince somebody, the importance of applying yourself? I think , I think that's a better way to put it as opposed to going and getting your degree and then hanging it up on the wall because you could have a law degree and it can just sit there if you apply yourself though, that's completely that's . Those are two different things.

Zoltan Mesko:

Yeah. That's a, that's a great point. Uh, I think it's , um, well, you have to send it around people's passion and, you know , I use that term loosely. It's like, what are you curious about, right. That you can't like put down where, you know, you, you work through the day and you forget to eat lunch. Right. For me, that's like building stuff. I love, even if it's Photoshop, if it's woodworking, like, I'll just be like, I'll look up for my computer screen or like from the garage. And I'm like, Oh, I got to eat. You know? So like you find that thing. And then you, you base your messaging around that. Like, well, you like design, we have a top five design program that, you know, we'll put in a good word where it's not a guarantee, but , uh , of course in today's recruiting, it's probably a guarantee, but who knows? Um, I'm speaking out of term or out of line. Um, but , um, yeah, I guess, I guess you couple it with what people's desires are. Right. Um, you know, even I'm in selling now, right. Um , I'm in sales. Um, you have to peel the onion back, but you have to start with the importance to the prospect, the client, right. What's most important to you because if I go off on a tangent and tell you all about my product, who cares, right. Like just simple stuff, like , uh, you know, what's important to you about interviewing people? Well, I really hope they like open up and they tell me like genuine stories and they get really , uh, you know, vulnerable with me because I feel like that makes for great content. Okay. How do we recruit more people like that?

Collin Kushner:

And that makes complete sense. I think just in today's landscape, everyone takes to Twitter, I'm being recruited by LSU, five-star recruit, and I get it. You shouldn't have that much foresight looking into the future because you want to enjoy the present moment, but still, you know, a lot of people, you know, you go to school and maybe the athletics doesn't work out the way you wanted. The next thing, you know, you're just in some random majors or something. And then you're, it's like a S like a scram to try and figure it out.

Zoltan Mesko:

Well, that's the other thing , uh, this , uh, transfer portal, right. I I'm actually a fan of it in , in the majority's case, but , uh, it gives you an out, right. Uh , whereas like, I really didn't have that out at Michigan because if I would have transferred somewhere , um, I would have had to sit out of here now . I didn't want to do that. Um, so it was kind of like, you know, there was a stickiness to it, but if I was stuck at Michigan, at least I had a good degree to fall off . Right. And again, that's going , that's again, a loose term, like a good degree. Well, what does that mean? Right. I've met plenty of executives who went to, you know, like local schools.

Collin Kushner:

And that's a great point. Um, and that's, if young journalists asked me, I always tell them, like, you can go, you can go anywhere to get the sheet of paper, but it's what you do with that sheet of paper. Like, are you going to hit the ground running? Are you going to work your butt off? Are you just going to sit on the couch and eat sea salt and vinegar? Lay's potato chips, which those are fantastic. By the way I highly recommend

Zoltan Mesko:

Is this sponsored by , uh, by a state .

Collin Kushner:

Maybe we go ahead and we do this particular, we get the bolt-on Invesco interview sponsored by Seesaw , and we get those chips for life. What did you say about that? Perfect. Perfect. I'm all for it at Michigan. Was it difficult to balance being a division one football player and attending the law school of business? Or did you find that to be fairly easy to manage both?

Zoltan Mesko:

Not so easy, I guess it had to do with a little bit of sacrificing. I wish I was , uh , you know, I had the schedule of kind of , um, the , the regular student that attended Michigan where I could go out , uh, Tuesdays, Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays. That sounds about right. Um, right across the board. So I didn't really have that now the spring time is a little more loose. Uh, but you still have , uh , you know , um , spring ball. So it's not, it's not too loose, but yeah, of course. But during the season it's such a lockdown and you know, it's, it's really, it , it equates out to a 40 hour work week , uh, after all the travel. And because our practices went from, I think you have to be in the building around one 30 and then you left at seven, seven 30, and then you went to do your homework. And of course it sucks to do your homework while you're physically exhausted. I can't even imagine what the guys that had a hitting positions. Right.

