Monday, September 06, 2004
By Becky Hopf
UofA Media Relations
In each home football game program this season, Crimson Tide football fans will get a closer look at some of their favorite members of the 2004 senior class. The season kicks off with cornerback Anthony Madison, bearer of jersey number nine on the football field. Thomasville's Robert and Estelle Madison are credited with producing and raising one of the University of Alabama's student football leaders. Nicknamed "Mad Dog" by his coaches and teammates, Anthony is one of 12 kids, a twin himself in a family that has three sets of twins (accounting for half of the Madison family roster). The Tide starter is projected to graduate with a degree in marketing within four years of his arrival on campus. In the following interview, the 5-foot-9, 180 pound player shares his thoughts on, among other things, nicknames, growing up in a house with nine sisters, and the phenomenon of being one of three sets of twins born to the same parents.
What's the story on the nickname, "Mad Dog?"
"I think Coach (Charlie) Harbison, `Coach Cheese', gave it to me. I guess it was just my work ethic. I'm always running around and just flying to the ball, trying to make plays and getting everybody excited. I guess it comes from enthusiasm. I try to create enthusiasm throughout the team. I guess that's how it came about, me just flying around to the ball and just playing hard every snap."
Do you like the nickname?
"Yeah. Yeah. I see it as a compliment. If someone calls you `Mad Dog' in terms of football, then it's got to be a compliment."
Does that name really fit you off the field through? You're known off the field for being one of the team leaders and working hard in the classroom.
"If someone outside of football called me `Mad Dog', I wouldn't know how to take it. But me being who I am, I'd probably just laugh at him, laugh with it."
Any other nicknames growing up?
"Most people call me `Ant.' Back at home they used to call me `Ant Dog.' The `dog' name seems to follow me, doesn't it? I think it's because as a child, you'd say, `hey, Dog,' or whatever, and they'd say `Ant Dog.' It really didn't make much sense but things like that don't always have to. It followed me until I got into the tenth or eleventh grade."
What's the greatest nickname you've ever heard for anyone?
"Snoop Dogg. That might be the funniest nickname ever. That's hilarious. And it just fits him."
Let's talk about your family. You could field a team with you and your siblings.
"There were 12 kids. I'm the youngest. They're all much older than I am. But there was a time when all 12 kids were living together at home. My mom had three sets of twins. I'm a twin. My twin, Angela, passed away when we were 11. And I have two sets of twin sisters. I have 11 siblings: nine sisters and two brothers."
Three sets of twins in the same family? That must have made headlines in Thomasville.
"That hardly ever happens. Most of the people knew about it. I obviously have a huge family. Most of my relatives do live in Thomasville. I have a great family. I love them. They're great people. They've done a great job raising me.
"I'm not for sure if we ever made any headlines by the time my twin sister and I came along to make it the third set of twins. My mom's never told me that."
Were there any other twins in your mom or dad's families?
"Great question. I don't know. None that I know of. It's supposed to skip a generation or something like that---just as long as it doesn't hit me!"
Nine sisters versus three brothers. Any battle lines drawn in `the girls versus the boys?'
"We wouldn't stand a chance with those girls. Wouldn't stand a chance. I've got some feisty sisters. They're great people, but they're feisty."
No doubt it's helped you figure out women. What are some of the best insider tips you've learned?
"Oh, I most definitely learned how to treat women. I've seen them in and out of relationships, and I've learned that if you are going to have a girlfriend, you better make sure you put in some quality time."
Do your sisters ever give you their opinions on your girlfriends?
"They've always been lenient about that. They've made comments here and there, but for the most part, they've always been pretty complimentary of it."
How many bathrooms in your parents' house?
"Oh, that's a good question. We had two bathrooms."
Did the guys ever stand a chance getting in?
"Wooo. The majority rules, I'll just say that."
Did you and your brothers work up a strategy to get bathroom time?
"When girls go in to get ready, they take a long time. We had nine sisters. You do the math."
Did your parents put time limits on shower time?
"We tried to. But when they're in there, they're in there. And they're not going to come out until they are done."
