Go Away With … Benjamin Utecht

Photo credit: Jeremy Cowart

By Jae-Ha Kim
Tribune Media Services
November 1, 2011

When Benjamin Utecht retired from football — thanks to a career-ending concussion — the former tight end for the Indianapolis Colts knew he wanted to move back to Minnesota. “My wife and children spent the last eight years traveling with the NFL and then again for my music,” said Utecht. “I like the fall and I love winter, so Minnesota was a no-brainer.” The end of his NFL days also meant that Utecht, 30, had time to pursue his love of music. “I’m the nonfiction answer to ‘Glee’ and ‘High School Musical,’” he says. “I was the star athlete and homecoming king in high school. But I was also in choir and a thespian, and I really got a kick out of all that.” Utecht is currently on tour promoting his album “Christmas Hope.” Keep tabs on his latest concert dates at benjaminutecht.com.

Q. What is your favorite vacation destination?

A. My favorite place to go is to the United Kingdom. If I could choose a dream destination, it’d be to rent a cottage in the Highlands of Scotland, visit Edinburgh and head back to London and Canterbury (in England).

Q. Are you an adventurous on-the-road diner?

A. I can eat anything except for haggis. I don’t know how anybody can eat it.

Q. What’s your worst vacation memory?

A. We were in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, for our honeymoon. This was right before training camp. I learned the hard way about drinking water in Mexico. I was sick the whole time.

Q. Where are your favorite weekend getaways?

A. I’m a little biased, but one of the things my wife and I like to do is go to northern Minnesota and find quaint towns that have seemingly been untouched by mankind. There are pristine lakes and you really feel like you’re in uncharted territory. We’ve also fallen in love with northern Georgia. It’s amazing, right on the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains. It’s picturesque. We like to spend a weekend there in a lodge-style home.

Q. What are some of your favorite cities?

A. I’ve become a huge fan of New York. I really enjoy going out to Manhattan. It takes me out of my Midwest comfort zone. For someone who loves the arts as much as I do, the lights of Broadway are pretty inspiring and awesome. I never thought I could see a city as busy and large as New York City until I got to Tokyo. I got to see the city when we were there to play in the Tokyo Bowl against the Atlanta Falcons. It was very exciting. I love Nashville. I also love London and Dublin. I could spend the whole day at the Guinness Brewery. The beer tastes totally different there. You get a tinny aftertaste with the (Guinness beer) you get in the U.S.

Q. Which American city holds a special place in your heart?

A. For me, the four years that I spent in Indianapolis was incredible. We were a special team that went to the playoffs each year (that I was there) and won the Super Bowl in 2006. It was an incredible atmosphere and it’s definitely a NFL town. I loved the brand-new stadium, the amazing restaurants and the feeling of being safe. We could walk around downtown at 11 at night and feel OK.

Q. Is there any place you have felt unwelcome?

A. Baltimore. I like the city, but the football fans there do not like me. The Colts used to be the Baltimore Colts. My father-in-law was at one of the games in Baltimore when we beat them. He went to use the men’s room and was approached by two gentlemen who wanted to fight him because they knew he was related to me.

Q. Where have you traveled to that most reminded you of back home?

A. I spent the last 1-1/2 years in Nashville and there’s a lot of Nashville that reminded me of home because of the Midwest values.

Q. When you go away, what are some of your must-have items?

A. A smartphone because not only do I have music and email on there, but I can also access Netflix. Let’s be honest here, with all the layovers and traveling that I do, all I have to do is touch a button and I can stream in any movie that I want. I also love reading historical fiction, so I bring a book with me. And a writing journal for my music. You can have the greatest lyric and lose it in an instant if you don’t have your pen and paper with you. And a box of Hot Tamales, my all-time favorite candy.

Q. Where would you like to travel to that you haven’t been to yet?

A. Some of my cousins are adopted from South Korea and we all embrace their heritage. I would love to visit there someday.

© 2011 JAE-HA KIM

Comments (1)

  1. Ben Utecht says:

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