Collin Kushner:

When you look back at your Michigan days, you guys never beat Ohio state. Is that something that upsets you to this day as a kind of like a , whatever,

Zoltan Mesko:

I'm glad it happened. And , and , uh , people can call me out on it. Like, no, you're not, but okay. Like, all right. So I'll give you that. But even if 1% of me right now is being genuine, that it I'm glad it happened. I'm glad it happened because , uh , it really got me out of the mindset of like football is everything. And your whole identity is wrapped up in it. Like, for instance, like when I got to Michigan's campus, my first day I wore a cutoff t-shirt that said football is life. Chad Henne called me out in the , in the training room. He's like, ah , wait until like a couple months from now. And he was right. Like, yeah, never, never got to beat the big rival who I kept going back to , uh , for Thanksgiving right into the state of Ohio and plenty of crap for it. Right. Um , what happened? Well, the law , you know, it stunned less and less every year. And then I started to realize that the experience that I got from Michigan, from the classroom and the classmates, even out of the friends I made outside of football , uh, stay in touch with way more of those , uh , classmates outside of football. You know, that, that was really the true worth for me versus like, you know, I, funny enough, I see even my age group , um, the recruiting class from Ohio state, they're still living in the glory days of like, do you remember when we beat Michigan for the big 10 championship? And it's like, it's like, that's all they do and talk about. And it's like time to cut the court time to move on. Um, there's more to life and that's kind of what it made me realize. You know, it's like, if, you know, if you told me I had a magic wand and , uh , to make it happen, I'd be like, yes, kick their five years in a row. Let's go. Um, but it kind of just got what I needed, not what I want .

Collin Kushner:

It's okay to reflect on the past, but, but living in it is a totally different thing. I mean, if you're living in the past, it's impossible to grow as a person. I get that. But I do understand if you had the magic wand, I was hoping you, weren't going to say that you wouldn't change a thing because I knew if you had that wand , it would be 60 to nothing, five years straight.

Zoltan Mesko:

Correct? Correct. And what did you like if you had the magic wand to go straight to the top of a broadcasting make over Monday night football right now?

Collin Kushner:

Well , of course I'd be lying to you if I said anything. Uh , anything other than that, I would hope you'd call me out on this podcast. I feel like when we're you, when we're on our deathbed

Zoltan Mesko:

And we look back on it, I'm like, I'm so glad I struggled through this. And I, you know, like Adam Sandler's movie click, or he has a remote control and he can fast forward life and he can pause it and he can mute people from arguing with him . Right. It's kind of like, I wish I had that sometimes, but it's like, if I fast forwarded to, let's say a successful time in my life, what good is that it's kind of like waking up in someone else's shoes. And it's like, Oh, I was already born on third base, but I never got to experience the struggle and appreciate what it took to get here.

Collin Kushner:

And that's an important message. All of those, all those moments, even when they really suck , there's some narrative to growth and , and just the circle of life. So to speak

Zoltan Mesko:

Again, as, as humans, we, we seek the easiest path, right. So I'd be still, I'm still lying to you if I'm telling you that that's the whole cakes . Right. I still want to get rid of my challenges at work and whatever life, family, like , whatever it is. Like, I wish my kids didn't scream and they ate more dinner or something. Um, I'd be lying to you, but I didn't say that I wanted to fast forward through some of that stuff or get rid of it. But again, when you, when you have distance and time, that's when you're like, okay, I'm glad it happened.

Collin Kushner:

I totally get that. And you obviously were there, you redshirted your freshman year, you were there, you got picked up a master's degree in sports management a while in Michigan. So you get your four-year degree from Ross, master's in sports management. And again, you're still playing college football and you , and you graduate with both , uh , what did that mean to you and your family?

Zoltan Mesko:

It goes back to , uh, my parents were never going to have enough money to send me to , uh , to college without pay , uh, getting a loan out. Um, and I was like, well, I have to earn a scholarship somewhere. So that was my number one goal. So it was, it was huge to me that not only did I get a bachelor's degree out of it, but a master's as well. And, you know, I was unscathed with that coming out of it. Cause my parents came over with, you know, $10,000 in travelers checks after having sold everything they have ever owned up to their late thirties.

Collin Kushner:

And when you left the university of Michigan, did you think that you'd be drafted in the fifth round by the new England Patriots?

