Catching Up With OJ Fleming

Former Vandy football standout updates life and career

by Andrew Maraniss

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Part of an ongoing series, catches up with former Vanderbilt football standout OJ Fleming.

A tight end for the Commodores from 1995-98, Fleming caught 29 passes for 316 yards in 23 games.

Fleming recently took some time for a Q&A to update his life and career: What is your occupation these days or what did you do before you retired?

Fleming: “Teacher and coach (retired 2019).”

How has COVID-19 affected you and your family?

“COVID-19 has allowed our family to spend some extra quality time together. More time playing cards and board games, watching movies, creating TikToks (one has 2 million views) and more time aggravating one another.”

What has been the hardest adjustment?

“Our recent college transplant (Vanderbilt freshman) had to make the toughest adjustment, initially. He had to relinquish recently acquired freedoms and independence.

“Due to me having an already compromised immune system (multiple sclerosis), the family is used to safeguarding themselves towards potential viruses, such as the flu, and making sure not to bring it home to me. The adjustment now is they are more protective for themselves, me and others.”

What has been the most pleasant surprise in these circumstances?

“The most pleasant surprise has been the rather quick acceptance our teenagers have made to the stay-at-home order.”

Any good books, movies or games to recommend?

“Movie: Greater. TV Shows: Tiger King, You, Self-made.”

What was your all-time favorite moment as a Commodore?

“Any win would be a favorite moment because they were hard to come by. The most memorable moment would be the 81-yard fake punt touchdown run against Alabama by Bill Marinangel in 1996.”

What do you miss in the sports world right now?

“Seeing athletes compete and having fun doing it.”

Any advice or words of wisdom to Commodore Nation to help us get through this?

“Patience is a virtue. This will pass, eventually. This is an opportunity to love on those closest to you and exhibit kindness towards those apart from you.”

Anything else you’d like to say about your time at Vanderbilt or what you’ve been up to since you left?

“Deciding to attend Vanderbilt was the best decision I made. I got to get a great education from a premier institution, to play in the greatest conference and eventually meet my wife (Ellen, B.A. ‘00) which has resulted in three beautiful, kind-hearted souls.”