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From The Inner City to The Super Bowl with NFL Star Jahri Evans

On this week’s Ed Talks Show, I interview Super Bowl Champion (and 6-Time Pro Bowl Player) Jahri Evans.

Jahri recently left the NFL and has launched several businesses.

So this week’s interview is part success, part story, and part business strategy.

If you’re in a hurry, here are some Time Stamps to points in the show:

0:15 – From the Inner City to the Super Bowl – How to Go From Where You Are to Where You Want to Be

8:50 – Multiplying Influence – How to Take Your Platform and Turn it Into Change That Works

12:00 – Smashing Guys in the Face – How Jahri Went from Pro Football to Running Successful Businesses

19:40 – How to Solve BIG Problems By Getting to the Core

25:45 – Jahri Evans’ Advice to the Next Generation

Check it out.

The YouTube Link is here: https://EdRush.com/EdTalks
The Podcast is above and here
Download the Transcript here.

From the Inner City to the Super Bowl

Ed Rush:

I’m here with Jahri Evans. I want to talk a little about football, a bit about business, and a little about life, but before I do that, you’re a guy that was always underestimated.

In a little bio, Jahri, unlike most NFL players, didn’t play before high school. Your senior year in high school you broke your leg. You didn’t play at all.

You were on a recruiting trip to Bloomsburg University, but it wasn’t even YOUR recruiting trip. Wasn’t it somebody else’s, then you ended up meeting the coach? How did that work out?

Jahri Evans:

Right before my senior year in high school, I broke my knee playing basketball at the Y on Broad Street. I was out of commission all season. Two surgeries and a cast, then a mobilizer.

We still wind up going to the championship that year, and we lost to George Washington twice in the regular season and championship. We had a lot of championship guys on the team, and one of my really close friends was being recruited by Bloomsburg. Coach Darragh came in. He saw me. I passed the eye test, as he says, and we went out for a visit.

Ed Rush:

Passed the eye test means you looked like you could play ball?

Jahri Evans:

Yeah. Exactly. Play ball.

Ed Rush:

You end up playing at Bloomsburg University, a Division II school. Redshirt your first year. You ended up playing and becoming arguably one of the best Division II linemen of all time, but you’re still Division II. You get drafted by the Saints fourth round. You show up on the team. You’re the second-string guard.

Jahri Evans:

Third string.

Ed Rush:

By what, the first game of the season, you’re on the field? Is that what it was?

Jahri Evans:

That was the first preseason game.

Ed Rush:

Yeah?

Jahri Evans:

Yeah, they moved the guard that started last year to left. Obviously, I played tackle at Bloom the previous three years, so they moved to me guard, right guard.

Ironically, Jermane Mayberry, who was an Eagle Eye, grew up watching them. He was there. He was going to get 14, and he got injured. Shoulder injury. He was out. They brought in Chad Setterstrom. He got hurt, and then I was the next man up.

Ed Rush:

You never left the field after that?

Jahri Evans:

It was a wrap after that. I think about a story back in high school. Tenth-grade year in high school, we lost to Penn Charter.

Ed Rush:

I used to play with Penn Charter back in the day.

Jahri Evans:

Yeah, we lost to Penn Charter. I don’t know if Matt Ryan was on that team at that time or not, but we lost 20 to nothing.

The next day, the coach came in, and I was in the starting lineup in 10th grade. I was like, “Man.” I was a little bit too tentative, not aggressive enough, and I wind up, not starting.

I told myself if I ever had that opportunity again, and here we are in the big leagues. It came about. It was on after that.

Ed Rush:

To finish this story, Jahri goes on to play in the Pro Bowl six times. One of the highest-paid … in fact, at the time, the highest-paid offensive linemen and then won a Super Bowl. All from a guy who didn’t play senior year in high school, and redshirted onto a Division II school.

Jahri Evans:

Yeah. That’s right, man.

Ed Rush:

You were always underestimated everywhere you went, but you always exceeded everybody’s expectations. What’s the deal with that?

Jahri Evans:

Just hard work. I think the way I approach the game, the way I approach my training, the way that I approach my studying off the field, it just worked well for me. I think everybody’s different. Also, the guys that were around me early on in my career.