Zoltan Mesko:

It was becoming more and more reality that there wa there might be a , a little bit of a future in the NFL for me. But , um, again, my emphasis was very much on academics as well. Like even on draft day, when, you know, Bob Kraft and Bill Belichick spoke to me like, Hey, we're going to take you into the next paycheck . So congratulations, you know, get ready for practice. And I was, you know, the following week, I still had finals to take care of in my master's program. So yeah, from that standpoint, like I always kept it pretty realistic even in , um , in the off seasons during the , during my NFL career. I always, you know, I took an internship at a private equity firm. I did , uh , some kind of , uh , uh , product , uh , consumer goods , uh, product development. And through cam through the NFL, I did a , uh, NBC universal boot camp through the NFL. So anything that like, alright , prepare me for life after football,

Collin Kushner:

Really great that you took advantage of those opportunities and you were, you sought out the opportunity as well. So basically you were prepared no matter what, in 2010, you were you're ready football. Great. If it happens, it happens, but if not, you are prepared just to , to move on and jump right into the real world.

Zoltan Mesko:

Yeah. I mean, I was sort of ready. It was definitely a shock to , to get , uh , you know, sorry to use the term a big boy job, but , um, to go into the corporate world. But yeah, I was sort of ready. I was fairly disciplined enough from college. I think the student athlete , um, schedule calendar balance , uh, got me ready for a pretty good , um, schedule handling. Funny enough when I became a professional football player , um, there was nothing to , to kind of take my mind off of football. Like if I had a bad practice , um , I didn't have a class to go to. Right. It's kind of like, or if I got a bad grade on an exam, I didn't have practice to go to. So there was nothing to take my mind off it . So it's almost like it was a blessing in disguise to be too busy in college. So what did you do to handle that? I think to get into those internships? I don't think I had enough like willpower to , to get into too many hobbies besides hanging out with friends. Yeah. Other than that, I think I tinkered around with building stuff a lot. Funny enough, like even when I was a youngster college all throughout the NFL, just, you know, kickers are weirdos, kickers, punters are weirdos. They're , they're always manipulating their equipment. So I feel like you just fall in line with that and , uh, kind of progresses outward, but yeah , I think I took up like some piano lessons that will blind , you know , just anything

Collin Kushner:

You speak four different languages, Romanian, Hungarian, German, English, and your conversational in Spanish. So is that, did that, did some of that happened in your off time or was that just growing up? You've learned all

Zoltan Mesko:

That was growing up. Yeah. So ever since, you know, not practicing those languages have all deteriorated for me at one point I was very fluent in Spanish because it's very , um , similar to Romanian, but, you know, it was , um , uh , uh , Hungarian who was born in Romania. So both of those language were Hungarian and Romanian were kind of like , uh, the default then I went to German school because my parents kind of were like, well, if we're going to go to Germany, like might as well put you in a German school in Romania, it's come in handy for like, you know , uh, some, you know, finding commonalities within relationships to, to be able to speak German and just riff off like some funny terms or whatever I want to talk about ,

Collin Kushner:

About being with the Patriots, such a buttoned up from my perspective organization. What was it like playing with Tom Brady got bill Bellacheck as a coach.

Zoltan Mesko:

