Brian Noble, right inside linebacker for the Green Bay Packers, had to cut the interview short. He was scheduled to speak to the Packers' Quarterback Club, a weekly gathering of the team's boosters, and he was running late.
The previous night he spoke to 500 members of a nearby Pop Warner organization.
These are the best of times for Noble, a rookie, fifth-round draft choice from Arizona State, who has cracked the starting lineup of the Packers and is the team's fourth-leading tackler.
This is the same Brian Noble who could often be found on the sands of Newport Beach rather than in the classrooms of Anaheim High School, where he was a two-year starter on the Colonists' football team. Ask him what it was about school that he didn't like and Noble will tell you, "School."
"I didn't dislike school, it was just that there were other things I wanted to do," Noble said. "No one ever mistook me for a model student."
Noble was one of the premier football players in Orange County in the fall of 1980. He earned first-team, Times' all-county honors as a linebacker and was the terror of the Freeway League. But he carried the reputation of being a malcontent with poor grades.
"He was an ornery high school kid who took you to the limit," said Roger Stahlhut, Anaheim coach. "He was a very talented athlete who never had to work hard for success on the athletic field. He was a spoiled, immature kid."
Little wonder that Fullerton College was the only school that expressed interest in Noble following his senior season. Noble was disappointed that he didn't receive a scholarship, but the decision to attend Fullerton turned out to be the best move of his life.
"Brian had a lot of growing up to do," said Hal Sherbeck, Fullerton College coach. "He came out of high school as a very gifted athlete, but he was very immature. He had quite an ego because of all the success he achieved in athletics.
"But he wasn't ready for a four-year college. He was quite independent and used to doing whatever he wanted. When he got to Fullerton, he found that no one jumped when he said 'jump.' "
Noble credits Sherbeck, more than any other individual, for setting him straight. He said he accepted responsibilities for the first time in his life under Sherbeck. He attended classes regularly, was honored as a JC All-American and earned a scholarship to Arizona State.
Noble: "I don't know if it was a matter of growing up or finding out what I wanted to do with my life. Hal helped me find myself. I had always considered myself a good athlete, but he taught me that there is more to life than winning football games.
"He taught me to never give up on my dreams. He showed me the sacrifices that were necessary to realize my dreams. He taught me the values that will stay with me the rest of my life."
Noble started for two seasons at Arizona State where he led the team in tackles and sacks. He began to focus on his life-long dream of playing in the National Football League following his senior season when he was invited to play in the Blue-Gray and Shrine all-star games and the Senior Bowl.
"That's when I first realized I might have a chance to play in the NFL," Noble said. "Even then, I wasn't sure. I still had to make a team. I was excited when the Packers drafted me, but I didn't know until the last cut whether I was going to make the team."
Noble not only made the team, he broke into the starting lineup for the Packers' second game against the New York Giants and has started every game since. The dream had become a reality.
"One of my goals was to become a starter, and it came a little quicker than I thought," Noble said. "I love playing here. It's exciting and very, very competitive. I was a little lucky to be in the right place at the right time."
Sherbeck, who is celebrating his 25th season at Fullerton, has seen dozens of players turn around their careers in his program that has produced 400 four-year college scholarship players. He said Noble will always be a special player.
"It's such a good feeling to see the success he has achieved," Sherbeck said. "I'm really happy for him. He made some alterations in his life to become a better person. He was once a very spoiled, insensitive person, but he's very humble nowadays."
Stahlhut said he noticed a remarkable difference in Noble's attitude when one of Anaheim High's most famous alumnus visited the school last summer.
"He talked to our kids about how excited he was starting his career in professional football," Stahlhut said. "He told the boys that these are the best years of their lives and that playing high school football is the best times of their lives.
"I couldn't believe this was the same Brian Noble who went to school here. He was very mature and so humble. He was quite an inspiration to the players."
The Brian Noble Success Story is now on tour throughout the state of Wisconsin. The audiences may vary, but the speech remains the same.
"I'll tell the kids to never give up their dreams," he said. "If I can make it, they can, too. But there's no guarantees. You're going to have to make sacrifices sooner or later in life. I made mine (sacrifices) in junior college.
"Above all else, I tell them to always listen to their coach and to stay in school."