My coach, Coach Doug Marrone, he’s the head coach now. He’s been the head coach on a few teams now. Coach Aaron Kromer, his team … he used to be with the Rams, and you see how good those guys have been over the years. A lot has to do with coaching. My college coach, Coach McBryan – he’s put three guys in the NFL.

Ed Rush:

I’m going to stop and talk about Bryan McBryan. I know him really well. Obviously, you do. You coached under him, and it turns out that you show up at Bloomsburg. You fall under probably one of the best offensive line coaches like of all time.

Jahri Evans:

That nobody knows about him.

Ed Rush:

That nobody knows about him. A good hunter too, but how important was coaching for you?

Jahri Evans:

It was huge. Coming from the inner city, a public league where we had two coaches, Coach Clawson, and Coach Molnar, and a couple other coaches, Coach Rasheed and stuff like that, but we didn’t have all the headsets, all the position coaches and stuff like that. We basically had two or three coaches full-time.

Then, going to college and having those coaches where Coach McBryan still wasn’t full-time. He was in the school district.

Ed Rush:

Yeah. That’s right.

Jahri Evans:

He got there a little late, but just being around the guys that knew what hard work was, knew how to get it done, knew how to respond to different situations. Yeah, Coach McBryan, man, he’s put three offensive linemen from Bloom under his regime is playing in the NFL.

We’ve had about 10-11 years where guys have gone to Division I football. He’s very knowledgeable about the game. Coach Devin has worked at our camp also. It shows, man. It just shows what the success of others that he’s been in contact with.

Ed Rush:

A little back story, my dad, former NBA referee actually coached when Jahri was playing up at Bloomsburg. He was the special team’s coach.

He was up there at the same time, and this is a school up in the middle of Pennsylvania that was in the top 20 every single year. They went to the tournament almost every single year, and they produced some really great players.

Danny Hale was a good friend of ours, and a lot of it had to do with just the heart and soul of the team that you guys … I mean most college teams now are throwing the ball at you. You just smashed people in the face, and just ran the ball.

Jahri Evans:

No. You’re right. Jamar Brittingham had what? 32 touchdowns.

Ed Rush:

Behind you. Yeah.

Jahri Evans:

2000+ yards. We were one of those teams that always averaged under, a little bit under 300 yards a game rushing.

Ed Rush:

Yeah.

Jahri Evans:

We always had a gunslinger or QB running the ball.

Ed Rush:

Yep.

Jahri Evans:

Always had a gunslinger that could throw it when we needed to, but when you’re playing in the Poconos, in the mountains, in those cold games, you got to be able to run the ball.

Ed Rush:

Take me to … I want to jump into your pro career just a little bit. February 7th, 2010, you walk onto the field down in Florida to play the Super Bowl. Only a handful of people in the world have ever experienced that. Take us into that moment when you walk on to that field in Miami Gardens and play your first Super Bowl game.

Jahri Evans:

It was amazing. It was a dream come true. You put in the hard work. My rookie year, we were half away from beating Chicago to go to the Super Bowl that year. I felt like I knew what a missed opportunity was.

A lot of guys were like, “We’re not going to let this one slip away this time.” If you watch, the Offensive line led out. The guys out of the tunnel, we were ready to go. We started off slow, 10-nothing, but we wind up putting it together and getting the victory.

Miami is a fun place to play and to win. Winning the Super Bowl is … I think New Orleans is one of the cities that has best parades, especially Mardi Gras season, but it was an experience, man. It’s funny because earlier in that season, we were down 23 points to the Dolphins in that same building. Coach said, “We’ll be back here,” saying, foreshadowing we’re going to play the Super Bowl, and there we were.

Ed Rush:

That’s amazing.​ T​ hen, you won.

Jahri Evans:

We won. A little champagne popping, spraying. It was a fun time, man. It was a good time, and Miami was a great place to win and enjoy the atmosphere.

Ed Rush:

Think about this trajectory. You are a kid growing up in an inner-city neighborhood Frankford, Philadelphia, and then you’re playing in the Super Bowl. Think about that. All throughout the way, you were never the guy.

Ed Rush:

It wasn’t like you came out of Philly the guy that Alabama and everybody wanted. Were you carrying the hopes and dreams of everybody back home on your back?

Jahri Evans:

Oh, for sure, man. A lot of friends and family hit me up regularly, still do. Always congratulate me, man. There’s a lot of people home that call me champ. They don’t even call me Jahri. They like, “What’s up, champ? What’s up?”

