Fortunately for audiences, the 61-year-old actor and comedian's lack of speed derailed his athletic career. But he did get to play a football coach in a new Snickers ad.
DAN PATRICK:What coach would you have liked to play for?
ROBIN WILLIAMS: Vince Lombardi. He was amazing. If I could be in a game and have him coach me, that would be incredible.
DP: How were you at football?
RW: Really bad. I'm slow, small and white.
DP: What were you good at?
RW: I was good at cross-country. I wrestled ... at 107, which is pretty much male anorexic. I played one football game as a freshman. I was so bad, the coach said, you know there's another sport called soccer.
DP: You played a wrestler in The World According to Garp.
RW: That was the last time I wrestled in a film and the first team I had wrestled since high school.
DP: If you could make a sports movie, what would it be about?
RW: Abebe Bikila, the great Ethiopian runner. He won [a gold medal in the 1960 Olympics, when adidas sponsored the competition]. Because he ran barefoot, he carried the shoes. He was amazing.
DP: Is performing live like performing live in sports?
RW: Very much so. Chris Rock said it best: It's like boxing. You've got to train. It's one-on-one—a boxing match with you and them. It's almost like extreme fighting except it's verbal. Especially if you get a combative audience, it's Roman on that level.
DP: When you're in a movie, how much is acting and how much is you?
RW: I was trained as an actor, so you can have both. A little of me and also the character. A woman once walked up to me in the airport and said, "Be zany." It's like walking up to Mikhail Baryshnikov and saying, "Dance."
DP: Tony Gwynn used to watch all his at bats on tape and analyze them. Do you do that with acting?
RW: I can't look at myself. Even in the mirror it's a rough call. I focus on the wrong things. Is that nostril hair?
DP: How do you act at a San Francisco Giants game?
RW: Like any other fan. Excited. I enjoyed just being one of many. I used to have season tickets near the first base line. Fans were great. They were just like, Hey, Robin, what's up?
DP: You must be really excited about this season.
RW: I miss Brian Wilson because of that biblical beard. I expected eventually instead of a golf cart, they'd bring him out in a carriage. Go, Ezekiel, go.
DP: How does winning an individual award like an Oscar compare to the Giants' winning the World Series?
RW: The pride you feel as a city is amazing. The new stadium is wonderful. Even though you never thought you'd hear, "Sushi here." Someone made a joke, how soon before they start offering medication? "Metamucil here. Metamucil. I got your Colon Cleanse here, Colon Cleanse." For you older fans, something to keep you going through the game.
"I'm glad they didn't have cellphone cameras. We'd come into hotels at 1 a.m. on a Wednesday night, and there would be a couple of hundred people in the lobby. It was constant. It would have been a 24-hour cycle. It would have been brutal."
—STEVE KERR, TNT analyst, on challenges the 1990s Bulls would have faced today
TNT's Kenny Smith broadcast the All-Star Skills Challenge and once competed in the slam dunk and three-point shooting contests. He said players would rather be known for dunking. "There's something about [seeing an opponent's] shameful look when you're attacking the rim," Smith said. "There's something very masculine about that." ... Brent Barry told me his 1996 dunk title doesn't compare with winning two championships. "I don't really care too much about the dunk trophy," Barry said. "I've actually turned it into a chips-and-dip bowl." ... Ravens RB Ray Rice believes winning a Super Bowl is just the beginning for Joe Flacco. "Right now he is the best quarterback in the NFL," Rice told me. "He wants to be a Hall of Fame guy." ... Soccer fans were worried about Gus Johnson's calling his first Champions League match for Fox (page 16). But Al Michaels said he had worked just a single hockey game before the 1980 Winter Olympics. "I was the one guy on the entire ABC staff who had done one," Michaels told me. "I was the only one who could explain offsides and icing."
MICHAEL J. LEBRECHT II/1DEUCE3 PHOTOGRAPHY (PATRICK)
DON ARNOLD/WIREIMAGE (WILLIAMS)
JON KOPALOFF/FILMMAGIC (MICHAELS)
ANNA WEBBER/GETTY IMAGES FOR GILLETTE (RICE)
JOHN M. HELLER/GETTY IMAGES (BARRY)
EARL GIBSON III/FILMMAGIC (SMITH)