While the New England Patriots and Philadelphia Eagles are in Minnesota gearing up to face off at Super Bowl LII, Carolina Panthers linebacker Luke Kuechly took a break from throwing NFL players in favor of throwing on an apron.
Kuechly, the face of Campbell’s Chunky Soup, is in Minnesota with Campbell’s and partnered with Minneapolis’ House of Charity to donate and distribute over a quarter million bowls of Chunky MAXX soup to serve to the men and women suffering from homelessness.
The five-time Pro Bowler was shaped by his upbringing to serve others as best as you can. It’s a mentality that he has carried as a teammate on the field and off the field as well.
Taking a break from serving soup and taking a moment to get to know those in line, Kuechly spoke about his heart for charity, his NFL career, what the Super Bowl experience is like as a player.
Dirtfork: How did this soup kitchen effort with Campbell’s come to be?
Luke Kuechly: We started working earlier this year and things have been going real well and we got a big initiative right now where they donate 250,000 bowls of Campbell’s Chunky MAXX Soup up here to the House of Charity, a food bank up here in Minneapolis. They do a good job of not only feeding the people at their establishment but they also dish a lot of stuff they have to other places as well. They do a good job with that and we’re up here trying to feed some people and make some people’s day and it makes us happy as well.”
Dirtfork: What inspired you to be a part of this and to get involved in charity?
Luke Kuechly: I went to Catholic grade school, Catholic high school and the mindset was always about giving back and helping other people out. It’s interesting, the more you do it, I think people are happy that you’re here and I think you can also be happy as well knowing you made a big difference in their day. To see them smile, makes me smile.
Super Bowl Experience
Dirtfork: It’s the week of Super Bowl LII. You played in this game two years ago. What’s the whole experience like?
Luke Kuechly: The first week is pretty relaxed. You’re just back in your hometown and it’s kind of like a bye week and you get an install of the team you’re playing that week. Once you get out to the site of the Super Bowl it gets a little crazy that first day of media. It’s pretty wild. It’s an open forum, people ask all kinds of questions. You get some unique ones but I think the media obligation is what is very different than a normal week. A normal week you talk once a week, out here it’s three or four. “
The other thing that’s different too is you’re in a different city. You have a new locker room; new practice facilities and meeting rooms are completely different. The best you can to normalize the situation, the better off you will be.
Dirtfork: What advice would you have for players preparing for their first Super Bowl?
Luke Kuechly: The biggest thing is to keep your week as routine as possible and go through the same routine regardless of how you got to get it done. Whether you go to bed at the same time or go about your daily routine. Just don’t change anything even though you’re in a different setting. I tried to keep everything as routine as I could during that week.”
Dirtfork: What’s your usual routine on Game Day throughout the regular season?
Luke Kuechly: Say we play at 1 p.m., get up at 8:30 a.m., eat your breakfast and if it’s a home game, I try to leave at 9:15 a.m. and get to the stadium around 9:30 or 9:45 a.m. Get all of my gear ready to go, whether I’ve got to put the pads in my pants or got to get my clothes picked out that I want and put my shoes where I need them.
You have to start warming up, whether it’s your stretching routine or your activation stuff you do and get outside and one of our strength coaches runs us linebackers as a warm up circuit on the field, get moving a little bit, go inside and get taped and then you got to put all of your gear on. That takes a little longer than you’d expect. I always find myself rushing there at the end to get it all on so maybe I should start sooner next time.
Patriots or Eagles?
Dirtfork: Who is your pick for the Super Bowl? Philadelphia Eagles or New England Patriots?
Luke Kuechly: I think it’s hard to go against the Patriots. I think the Eagles have a good recipe for beating them. They’re good up front on both sides of the ball. Fletcher Cox is good, their offensive line is good, Zach Ertz has become a premier player. I hope it’s a good game. I think it’s just hard to go against the Patriots.”
Hometown and Luke Kuechly’s Off-Field Life
Dirtfork: I know you’re from Cincinnati and you played college ball at Boston College but which NFL team did you root for growing up?
Luke Kuechly: I was a Bengals fan. I liked the Bears. I liked the Colts with Peyton [Manning]. Those were the teams that were on frequently when I was growing up.
Dirtfork: What do want fans to know about Luke Kuechly?
Luke Kuechly: I enjoy playing the game, I like to fish and I like to be outside. I think everybody kind of knows the on-field person that you are but off the field, I enjoy helping people out. I try to help guys around the team, do different charity efforts and I like to be outside and fish, that’s pretty much what I do.”
Acting in Commercials
Dirtfork: What’s it like transitioning to the commercial aspect in being the face of Campbell’s Chunky Soup?
Luke Kuechly: Early on, it was difficult. You don’t quite know what you’re doing but just like anything, the more you do it, the more comfortable you get. They make it easy for me. I don’t have to work too hard to memorize a whole lot of stuff. It’s pretty straightforward and the more straightforward it is, the better I do with it.
“You’ve got to make the most of it”
Dirtfork: You have accomplished a lot already in your career. What’s most valuable and stands out the most to you?
Luke Kuechly: The experiences and relationships you have from this game are special and it goes quick. I’m going into my seventh year already. You’ve got to make the most of it because you’re not going to be around forever.