Up Close with Maurice Jones-Drew
By: Alyssa Pradella
Ponte Vedra High School
I just finished interviewing the Jacksonville Jaguars equipment manager Drew Hampton, which enabled me to relax and find my comfort zone before interviewing my favorite football player, Maurice Jones-Drew. Jones-Drew was scheduled to arrive for 9AM, but didn’t show up until almost a half hour after. I anxiously, but patiently, waited for Maurice Jones-Drew to arrive. While I was waiting my nerves began to build up again. I had a zillion thoughts go through my mind. ‘What if he doesn’t show up? Or what if he forgot?’ I kept thinking he wouldn’t show. My emotions were going wild, but then I heard the door to the locker room open. In walked Maurice who apologized for being late and we began our interview.
I began by asking Maurice Jones-Drew what the most difficult transition from being a star running back at UCLA to the NFL and he simply answered “the pressure is more intense and the speed of the game increases.” While growing up, Jones-Drew was always number 21. It was his family number and he wanted to carry that on to the NFL. When he was drafted to the NFL, someone already had number 21 and they were looking to sell it to him. He didn’t want to buy it so he settled with number 32 because 32 teams passed on him in the draft. As a side note, I was able to gain some inside information from Maurice. He is going back to college number 21 next year.
I can only imagine what he was thinking before his first NFL game. He said he was very “nervous”. I’m sure he was very nervous considering he was playing behind one of the top running back in the NFL, Fred Taylor. With Fred Taylor being the primary running back, that didn’t give the rookie, Maurice Jones-Drew a chance to shine. Jones-Drew began his pro career in 2006, compiling a list of goals which included “making it on the field, help my team go to the playoffs and go deep in the playoffs.” Now with Fred Taylor signing with the New England Patriots and Jones-Drew carry much of the workload, he has not added any additional goals to his list; rather keeping the same ones he listed when he entered the NFL.
Jones-Drew recently signed a five year deal, which makes him one of the highest paid running back in the NFL. He hasn’t made any big purchases yet. He says “a shallow person lets money change them; I’ve just been the same person.”
Being the star running back for the Jaguars, you may see Jones-Drew on covers of national magazines or on billboards around town. I asked him what it was like to see him everywhere, “I don’t really look for billboards, it’s cool, I see it as another step for after my career, and it’s all fun and exciting.” Jones-Drew has his own foundation called the “Maurice Jones-Drew Foundation” which sponsors a free football camp for youth. His foundation is very important to him because growing up he didn’t have any athletes hosting football camps or giving back to the community. He wants to give athletes’ of all ages someone to look at as a positive influence and role model.
Outside of football, Jones-Drew likes to “play video games and golf.” From day one, he has received tremendous support and love from his grandparents and mother. Their motto to him was “if you start something you’ve got to finish it.” Finally, I asked him what his favorite musicians or group was and he said “I was just listening to Lil Wayne; I like Lil Wayne, Drake, E-40, Young Jeezy, and mostly barrier rappers.”
After my interviews with Drew Hampton (http://football4america.com/so-what-does-an-nfl-equipment-manager-do/) and Maurice Jones-Drew, I gave both of them a nice leather bag with their names on it, courtesy of my dad. They both were very grateful to receive them. I know this was a once in a lifetime deal, and I’m happy I went through with it (even if my nerves were taking over). I learned a lot about Drew and Maurice and excitement that comes from being a reporter. I look forward for my next interview as part of the Student Sports Information Director program with Sportz Ventures and Ponte Vedra High School.
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