All in all, is life in a big family great fun?
"It's very special. Two of my sisters who are twins, Velma and Thelma, basically took care of me. They've done a great job. They've taught me a lot about life and how to work hard. To make a long story short, my sisters don't have the best jobs in the world, but they work extremely hard at what they do, and I really do feel like that's where my work ethic comes from. When I go home and see them go to work for long hours and small pay, that motivates me to work hard. So I really do think that's where my work ethic comes from."
You must face quite a ticket scramble on Saturdays in the fall.
"Whew. It is tough. But my entire family isn't really into the whole football deal. But there is a group of them who are. My parents come, but they don't always go to the game. They like to sit in my room and watch it on TV, which shows you how thoughtful they are because I know they do that so that somebody else in the family can get the tickets and be at the game."
Who gives you more advice on football: your brothers or your sisters?
"Actually it comes from my sister Velma's boyfriend. He's been an avid fan. He's been coming to all of my games. He's almost like my dad for the most part. He keeps me up. If I make a bad play, he's always supporting me. It's great. He always has positive things to say."
Losing your twin sister must have been devastating.
"Her name was Angela. She passed away with cancer. We were 11 years old. Actually, I had my twin sister pass away with cancer and a brother pass away with a heart attack. My brother passed away with a heart attack in October of 1992. He was young. And my sister passed away in January of 1993. We lost both of them within four months. You don't ever get over something like that."
How much did losing your twin sister as a child affect who you are now?
"I'm telling you, I have so many things that motivate me. I've had a lot of things happen within my family. I have such a great family. They're so strong. All I do is think about situations, things that have happened with my family, and it motivates me to work hard and to want to be the best at what I do, both in the classroom and on the field."
You're doing just that. On reporting day, you were named a member of the team's most elite leadership group, "High Tide." Only 11 of you were picked, and it's based on class work, ethic and leadership.
"I think it's the second year they've done it, and it's my second year to be a `High Tider.' It's good. It's an honor. For someone to dub you one of the better student-athletes amongst the team and to actually be rewarded for it, that's a great compliment."
What was life like growing up in a smaller town like Thomasville?
"We've had a lot of great athletes who have come through Thomasville. I would say though that I'm one of the few guys recently who actually had a chance to come here and play at Alabama. There were some guys before me, but I'm one of the few who were fortunate enough to make it here lately.
"Some of the best things about growing up in a smaller town are the good and the bad of it. You know a lot of people, and everybody knows you. Then again, it's homey. There are a lot of nice people. People are friendly. And most of all, you have your family there. You have friends and people who support you. And in a small town, most of the time sports is extremely important, especially football in the South. So if you play football, it's most definitely fun growing up in the South and playing in a small town."
And you did it all in high school.
"In high school I did. I had some great coaches. I played quarterback. I played running back, I played receiver, I played defensive back, you name it, I did it. In basketball, I made all-state. I did it all. It was a lot of fun. I enjoyed it. It was some great memories. I'll never forget it."
Obviously, you love sports. In the spring of 2002, the coaches at Alabama awarded you with the "Jerry Duncan I Like To Practice" Award. Do you really like to practice?
"And you want me to be honest with you, don't you? I will say this: I know that I have to practice in order to try to get better. No one really likes to practice. But it's something that you have to do to get better and prepare yourself for the game."
Speaking of preparations, you may be preparing to take a very important walk come December.
"I'm projected right now to graduate in December. Right now I'm either going to graduate in December or May. (Please note that this interview was done before fall classes started at the UofA). I am a marketing major and it's been going great. I have the option of having a fifth year. I came in as a partial qualifier, and graduating in December or May would qualify me for that fifth year if I wanted to stay another season. I want to play professional football. I want to take football as far as I can go with it. I want to do whatever I can with that. And after that, I have my degree. I can pick and choose where I want to live and find a good job and start a family one day. I love the fact that I'll have my degree already whenever I do decide to take football to another level. It's like having insurance. I've worked hard to get this far, and I'm so glad I put in the effort because I know it will pay off someday."