Interview by Jose Martinez; Photograph courtesy of 360 Junkies
You probably know Maurice Jones-Drew and Arian Foster as must-start fantasy players, but these guys do more than fill up stat sheets. MJD has not only established a name for himself as the NFL’s most controversial tweeter—we kid, kind of—but he’s also a skilled gamer, winning the 2010 Madden Bowl and writing columns about fantasy football. Meanwhile, Foster came out of nowhere to lead the NFL in rushing yards this season while also garnering attention for his prowess in Call of Duty. To commemorate the release of the “First Strike” map pack for Call of Duty: Black Ops on Xbox Live, Xbox and Treyarch teamed up to host the two running backs in a special grudge match, which Arian eventually won. Before their matchup, we had the opportunity to kick it with Arian and Maurice to discuss their interest in the video game franchise, as well as fantasy football and the Jay Cutler tweet controversy.
Complex: How did this whole private event come about?
Maurice Jones-Drew: On my part of it, just being one of the best in the country, most likely, the world. [Laughs.] They just wanted us to test our skills against the creators of Call of Duty, to see if we’re that good. I haven’t played in a couple of days, but that second nature is going to kick in and I’ll just be able to destroy everyone in my path.
Complex: Will there be any trash-talking going on during this event?
Arian Foster: Absolutely.
Maurice Jones-Drew: Hey, you know what, I don’t have to talk. My record speaks for itself.
Arian Foster: And that’s talking right there. Don’t get fooled. [Laughs.]
Maurice Jones-Drew: I’m undefeated today, so that’s all that matters.
Arian Foster: It speaks volumes of how they’re setting me up. I’m used to being the underdog.
Complex: How long have you been following the Call of Duty series?
Arian Foster: I’ve been on it since day one. I think it’s just one of the originals.
Complex: Have you noticed any changes that you like from the last one to this one?
Arian Foster: Yeah, just like when we were talking with the creators a little earlier, when you’re running and you try to get down, you actually jump and you kind of, almost like a roll but it’s not. That’s a pretty cool little addition that I enjoy.
Complex: And MJD, you’re pretty well-known for your Call of Duty following…
Maurice Jones-Drew: Exactly right! You’re exactly right, and I’m glad you asked that question. [Laughs.] No, the only reason I got started was that a bunch of guys on our team, they were playing on PSP at one point and they were like, “You gotta play this online,” so I went out and got an Xbox and threw everything else that I had away. I’ve had the Xbox from that point on. They brought me into this world that I can’t get out of now. I think I’ve been following the franchise since Call of Duty: World at War. It’s been great so far.
Complex: Would you say that Black Ops is the best release from the franchise?
Maurice Jones-Drew: We were talking about it earlier. In Call of Duty: World at War, a lot of people didn’t like it because there was a certain gun and that was the gun I used. I think they evened out the playing field a little bit with this new one. It makes you become a real gamer. You can’t have the cheating or the modifying. There were ways that you could go under the map, shoot people, and people couldn’t see you. When they leveled the playing field, they made it a little more exciting and a great way to test your skills.
Complex: Arian, how was your experience at the Pro Bowl?
Arian Foster: It was fun, man. I got a chance to meet a lot of the elite players in the league. I didn’t get the chance to take my game system out there and polish up my skills. Not trying to use that as an excuse, but it may take me a couple of games to get warmed up, especially since they had us in here earlier checking out the new maps and stuff.
Complex: So you’re not familiar with the new maps just yet, right?
Arian Foster: Nah, they emailed MJD all the new maps, and I just spotted some.
Maurice Jones-Drew: [Laughs.] That’s wrong. We’ll find out who’s the best here soon. It’s going to be a good game.
Complex: Arian, you were pretty dominant in another form of entertainment: fantasy football. How do you follow up the great season you just had?
Arian Foster: I think you always strive to get better as an athlete. That’s the difference between good and great, in my opinion. Don’t listen to criticism, positive or negative. You just keep going forward.
Complex: Do you have anything to say to those fantasy football owners who have you to thank for their fantasy football championships?
Arian Foster: I think they owe me half of their winnings. [Laughs.] Nah, I’m happy that they took a shot at me, man. Fantasy football is fun for the fans, and I’m happy to be a part of it.
Complex: MJD, you’re a pretty big fantasy football fan, too. How did you feel about your performance this year? I mean, not even in the top 20.
MJD: I know, I know. I really feel like that was a shot at my pride. [Laughs.] It was true. It was definitely a tough season for myself and the team. I was able to go out and improve late in the year, so hopefully it was when people were in the playoffs and I got them to the championship. Arian beat me a couple of times in my league. So I’ll look into trying to draft him at one point or another.
Complex: Arian, on a fairly recent episode of First Take, you were being repeatedly asked what type of gift you were going to give your offensive line. Has there been any recent development on that end?
Arian Foster: Yeah, there has been, but I can’t tell you because I haven’t given it to them yet. So you’ll hear about it when the time comes.
Complex: Will it be something higher in monetary or emotional value?
Arian Foster: Actually, Maurice told me he was gonna let me borrow $300,000. [Laughs.] It’s gonna be a nice gift from the heart, not necessarily from the bank.
Complex: MJD, what is your offseason looking like?
Maurice Jones-Drew: Well, I just had knee surgery. So right now, actually I’m rehabbing and just playing Call of Duty, to tell you the truth. Right now, Call of Duty is like my third child, so I’m spending a lot of time with him. [Laughs.]
Complex: So would you recommend that same type of approach for someone like, say, Jay Cutler?
Maurice Jones-Drew: [Laughs.] I think he knows how his body is going to heal up. That’s just it, I guess.
Complex: Would say that things have been cleared up since that whole situation happened?
Maurice Jones-Drew: It was my opinion on the game. I didn’t really mean to personally attack him. So, if that’s how he took it, it wasn’t meant to be that way. I don’t think people should be heckled or down-talked because of their opinion, because it’s a free country. It is what it is. I took my lashing from it and I hope everybody as adults can expand, we can all get over it and get along.