For four seasons and counting, the Comedy Central series Drunk History has, on its own boozy terms, brought to life the moments that shaped our nation. Tuesday night's episode is a treat for NFL fans, telling the story of the dawn of football and how Teddy Roosevelt's vision saved the sport from itself. Katie Nolan will narrate with Drunk History regular Rob Riggle playing Roosevelt in the reenactment.
Drunk History is one of my favorite shows on TV, so I was excited to speak with Derek Waters, the show's creator and host. Waters is a Baltimore dude and die-hard Ravens fan who believes in Joe Flacco, brown liquor and the Kennedy-like appeal of John Harbaugh. He also feels badly about Baltimore taking the Browns from Cleveland, just not too badly.
What's it like to be a Ravens fan in Hollywood? Do you have trouble finding people in your business who are legitimate sports fans like you?
Sometimes. I love sports and I'm from Baltimore, so Orioles and Ravens always. I love watching football, but I don't like anyone knowing how much I care. I'm still embarrassed that I had people over for a Ravens game last year and I threw my hat. I'm still embarrassed about that. I don't want anyone to see how aggressive I get and how upset I get about something I have no control over.
What is your earliest football memory?
I went to the very first Ravens game at Memorial Stadium in 1996. I remember I liked a girl who -- I don't want to date myself, but I used to have a pager -- the girl that I liked had a code that was 52. So I was like, "I'm going to look at 52!" And that was Ray Lewis, and I was like, "Man, 52 is real good." Not really a great story, but that's my first memory. Also, my father hating the Colts so much. I didn't understand it until I got older why my dad couldn't even watch the Colts. (Note: The Colts made an overnight move from Baltimore to Indianapolis in 1984.)
My ultimate sports hero is Bo Jackson, so I loved watching the Raiders just because of Bo. Maybe after Of Mice and Men, *the second book I read was the Bo Jackson biography (1990's *Bo Knows Bo).
Bo would be a perfect topic if you ever did an all-NFL episode of Drunk History.
Definitely. (ESPN documentary) 30 for 30 did it so well, but I would try to do anything on Bo Jackson. Our show is so much fun to make, and somehow it's now in an area where I'm allowed to tell just good stories. They don't have to be about Abraham Lincoln anymore. It's just, like, keep the premise and find new stories.
Let's talk about Tuesday's episode. Football was a very different animal in the early 20th century. The sport was incredibly violent before President Roosevelt spearheaded a series of rule changes.
It was rugby! The fact that they weren't throwing the ball was crazy. Five yards instead of 10 yards for a first down? The more you learn about history, the more you go, "Man, Teddy Roosevelt was the coolest guy ever."
If you could pick one NFL player or coach -- living or dead -- to star on an episode of your show, who would it be and why?
I always thought John Harbaugh would be a great Kennedy. He looks like a Kennedy. I'd like him and (Friday Night Lights star) Kyle Chandler to be the Kennedys. Rex Ryan telling a story would be unbelievable. Ditka. I think that would be amazing. As for the reenactments, someone who had the best charisma was Walter Payton. I don't know what they would talk about, but having Walter Payton reenacting something that Ditka says. I would watch that.
Thinking of your Ravens fandom, I'd be curious to see Ray Lewis drunk. Not even on your show necessarily ... just in general.
Oh my God. What do you think the energy does? It can't go higher. It can't. There's some people who don't need to have anything more than what they naturally have. It can't compete with that energy.
Awwww. I do. No one should get their team stolen. I don't like it all. It happened to Baltimore many moons ago and we got a team back. It is cool that Cleveland got a team later, but it's not cool we stole their team. I feel guilty ... for like a second and then I move on.