It's time for Andy Janovich to enjoy a Busch Light (or five)
Let's check back in with America's fullback. He's happily retired, but that doesn't mean Andy Janovich is slowing down.
He doesn’t want to say where the cabin’s located in Nebraska but, on second thought, Andy Janovich admits there’s zero chance anybody ever heard the name of this town.
It’s the last day of hunting season. He’s at the cabin. Life is good for your favorite fullback.
Our readers got to know Janovich with one of our first profiles at Go Long. Good luck finding a more unfiltered throwback in the NFL than Janovich, a man who eloquently told us then that “kicking somebody else’s ass makes you feel good about yourself” before meticulously detailing the mano-a-mano process. And when it came to his QB in Cleveland? “You could cut his dick off and he wouldn’t f--king say shit.”
He’s done with football. From the Denver Broncos to the Cleveland Browns to the 2022 offseason with the Houston Texans, Janovich decided enough was enough. He scored five touchdowns, served as a lead blocker for Nick Chubb and doled out his share of bruises.
As we kept in touch this season, what struck me most was how sincerely happy Janovich was with this finality. He didn’t want to work out for a team. There was a sense of liberty in walking away on his terms.
He’s busier than ever, too.
Janovich has since rejoined his brother’s company to build decks. Sun up to sun down, he’s working more now than he did in the NFL. He also has a 2-year-old daughter with a baby boy due in March. If we’re creating a silhouette logo for our site, it’d probably be Janovich blasting into a linebacker. And considering he shared his life story way back in 2020 — and also joined subscribers for a hellraisin’ good time of a Happy Hour — I wanted to check back in.
And, yes, we should warn that the profanity flies. That’s Andy Janovich.
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First thing’s first. Are you drinking a Busch Light right now.
Janovich: No, actually I got to the cabin and there was no Busch Light when I showed up.
What kind of cabin are you running?
Janovich: Holy shit. Yep. We have Busch Light.
Janovich: We have Busch Lights. We probably have a dozen.
I like how you put it (when we first spoke): “You might be drunk by the end of the night but you can drink ‘em all damn day.” That’s just a beautiful way to put Busch Light.
Janovich: They are tasty.
I had a couple Miller Lites a couple weeks ago…
Janovich: (Cuts in) That’s the worst tasting beer I’ve ever had in my life. Are you f--king kidding me?
I had a headache the next day. I don’t know what I was thinking. It was terrible.
Janovich: They’re god-awful. You can’t even chug ‘em down. They’re terrible.
Well, you’re able to enjoy a few more Buschs these days. What’s life like for you? Do you enjoy retirement? Can we say “retirement?”
Janovich: Oh, it’s retirement. I’ve been looking forward to this day for a long time.
A lot of guys in your position are desperately on the phone with your agent every Monday, every Tuesday, trying to get a workout somewhere. And eventually the NFL says “thanks, but no thanks.” You took matters into your own hands.
Janovich: I got fired and I f--king couldn’t wait for this day. Football got so hard. I just didn’t like it anymore. That’s the best way to say it. I didn’t like it. And I couldn’t wait to go back to work and do construction and all that bullshit. It’s funny. I say that to my brother all the time and when a day’s getting shitty, it’s like, “F--k, I wish I was still in the NFL. I need a pay raise, Jim!” And he’s like, “No, no, no. You don’t get that here.”
Janovich: Mhmm. I started working for him full time when I was like 13 years old. I just loved it. There’s days you f--king hate and days that you don’t.
How did you fall out of love with football? When we talked last, it would’ve been November 2020. You’re with Cleveland. You’re winning. You’re loving your job. It wasn’t that long ago. When did this process of disliking football begin for you?
Janovich: When Denver traded me to Cleveland, that’s when it started. But then I regained it because Cleveland used me and we had a great year. Made the playoffs. I played a boatload of snaps. And then after that, they stopped using me my second year in Cleveland. They said, “We have no need for you.” So I was looking for a job. I went to the Houston Texans and was like, “F--k off, guys.” And they didn’t even use a fullback this year. It kind of pissed me off.
Houston signed you in March 2022. And you were released at the end of training camp. Late August.
Janovich: Sure did.
So, they were planning on having a fullback and those plans changed? That’s a long time. You did all the hard work — OTAs, minicamp, training camp. And then the games are here and you’re no longer needed.
Janovich: The Texans had a fullback. They’re the ones who let me go. The Browns let me go. They both let me go. The Texans kept a fullback, but he was a defensive end or something. Troy Hairston. He’s a good dude.
It is sad. You grow up loving the sport — the essence of the sport — so to lose that love, were you down about it?
Janovich: No. When I got cut from the Texans, I was so excited. I was like, “F--k yeah. Let’s go.”
Did you talk to your agent? Was he like, “Hey, let’s look around. Maybe there are other options.”
Janovich: We looked around a little bit. I got a couple calls. And I was like, “Nah, I’m good. Thank you.”
