Lunch with a Gridiron Great

June 13, 2011 – Less than 24 hours after I interviewed Condoleezza Rice, I sat down with former New York Giants linebacker Carl Banks for lunch at Mickey Mantle’s Restaurant  & Sports Bar in Manhattan. During our lunch, I interviewed Banks for one of two “Five Minutes with …” pieces that will appear in the July issue of Yankees Magazine. The second interview will feature another Giants icon, Mark Bavaro.

I asked Banks what the most fun he ever had in football was, and he spoke at length about a game in during the Giants 1986 Super Bowl championship season.

“When we played the St. Louis Cardinals in ’86, we knocked all of their quarterbacks out of the game,” Banks said. “By the time the game was winding down, their punter was playing quarterback.”

For me, that conversation was ironic because the Giants vs. Cardinals contest in 1986 was the first football game I ever attended. I can still remember being at Giants Stadium with my father and watching one of the all-time best teams dominate their opponent as the cold wind swirled through the upper deck.

Banks also discussed his memories of the two Super Bowls he helped the Giants win before telling me about his current life.

Today, Banks is runs G-III Sports by Carl Banks, a clothing line that features the most fashionable team apparel you will find anywhere.

“Our jacket that commemorates all of the Yankees’ championships is a great piece, and our active wear collection includes some of the best products in the marketplace,” Banks said. “We’ve done a great job with sweatshirts, fleeces and shorts in that collection. For female Yankees fans, we have the Touch by Alyssa Milano and the G-III for Her collections, which really give female Yankees fans real fashion with a sports twist. Those products are available at Yankee Stadium, and I’m very proud of that.”

You’ll have to pick up the July issue to find out how Banks got into fashion, but I will wrap this post up with what I thought was the most interesting answer that Banks had for any of my questions.

When I asked Banks what the most challenging part of transitioning from a professional athlete to a professional businessman was, he shed light on a note-worthy dynamic.

“When I went in to discuss my product with potential retailers, they only wanted to talk about football,” Banks said. “I learned to give them a 10-minute allowance to talk about football, and then I shifted the conversation to business. Once retailers realized that I really put the line together and I wasn’t someone who just lent my name to it, they began to take me seriously.”

–Alfred Santasiere III

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