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fascination to the public. >> and it's my world. >> he's too much a part of our lives right now. he's going to live on in our memories for awhile longer. >> well, god, i guess you're my best friend, being as i invented you. tonight on "unphiltereguar rachel nichols. jeff gordon reveals how forging his own path brought him closer to another championship. >> when is first came to the sport i wasn't from the south ainge wanted to fillet in but along the way you start to realize, you know, who you are. >> the 6-2 lions are among the nfl's best but star quarterback matt stafford describes how a bridge nearly collapsed on him
on his way to work. meb keflezighi explains how winning the boston marathon was his way of paying back the country that took him in as a child. >> we are the american dream and feel blessed that the united states gave us the opportunity because there were other countries that didn't do that welcome to "unguarded." race car driver jeff gordon didn't set out to be a pioneer. and certainly when he first burst on to the scene more than 20 years ago, no one treated him like one. dale earnhardt sr. called him wonder boy. and not in a good way. as southern nascar fans were deeply suspicious of his precocious driving and his california roots. but now at 43 years old, gordon's not only credited with opening the floodgates for other nontraditional drivers, he's threatening to retake the sport all over again. yep, right now it's gordon sitting atop the leaderboard in nascar's chase championships but
before he makes his final push for the trophy, he's slowing down to sit down with us. ♪ ooh ooh ♪ this is going to be the best day of my life ♪ ♪ my life >> we are sitting here in the thick of the chase, this is sort of to put it in nfl terms, the afc or nfc championship, not bad for a 43-year-old. >> yeah, i think for me now being in the sport as long as i've been in it, i just have a greater appreciation for winning races, as well as knowing that, you know, my career is not -- you know, i don't have a lot of years ahead of me. this year has been extremely rewarding in so many ways on and off the racetrack. >> what a drive by jeff gordon. >> one of the nicest parts as you progress through a career is that you become pore comfortable with who you are. >> yeah, no, there's no doubt about it. >> it seems like you're just talking more freely about yourself now. you like wine more than beer. you like to vacation in the
south of france because it's beautiful there. it just feels like you're more comfortable saying, hey, this is what i like. this is who i am. >> yeah, and i think when i first came in the sport i wasn't from the south and i wanted to fit in, and so i wanted to say all the right things and do all the right things and, you know, i had my sponsors and i wanted to make sure they were happy. i wanted to make sure our fans were happy, make sure the team was happy. i was doing a lot of other things for other people, which worked out pretty good, but along the way you start to realize, you know, who you are, who i am as a person and that, you know, i like being comfortable with who i am and because i've learned more about myself through my experiences, it allows me to just say, you know what, it's just about being happy. that's what life is really all about, and the only way you're going to be happy is being happy with who you are and, you know,
i'm still learning those things, but i'm cerp a lot more comfortable. >> you don't feel like you have to like a certain kind of country music. >> i think some backlash i got early on in my career was because i didn't fit that stereotype as a nascar driver, which was good and bad. >> i don't know how much of the backlash against you was solely because of the mustache, though. because that -- >> that i agree with 100%. the haircut and the mustache deserved to -- >> that was troubling to look at some of those old photos. it really was. >> you know what, you got to understand that, you know, i was pure race car driver from the age of 6. i was always trying to look older, and for some reason i thought that mustache would make me look older. but -- >> let me put a caterpillar on my face, that could really help. >> yes. >> thank goodness i finally got rid of that. >> dale earnhardt sr. was the
guy when you really came into your own at nascar and the idea that he didn't welcome you, i mean, the wonder boy nickname was not a compliment. you cried when you won your first race and he makes fun of you for being weak. i mean, that's what we read about high school bullies. >> sure. i mean, yeah, dale was that type of driver and because he was the intimidator, he knew how to get into your head. the interesting thing is when he and i were having conversations away from cameras and media, i think he really appreciated what i was bringing to the sport that i was not only challenging him but challenging the fans and creating, you know, a good buzz and some rivalries, and he loved that. now, that didn't stop him from, you know, making fun of me and doing things at certain times. >> was it ever lonely? did you feel kind of ostracized? >> as long as i was winning races -- >> people threw beer cans at you as you crossed the finish line. >> yeah, well, and i look back on that and i wish
that happened every single weekend because that was a gr t great -- >> crossing the finish line. >> you did have remarkable confidence just continuing to forge your own path. >> there became a point where we realized, okay, i do bring something different. let's take advantage of this. let's do milk mustache adds and let's go do "letterman" and do other things that, you know, you don't normally see nascar drivers do. >> it worked to such an incredible degree. frito-lay creates a potato chip shaped like you. you become the first nascar driver to ever host "saturday night live." >> first time it was like what in the heck am i doing here, how did this happen, but at the same time i knew that that was a huge moment not only for me but for nascar and for auto racing in the u.s. >> stick around, we'll be right back. >> a huge moment, indeed. gordon took nascar into the living rooms of people who never considered watching a race before. still, with immense popularity does come immense pressure.