It’s a liberating feeling. Not many players can say they’re happy when they leave the game. Usually, it’s the exact opposite. Usually, you’re sad. You don’t have a purpose. You don’t know what you’re going to do. As an NFL player, your whole schedule is basically set for you every hour of every day. Every meal. Guys lose that structure and think, “What do I even do now?”
Janovich: I knew the plan from the beginning. That’s the good part about it. I worked for my brother since I was 13. So it was like, “Alright, I got fired. I’m going to start working for you again.” He said, “Alright, show up at 6 in the morning.” “OK, sounds good.” And that’s pretty much how it went.
Does any part of you miss 70,000 screaming fans. The adrenaline rush. The adulation. All that?
Janovich: No, I miss $70,000 a week.
What are you doing every day now?
Janovich: I wake up at 5 in the morning and go to work and build decks, build houses, whatever my brother tells me we’re going to do.
We’ve tried to connect here for a while. It seems like you’re busier now than you even were as a player.
Janovich: We work way more hours now than when I was in football. … Right now with winter and all that, 10 hours a day. From dark to dark.
When we last talked, you said your brothers would give you hell whenever you came back because you forgot a little bit how to build a deck. So now, it’s back? You’re on you’re a game?
Janovich: It’s getting there. Not on my A game. I’d say B-plus. Maybe A-minus. I’ve got some work to do.
We need more of that in the world. People using their hands. Taking on trades. Instead of outsourcing everything. You want food? You tap open this app. You’ve always embraced figuring stuff out on your own, haven’t you? Why is that important in the world?
Janovich: I think it stems from my Dad. He put that in all of us. All nine of us. If you can’t get it yourself, you’re not going to get it. It’s hard for me to take money from anybody else, unless I can’t get it with my own bare hands.
How’s being a Dad? How are you fitting in diapers and Bluey and whatever you’re watching with your daughter?
Janovich: My little girl, she’s a wild animal.
No way. Your kid?
Janovich: Oh my gosh. I’m working all day but when I’m home, she’s eating food off the ground. I’m like, “What in the hell do you think you’re doing right now?” Just random little things where I’m like, “You are my kid and not my kid at the same time.” It cracks me up. She’s a ball of fire.
We have a 3-year-old daughter and a 1-year-old. We’re already seeing personality in our son, but at 3, Ella, she is go-go-go. What’s your daughter getting into?
Janovich: She wants to watch a show. Or she wants to look at the chickens on my phone. We have a chicken coop. She wants to watch the videos of her with the chickens. Or horses. We’re kind of in the middle of nowhere. She just wants to see the videos of her with the animals. She likes videos of herself or actual shows like Elsa. “Frozen.”
What memories do you think you’ll cherish. You bashed your facemasks in with Denver. Your quote (from our last story) should be put on t-shirts and banners: “Kicking somebody else’s ass makes you feel good about yourself.” Even though you couldn’t wait to get out, there are some good memories to look back on fondly.
Janovich: There are. I’ll tell you what, my fondest memories — taking teammates out and football completely — my favorite memories were showing up to Denver in the morning, getting a cup of coffee and walking through the hallways when they’re dimly lit. Just sitting there, sipping your cup of coffee and there’s nobody else there to talk to. It’s you and darkness walking through the hallway. I f--king loved it. I’m not going to lie. That was my favorite part.
Soaking it in. Taking in the whole gravity of being in the NFL?
Janovich: I’m at work. I’m here early. Nobody else is. It’s dark. I’m drinking coffee. It’s pretty nice.
I thought you’d choose that time you tried popping your own elbow back in.
Janovich: Oh man. That made me sick to my stomach to be honest with you. That was a terrible time. A terrible day.
That you know of, did you suffer concussions?
Janovich: I’m sure I did. Nothing I’ll tell you or anyone else.
It’s not the worst thing to get out and not have the brain jiggling around in the skull a few more years.
Janovich: If everybody said they have a concussion in the NFL, there wouldn’t be any players left. You have to monitor yourself to a point, until it’s so obvious that somebody has to do it for you. But, I mean, every hit you take or give you could possibly be concussed. If they took everybody out of the game, there would be no players left. They care about players but they don’t at the same time.
It's hypocritical on the NFL’s part to sell this as a “safe” game. I get that they’re trying to convince Moms that their sons can play the game — they’re selling it at the grassroots level — but if they were being truthful, it’d be exactly that: Until it’s touch football, flag football, you’re going to have injuries. You’re going to have concussions. It’s inherent to the game.
Janovich: It’s what you sign up for.
That’s Step 1: Own it. And then monitor it. You were living on the fringes. What are you going to do — report your concussion? Miss a few weeks and get cut? Guys are going to play through it, so you somehow need more independent neurologists influencing this. How do you fix this? It’s in the news again now with Tua. It’s going to keep happening. We’re going to see something scary and it’ll be in the headlines and we’ll all wonder, “What should the NFL do now?”
