Spotlight on Former Athlete: Patrick Minnis - Men's Tennis 1988-92
Minnis keeps company with rich, famous Rodgers
By Bruce BrownAthletic Network Life can take some strange turns, some of them delightfully offbeat.
Former UL Ragin' Cajun tennis standout Patrick Minnis was in Arizona with his wife and three children, growing his business as an insurance agent with State Farm, when fate knocked on the door with a surprise.
Minnis was asked if he wanted to read for the part of a State Farm agent in a TV commercial – a fairly frequent occurance within the company, but something new to the ex-Cajun.
Next thing you know, Minnis was in Hollywood, filming what has turned out to be a series of humorous spots with legendary Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers.
“It was total luck,” Minnis said. “State Farm asked agents in the company if they wanted to audition for an ad. I decided to try it. I figured it was something for the future, that there was nothing to it.
“The next day, I got a call that I had been selected to play Aaron Rodgers' agent, and I was going to fly to Hollywood in two days to shoot the ads. It was during the ESPY Awards, and we shot them all over two days.
“We shot six spots in all. I had no idea it was going to become a series.”
The ads have become popular, as the stoic, dependable Minnis character stands by Rodgers _ Robin to his Batman – while a jealous sports agent complains that his role has been diminished in Rogers' life by the State Farm agent (Minnis).
“I had no idea what would happen,” Minnis said. “I got calls on my cell phone, emails – some from people I hadn't heard from in years. It's been a lot of fun. It was totally luck.
“I was asked to read a script, and I didn't really pay attention to it the first time we read it. It was a 5-10 minute audition.”
Minnis, well remembered for his time as a sportscaster for KATC Channel 3 in Lafayette, was accustomed to reading for auditions and for being on camera. But years in the pharmaceutical field, followed by insurance work, created a gap between such ventures.
Just like riding a bicycle, Minnis remembered what to do.
Minnis, who covered the New Orleans Saints during his time at KATC, had little trouble relating to Rodgers.
“He was really cool,” Minnis said. “Easy to work with. He's confident, but not arrogant. He was down to Earth, couldn't have been nicer.
“Aaron is actually a very well-rounded guy. We talked about his days at Cal-Berkeley. He's part owner of the (NBA's) Milwaukee Bucks. He'd say 'Have your people call my people,' and I don't have 'people.'
“I've talked to professional athletes before, and I've been on the air before, so I wasn't nervous.”
Rodgers' cool and Minnis's experience helped it go smoothly.
“We shot from 8 a.m.-6 p.m., each day, about 45 minutes per shot. There weren't a lot of takes. I improved with each reading. There were about 30-40 people watching.”
Gradually, family and friends have caught on and are enjoying the moment with Minnis.
“At first, my family was excited, but now they don't even look up when one of the spots comes on,” Minnis said in his typical self-depreciating way.
That family includes wife Ally, daughters Morgan, 17, and Ashlyn, 14, and son Jax, 12.
“I've got three kids now, so I don't have time for anything,” said Minnis, the younger brother of Cajun tennis standout Tony Minnis.
Moving first to North Carolina and then to Arizona in 2009, Minnis has discovered different climates in more ways than one.
“The weather is perfect,” said Minnis, whose family dwells in the Phoenix suburb of Gilbert. “People who say it's hot have never lived in Louisiana.”
Sports, too, are different.
“People out here are amazed that New Orleans is still mad about the Saints' getting knocked out of the playoffs by that blown call,” Minnis said. “It was a bad call. People out here don't realize how football crazy the South is.
“A lot of people agree with how bad the call was, but at this point you start to lose the (support of) the rest of the country. People become rather annoyed. There's that SEC ad that says 'It just matters more.' Fans in the South care almost too much. Out here, the other teams' bands don't even come to play at games.
“It's just different.”
Time, and location, can provide perspective.
Minnis chuckles at the attention he's received over his ad with Rodgers, described by some as the NFL's GOAT – Greatest of All Time – and takes it in stride.
“I have no desire to be famous,” he said. “I've been under cover a long time.”
Please google "Aaron Rodgers State Farm Video Commercials" then select the video you wish to see from the listings presented. Congratulations to Patrick. Seems like only yesterday, he was on TV 3 reporting sports stories.
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