'Tackle My Ride' showcases love for speed, artistry and power

Cars and the NFL just go together. They have the common traits of being sleek, flashy, powerful and colorful. Catch me if you can.

Now a new series takes a unique spin on the NFL's car connection. Tackle My Ride debuts Tuesday with back-to-back episodes at 8 p.m. ET on NFL Network.

Co-hosted by LaMarr Woodley, a former Pro Bowl linebacker for the Pittsburgh Steelers, and James Torrez, a master car builder, the six-episode series identifies avid fans who use their cars to give back to the community. In most cases, these cars have seen better days. Torrez said the car of a Seattle Seahawks fan was wrapped in mounds of duck tape and "was rusted beyond belief."

"That definitely was the most challenging," Torrez said.

Enter Torrez, who works with his three sons, to not only restore the car, but also customize it to reflect the fans' favorite team. A player from that team then is on hand when the finished product is presented to the fan.

Woodley and Torrez never will forget the reaction from a Cleveland fan when he received his new customized car, painted to resemble the Browns' helmet with the distinctive stripe running down the middle.

"He went from almost crying to full-blown screaming," Torrez said. "Not only did he get a new car, but he also got a chance to meet (Brown defensive back) Joe Haden, his favorite player."

The series was developed by Michael Strahan, the executive producer, and Leftfield Pictures. Strahan said, "Through the lens of custom car restoration, the series highlights individual stories of loyal fans-in-need while giving viewers inside access to some of their favorite football stars."

Like many football players, Strahan loves cars. Torrez once built a 1968 Pontiac GTO for Strahan. In the first episode, Haden rolls out his Lamborghini, appropriately sporting the Browns colors.

"Cars are big with these guys," Woodley said. "Players like fancy (new) cars or old cars. Everyone has a certain style."

Woodley likes that each show goes behind-the-scenes with a player from the featured team. It gives viewers the opportunity to see their lives away from the field. Upcoming episodes feature Minnesota's Kyle Rudolph, the Giants' Jason Pierre-Paul, and Dallas' Brandon Carr.

The shows, though, gave Woodley an eye-opening experience from a different perspective. He saw what it was like to be an avid fan.

"It was a really interesting to go inside a fan's home," Woodley said. "You see the collection of their stuff and photos. It's almost the story of them being a fan. I now have a lot of appreciation because these fans live and die with their teams."

These aren't ordinary fans. They all are actively involved in giving back to the community -- from being involved in breast cancer awareness programs to transporting cancer patients and youth football teams. One fan makes hospital visits to kids dressed up in his favorite team's full regalia. It gives the young patients the sense of being at the game.

These fans usually don't have the time or resources to do much with their cars. And they certainly can't do what Torrez and his sons do to a car.

Torrez said the biggest challenge was building the six fan cars within eight weeks for the series. He had a blank slate to be creative in customizing a vehicle to a particular team.

"We don't have any drawings. We don't have any renderings," Torrez said. "We just make stuff up as we go. We had a blast."

Woodley feels Torrez's best work isn't just confined to the exterior of the car.

"Anybody can cover up the outside to make it look good," Woodley said. "You have to look underneath the hood. It's just unbelievable to see how he makes these cars run. That's what excites me."

For his part, Woodley has a foundation in his hometown of Saginaw, Michigan, that supports youth and high school sports programs. He is working with Torrez on building a customized bus to transport players in Saginaw.

It is all about giving back for Woodley and for the fans selected in Tackle My Ride. When asked if he had a particular favorite story, the former linebacker said he couldn't pick just one.

"They're all so different," Woodley said. "After every story we did, you'd go, 'Man, what's going to be better than this?'"


Tackle My Ride airs Tuesdays at 8 p.m. ET on NFL Network. Below is a broadcast schedule for the 2016 season:

November 15 -- featuring the Cleveland Browns and cornerback Joe Haden

November 15 -- featuring the Seattle Seahawks and defensive end Cliff Avril

November 22 -- featuring the Minnesota Vikings and tight end Kyle Rudolph

November 29 -- featuring the New York Giants and defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul

December 6 -- featuring the New Orleans Saints and defensive tackle John Jenkins

December 13 -- featuring the Dallas Cowboys and cornerback Brandon Carr

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