An Exclusive SPOTLIGHT Interview: An In-Depth Conversation with RUTGERS Football and Life Legends, ERIC LEGRAND and TIM WRIGHT also announcing THE COLLABORATION; Team LeGrand and Dome Audio Headphones. by Calvin Schwartz, Rutgers ‘69 October 19, 2020
THIS JUST IN: “Win a FREE pair of Headphones” prompt that pops up as soon as you visit Dome’s website domeaudioinc.com which will be up until 5:20pm on Friday 10/23
ESSENCE: This interview is about celebrating ten years of Eric and Tim’s brotherhood, their injuries, triumphs, as roommates and teammates at Rutgers (2008-2012). ERIC LEGRAND AND TIM WRIGHT have COLLABORATED their brands Team LeGrand and Dome Audio, with a 10th Year Anniversary, limited edition Dome x Believe Headphones, will be available for a limited time for pre-order purchase. The campaign launches on October 19th. A portion of the proceeds will support the Team LeGrand.
PREORDERS can be purchased through website domeaudioinc.com and the Dome x Believe preorder launch time is 5:20pm on Friday, October 23rd, for a limited time release.
HOUSEKEEPING; This interview article is a thrill and honor for me. Eric, Tim and Calvin Zooming was perfectly precious. Tim and I were brought together some years ago, mysteriously, by the late Tonya Payton, at the time, Jay-Z’s PR person. Tonya was also working for Tim, when he set-up a foundation to work with kids at the Jersey shore, teaching academics, athletics and life at Friday Night Lights Camp. To this day, Tim and I can’t figure out, how I came onto Tonya’s radar, but so grateful, as it led to our special enduring friendship.
At the conclusion of this interview, I’ll include several LINKS from recent NJDiscover.com articles on Dome Audio Headphones, a most amazing new way to listen to music. The Future of Sound.
EXPECT: A wonderful, incisive, candid, poignant, revealing story of two New Jersey high school football standouts who met at Rutgers and began a life-long friendship with love, caring and devotion way beyond.
INTERVIEW: There we were, the three of us, up on a computer Zoom screen, clear, smiling, anticipating. Zoom; a brave communicative new world, ignited by a pandemic.
As a methodical journalist, I entertained going the chronological route. “So, when did you guys first meet?” Tim suggested Eric start off. Eric smiled, “It was our first official visit in 2007-8. Rumors were Coach Schiano was about to leave for Michigan… then we heard he’s staying.”
Tim jumped in. “That led to us committing to Rutgers in February, 2008… Eric and I played in the First New Jersey, New York Governor’s Bowl at Rutgers… We won… I remember at Rutgers practices, seeing this large individual run so fast, I asked who was this dude?”
Hard to explain. I’ve been doing this kind of journalism gig for nearly ten years. You see and feel things the more you do it. I saw their chemistry, love, friendship, respect. So evident.
Eric mentioned that high school football game. He said they were trying to prove a point, showing off skills and ultimately beat New York. Next, I asked them about being roommates freshman year at Rutgers and how it was really like.
Tim started off by saying how that summer set it off. “We came in as freshman after graduating high school in June… Training camp, our personalities, our humor and both us being so charismatic… We got to be roommates…all us local guys chose to room.” Tim cut hair which went all the way back to his relatives cutting hair. It was a destiny. “I had a history of cutting hair… Of course, now I have a barber shop-The Wright Cut on campus… Eric was local from Avenel, so he would have all his friends come to the dorm along with my friends from Neptune for hair cuts every Thursday, Friday, Saturday nights… Everyone came to my room… My wife cooked.”
Eric started to laugh. “To expand on this. You come home to the dorm from a workout, from class, and everyone we know is around… It was actually inspiring, seeing what Tim was doing in a storage closet… cutting hair to what it has become today, now the Wright Cut… back then to now, inspiring.” Eric laughed harder again. “He was getting his hustle at 18-19 years old.”
Tim stopped laughing slipping into his patented engaging broad smile. “Random kids from all over the world waiting for a haircut… Great times. Rutgers was the best.” Wearing my Rutgers hat the past ten years so proudly, I love hearing “Rutgers was the best.”
“Time to inject some serious stuff for balance. You both got injured in 2010. What was that like for you? How has that injury impacted you today?”
There was several mini-seconds of a strange silence. Eric took the lead. “I resolved when you got injured Tim during practice, when your knee went down… this was supposed to be your breakout year…your season…. all the hard work you put in.” Eric fast forwarded to two fateful months later. The Zoom audio went silent.
He continued. “My life turned all upside down… Not even to know if I was going to live, breathe on my own… Then lessons we learned, were taught at Rutgers… to battle back… Obviously Tim’s situation was different, but he battled back, to get a life… It was the lessons we learned at Rutgers… All hard work, adversity and to battle back and live life.”