Ed Rush:

That’s like a boxer kind of deal.

Jahri Evans:

Yeah. It’s fun. It’s a good time, especially when I had done my free football camp here in the city for 10+ years, bring in these pro athletes every year, seven to eight guys.

Now, Frankford High School has two Super Bowl champions, myself and another young guy that won with Denver.

Ed Rush:

Wow.

Jahri Evans:

Yeah. I’ve seen what? Another young kid just got drafted by the Eagles who was at Penn State. He was from the area also.

Ed Rush:

That’s awesome, man.

Jahri Evans:

He used to come to my camp, so I may be old, but … they may be saying I’m old, but experiencing those things is awesome, especially here for the city and what I was able to just bring to the city, the energy, just show some of these youth kids that they can make it out here.

Ed Rush:

Very cool. Let’s talk about Frankford.​ ​You weren’t one of those guys that left and never came back. You’ve been investing back into your community in the inner city, man. Tell me a little bit about that.

How to Take Your Influence and Turn It Into Change That Works

Jahri Evans:

We started a foundation, Jahri Evans Foundation. We’ve done several things. We have free football camps. We’ve done schools supply drives. We’ve had PSSA tournaments to get the kids excited about their state testing.

Just anything to uplift the youth. I also have been like the spokesperson for AEDs. We got AEDs in all public schools, elementary schools and middle schools. I now think the high schools have them.

Just extend my time when I can and talk to these schools and the youth to try just to give them some of the tricks of the trade, so they don’t have to go over the hurdles that I experienced.

Ed Rush:

Yeah. That you went through. Let’s talk a little bit about education because that’s really what you spend a lot of time doing right now, working with kids in schools. What do you think we could do better in our country when it comes to education?

Jahri Evans:

I think we can adopt some models that are working well around the world. Obviously, we’re entering a huge tech phase, and I think there’s a huge gap in how to use that tech. I also think we have to listen. I think we have to listen to the youth. I think we have to do what works well for them. Some of the traditional ways are not working in their favor because they’re just so tech-driven.

I think we have to look at that, assess it, and try to bring out the best out of them because everybody’s different. Just like in football, you have 11 people on the field that do 11 different jobs with 11 different responsibilities, and that’s the hard part about everybody coming together with a common goal to make the dream work.

We also have to have a good foundation. Let them know that we care, that we’re around, and not be afraid to express their feelings, or ask for help because I think a lot of it is just the youth are sometimes hesitant to reach out and ask for help until it’s too late.

Ed Rush:

Because it’s a sign of weakness or because they don’t want to look like they’re having trouble.

Jahri Evans:

Right. Whatever the reason may be. I think it starts at home with parenting also.

It can’t just be all put on the educators. I think it starts at home with parenting. Now, I have a 15-month-old, so I can see that.

Ed Rush:

Atlas, right?

Jahri Evans:

Yeah, man. Atlas, Atlas Evans.

Ed Rush:

How many kids are you going to have?

Jahri Evans:

I don’t know. We’ll see.

Ed Rush:

I haven’t met Atlas, but the word on the street from my parents is that he’s going to be a big, big offensive lineman probably, too.

Jahri Evans:

Yeah. He’s pretty lengthy right now. He’s pretty lengthy. He’s not real heavy. He’s lean, but he’s pretty lengthy.

Ed Rush:

What lessons are you teaching him as a 15-month-old?

Jahri Evans:

Just regular stuff. Trying to put things in the right place, fit things here, shooting a basketball down. He’s throwing. He’s probably going to be left-handed, it seems like.

Ed Rush:

You’re not teaching him blocking techniques…

Jahri Evans:
No. I’m not.​ ​I don’t know. He swats the crap out of me. He’s like, “Ah, get that out of here.”

“You want some more?” “No, get that out of here.”

Ed Rush:

He knows the deal.

Jahri Evans:

Yeah. He knows the deal. He’s good.

How Jahri Went from Pro Football to Running Successful Businesses

Ed Rush:

Let’s shift into business. We’re sitting here in Village Tavern – one of your three restaurants, I think. Right?​ ​You own three restaurants. You’re the owner, a part-owner of the Philadelphia Soul, the arena football team.

