Quick Stats: Kellen Winslow Tampa Bay Buccaneers tight end
Daily Driver: 2007 H2 SUT (Kellen's rating: 10 on a scale of 1 to 10)
Favorite road trip: Cleveland to San Diego
Car he learned to drive in: 1999 Ford Expedition
First car bought: 2004 Yukon Denali
Tampa Bay Buccaneers' offensive threat Kellen Winslow had been hankering for a Hummer since he saw it in a Robert De Niro movie, which is the kind of response any marketer would envy.
After pondering for a while, Winslow finally bought what is his current daily driver, a 2007 H2 SUT. "I like everything about it," he raves. "I have a body kit on it and four exhaust pipes coming out in the end. My tires, I don't feel any bumps, so it's like a tank, man. They're all-purpose tires and I just run right over stuff. So, it's pretty cool."
When it comes to his taste in cars, Winslow has a penchant for SUVs and takes some of his cues from the movies.
For Winslow, the H2 is a definite 10 out of 10 rating. "I've been wanting a Hummer since the movie 'The Fan' with Robert De Niro and Wesley Snipes. It was back in the day. But that car, that Hummer always made me want a Hummer. I just planned on it." In the 1996 thriller, De Niro's character is an overzealous baseball fan who kidnaps the son of Snipes' character in a Hummer.
Car he learned to drive in
Winslow, who is in the running to play in this year's Pro Bowl, was born and raised in San Diego. His father was another well-known tight end - Pro Football Hall of Famer Kellen Winslow of the San Diego Chargers. While the elder Winslow has probably given his son some valuable tips on the field, he also taught him how to drive in a 1999 Ford Expedition.
It takes Winslow a second to recall what kind of car he learned how to drive in. There's a slight chuckle because his wife Janelle (who shooting the picture of him at home, for this column), whispers it to him. "She knows better than me," he admits. "She knows way better than me. We met when we were 13. She went to La Jolla High School, I went to another high school."
When it came time to get his driver's license in high school, learning how to drive was pretty uneventful, under his dad's tutelage. "We drove around the nearby parking lot, just working on turns," Winslow remembers. "My dad was with me, teaching me how to drive the whole time."
First car bought
After graduating high school, Winslow played for the University of Miami Hurricanes. In 2002 Winslow set school records for a tight end with 57 receptions for 726 yards and eight touchdowns. He also won the John Mackey Award and earned All-American honors. Winslow played in the 2003 Fiesta Bowl, for the BCS Championship, setting a Fiesta Bowl record with 11 receptions for 122 yards and a touchdown in overtime. Some people consider it one of the greatest college football games in history.
Despite his achievements on the field, off the field, like many fellow freshman, Winslow relied on friends for rides. "I was the tag along. I didn't have a car until second semester of my sophomore year," he says. "So I struggled a little bit."
But that all changed when Winslow bought a Yukon Denali, after he had an idea he would be going to the NFL because he was invited to participate in the NFL Scouting Combine, where athletes take various tests to try out for the NFL in front of scouts. "I was headed into my second semester and I just trained for the NFL Combine and went and purchased the Denali," he says.
Inspired by yet another famous flick, Winslow tricked out the Denali. "I hooked that up, with everything you could imagine done to it," he says. "I was doing 'Fast and the Furious' type stuff to it. I'm glad I kind of did it though, just to get it out of my system. I messed the Denali up. The guy who was working on it was an amateur and I just got references. But he basically destroyed the car, man, because of what I was getting done to it."
Winslow learned his lesson and says it's something he probably won't do again. "He put in Lamborghini doors, but they were bolted to the hinges so it wasn't working right," he says. "I pushed the seats back, so it could be like limo seating, the back seat I pushed all the way back to get a lot of leg room."
He rented an Expedition when the Denali was getting customized. He kept the Denali for his first three years in the NFL, while he was playing for the Cleveland Browns. After the Denali though, Winslow graduated to his current set of wheels, the Hummer.
Favorite road trip
When he was with the Browns, Winslow enjoyed driving with his wife from their Cleveland home back to San Diego to visit family. "Just so we could bring the car with us and the whole bit," he says. "It takes about four to five days."
These days Winslow likes cruising around Tampa in his H2 and is dedicated to the Buccaneers. As of week 13 of the NFL season, Winslow has 58 receptions for 633 yards and five touchdowns. The remaining home games for the season are December 13 against the Jets and January 3 against the Falcons. Fans who would like to vote Winslow into the Pro Bowl can visit: www.nfl.com/probowl/ballot