Janovich: You’re going to see plenty more concussions. For sure. There’s really no way around it. It’s a dangerous game. People want to see violent hits. That’s pretty much it. The NFL does their best to control it — especially with the quarterbacks — but, other than that, not much is going on. They’ve got the kickoff rule and all that bullshit. Stupid little rules here and there, but it won’t change anything.
Unless you outlaw contact, there will be injuries and concussions.
Janovich: Fans want violence. Players want violence. That’s football. If you take that out of the game, you have no football. Nobody wants to watch people play tag team.
This is why we tune in. You are the modern-day gladiators. You’re doing the stuff us everyday joes cannot imagine. When you’re down there on the field watching these collisions up close, it takes your breath away. There’s a gladiator element to the sport that is pure.
Janovich: And not only do the fans love it. The players love it, too. That’s the best part. You see somebody on your team just tag the f--k out of someone, it’s like, “F--k yeah. That’s awesome.” On the receiving side, it sucks. But that’s why we play the goddamn game!
I’ve never met a wide receiver who told me he’d rather get hit in the knees than the upper body — the shoulders and up. They’d rather get high than low because, if they get hit low, their season’s over.
Janovich: Absolutely. That can take everything. That’s it. They take out your ACL, you’re gone for at least a year. Ten months. Something like that. It’s a vicious, nasty game. But you signed up for it, so what do you do? It sucks. And then it doesn’t.
What’s your all-time favorite hit? Whether it’s giving one or receiving one? Is there one that trumped them all?
Janovich: Thomas Davis. My first game ever that I played in the NFL (against Carolina). I broke two facemasks against that f--king big bastard. He hit like a f--king freight train. That was probably my favorite game that I played in, in my NFL career. And that was my rookie year, my first-game ever. Gosh, he hit so damn hard. I just kept breaking facemasks. The equipment managers are taking off facemasks and putting new ones on. It’s like, “What in the hell’s going on?”
This is your first game. You’re getting your facemask beat in by Thomas Davis. You’re thinking, “Is this how it is every game in the NF?”
Janovich: It’ll be like this forever! I was like, “F--k!” But you’re so hopped up on adrenaline and everything, you don’t even care. Later in my career, I was like, “This isn’t as fun as I remember it.” You start getting those hits to the head and say, “That one hurt!”
The last time we talked, it would’ve been at the end of last season about the Browns and Baker and they’re making a decision. That didn’t end like any of us thought it would end. You guys are pretty tight, right? You had a really tight group of friends in Cleveland. You, Baker Mayfield, Wyatt Teller, all your wives.
Janovich: Yeah, maybe in Cleveland. Tight there, yes. Things change. You go to a different team, a different city. We don’t text back and forth every day. The last text I got from Baker Mayfield was when Gretna lost in the state championship to Westside. He said, “F--k you, p-ssy. Go Westside.” Gretna lost to Westside and his wife is from Westside. It’s like, “F--k you, Baker.”
Organizationally, it was quite a decision to swap out a quarterback who led you to your first playoff win in forever — in Cleveland. Not just any team. One of the most cursed franchises ever. And then to put your eggs into a basket that was a troubled basket to put it lightly, I’d imagine it motivated Baker.
Janovich: I think so. I can’t speak on his behalf. I was pissed off for him.
That was the big topic then. It came out that teammates don’t like him, don’t like playing for him. And then Odell’s Dad (put out that video), but talking to you, talking to Wyatt Teller, everybody I’ve spoken with says they’d run through a wall for him. You were in that locker room. What was it like?
Janovich: Just like you said. I f--king loved Baker. He is the toughest mother--ker in the world. Smartest. When he won that game with the Rams and said he had a great memory and takes great notes, that’s no joke. Watching him take notes is un-f--king-believable. I mean, he’s got everything color-coded. He’s got all of his highlighters out. Multiple notebooks. It’s like, “How do you even do that?” I’m over here scribbling in my notebook, like, “We’re going to run right or left or whatever.” Simple notes. And he’s over there taking very detailed notes.
That’s gotta mean something. We get caught up into the All-22s and numbers. Man to a man, in that huddle, playing quarterback is so much more that that.
Janovich: Oh yeah. He’s going to hold you accountable. That’s for sure.
Do you watch football? Or are you cut off completely?
Janovich: My father in law loves to watch football. So when I get home, he always has the game on.
There’s no yearning, longing, missing this at all?
Janovich: The paycheck. Those hurt.
In your spare time, are still hunting and fishing? Anything else you’re getting into these days when you’re not building decks?
Janovich: That’s pretty much it. Today’s the last day to hunt. The lake isn’t the best right now. We’ve got a pretty big drought. The lake’s like 10 foot down. Not the best.
Any trophy bucks since we last talked?
Janovich: Bowhunting back on November 12th or 13th, I missed a big five by five. Just happened too quick.
One of these days we’ll need to talk over a Busch Latte.
Janovich: Works for me.
Sift through the archives for more Go Long conversations if you prefer these pieces. A few more Q&As from this season…
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Just getting to read some of these older articles. This might be the best one!