What was it like transitioning from you’re smashing guys in the face, making a living playing pro football, then all of a sudden, now you got like … you’re heading into a meeting with your owners and stuff, talking about the restaurant and everything.​ ​What was that like?

Jahri Evans:

It was a good transition. It’s different obviously. I’m not going to say it puts more thought into it, but dealing with employees, and the day to day grind, I’ve never dealt with that since having a job in college, and high school and things like that, but not on this type of level.

Over the years, I go into real estate back in 2007, graduated from grad school in 2017, and in between then have invested in different things, been in different business meetings, took advantage of some of the NFL programs that they have like the franchising bootcamp, the restaurant seminars that they had, and stuff like that.

Just been educating myself along the way, picking up things, using my resources, communicating with other business owners on how to do things, but it’s been fun. It’s been fun. It’s definitely not easy, but I’m enjoying it.

Ed Rush:

Yeah. As you’re listening, a lot of folks don’t know the NFL hasn’t had a great track record of transitioning guys into the real world. Most people think, “Oh, you leave the NFL. You got this mansion in Beverly Hills.

You live in luxury for the rest of your life,” but there’s a lot of guys driving delivery trucks right now because they didn’t manage their money, but you obviously did some things differently. You had some different training.

I think the NFL has come a long way in terms of helping their guys because even if you’re there forever, your career’s only 18 or 20 years long. I mean, you know, offensive lineman’s shorter than that. You benefited from some of that.

Jahri Evans:

Yeah. No. I completely agree with you. I think historically they didn’t do the job that they’re putting in place now for guys. I think the information was a little bit withheld from guys, but also guys just weren’t smart with their money. One thing I don’t like is how they put out what you make, but they don’t put out what Uncle Sam takes.

Ed Rush:

No joke. That’s true for everybody, man. No joke.

Jahri Evans:

It’s already misleading to the eyes of people that don’t know. Yeah, I think guys are starting to be more conscious of life after football. As we see, guys retiring early. Guys are foregoing their career for medical reasons, but I think, taking with some of the older guys too, a lot of it is, or some of it is just the insurance that they can’t get after they’re retired.

You talk about guys who insurance companies are charging them out the wazoo because they know they’re going to have issues and it’s not like they’re putting somebody normal on their insurance. They’re putting somebody on their insurance that played 8-12 years in the NFL, physical game where they know, history shows that they’re going to have issues.

Those guys are paying a crazy amount of money in insurance that’s hard to keep up with every year. That’s one thing, but I think now that they have some good programs in place

and good things that you can reach out for through the NFL and through the PA, bit buys just got to take the time to do it. That is on the guys to do, and some guys don’t do it.

Ed Rush:

You had good mentors even on the financial business side like coming into the league.

Jahri Evans:

Yes.

Ed Rush:

Wasn’t that helpful for you?

Jahri Evans:

It was. Your dad was one of them.

Ed Rush:

Yeah.

Jahri Evans:

Obviously, Coach Hale was another. A lot of my coaches, Coach McBryan, a lot of my coaches through my high school and college career, and then just the people that I had in place, my agent who’s a lawyer, my financial guy that I’ve had, and I’ve had those people my whole career.

They have educated me on things throughout my career, and ask them a lot of questions. They’re willing to teach me, and I’m willing to learn.

Ed Rush:

The theme here is you’ve been coached.

Jahri Evans:

Yeah. Very much.

Ed Rush:

You’re just willing to be coachable.

Jahri Evans:

Yeah.

Ed Rush:

You and your agent are still tight?

Jahri Evans:

That’s my guy.

Ed Rush:

Don’t you do a show?

Jahri Evans:

Yeah. We do a podcast together. He started it about three years ago. It’s called Colton’s Court.It’sonWildfireRadio,w​ ww.WildfireRadio.com/Colton-Court​-overhereinthe tri-state area in New Jersey. We recorded some at our restaurant.

Today will be episode 53 today. We talk sports. We talk business. We talk about the legal aspects of things. We’ve had guests call in. Your dad’s been on the show.

Ed Rush:

That’s cool.

Jahri Evans:

It’s awesome, man. It’s a good show. I’m glad I’m getting on your show early though, so when this blows up, man…

Ed Rush:

Yeah. You’re my second interview. Yeah. That’s exactly right. When it blows up, you’ll be like, “I was the first one on there.”