I think you used the right term there with very buttoned up and very methodical and everything's calculated. And my hat goes off to how , uh , Bill Belichick runs that place runs that show. So my first three years at Michigan were with Lloyd Carr and kind of reminded me of Bill Belichick a lot, especially from the media perspective. He's like, there's no reason why we should like, you know, run our yaps. Like, why are we giving away strategy when like, you know, it's kind of like playing chess, right? Uh, and sometimes Bill Belichick's play plays chess. And sometimes the opponent just plays checkers, which is how cerebral, but also how simple he keeps it. Right. Like, I think there's an art of keeping things simple. And people like try to overcomplicate things too much, especially in this like , uh , self-help era of, you know, eh, you can find any type of book in any type of methodology and solution to your problems. Like , but at the end of the day, it's like, how can you get it simple? Like, can you just not overcomplicate it with like, Oh, you know, 12 rules for life or the five second rule? Or, Oh , like, I've read them all. I've read them all. And I'm just like, I can't remember one, I'll give you an example. Cause it only makes sense again to keep it simple. Listen , uh, you, Bobby , you know, I just want you to block this guy and make sure you get this shoulder, that's it. Right. And I'll tell you the bigger scheme of things, if you want to know, but that's where it kind of the do your job mentality comes from and he keeps it so simple, a breaks it down, like never, ever as a cornerback , try to deflect the ball with your, with your near hand. You always, you know, you, you kinda secure the tackle with your near hand and they go with your above hand, like your far , uh , farther hand. Right. And you practice that like they in and day out and funny enough, there was this , um , drill where you, you know, you carry the ball and just half-speed you tried to like strip the ball and rake it out and punch it out. And anything, we always did that almost like as a warmup and lo and behold, like our turnovers went through the roof as far as like the caused fumbles, interceptions, all that stuff went through the roof just because you're making it muscle memory and you're keeping it simple. And you don't think about it. You're just like, it becomes innate , you know? And even like tackling drills, like winding up people on, in a certain and cones and it's like, I'm going to run up to you and you have to maintain the right leverage. And it's kind of like, man, there's this really juvenile, like middle-school fundamentals BS that are missed tackles went down and you're like, it can't be that simple. And I remember , uh, Roger Staubach , uh, right. Heisman trophy winner and like three times super bowl champ with the Cowboys came in. He even told us, you know, like just do the ordinary stuff every day. And people will think it's at an aggregate level. People will think you've achieved something extraordinary , but I never got that. And I, myself, I tried to look for like the most complicated way sometimes. And I'm like, no, just like sometimes it's just simple.

Collin Kushner:

Isn't it amazing how we tend to over-complicate everything. It blows my mind because a majority of the things, like you said, like, like that drill, like it , you're thinking, why am I doing this? Why am I doing this? And then the turnovers go up. You're like, wow, like that, that's it. And me as an outsider, I'm thinking, Oh my God, they probably drew up this brand new X, Z three five to play when in reality, none of that.

Zoltan Mesko:

Well , or even all of the use , uh , you know, this new application that they deployed to all the players with machine learning and artificial intelligence to make sure their retinal focus is focused in more , uh, optimally into the ball and to rake it up. It's like, no, we literally did. Pee-wee drills . It's crazy to think like, you know,

Collin Kushner:

All of you guys as professional athletes are doing these drills that they're teaching you as a kid, but it makes sense. It really does. I want to hear about you making Bill Belichick laugh . Did you ever get him to laugh or at least maybe crack like a half smile ?

Zoltan Mesko:

Yeah. Yeah. Uh , funny enough, like people don't know. And I think reporters at this time though, that , you know, that have been covering him for a number of years, that he has a , uh , a comical side to him, but it's very dry humor, right? Like tongue in cheek, like side of your mouth kind of laugh . Um, but from that standpoint , uh, I did, we had kind of the, you know , rookies had to perform some kind of an entertainment segment or show or whatever. And I chose, you know, to do my bore at impersonation, which Sasha Baron Cohen , uh, is a genius in my perspective, especially for bore at one. So I spoke like Bora all throughout college. Funny enough, my friends had to have an intervention with me to get me to stop speaking. Like bhorat still allowed me to speak like Bora when I got drunk with them. Uh, so that was, that was cool. But literally to the point of like , uh, you know, with , with the Patriots, I bought myself a Bora way , a mustache and a main key.

Collin Kushner:

Right. Um , no,

Zoltan Mesko:

And then that was my show. Right. And I would make fun of like , uh, you know, Tom's wife Giselle and like , um , uh , Bill O'brien , uh, anyways , uh, yeah. Made fun of him. I made in front of check precisely for he, I think he still drives, maybe switched out, you got a little cooler, but uh, he used to drive a Volvo, like wagon, like hatchback. And, you know, I said like , uh, what the bill ,

Speaker 4:

Uh , drives is not the magnets

Zoltan Mesko:

Be after that. Like, and he was laughing. He came up to me like that just of like his ego was kind of hurt. And he's like, you know, after people make fun of me, I , um, I usually cut them. Oh my God,

Collin Kushner:

That's amazing. How could you not laugh

Zoltan Mesko:

At that? They give me permission to, to entertain the team. Right. I was like, okay. You sure? All right , good. Let's go.

Collin Kushner:

You meant life with the Borat impersonation, right? Is that you went up to her with the bore at voice. That's how it all, how it all starts.

