ESPN The Magazine’s 10th annual NFL Pre-Draft Party attracted plenty of current NFL superstars, retired greats, celebrities, and of course, hopeful draftees. An event that’s become a spectacle in itself leading up to the NFL draft, the Pre-Draft Party is an event to see and be seen. An opportunity for local media to grill prospects on how their coping with the cameras and bright lights of New York City, as well as the anticipation of where there about to start their NFL careers. Plenty of stars were on hand including Jason Pierre-Paul of the New York Giants, and Ray Rice of the defending Super Bowl champion Baltimore Ravens.
It’s not just the players who turn out to this show though, celebrities like Tyson Beckford and Fatman Scoop also found their way to the red carpet. Along with ESPN personalities like Cari Champion and Michael Smith, who have become media celebrities in their own right, the night was filled with excitement for top prospects and warm exchanges among current NFL elite. Ice T and Coco even made an appearance.
Interview by Adam Silvers (@silversurfer103)
What’s the best part about coming out for the Pre-Draft party?
Giants CB, Prince Amukamara:
What was the biggest problem for the Giants secondary last season?
Inconsistency and miscommunication are factors that contributed to our downplay last season. That’s what we’ve been correcting in the offseason and hopefully we’ll see improvement.
What’s the hardest part about going from the high of winning a Super Bowl to not making the playoffs the following season?
It’s part of the game, but the Super Bowl is here next year, so hopefully it’s a different story.
Ravens DE, Chris Canty:
You took your time to sign with a new team, where you weighing your options?
I wanted to find the situation that was best for me, a situation where I could compete for a championship. At this stage in the game if you’re not competing for a championship, what are you doing? Guys like me had an opportunity to make some money, had an opportunity to win a championship in my hometown, and I want to win another one. I think the Baltimore Ravens represent the best chance to do that.
Giants CB, Aaron Ross:
What do you think the Giants need to improve in order to make sure you guys get back to the playoffs?
I think we need to be more consistent, that’s the main thing. There were games I was watching last year where guys had great games, and then there were games where it looked like sometimes it just broke down. If we can be more consistent this year we’ll be alright.
What’s the hardest part about going from Super Bowl champions, to not making the playoffs?
That’s hard. The number one team to not even making the top eight. It’s very disappointing but I’m sure Coach Coughlin is going to have us back on track, and I can already tell that the guys have that hunger back in their eyes. We should be alright this year.
Giants DE Jason Pierre-Paul:
Do you think the Giants could use another pass rusher this season?
Hey, whoever comes in here and is going to make us win another championship, I’ll take anybody. That’s it, it doesn’t matter who it is. As long as they’re going to step up to the plate and get us to the playoffs, I’m with that. It could be you, who knows?
What’s the hardest part about replacing Osi next year?
It’s going to be hard. Osi was a guy who called it out right away watching film, he’d say look Jason, ‘this guy is going to do this if his feet move a certain way.’ He was right too, we used to communicate so well. Now we need to step up, me, Tuck, Kiwi [Mathias Kiwanuka], all of us need to step up.
Former Lions RB, Barry Sanders:
What does it mean for your legacy to be selected as the cover athlete of the Madden franchise?
West Virginia QB, Geno Smith:
What are your emotions on the eve of the NFL draft?
I don’t really have any emotions, right now I’m just soaking it all in. I’m blessed to be here and it’s a great opportunity for me and family to come here and embark on a new journey. I look forward to everything that’s going to take place tomorrow.
Ravens RB, Ray Rice:
What’s the hardest thing the next season following a Super Bowl win?
You can’t come out next year and think you’re going to start getting ready to play in the third quarter of the game. When the whistle blows we need to start playing. Just knowing that we’re going to get everyone’s best is a big challenge, and in the meantime you just need to get all the pieces together. That’s why this week is so special, you have the NFL draft. Last year we were one of the oldest teams in the league and this year, with a lot of guys coming and going, we’re probably going to be one of the youngest teams in the league. This is something that’s good for us, I’m going into my sixth year and I’m one of the oldest guys on the team. It’s crazy, I was just a rookie, just in these guys’ shoes. It’s a special week for all the draftees, and for us, we just need to keep it going.
Former NFL LB, LaVar Arrington:
What do you think is going through the minds of the draftees this week being surrounded by cameras?
During this period I didn’t even come out, I stayed in my room the whole time. I just think it marks the end of a chapter and the start of a new one. You go from chasing a dream to realizing the opportunity of making it to the National Football League, and now that’s going to happen tomorrow and the next day. It’s an exciting thing and I think it’s a lot of reflecting, at least for me it was a lot of reflecting that took place. I didn’t really sleep, so I was kind of tired the next day. It just marks the end of a journey of figuring out what you were trying to do, and what you’re going to do from here.
Guys look around and say if they do a guy like Revis like that, what will happen to me? But that’s the NFL, it stands for Not For Long, there’s no loyalty.
Jets WR, Stephen Hill:
How does the team respond to the loss of a player like Darrelle Revis?
It’s tough. You look at a locker room leader like Revis and the best player on defense, and it’s a big hit. Guys look around and say if they do a guy like Revis like that, what will happen to me? But that’s the NFL, it stands for Not For Long, there’s no loyalty. He’ll bounce back, guys in the locker room need to step up and say it is what it is, it’s a business. Now we need to go to work and try and win some games.
DJ Kid Capri:
What’s the best part about coming out to an event like this, especially since music and sports seem to go hand in hand nowadays?
Me being be and what I do with the music, a lot of ball players come to my events so I like to intertwine with them. I’m not a huge sports guy, but I do know what I know from them. I was just talking to Anthony Mason, we’ve been friends for a long time. It’s always good to know that they support it, as well as the music supports what they do. I’m glad to be a part of that.
Michigan State RB, Le’Veon Bell:
What’s the most stressful part about the whole draft process?
I think the most stressful part about it is just not knowing where you’re going to go, or when you’re going to go, it’s a combination of both. You’re just waiting for your name, and then you’re going to be in a new city. You’re going to be around new people, you have to make new friends, will your family come with you or not, you’re kind of on your own. That’s going to be the biggest transition for me.
We’re hearing all the time about how the NFL is becoming a passing league, do you have to adapt your game at all at this level?
No, I don’t think I have to adapt my game at all. People say it’s a passing league, but at the end of the day if a team is up eight points with six minutes left in the fourth quarter, they’re going to run the football. As a running back, an offensive lineman, fullback, that’s something you strive for. You want to run the football. The game of football will never go away from running the football, guys can sling it around, but you have to stay balanced on offense.