More business questions. I want to ask a couple more. Then, we’ll wrap it up. What was your biggest challenge? What was your biggest balance challenge? Was it dealing with people? Was it management stuff?

Jahri Evans:

I think for me, the biggest challenge is going to be dealing with employees, especially in this industry. I was talking with one of the business owners in the city the other day, and they’ve been the manager at their location for 12 years.

The one thing he told me that really hit because I was like, “Man, how do you manage this and that,” and he was like, “Just don’t settle. You just don’t settle.”

Ed Rush:

Just hold people to a high standard.

Jahri Evans:

You hold them to a high standard in many ways. You keep them to a high standard, and you just don’t settle because this is who you have right now because I’m learning there’s a lot of turnovers.

This location has been in operation for 23 years, have some stable people here that have been here for a long time. Our other locations are babies: two and a half years and eight months.

Ed Rush:

Trendy. It attracts a different kind of team member.

Jahri Evans:

It does and the area that they’re in. This location is not in the city. The other two are; all those aspects of it. Over the years, I’m into a couple different things, a real estate company that’s worldwide that has properties worldwide, and a winery in Napa.

Ed Rush:

Tell me about your winery.

Jahri Evans:

One Hope Vineyards. I’ve been a part of them for about five or six years now. It’s a good winery. Modavi is one of the original three. I came in after the original 11, my wife and I.

We’re founding investors. It’s a good company. They give a lot to the youth. They donated over $10 million. Every bottle goes to a cause, cancer, child hunger. It’s a good company to be a part of.

Jahri Evans:

Did you ever imagine growing up in Frankford that you were going to own a winery in Napa?

Jahri Evans:

No, man. I was there. I think our tasting room is done now.

Ed Rush:

Oh, that’s cool.

Jahri Evans:

I was there building it. It’s pretty awesome to actually stay on the property of something that you have ownership in.

Ed Rush:

Go to One Hope Vineyard up in Napa.

Jahri Evans:

Yes.

Ed Rush:

I want to transition to a topic that’s hard on my heart. I know it is on yours. My brother, Jeff, who you were great friends with in school. In fact, I think you guys drove everywhere, all around.

Jahri Evans:

Yeah. We were roommates.

Sports Injuries, Prescribed Medicine and Heroin Overdose That Sweeps America Today

Ed Rush:

Jeff was a good friend, man. You were a good friend. Several years ago, my brother passed away from a heroin overdose. It started because of some painkillers that he took because of sports injuries.

It’s a major issue. I know you’ve have had some other guys who were friends of yours that were affected by that. What do we do about this problem in our country that starts a lot of times with prescribed medicine?

Jahri Evans:

Yeah. It’s a huge issue. It’s one of those issues that is like grandfathered in. It’s been going on for so long. My wife’s an RN, and it something that we have to get a handle on. The information side of it.

You just have to give the people the information. As an athlete, we have access to a lot of painkillers just because the motto over the years has been getting the guys on the field.

Ed Rush:

Get them back on the field.

Jahri Evans:

Get the guys on the field, whatever it takes to get them on the field, but as athletes, we also have to temper ourselves sometimes and say, “Hey, I can’t. My body’s had too much. I just can’t,” or you’ll see, your body will tell you, just like KD. You know what I mean?

Ed Rush:

Yeah.

Jahri Evans:

In the medical field, we have to understand that these drugs carry over once … it has an effect on individuals, not just physically, but mentally and things of that nature.

I don’t know, man. I think more … I think there are other remedies out there that can help. They’re just not I guess easily manufactured or making money off of it.

We know what it’s really about. That’s what it’s about. I think as individuals, we just have to educate ourselves on it. We have to have help. If we need help, uplift from people around us, then don’t be afraid to reach out and do that.

Ed Rush:

When I was playing football, I remember I got hurt in the middle of the game. They stuck a needle into me with something in it that I don’t even know.

Ed Rush:

I don’t think that’s happening at the high school level quite as much as it did, but we had a doctor sitting right there.

Jahri Evans:

Well, that wasn’t happening in the inner city. I tell you that much. We don’t have those resources.

Ed Rush:

The point was I didn’t know what it was.

Jahri Evans:

Exactly.