Zoltan Mesko:

Uh , yeah, definitely spoke to her Borat many times. Uh, that was again, like when , when it was kind of trained out of me to stop doing it sober.

Collin Kushner:

That's amazing. Oh my God. I never thought in a million years I had a hunch that you would be, you'd be good at doing a Borat , uh, impersonation, but that was spot on .

Zoltan Mesko:

So I'll , I'll be, I mean, the Patriots , like , like the organization like that . So to the point of like, I , um, ran a , uh, an open auction or whatever, not that we'll get an auction . I was the auctioneer, you know, like going once going twice, right. Selling off, like, you know, tens of thousands of dollars worth of like value for a charity , uh, for the Patriots organization. But they're like, we need you to be in Bora . I was like, okay. I was like, this is actually paying off. Great .

Collin Kushner:

Why they drafted you? Right . I don't know if you, I don't know if you knew this whole time, but I got an email saying that they drafted you solely because of the Borat impersonation skills.

Zoltan Mesko:

It was, it was a cherry on top. Really?

Collin Kushner:

You never used that on the football deal . Did you? You didn't ever like punt the ball and then run by somebody and say something in a bar at a , you never did any of that.

Zoltan Mesko:

No, I was too serious. Funny enough. So , um, I'll go full circle with the, with the comedic relief. Right. Um, when I stepped on the football field, it was almost like, it was like, I meant business. And even like kicker , snapper, who you, you know, the triangle of faith, whatever you're going to call it. Like, you spend all your time with them and they're like joking around and pregame , but I'm like, no, we need to like kill right now. Right. They're like, and they tried to snap me out of it. It was just like, no, I was taking it too seriously. You went into protein mode? Yes. Broke protein mode, Brodie

Collin Kushner:

All about the protein .

Zoltan Mesko:

No , there was no protein on the sidelines. I should have brought my shaker. Yeah.

Collin Kushner:

That would have been, that would have been amazing. You have the protein shaker on the side line. Wow . So obviously you spent time with the Patriots for a couple of years. Uh, you went on to , uh , Pittsburgh spent some time with the bangles and Cincy . Uh, once your playing career kind of started winding down , uh, what made you decide to exit the game of football and enter the world, you know, that you were always prepared to enter.

Zoltan Mesko:

I'll keep it simple on that thread. Why , why I decided to quit football is because the phone stopped ringing , uh,

Collin Kushner:

Strategically asked you that question

Zoltan Mesko:

After the bangles. And I did just a quick band-aid job for the playoff game , uh, in 2014 for them. So that after that I was getting trials, I would , I want to say, like, I either got like six or seven trials . I will , um , be a vulgar, but I pooped my pants , uh, not , not literally, but when it was time to showcase myself and funny enough, I did very well when there was no need for a punter . And I did a very poorly and tryouts when the putter was injured for the season, of course there was always like, you know, three or four punters brought in. So you had to win that three or 400 competition. So I really, I got first place, I'll call it anytime the punter was like slightly dinged up or monitoring his situation and then never happened. Cause they never needed a partner. Or it was an off season situation. I never did well where I could have made the roster for like entering training camp. But when there was like an ACL tear or like someone broke their clavicle. Right. Um, and they needed surgery and they were out for sure. Never did it .

Collin Kushner:

Well, why that was the case? Any, any reason? Any insight? No .

Zoltan Mesko:

Sure. Not sure. It just kind of worked out that way, I guess, but maybe, maybe it was, I think a lot of things in life are mental too. Right. Like even when , um , you know, when, when you're, when I was out of football as a free agent, like when I was not with a team I desperately wanted to give back on a team. And then when I got a call to fly out for a tryout, when they brought me in, for some reason, at that point I stopped wanting to be in football. Like just, you know, six or seven separate times. I was like, Oh, I want to be on a team. No , I'm kind of nervous. Probably like fear of fear of failure. Right. I couldn't get out of my head. And now again, hindsight 20, 20 , uh, funny enough when the trial was over, that spiked right after him , I'm talking right after like, as soon as I like put my jeans back on to like, wait for like the final word, if I made team or not, that's when I was like, I hope I make it. I hope I make it right. But during that trial, I was kinda like, I'm so dumb . This was so weird. It was kind of like self sabotaging myself. I don't know how to describe it. But do you think some of it had to do with

Collin Kushner:

Your aspirations outside of football? Because it , from my perspective, that always seemed to be on the table.

