Chuck Leavell, keyboardist for the Rolling Stones and cofounder of MNN, interviews Atlanta Falcons fullback Ovie Mughelli about his passion for the environment and the foundation he plans to start to teach kids about saving the planet.

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Related on MNN: Video: Members of the San Diego Chargers go green.


Chuck: All right, guys, here we are in the greenroom with a great sports figure here, right from the Atlanta Falcons, Ovie Mughelli, the fullback for the Falcons. Man, it’s so great to have you here. Thank you.

Ovie: It’s good to be here, appreciate it.

Chuck: Yeah. I know that you have a good, deep concern for the environment yourself, and you’re friends with Laura Turner Seydel, and I think she’s talked to you a little bit about some efforts, so tell us about it.

Ovie: No, a little bit is an understatement. You know, I did, you know, the bare minimum. I knew to recycle. My parents told me, you know, “Don’t throw trash on the ground, try to turn off lights,” more for money reasons, more than the environment. But after coming to Atlanta and meeting Laura, and going to the event and just having her corner me at the event and just talk to me to death -- at first, I was like, “Gosh, she is talking forever,” you know? Laura, I love you, you know. But after she started, you know, talking for a while, I was like, “She’s making a whole lot of sense.” And if people like myself, people who have other people listen to them -- being a sports figure, playing for the Atlanta Falcons, for some reason, whenever I talk, people listen. And I can say a lot of things, but saying things that will actually make an impact and will help, you know, people, especially youth, is what I am trying to do, so that’s why I’m trying to get the word out about how important this environment is.

Chuck: And I think you’re working to put a foundation together to help youth and pass those positive messages along, aren’t you?

Ovie: Definitely, I’m working. During the season, it’s hard to get things together, but when the season’s over, I’m going to try to put together the Ovie Mughelli Foundation and try to really concentrate on letting urban youth know that I know that they may not think that the environment is such a big deal, they may have other problems, but if they don’t take care of their environment, they won’t even have a chance to deal with their problems, because there’ll be no earth for them to live with -- to live on.

Chuck: Yeah, absolutely. Well, I’m interested to know if the Falcons or perhaps other teams in the NFL, have they looked at this, about what kind of carbon footprint they might be causing? Are they doing any kind of audits, or are they doing anything special to try to green it up a little bit?

Ovie: Unfortunately, not too many teams have structured programs where they really conserve themselves and let the players know about the carbon footprints, and how they could minimize that, but that’s why I’m trying to work with Laura to maybe start some more programs where players learn about the difference between driving hybrids and driving the cars now, the difference between, you know, buying their groceries from food markets or local stores as opposed to having them shipped in. So, I’m going to try to do everything I can to increase the awareness.

Chuck: Well, that’s great, and I certainly appreciate that from a personal standpoint of view. I’m trying to do the same thing with bands, you know, to get them to realize what kind of footprint they’re causing and see what we can do to reduce all that, so I know you’re going to do well with that.

Ovie: Thank you.

Chuck: Finally, what about the team, man? Tell me, are we going to make it?

Ovie: We are going to make it. Now, it’s, it’s been such a turnaround for the Atlanta Falcons, and I feel so proud. I walk around with my head held high, my chest poked -- puffed out because I’m part of the Atlanta Falcons, and I’ve helped bring so much happiness, not only to our fans, but to this whole city. And so we’re going to keep on keeping on. And we’re not just excited -- we’re not happy with just doing better than people expected us to, because we know what we’re capable of, and we’re trying to go all the way.

Chuck: Well, we’re sure proud of you, man. Good luck.

Ovie: Thank you.

Chuck: And thanks again for being here.

Ovie: Appreciate it.

Chuck: Appreciate it, excellent.