you're going to want to stay with us after this break. gordon opens up about just what happens when you don't meet the world's expectations. >> people are like, what's wrong? what's going on? you know, is it jeff? is it this? is it that? and it's hard to climb yourself out of that hole. we'll even buy you out of your contract. so you can get the samsung galaxy note 4 for zero down today.
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fithen a little family fun...... with breakfast for 4 and wifi. join us for the family fun package. doubletree by hilton. where the little things mean everything. i'm rachel nichols. welcome back to "unguarded." we've been talking to racing icon jeff gordon who shook up nascar back in the '90s by proving you don't have to be a southern good old boy to be good at driving a stock car. gordon won an amazing four championships in seven years but take a listen as he explains how his legacy opening up the sport to a wider range of drivers also may have led to his undoing, especially when it came to the young california kid who followed in his footsteps, jimmie johnson. ♪ i can't drive 55 >> you helped bring jimmie
johnson in, and in a way, though, that then leads to problems for you on the racetrack because he's really good. >> yeah. you know, the thing with jimmie is i met him, i saw him on the track, i thought he was doing amazing things, so you can't be disappointed to see somebody that's that good do that well. you know, did it put a thorn in my side at times because maybe i could have won a championship if it weren't for him, maybe, maybe. and our friendship was challenged at times because of that. but at the same time, i wouldn't have done it any different. i just would like him to share a little bit more. >> i mean, he lives basically across the street from you. is that right? >> he does, yes. i could throw a rock in his house. >> have you thought about it, throwing rock, many rocks at his house? >> no, no. it's not like that. i think we all realize if we do our jobs and do it well, then, you know, one of us should be in victory lane. >> familiar place and a site for jeff gordon. >> it has been 13 years since you have won the championship.
as you went through that period in your late 30s where it had been a while since you won and have iing increasing back problem and started saying, yeah, i can't see myself driving a race car after i'm 40. >> i wasn't having fun, number one. i don't know. i just didn't feel like i was contributing in the way that i had when we won championships and so you start to question, you know, is it me? is it, you know, the new rules of the car, the points, you know, you start to question these things. you're around fans all the time. they're also questioning then social media comes along and you get to see some of the stuff and it's hard to climb yourself out of that hole. >> derek jeter has talked about sort of the gift and the curse of winning a lot young and that that almost can start to affect how you compete and the pressure you put on yourself. >> absolutely. you know, i look at derek in a lot of ways and how our careers have mirrored one another. when you don't achieve the ultimate goal, which is winning the championship, or you go through a season where you don't
even win a race, it's extremely disappointing, but i've always said, as long as i'm healthy and as long as i'm competitive and enjoy myself, i'm going to do it and luckily alan gustafson came along and -- >> new crew chief. >> new crew chief, and he has this great way of motivating me and kind of gave me a new life. >> you mentioned your family too, the energy that you get from wanting to race in front of your kids. your kids now being old enough to see what you do and your daughter ella is pretty excited about it. >> the first time she came to victory lane when she really could understand what that was all about was a bit of a changing moment for me because i realized, oh, my gosh, this means a lot to me to see my daughter understand what her dad does. >> it's got to be very motivating. >> it is highly motivating. >> and your stepdad got you into racing because he loved it. now your daughter ella is into racing, and you put her in a quarter midget car because,
hey, women are racing now. >> she's come to the racetrack and, oh, my gosh, there's a female driver out there and i knew when i saw her interested in that we had to at least put her behind the wheel. >> if you do win this year and that comes together for you and you get to grab those kids and hold them up in victory lane, what is that moment going to be like compared to all the other championships? >> no comparison. the ultimate is winning the championship and having them to be a part of that, and i can't think of anything better this life than experiencing that moment, such an accomplishment with my whole family there and all of us taking it all in. it would be unbelievable. ♪ this is going to be the best day of my life ♪ ♪ my life >> wouldn't that be something? and it is certainly within reach for gordon, whether it's the crew chief or maybe the inspiration of racing for his family, he has been having a career year in the sport that he changed forever. all right. coming up, we switch things up from the track to the gridiron