Zoltan Mesko:

No, I'll talk to that thread because there's some truth to it. I was like, again, going back to the , uh, identity wrapped up in football, I kinda like , I , I didn't like the stigma of like dumb football player. So I always like tried to do better that , uh, especially in like in the classroom in college. Um, and then when kind of that proving ground went away when I could be like, Oh, look at my exam score. It looks like I did better than you. And I'm not dumb jock, you know? Like , uh, so I took a lot of pride in that. But then when it , when that went away in the NFL, some somehow I like lost a way to like, prove that I was like more than just a football player. Right. I don't know if that makes sense or not.

Collin Kushner:

Do you think you really had to prove anything though?

Zoltan Mesko:

It's all mental, right. And it's like, well then you break it down. Well , it's like, well, what's the point of life? Well, it's to it's to be intellectual and make something of yourself where it's like, well, what does that mean? Because does it really all, does it matter in the end? Like not really like, right. Like the, you know, a Shakespeare to quote Shakespeare, nothing is as fleeting as fame , right? The day you die is, or did they retire is the day people start forgetting him like funny enough, like perfect example , uh , drew Bledsoe, who I believe might make the hall of Famers in the hall of fame. I know he's in the Patriots hall of fame. Um, didn't come about Twitter until I started playing. He was retired by then. I had more followers. I still have more followers. I think then drew Bledsoe, how's that possible? Cause people started forgetting about him, right? You, you kind of like die off. And so they die off, you know, get forgotten into irrelevancy .

Collin Kushner:

People, wrap your identity with football or one singular thing. When in reality, like that's that shouldn't define somebody. That's a part of me , but it, but it is not you as, as a person. And I think that's the challenging , challenging part, not just for athletes, but for maybe broadcasters get out of broad counseling and then they go into something else.

Zoltan Mesko:

I will tell you like a thought that raced through my mind a lot was , um, I extrapolated or projected into the future a lot. Uh , cause I was , uh , you know, my second year I was second in the league and net punting average. So I was like, Oh my God, this, this could be a 10 to 15 year career. So I extrapolated into the future and I'm like, I'm gonna retire close to 40 years old. Then what ? I'm sure I would have found something, but I was kind of afraid of that. And you know, it goes back to like irrational fears that are like based in no evidence whatsoever.

Collin Kushner:

In some ways I feel like it's almost human nature. How could you not have some sense of fear? Like what am I going to do after, when you've dedicated yourself to one thing in particular for so many years.

Zoltan Mesko:

Yeah. Yeah. And it's funny, like our problems, no matter what they are, we always find problems, right? Like even if you don't have it, even if you don't have financial problems, you evolve to make problems for yourself. Almost like as humans, we always find a way to like make something, conjure up some type of a challenge.

Collin Kushner:

I do it all the time. I hate it. It's the worst. I always look back the next day. I'm like really? I just put nine roadblocks in front of me when I didn't have to have any .

Zoltan Mesko:

Okay. Can you use an example just to kind of cross interview? I want to learn.

Collin Kushner:

You have like your day, right ? It's a simplified wake up, you breakfast, do you have your meetings? And then I'm like thinking about, well, if this meeting runs late and then I have, I'm interviewing this person and it's like, and I've allowed myself like three hours in between, and this is like a rational thinking starts taking place. Like, well, if it runs late, then how am I going to contact the other person? And then you're not even in that moment, that's like one roadblock . And then that just kind of goes downhill from there. If that makes sense.

Zoltan Mesko:

Yeah, no I I'm following. And the other thing I think about is like, whether you're growing up in, you know, white picket fence, American dream , um, lifestyle, and like in, let's say war , uh , warn toward a war torn country, somewhere in the middle East, let's call it right. Or in Africa , um, your level of whatever, serotonin dopamine, or, you know, cortisol the stress hormone that spike is literally the same amount in America or your life in like war torn country. Right. And that's why it's like, it's almost like dodging bombs and , um, getting rejected from your hot date causes the same amount of like stress. It's ridiculous. And that's why we kind of have to step back sometimes, you know, going full circle. Sometimes I forget where I came from.

