NFL Media's Oklahoma Drill series presents exclusive, quick-hitting one-on-one interviews with players and coaches from around the league. No nonsense -- just football experiences directly from the source.
Running back, Retired
Born: May 1, 1973
Experience: 12 NFL seasons
Interview by Andrea Hagemann | September 8, 2016
I think one of the things you have to learn to do as a starter on an NFL team is to just play your role and not try to make up for [your quarterback's injuries] because it's really an impossible thing to do. If you're out there on the field, it's because the team knows, the coach knows you're going to give your 100 percent. Well you don't have another 100 percent to worry about Tony Romo. Your focus has to stay the same, has to be the same. You don't have to do any more than what you were already going to do before Tony Romo or Teddy Bridgewater got injured. [Minnesota's Adrian Peterson and Dallas' Ezekiel Elliott] need to be themselves.
Aside from being the coach who drafted me, [Bill Parcells] was the coach who shaped and molded me also into the player I became. He instilled in me certain principles and certain ways. He's taught me very intimate things about what a professional is and how a professional carries himself, and what principles you need to operate by. These are some things that were not only things that helped me be a good player, but they helped me be a better person.
[Parcells] was probably one of the most influential men and people, period, in my life. Without him, my life is nowhere near what it is right now, and I wouldn't have the career I had. He's been somewhat like a father figure to me, not only during my career but more so after my career -- him and I stay in touch. We make sure we get together every once in a while, but we text or call one another often enough.
I didn't receive a lot of backlash. I think I received more frontlash. It was more the New York Jets fans that were against it originally than the Patriots fans were. At the time -- and I totally understood it -- they had a really good running back in Adrian Murrell and he rushing for like 1,100-1,200 yards in a season, and I thought he was a really a good guy.
When Parcells brought me [to New York], the big knock on that was that running back was the eighth need on the team and made it the first need. He not only made it the first need, but he made the position the first need at the expense of all the other needs they had on the team.
I remember when they were questioning Parcells, they asked him why he would make a move like that. To me, it was one of the biggest compliments he has ever given me. He said, "One thing you guys don't understand about this man is that, not only will he be the best player on this team, but he'll also be the best person on this team. You don't understand how he'll impact this locker room. He's going to make everybody on this team much better and we'll be a better team."
It just worked out -- not to my credit or anything -- but I was so grateful my first year. We ended up going to the championship game.
I think one of the things that is most memorable to me is ... One day Parcells called me out at practice when I was playing for the Jets. He asked if I had been working hard. I almost took offense to it. Have I been working hard? Are you kidding me? I'm not good enough to not work hard. I said, "Why would you ask me that?" He said, "Just want to make sure you're not fooling yourself." I asked what that meant. He told me, "Son, always remember there's a huge difference between routine and commitment. Some people get better at the same routine that they do over and over again, but there's few people that commit to the next level."
Even though I felt I was working hard, I felt like that made me commit to an even higher level, and I implemented that principle not only in football but also throughout my entire life -- through business, relationships, off the field, spiritually, mentally. I implemented that principle and it's still something I use in my life today.
I definitely think [LaDainian Tomlinson] is a first-ballot Hall of Famer. I can't see him not being a first-ballot. He's one of the great ones.
Ownership is the only way I really see myself being involved in football again. I've had a couple opportunities that I'm glad I passed up on, but I have a few right now I'm really considering.
Other than that, I have several businesses that I own or am part-owner of, and I have my own foundation and do a lot of philanthropic and charitable work. I also have two little girls, who are 2 and 4 years old. So between all that, my life is busier than when I was playing.
Verizon is giving NFL fans more access to football with the LTE advanced. ... It allows fans to stream the plays and stream the games 50 percent faster than what they were previously able to do. It is something that is meaningful to me because this is where I get the bulk of my NFL information. I'm not the type to sit in front of the TV and watch whole games. Between NFL Red Zone and NFL Mobile App, that's the NFL for me.
I would bet on Carolina, but I think it will be between Carolina and Seattle. I think Green Bay has an opportunity, but I think Carolina or Seattle. In the AFC, I have to take the Jets out of it because, obviously, I want them to be there. But take away the Jets, and I'm probably betting on the Patriots or the Steelers.