A Clearer Picture
A one on one interview with St Louis Gladiators wide receiver Eagle Mondavi
From Canberra to Vermont
Clear – Welcome back to A Clearer Picture, the series uncovering the stories of the people behind the SFL’s biggest stars. This week, we steer away from the rookie spotlight to talk to one of the individuals who keep the wheels at St Louis. Welcome in one of Dave Axis’ perhaps unwilling disciples, St Louis co-general manager and wide receiver, Eagle Mondavi! First, who is Eagle Mondavi? Tell us a little bit about yourself.
Mondavi – First off Jacob, thanks for taking the time to chat with me tonight. I am 34 years old currently living in Vermont – I believe I am the only current SFL player that lives in Vermont. For a career, I brew beer for a living; I have been brewing commercially for 4 years now, that is how I found the SFL. I found the SFL one day going through the TV at work. I found Eleven Sports and there was a draft on; I remember being super confused as to what I was watching. It happened to be the season 14 draft. I was furlough not far after that and with the lack of sports, I needed some in my life. So, I decided to join the discord server and begin my SFL career.
Clear – Awesome! You were a part of the Albuquerque Atoms system in the inaugural SFLm season, what were your initial impressions of the SFL and SFLm?
Mondavi – My SFL career started in season 14, I was a non-contract defensive end for the Chicago Wildcats. I believed I was signed in Week 8, the last week that signings were open. Being new to the league and signing the non-contract deal, I honestly had no idea what I was doing at first. I didn’t have to worry about progression or anything. But after the experience, I knew one thing that I wanted to go back into the minors and play the position I wanted which was wide receiver. The first SFLm season in Albuquerque was another eye-opening experience for me. I truly had no idea what was going on coaching wise with the game planning etc. HC Jason Williams did a great job trying to explain things to me as we went on. But it took me a little bit to get settled in. I wish we won some more games back then but it was tough switching quarterbacks every game. The staff did the best they could with the two different style quarterbacks that they had.
Clear – Leading into that historic 3 round draft, what conversations had you had with SFL teams, and what were your thoughts heading into the draft?
Mondavi – I talked with a good amount of teams heading into the draft and thought I had a good idea where I was going to go but honestly as the draft got closer, I was questioning if I was even going to get drafted. You start to second guess yourself and everything. I wanted to play with a couple of my friends. We searched around with the teams that needed all three of our spots and there were only 2 teams open. So we chatted with both of those teams. We started a good connection with St Louis and we were lucky all to get drafted on the same team. Even on draft night, as players were getting selected that doubt comes into your head. Just need to get over that, sit back and enjoy the draft.
Clear – What was that feeling like, hearing all 3 names called by St Louis, knowing you’d all be playing for the same organisation?
Mondavi – At the end, we laughed. Can’t believe it truly happened. We have been friends for over 25 years now. St Louis knew getting all three of us would help with the player retention that they have needed. We were all in for a journey with St Louis and hoping we can change the culture over there and get some playoff wins under our belt.
Clear – What brought you into the St Louis front office? What are your responsibilities and what do you enjoy most about being a general manager?
Mondavi – I joined the front office of St. Louis because I wanted to do everything I could to help change the culture. I took the player scouting and contract tasks off of the ownership group. I also help out making some graphics at times and whatever else is needed. The front office group works side by side with the coaching staff to make sure we are all on the same page on our vision for what we want in St. Louis. The most enjoyable thing for me is watching how our plan works out during the season, seeing how our plan works out.
Clear – Can you describe the playing experience? What is it like watching your player play each weekend?
Mondavi – Playing experience…yeah it’s stressful at times. I don’t understand my player most weeks. All of the catches I can make in tough coverage but then drop an open pass. I watch every STL game on my computer so I can be involved in the twitch chat. I’m lucky being on the east coast for most of the game times, they aren’t too late or too early. I don’t think I’ve missed a live STL game since I’ve been drafted. That’s including the game we played the night before Elsie was born and we were in the hospital.
Clear – Nice! Outside of your STL duties, you’ve been heavily involved with Dave Axis’ AXIS LIVE show, and Tyler Falk’s NETMA alongside Geralt Winkler. What has it been like working on those shows?
Yeah, I’ve mainly helped out with Dave on Axis Live. I’m around to help Tyler out if he ever needed me and he leaned on Wink and me more at the start of his show during the planning process and everything. Axis Live started with Dave, Wink and I wonder if we could do an SFL podcast and how we could produce it. I’ve been on his show a lot over the first 98 episodes. Since we have started Axis Live it’s been a fun journey giving the league content and the league has repaid Dave with the content creator of the season twice now. But as my life got crazy with Elsie, I’ve had to take a step back on some of the duties. I have a new top duty now and making sure the family is healthy and safe. When I’m able to be on the show, Dave makes sure he has a spot for me. When we created a discord server for the show, it was part of my responsibility to oversee and run the server.
Clear – Awesome! What are some of your more memorable moments whilst helping run Axis Live?
Mondavi – One of my favorite moments on the show was again when I was in the hospital a day after Elsie was born. Winkler made an awesome graphic and put it out on the show. That’s what a best friend does for you. Another thing I like about the show is the banter, depending on who is on the show, the panellists are fantastic. The shows where you get to learn about the SFL community (the Evan Lacey show, rookie stories). It’s nice to learn about the community.
Clear – How are you finding this current off-season and what are your thoughts heading into the new season?
Mondavi – It’s relaxing, I need these breaks in between the seasons. I’m still doing player scouting and figuring out contracts for season 17. But I do take some time between seasons for a nice mental health reset. I want to make sure I’m continuing to have fun in the league and don’t want to be super stressed about things. That’s my process during the offseason. My thoughts heading into season 17, I’m excited to continue to build from what we had last season. This is our vision coming to light. St. Louis is making steps in the right direction and ready to continue that in season 17.
Clear – What is your favourite part of being a member of the SFL right now?
Mondavi – Just the overall experience and being a part of the St. Louis organization. I’ve seen the league make some changes over the last few seasons and curious what’s next. I’m just sitting back and watching.
Clear – Finally, what does the future hold for Eagle Mondavi?
Mondavi – The best part is not knowing, I’m taking it one day at a time. I do enjoy this league so maybe someday down the road try for an expansion bid for a team. But currently, I’m happy staying with St. Louis as the GM and watching our vision play out.
Clear – Thank you very much for your time, Eagle!
Mondavi – No worries my friend, thanks again for taking the time to chat with me.
Thank you for reading the 15th episode of A Clearer Picture. If you’d like to be featured in a future episode, message Jacob Clear. Until next time!