Collin Kushner:

You, you hit on it. It's about perspective, you know, in those moments, I think especially the older we get or at least you hope that you can step outside and really look and be like, wow, really? You know, and then use that moving forward. So once football ended, was there a limbo period where you just kind of hung around for a little while trying to figure out, you know, which like whether you wanted to be an entrepreneur, whether you wanted to join an existing company?

Zoltan Mesko:

Uh, I think my mentor , um, headline things up for me a long time ago, literally he just chose my field. He's you're going to be great in sales and tech B2B, you know , business to business , um, and very respected mentor. Like he did very well in his , uh, technology sales career. He was the chief revenue officer at Gardner research, like took him from 25 million in sales to like 2 billion. Right. So I'm like, I'm going to listen to you. Uh, so , uh, but from that perspective I did dabble in the startup world and the entrepreneurship world. I, you know, hope to one day own my own business, but I really like what I'm doing even today. Like I don't, you know, ate it. Right. It's it's like, it allows me to really good lifestyle , um, kind of work-life balance right. Where it's like, yeah, you might, you might not like doing this task, but you can reward yourself. Like you have enough time in the day to , to think of some reward that you can give to yourself. So now you're

Collin Kushner:

And account executive at snowflake, it's a cloud-based data warehousing company. Uh , what do you do on a day-to-day basis? What does a day to day in Zoltan ? Moscow's life look like

Zoltan Mesko:

Now ? Yeah. Just business development, sales, right. I'm trying to get people to adopt this cloud data platform that we're selling. It's , uh , it's been really exciting to be a part of the company. Cause I saw, you know, the pre IPO days and the IPO back in September. Um, funny enough , um, Warren buffet has invested in two pre IPO companies, one being Ford in 1957 and snowflake and 2020. So I like saying that it's kind of cool. And uh , we know we had the biggest IPO of any technology company in the history of the stock market. Right. Bigger than Microsoft. So really exciting to be a part of the , the, on the train I should say.

Collin Kushner:

Do you find yourself being able to take things you learned from your football career and essentially marrying the two with what you're doing now with snowflake?

Zoltan Mesko:

Yeah. And not even more so the , um, successes that it brought me like, Oh, I should do this because hard work pays off and you know, it's going to pay dividends, but it's more so like don't act this way because it'll benefit you better. I see the parallel right now. Don't do what you did before do it this way. Right. So I , I feel like just process of elimination in life is so much more powerful than finding a rule that you can stick to because there's so many more nuances. Like you kinda like find, I think , uh, funny enough, Matthew McConaughey has some quote like this that, you know, it's like just try enough things and you know what you don't want to be, or don't want to do or shouldn't do. Right. Do you miss football at all? I missed the part. I think this is too cliche. I missed the part with , uh, with the players in the locker room. Right. Being bored , entertaining. But I get to entertain with jokes with clients.

Collin Kushner:

Right. There's plenty of times where it's like, Hmm , that was close to an HR violation, but don't hold it against me guys. Are you, are you, that's too funny that you're dropping the dad jokes, but with your clients, especially if they have a family, they're going to understand it. And that's a nice, I think it's a good connectivity point because you don't, even though that we're both in corporate America, you don't want to be so corporate to the point where like, people are like, wow, this dude is stuffy right now, but you got to show your , uh, your, your human side a little bit. Yeah. Right. There has to be a, a healthy, just something that we talked about earlier. Something that the two of us work on there has to be a healthy balance . There's nothing wrong with dad jokes. If you yourself recognize that it's a terrible joke. Like where I'm self-aware. That was that honest to God. Terrible joke. And it's so corny, so cheesy, but at least I got to get a smile. So that's, that's good. I broke dies . I really enjoyed the conversation. Colin appreciate you. Uh, you haven't beyond, so thank you, Dan . I absolutely do really appreciate the time and let's obviously keep in touch. And if you and the family ever find yourselves in Los Angeles , uh, let me know , uh, dinner on the road by myself in Cleveland, I'll wear an Ohio state Jersey, but , uh , we definitely got to keep in touch, dude . Thank you. Sounds good . Take care .

Speaker 5:

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Collin Kushner:

For more amazing stories with former athletes, check out: "Hey, where'd you go?" on Apple podcasts, Spotify and a video version on YouTube,. Plus, don't forget to check it out on social media. That's at Collin Kushner on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.

Speaker 5:

Facebook [inaudible] .