catching up with one of the hottest quarterbacks in the nfl right now, matthew stafford. >> you know, obviously you walk into this situation and you face the franchise in a lot of cases and you have to learn to adapt. namaste. over 5100 daily flights to nearly 60 countries. namaste. plus, over 230 us cities. dessert? pee-can pie. pecan? yeah. okay. in any language, that's...gateway to the world friendly. i can... order safety goggles. play music for seedlings. post science fair projects. schedule guinea pig feedings. video chemical reactions. take pics of mr. bones. time the next launch. calm down principal jones. i can do all that with my android from tracfone.
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( pop music playing ) ♪ when you're ready ♪ ready, ready, ready ♪ come and get it ♪ get it, get it ♪ when you're ready, come and get it ♪ ♪ na na na na ♪ na na na na na na na ♪ ♪ when you're ready, come and get it ♪ ♪ na na na na... female announcer: it's a great big world and it can all be yours. here and only here. ♪ come and get it. welcome back to "unguarded." i'm rachel nichols. the nfl is a quarterback league. just look at how this weekend's broncos/patriots matchup is being billed. manning versus brady, but how does a young quarterback navigate trying to become the next manning or brady? well, a little earlier i caught up with matthew stafford, the former number one overall draft pick whose 6-2 detroit lions are leading their division.
well, welcome, matt. i mean, such an interesting time to be an nfl quarterback. as you've been doing this job now for a few years, what have you learned about leading an nfl team, the good parts of that and the hard parts? >> quite a bit. you know, obviously you walk into the situation, the face of the franchise immediately in a lot of cases and you have to learn to adapt. you know, a new city, a new team, but at the same time, you have to be yourself and make sure you're original and true to you, but, you know, there's a lot that goes with it, not only just on the field but off the field stuff and it's a big responsibility but the more experience you get, the better you get at it. >> yeah, there are only 32 starting quarterbacks in this league. you are one of the faces of the nfl, and the league certainly has been going through some tough issues. i mean, how much did you hear from fans at the start of the season that they were frustrated and, hey, we also heard plenty of players say they were
frustrated too. were you one of them? >> you know, it's obviously, like you said, we went through as a league some tough times. you know, with off the field issues, on the field issues, whatever it was, but i feel like, you know, once the game started being played, people had that to talk about and, you know, all the other off the field stuff will take care of itself. obviously we have people in charge to make sure those decisions are made in the correct manner, and we trust them to do that. >> and as the quarterback there's also this expectation of you just inside your own building. you got to be that good example for off the field. you got to be the hardest worker. you got to be the first one in the building. i do know that earlier this season you had an interesting experience trying to get in to work for the day. a bridge on the freeway, one of the freeways you travel to actually collapsed? >> yeah, it was a crazy morning to say the least. you know, obviously a down bridge on the freeway is not something you're expecting to see on the way to work. >> no. fortunately the bridge didn't crash on to where your car was but you were one of the first cars to come across it and
there's all these pictures of you. you're walking around a highway that you're normally driving on at 60 or 70 miles an hour hour. what was it like? >> the first time i walked under it there was a little bit of a gap that you could walk or drive your car under. i walked underneath it, kind of a little scared. making sure it didn't fall on me but i didn't know what to do. i was just trying to figure out what the situation was trying to find a police officer to talk to. but we made it work and i still got in there with plenty of time. >> now, matt, you've also gotten a lot of attention over the years for your arm, how far you can throw things. i want to show people the video. there's all kinds of video out there online of you throwing all kind of objects, a banana, some rolled up socks. i mean, how much fun is it for you to get to do stuff like that? >> it's a blast. part of that makes this job fun, not only the football but opportunities offer the field for sure. >> you're encouraging people to send this their own videos right now too. i understand you and the lions are working with a company reprieve encouraging people to