Ed Rush:

People taking Advil. I mean there’s referees my dad refereed with who every single night were taking Advil and now they’ve lost their hearing because of the Advil. There’s a lot of, like you said … a lot of it is the information. It’s tragic.

It’s awful to go through and to attend that funeral where you see the end of that result in a kid that got wrapped up. I mean he made mistakes. There’s no question about it, but at the same time, he was put in a really difficult situation because of where he started out.

Jahri Evans:

You’re right, man. Jeff was a good friend. I enjoyed the time we had together. He was awesome, man. We kept in communication all the way. He was doing his hike, and I was excited for him.

Ed Rush:
That’s right. Hiking through the Appalachian Trail.​ ​We were all pretty excited about that.

You were a good friend to him, man. I really appreciate that.

Jahri Evans:

Thank you.

How You Can Contribute to Jahri Evans’ Work

Ed Rush:

He really benefited from you.

Well, let’s wrap it up. I want to end by talking about your foundation because I really believe in what you’re doing. I think it’s brilliant. I think a lot of guys become successful, and then they move on, but you really were successful, and decided to spend a lot of money and a lot of time, invest money and time, in the place where you grew up, really helping kids move faster even than you had the opportunity to.

Talk about the foundation. Also, tell us where our listeners can go find out more because I’d like to ask them to donate as well.

Jahri Evans:

You can go to the Jahri Evans Foundation: ​www.JahriEvans.com​.

Over the years, we’ve … like I said, we’ve done camps. We’ve done school drives. We’ve done school supplies. I really enjoy going and just talking to the youth, giving them that time.

Players and athletes have given funds and revenues to different things, but I think they get something out of actually hearing from you, seeing you, touching you. You know what I mean? I’ve shown that it works.

The one school I talked to was Liguori Academy, which is in Kensington, and we all know how bad Kensington is.​ ​You’re in that neighborhood and you see what these kids are walking through every single day and the challenges, what they’re visually seeing and hearing, coming encounter with.

That’s a very new school. It’s only been open for about maybe two years or so. To go there and just drop some knowledge on them, to let them know my story, and help them on their journey is very uplifting for me, and inspirational for them and my family. It’s been fun.

We do a lot of different things, like I said. We entertain emails, phone calls all the time of people wanting us to do different stuff. Some things were able to do. Some things we’re not.

Sometimes, we’re able to be a middle person, and put them in the right place to help them out in their cause. I enjoy doing it. My sister runs my foundation. She also works in the school district. She’s been working in the school district since I was young. It’s a fun time. My family has all had their hands on it helping out and stuff like that.

They’re all getting older now, moving onto their career, so I don’t have as much help at times as I used to. It’s fun. I enjoy giving back. With Bloomsburg, I started out doing scholarships from my foundation for incoming sports freshmen. Then, we opened it up for all students with honor roll grades.

Ed Rush:

You’ve helped a lot of people go to school. Yeah.

Jahri Evans:

I did the Bloomsburg and we have our scholarship there. Yeah. I just want people to continue education, even if it’s not in the traditional college setting.

Jahri Evans’ Advice to the Upcoming Generation

Ed Rush:

If you were going to talk to somebody growing up now, where you grew up, and tell them what advice you would give them about life, career, business and everything.

Jahri Evans:

Yeah. The advice I would give you young individuals out there, young women and young men, is just to start your, I should say, your methods or your foundation, what you’re going to build your career, the goals that you want to reach, start that young.

Start writing things down. Start brainstorming. Build on top of that, and before you know it, you’ll have your mountain that you’re sitting on top of the peak.

Never be afraid to reach out, ask for help. What you have to realize is that your elders, your parents, your grandparents, cousins, uncles, they’ve lived longer than you have, and have experience, and that they can help get over some of those hurdles.

Don’t be afraid to reach out, and always enjoy what you do. If you don’t enjoy it, find something that you enjoy doing.

Ed Rush:

Love it. Get great help. Enjoy what you do. Ladies and gentlemen, my good friend and an amazing mentor, good man, Jahri Evans. Thank you for being on the show.

Jahri Evans:

Thanks for having me.

Ed Rush:

I really appreciate it.

Jahri Evans:

Thanks very much.

Ed Rush:

That’s what we believe. This was Ed Talks, and we’ll talk to you soon.

Jahri Evans:

Peace.

This is what I believe, and I’ll talk to you soon.