Exit Interview: Holly Robinson Peete

Even before she married an Eagles quarterback (Rodney Peete), Philly-born actress Holly Robinson Peete was a fan of the team, thanks to her dad, Matt Robinson, best known as the original Gordon on Sesame Street and himself a Philly sports maniac. Her family inspired her new book, Get Your Own Damn Beer, I’m Watching The Game!: A Woman’s Guide to Loving Pro Football, out this month. The 40-year-old 21 Jump Street vet juggled a hair appointment, breast-feeding, and prep for her new UPN series, Love, Inc., while dishing on Eagles fans, football, and her secret locker-room fantasy.

Exit Interview: What are your memories of Philly?
Holly Robinson Peete: We started out in West Philly, and when my dad got Sesame Street, we kinda moved on up, so to speak, to Mount Airy. When I was four, my dad was Gordon. That’s what I wanted to do, act, and he wouldn’t let me. I finally got one line. It was  “Hi, Gordon,” and I kept saying “Hi, Daddy,” so that was the end of my career as a child actor.

EI: Then you ended up in L.A. in high school with some guys named Penn, Lowe and Sheen.
HRP: Yeah, I’ve known Rob, Charlie and Emilio [Estevez] since seventh grade. Sean was in my brother’s class. Of all of them, Rob and I were the closest. He had braces and headgear. He was anything but a heartthrob at the time. He couldn’t get any action at all.

EI: Was your father laid-back like Gordon while watching football, or was he screaming and throwing beer cans at the TV?
HRP: He was your typical Eagles fan, put it that way. There’s only one kind. He was an extremely passionate, obnoxious Eagles fan.

EI: Did he give Rodney the business after a bad game?
HRP: My dad was really nice to him. He did it sort of behind his back. When we went on to play for the Panthers and beat Philly [in the NFC Championship], my family never called Rodney to congratulate him. The Eagles green blood was deeper than the Robinson red blood. But my dad was proud of him.

EI: What’s the most important thing a woman should learn in football?
HRP: Downs, and the scoring system. My girlfriend said, “I know a field goal is three points, but where’s the three-point line?” I was like, okay, I need to write a book for you. [sound of an airplane engine kicking over] I’m getting my hair blow-dried, that’s what you hear behind me.

EI: This is the quintessential L.A. interview—on the cell at the salon.
HRP: Yeah! I’m also nursing a baby as we speak.

EI: Are you serious?
HRP: I have to bring him with me. This little dude is always hungry. I’m the queen of multi-tasking.

EI: Are there some aspects of fandom that should be left to the guys? You don’t want to turn wives into face-painters who double-fist Budweisers for four quarters, right?
: Oh yes I do. I want to turn them into fun fans who actually know what’s going on on the field.

EI: What do you say to men who think the only plays their women should know are the Six-Pack Hand-off, the Pre-Game Hoagie Run, and the Get the Hell Out of the House When the Game Starts?
HRP: [laughs] You have to be careful. Sometimes you create a monster. I would ask questions here and there and Rodney would blow me off, but after asking so many, I put it together myself. I’d say, “I saw you call an audible at the line of scrimmage,” and he  looked at me like, “Oh no!”

EI: Did you meet Rodney here?
HRP: No, he was with the Detroit Lions, then the Cowboys, and he signed a deal with the Eagles days before our wedding. I’ve discovered my allegiance is really to whoever’s giving us our paycheck. That’s the bottom line.

EI: How did you handle the local sports media?
HRP: I called WIP and disguised my voice. After we won one game, they were talking about how whenever Rodney throws an interception, he smiles. I called to say he’s not smiling, he just has big teeth—get over it!

EI: They complain that McNabb smiles too much, too.
HRP: That’s just sports in Philadelphia. In ’96, against the Cowboys on Monday night, Rodney dropped back to pass and tore his patellar tendon. I was in the Eagles locker room, and he was on the table, and his kneecap was up in his thigh somewhere. It was the worst moment. Then at one point I realized 40 guys around me were completely naked.

EI: Um, were you still focused on your husband?
HRP: I was, but I think I did look down a couple times. I have had some relapses and remembered some things. But on the news, they interviewed these old ladies, and they said, “All I know is, kneecap or no kneecap, he shouldn’t have dropped that damn ball.” I was like, damn, this town is rough.

EI: Now that Rodney isn’t on a particular team, are you rooting for the Birds?
HRP: The Panthers were so good to us, and you’re always partial to the team you retire with. So if I’m being honest, I have to say I’m still a Panthers fan. But no matter how much I run from the inner obnoxious Eagles fan I still am, I can’t.

EI: What’s tougher to watch: clips of Rodney getting sacked, or your role in the movie Howard the Duck?
HRP: You know, it’s been so long since it came out, people actually like the movie now. If a movie’s so dreadfully bad, give it about 20 years and people start watching it again.

EI: About those locker room flashbacks … do you remember names? Numbers will also work. On their jerseys, I mean.
HRP: [sighs] No, they shall remain nameless. That’s my own little fantasy I’m not sharing with anybody else.