recycle and you want them to send in videos of them throwing bottles, cans, everything in creative ways. >> yeah, we're challenging fans to make the smart throw with reprieve, the lions and i have partnered with them. it's been great and we just want fans to submit their videos of them making the smart toss or the smart throw and showing me what they have, do a trick shot battle. >> we wish you the best. one of these days down the road i'm expecting you to post a video of you throwing the lombardi trophy around after you win a super bowl. so just put that in the back of your mind somewhere. >> that's the plan. thank you very much. did you see that banana? serious air right there. all right, it is marathon weekend here in new york city, and coming up, we're going to visit with the man simply known as meb, the master of the 26.2 mile but first our nikon moment of the week. lebron james returned to cleveland, the building was absolutely electric and his
first basket, yeah, that is what the city of cleveland had been waiting for. the return of the king, indeed. but the cavaliers are still clearly a work in progress. plenty of missed shots, turnovers and in the end it was carmelo anthony who stole the spotlight stealing a win for his nics with this late jumper, yep, right over lebron james.
welcome back to "unguarded." as the new york city marathon approaches this sunday, it's hard to not also think of this year's emotional boston marathon, which was dedicated to the victims of last we're bombings. most inspiring, that the man who won that race was an american, who had scrolled the names of those who died on his bib, and earlier i had the chance to catch up with meb keflezighi.
he's hoping that in new york this weekend he can pull off another triumph. take a listen. well, welcome, meb. thanks for joining us. i do want to talk to you about new york, of course, but first we have to discuss what happened at the boston marathon earlier this year. >> you know, for 365 days or a little more, i was thinking about what can i do positively to change the scene of the street where there was bombings and i was nervous to write the names of the victims on my numbers and i wanted to give them the best i can and it was just an amazing experience and they were saying usa, usa, go, meb, go, meb. >> you really are the quintessential american success story and ou had that great tweet, exactly 27 years ago today the u.s. welcomed my family. six months ago i said thank you the best way i can. >> the united states give us so much opportunity to me and my family. 27 years ago we came here not knowing english, we didn't have
the finance, language barrier, and it was difficult, but my parents always told us, work hard, this is the land of opportunity, don't waste it, and, yeah, we are the american dream, and we feel blessed that the united states give us the opportunity because there were other countries that didn't do that. >> you go from that to a guy who is getting phone calls from president obama. you recently even attended a state dinner at the white house. i hear you got to sit at a table with former president jimmy carter, and he ran cross country in college. did he trash talk you at all during the dinner or what? >> i mean, it was an unbelievable experience. i was so honored to be at the white house. mr. jim -- president jim carter was there. i've been meaning to meet you because i ran high school and a big fan and, you know, from humble beginnings to come here 27 years ago and to be very white house and having dinner with president barack obama, they were very nice. >> not bad at all for sure. now, of course, you're getting ready for the new york marathon
and you're here courtesy of power bar. how rigorous are you before a race about what you put into your body and how you train in general for a moment like this weekend? >> almost definitely. nutrition is very important. you are what you put in your body and have to be very careful of what you put on and for me, you know, since i turned 35, i used a lot of snacks in between to be able to graze throughout the day instead of big meals. >> you are so beloved here in new york city, and i have to play everyone a clip of you on "letterman" after the last time you won. >> am i experience iing a runner's high or is that the bus fumes? >> number seven. >> is that the finish line or a crime scene tape? >> how much fun was that, whether it's letterman or all the other new york institutions,
i would like to think running this marathon is an experience like no other. >> to be on david letterman calling the top ten, that was funny, i was nervous. the marathon has been a great moment for me. ninth in the new york city marathon. excited to be there. >> we wish you the best of luck, meb. >> i know you'd like to pull it off, good night.