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Getting to know Conquest DE Michael Lewis

Thursday July 17, 2008

Find Out A Little More About Albany’s Sack Leader

This week the Albany Conquest PR department sat down with Conquest starting DE #37 Michael Lewis, who currently leads the team in sacks and tackles for loss, while leading a revitalized Albany defense to their lowest points allowed (35) last week against Louisville.

You are one of the leaders on the Conquest defense. How do you feel about the way the team has played so far?

I’d give us a “C” because defensively I think we should be sharper. Everybody works hard; all the defensive backs work hard, the front five works hard. I put it on myself as a leader of the front five. Brenton Brady is coming on real strong. Ed Greene is doing an excellent job. Mike Dungey came in as a rookie and is doing a real good job. So, I’d give it a “C.”

What does the defense need to do to get that “C” up to an “A”?

We have to win these next two games. We have to get to their quarterback a lot more often than other teams are getting to our quarterback. We have to step up our game even more. If we can do that, we’ll get these next two wins.

The defense has taken their play to the next level over the course of the last few weeks. What has been the biggest difference from early on in the season until right now?

We got our chemistry down. We also had a couple injuries, but everyone is healthy now. And when everyone is healthy, you always get high production.

You are a fan-favorite here in Albany. Why do you think the fans take such a liking to you?

Because they can relate to me. I love the fans of Albany. They’re pumped and they’re into the game. It’s a game of emotion and it’s chaotic. If you had a bad day at work, you take your aggression out on the field. You can hit people or smack people and I think everyone has that same mentality that I do. I think that’s where we relate. I don’t like to say it’s just me. It’s all my teammates. It’s a team effort. But I really appreciate the fans. I appreciate the fans more than they appreciate me. That’s who I do it for, that’s who we all do it for. Everyone in the organization, it’s for the fans.

Does Dan Cole getting injured have any impact on the way the defense plays?

That’s a good question. We definitely have to step our game up. We have the utmost confidence in Joe DeLuise and the whole offense that they are going to get the job done. They’re going to do what they are supposed to do. But honestly, yes it does have an impact. It puts a lot more pressure on us because Dan Cole is a leader, homegrown in Albany, and this is his offense. And when he’s down, the offensive level comes down just a notch, and that’s where we have to step it up.

What has been the biggest adjustment you have had to make from the outdoor game to the indoor game?

The angles. Everything is closer; everything is tighter, so your angles have to be tighter. You have to be quicker and just do everything a notch faster. I think that’s the most important thing.

You grew up in Michigan and stayed in-state to attend Adrian College. How did you end up here in Albany with the Conquest?

Honestly, I had to play semi-pro football to get here. Right out of college, I went to the University of Michigan Pro Day. I met a coach from a semi-pro team who was a scout for the Conquest. I played a full season of semi-pro and then they said they’d move me up here. So I came up here and Coach Hoffman didn’t like me at first. He couldn’t stand me. He put a guy from the University of Texas in front of me. I had to show him I’m from a Division III school; that I have nothing to lose. After that, it’s been good. Albany has been good to us. The fans have been good to us. The only thing we can do now is finish strong, so that’s what we’re going to do.

You are playing Manchester this week for the fourth time this season. There has got to be some bad blood there. What is going to change heading into this match-up after having lost the last two games against the Wolves?

What’s going to change??!! Everything is going to change! They completely disrespected us. You come into this game as a professional with a certain level of professionalism. They threw that out the window these last two games. Not only do we not like them, we want to beat them, we want to spoil any chance that they have at making the playoffs, and we just want to completely humiliate and embarrass this team.

Moving away from the football field, what do you for work?

I worked at the Albany School of Humanities. We worked mostly with special education kids, and you really get an appreciation for waking up in the morning and having your mind work right and everything working properly, your fingers and your toes and all that. Those are great kids there; great faculty and great everything there. It was a blessing to be a part of that.

What do you do for fun off the field?

NBA 2K9 for XBOX 360. That’s me, Rush512. I’m on there anytime. Anytime anybody wants to get beat, just come on in, the water’s soooo fine.

What was your favorite NFL team growing up?

The Detroit Lions. But I’m not going to lie, I’ve kind of given up on them. I grew up loving and admiring Barry Sanders. Barry Sanders was the best athlete to ever come around, and going to the Silverdome and watching him play along with Herman Moore, Rodney Pete, all those guys; watching them motivated me to play. I used to love the Lions, but I don’t have a team now. The Albany Conquest is my favorite team now.

Where do you hope to go from here in terms of your football career?

Wherever the good lord blesses me. Everyone has a wish from this level to go to the NFL and to stick there, but the reality of it is it’s hard. It’s real hard to pull those connections out because you’re here in af2 playing and beating up your body even more than a 21 year old from, say, Syracuse or somewhere, who is coming up and is your same size. Teams are obviously going to look at that guy. So, it’s real hard, but wherever it takes me, I’ve accomplished a lot and I’m so thankful to play with such great teammates and such a great coaching staff and such a great organization. It’s truly a blessing. I could be doing a lot of things, but I’d much rather do this.

What do you miss most about home?

My mom’s cooking. Fried chicken, macaroni and cheese, cornbread, cabbage, you know what I mean? Watching the game on a big screen TV. I miss all of that.

Some people may not know that you are a huge Detroit Red Wings fan. How did that start?

Hockeytown! I live in Hockeytown, USA. It’s the best hockey players in the world. You can’t go anywhere without knowing about Steve Yzerman. First of all, he’s the best captain of any sport that’s ever played. Nobody has ever played hockey or any sport with a torn ACL. We’ve got countless championships. Gordie Howe might be the best player who ever lived. He played in five decades! I could talk about the Red Wings all day long, man.