Tim waited a few seconds. Inhaled, “When I went down, it was devastating. I cried for one day after the injury and I knew I had a mission and purpose and had to lead by example.” It was supposed to be Tim’s breakout season. He had to get himself back on the field and lead in the classroom as well. Listening to both their determinations riveted me. Tim went on, “I put all those aspects together to be a leader… Two months later at Giants Stadium when Eric went down… you could hear a pin drop… the silence of the crowd… for me the silence because Eric was my brother roommate… we came back and won the game… It wasn’t about the game.”
There was a team meeting the next day. Some team leaders were about to throw in the towel out of a desperation and inconceivable turn of events to one of their own; because of what they witnessed with their brother, Eric. Tim added, “It was hard to swallow… Months later, Eric got in a stable position and the team went to visit… It was him pouring that inspiration back into us… When he came out onto the field at the West Virginia game, it was incredible.” I mentioned my goosebumps because I was there.
Eric knew that there were teammates that wanted to throw in the towel. A certain serious sense, hard to describe came over Eric, sitting on the Zoom screen top left. “I said it happened for a reason. I’m supposed to do bigger and better things… Go out and live your dream and don’t be afraid… I don’t remember a lot from those early days… My roommates, teammates and family knew everything going on.”
I reflexively took a deep breath. Heavy stuff to inhale, I thought to myself. Tim jumped in next, “Bring it full circle ten years later. Literally Eric’s a role model. Everything Eric stands for and that brotherhood and New Jersey… the story is still being written.”
I interjected that the Army game was the first time I ever took my wife to a Rutgers game and got seats in the first row to be close to the team. And then that sound and the silence.
“There is a certain extant spirit at Rutgers. We are special. Just look at what Rutgers produces… so meanwhile, now that those playing days behind you, what are you guys doing today?”
Eric’s voice seemed to rise pridefully. “It’s my ten-year anniversary. My foundation to raise money to continue to find cures for paralysis. “Today’s Care, Tomorrow’s Cure.” I also have different projects like Forbeto (For a Better Tomorrow https://forbetounites.com/ ). “A cool project Tim and I are coming together for Dome Audio Headphones… Tim approached me. I was down with it… a cool unique opportunity… so glad he reached out to me to be a part.”
Tim spoke of how Dome can be used as an instrument to impact lives. He explained that it gravitates people in and influences lives in a positive way. He did come back to campus and open The Wright Cut which celebrated its fourth year on campus, with 30,000 services rendered and ten thousand people getting a haircut. In 2018, he transitioned from football to his other passion, entrepreneurship.
“There is a back story to working with Tonya Payton. She introduced me to you Calvin, and then to Ben White, the inventor of Dome Audio Inc. Headphones and now my business partner… Dome Headphones are the world’s first Surround Sound Bone Conduction headphones.”
Tim did a demonstration on Zoom of the purist utility and practicality of the headphones. (see picture) “It blocks out noise… Head Phone real estate… we can COLLABORATE with any celebrity and brand around the world… What Eric is now wearing, “Believe 52,’ we are able to put on the Dome covers which cancels unwanted noise.” The next few years Dome will have the ability to bring brands and celebrities together.
Tim excitedly added, “We just got the license for Block R (Rutgers) logo, bringing it home to campus… we can use this blueprint to spread it around the world…we’re all so close knit… Great things coming in October.”
I saw a demonstration of the Dome Headphones (as a journalist doing a story) a few weeks before the pandemic. I was blown away. One of the reasons I’m back to Dome again here.
I asked Eric when he first saw the Dome Headphones. “Tim came by and put them on my head. Heard music through the bones and could hear conversation going on around me, then the covers were put on and I’m in my own world.” Eric told how this was a life changer when it comes to headphones; totally different. Poignantly he added, “Glad to be part of it with my brother.”
I noted their friendship is celebrating a tenth anniversary. “Is there anything special in the works?”
Eric talked about Forbeto, closing in on raising $2 million for spinal injury research in New Jersey. “Injuries don’t discriminate. Anybody can get it… With my foundation, we step out of comfort zone and hold events to bring all people together…. 5K Walk to Believe…the tenth annual… this last one virtual of course… And the Second Annual Zoomba event, Flag football, dear to my heart, CK Kickboxing, Yoga… all bringing community together to raise awareness and money… to get a cure one day… so I can go back to Met Life stadium and lay down on the 25-yard line and walk off the field.”
These were wondrously heavy words. I grew silent. Waited. Then Eric blew me away again. “Rutgers is my family… Truly incredible to see how they rallied around me… whenever I need, I just give them a call.”
