Soap operas are funny in that they bring in an incredibly diverse demographic of people who enjoy the daytime drama on network television, including former Cowboys star wide receiver Drew Pearson, a diehard fan of "The Young and the Restless."
Pearson, who once led the NFL in receiving, won a Super Bowl and now sees his No. 88 honored by being given to the best Cowboys receiver at the time, got the chance of a lifetime by playing Victor Newman's bodyguard in a cameo role designed specifically for him.
"The part they had me playing was a security guard, working for Victor Newman, which is perfect, because he's my hero," Pearson told CBS Sports. "He's the real person I gravitated toward back in the day when I first started watching 'Young and the Restless.' So I was [playing] that as opposed to Drew Pearson, former NFL player, showing up. I had a couple of lines. I got to interact, acting-ly, with some of my favorite actors and actresses. Victor of course. Victoria. Neil -- Kristoff St. John. And Hilary. These are some of my favorite actors and actresses on the show. So I was so blessed and honored that they included me in the segments involving them.
"And that made it a lot easier, because they accepted me -- I was excited to see them, and they were excited to see me, so that made it a little bit easier for me to adjust to it."
Newman, the legendary character played by Eric Braeden, has been on TV since Pearson was playing for the Cowboys, and Pearson last suited up for America's Team back in 1983. In fact, it was actually while playing for the Cowboys that Pearson got hooked on "Y&R," sneaking away between practices to get his soap fix.
"Monday was come in and watch the film of the game [the day before]. Tuesday off, Wednesday/Thursday/Friday was work and preparation for the upcoming game. So you pretty much knew your schedule," Pearson said. "But we'd always come in for a 10 a.m. meeting and take a break at 11:30 for lunch and didn't have to be back 'til 1 maybe 1:30. So I lived real close to the Cowboys practice field, so instead of going out to lunch with the guys, I would go home, watch Young and the Restless on TV, then eat my lunch while doing that, then go back to practice after that."
As Pearson recalls it, telling anyone on the Cowboys roster in the late 70's/early 80's that he was eschewing time with the guys to eat lunch, hit a pool hall or do whatever pro football players did with an hour to kill in Texas in that time, it might not have gone over so well.
"I couldn't tell the other guys I was watching 'Young and the Restless,' OK? I couldn't tell my teammates," Pearson said, laughing. "They might have questioned my toughness or something like that. I became a fan then."
But "The Young and the Restless" isn't just some fun little obsession for Pearson to spend his free time. He says he learned a lot about being a ruthless businessman by watching Braeden's character run his different business enterprises.
"What drew me to the show more than anything was the business aspect," Pearson explained. "What drew me to Victor Newman was his business acumen, how he ran Newman Enterprises, how he handled his people and how he got his family involved and all that kind of stuff. How he used to work these deals to try and stick it to Jack, you know?"
Pearson picked up on the ruthless and aggressive way Newman ran his business, understanding that at the end of the day, it's all business.
In that respect, it sounds a lot like the world of the NFL. Maybe Pearson was onto something -- there might be more crossover there than anyone could imagine.
Pearson's episode airs on June 28.