It was time to lighten this special heaviness. “Are you guys excited with the return of Coach Schiano and the future of Rutgers football?” Tim spoke first, “He belongs here, his home… Things happen in life for a reason. Rutgers was climbing up…. When Eric and I were there… a few years after Eric went down, I played through that, then Tampa Bay, reconnected with Coach Schiano… Eric signed a contract there, retired his jersey.” Schiano was at Tampa Bay a short time, then Ohio State, and a short time at New England and now he’s back at Rutgers in his home state of New Jersey. Tim said, “We can’t wait for kickoff…. He re-galvanized his original crew, bringing back players, staff is younger… incredible to witness this.”
Eric talked about creating Rutgers Family. It was what they are doing now. I had to tell these two Rutgers football legends, that every two months religiously, I go to YouTube and watch the Rutgers-Louisville Game November, 2006. Long story, but a spiritual thing with me.
I was curious about their take on being top players coming out of high school in the state and what would it mean to keep top NJ players at home. Eric reinforced how we have top talent here and that if Schiano keeps improving the product, it’ll take time but not much time, because he has certain demands from players. Getting top players to stay home will mean one day, they’ll end up in the NFL like Rutgers teams of old. I noted that many of Super Bowl champion New England Patriots defensive backfield came from Rutgers.
Tim thought Rutgers was a microcosm of what a talent pipeline could be. “Our class started a rebirth. Our rookie year, Rutgers had the most players in the NFL.”
“Alright guys, let’s have fun. What is the craziest memory you had at Rutgers?” No time elapsed. They jumped right in with a nostalgic bravado. Eric chimed, “Rutgersfest. The whole campus was a party. Concerts. All the campuses. It was so well known; it became a state of New Jersey fest. Crazy times.”
Tim laughed, “I have to piggy back on that E. Looked forward to it at the end of April… we mapped everything out, which friends were coming… but you know, we worked hard, excelled in the classroom which is why we had fun too.” An introspective moment passed. “While Rutgersfest is eliminated, WE are coming back with Dome Fest…making noise with it… Music is key to everyone’s soul.”
Eric added, “I can’t wait.”
I briefly went off topic but stressing relevancy to Dome Audio. “I’m on the Advisory Committee of the Women’s Health Institute of Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School. Last two weeks, we had lectures on music in healing. File that in your Dome Audio memory banks.”
We were winding down a magical time together. I needed to be funny, memorable, special and down to earth. “Eric, Tim cut off your locs; how hard was it to let them go and what was the experience like letting them go.” We three laughed at the same time on the Zoom screen.
“I had my locs for 11 years. Crazy. I loved them sitting in my wheel chair. They would get caught in my wheel chair. An inconvenience for me. Finally, I said that the only person to cut this off is Tim Wright… I called him and told about my idea. So, on July 17, 2018, I went to Tim’s The Wright Cut shop. Even News 12 came out. When it was first cut off, I looked crazy but I got the Wright cut.”
Perfect segue for Tim. “Once you go Wright, you can’t go wrong.
Time for one last wrap question. “Over the next three years, do you have any goals to bring to life?”
“Journey with Dome Audio. What we can bring to campus. Dome will resonate with the community at Rutgers. This journey with this disruptive technology… very exciting things… Happy to have you guys on board and Eric’s campaign with Believe and other different looks will be awesome. And The Wright Cut is a staple on campus.”
“I’m working on opening up my own coffee shop… Spread joy… I love seeing COLLABORATION like I’m doing with Tim… People you work with, grew up with, being able to collaborate and a sense of community that we will thoroughly enjoy.”
Usually, I end interviews with a long summary and encapsulation. But this has been so special and beyond emotion. I’ll end this with one word describing these amazing guests, legends and Rutgers alums. “Wow. And of course, thanks guys.”
“Oh Eric, we need to talk about the coffee shop and do an interview.”
Eric Le Grand:
NOW ALL THOSE INTERESTED YOU CAN CHECK NJDiscover.com for the following articles on Tim Wright, Dome Audio Headphones and Ben White, Inventor, CEO.
“NJ Discover Exclusive; A Journey to the Future of Sound. My Day with BEN WHITE, Inventor, Founder, CEO Dome Audio (Disruptive Headphones) by Calvin Schwartz March 3, 2020” LINK: https://bit.ly/3d1XDb6
NJ DISCOVER EXCLUSIVE: Conversations with TIM WRIGHT- #Rutgers #Football #NFL (Tampa Bay, Detroit, Kansas City), New England #Patriots (Super Bowl ring), Business-The Wright Cut AND NOW changing the way people will listen to music/sound forever-DOME AUDIO (headphones) by Calvin Schwartz February 11th 2020 LINK : https://bit.ly/2Q0Lhp3
CONTACT AND INFORMATION:
DOME AUDIO WEBSITE: http://domeaudioinc.com/
Timothy Wright LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/timothy-wright-28972b10a/
THE WRIGHT CUT https://www.thewrightcut.net/