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Retired CB Bryant McFadden on Big Ben and all things Steelers

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.

Bryant McFadden

Cornerback, Retired

Born: November 21, 1981

Experience: 7 NFL seasons

Interview by Brooke Cersosimo | May 5, 2016

Winning Super Bowl XL, it was my rookie year and I didn't know what to expect in my first professional season. To get to that level and win it and check that box off was huge for me, something I'll never forget. Also, you never forget the first time you do anything of any significance.

It really didn't really hit me until maybe Year 2, when I saw how difficult it was to get back into the playoffs. Winning the Super Bowl my first year, I was on cloud nine that entire offseason. That's the most-watched sporting event in America. Everybody watched that.

It was like a dream come true. It's hard to explain. I never expected to get to that level so early, but when I got to that level, holding the Lombardi Trophy, it was like one of the best dreams I ever had. Offensively, this year's Steelers compare to the [Super Bowl-winning teams I was on]. But there are a few questions to answer on defense. You see the transition from younger, talented players being involved in the defense, and they have to learn from the vets who have been to that level.

If the offense is healthy, they can carry this team until that defense gets to the level of being a consistent, aggressive defense. The Steelers have always been a well-coached team, but with any championship-caliber team, you have to be healthy.

I think Ben [Roethlisberger] has at least four years left at a high level. He lost a lot of weight this offseason, so he's trying to do whatever he can to stay healthy the entire year. The last few years have been great for him, so he hasn't slowed down when it comes to production.

My advice to draft picks [Artie Burns and Sean Davis is to] learn from the older guys in the secondary. Learn from a guy like William Gay, who's been around and won a Super Bowl, or Mike Mitchell, who came over from Carolina but has been in the league several years. Get as much knowledge as you can from these guys on and off the football field.

Playing on an island. One thing about playing corner is whenever you make a mistake, everybody sees it. You don't even have to be a football fan, just a casual fan. When you see a receiver score a touchdown and you see the corner in the screen, you're assuming he made a mistake or got beat. Every time a corner is around a big play, he's not always at fault, but just from watching the game, you anticipate that he made a mistake.

When you're in a big game or Super Bowl and your job is to prevent the offense from scoring a game-winning touchdown, that's a lot of pressure because you know the whole world is watching. If you make a mistake, slip or give up a reception, and that play allows the other team to score a touchdown, everybody remembers that. That's why I think it's the most difficult position to play at any level of football.

Darrelle Revis, man. Unbelievable. When he was at his highest level before he tore his ACL, I would just watch tape on him. I wanted to see why he was so good. He was very patient at the line of scrimmage, and he's never moving faster than what the receiver demands him to move.

I don't think the Patriots would've won that Super Bowl if Darrelle Revis wasn't a part of that team. I think he's phenomenal. For a guy every week to take on the other team's best wide receiver, and then you look at the stat sheet after the game that says the receiver basically was a non-factor -- that's how good he is.

My first pick-six, 50-yard interception return against San Francisco in 2007. That was my first time getting into the end zone. I always told myself if I ever score a touchdown, I'm going to dance and do something people were going to talk about. But I was so tired that I didn't have enough energy to dance. I just wanted to lay down in the end zone, only to get my breath.

Antonio Brown is the best receiver, and I'm not just saying that 'cause he was a former teammate. I'm saying it from production. He had over 1,800 yards. If you watch football or are a fantasy owner, you know how important and how good he is because he's at the top when it comes to statistics or conversations of who's the best receiver? Or who's the best offensive player? It's Antonio Brown.

All of [Brown's] routes look the same, so it's hard to really get a hint on what he's running. If he's running a fly route, it looks the same as if he's running a post route or out route, dig route, curl route. You can't make the wrong guess because if you do, it's going to be a big play. His ability to make a play when the ball is in his hands is incredible, and I think he's one of the hardest-working players I've seen when it comes to guys mastering their craft.

My lowest moment] was losing the [Super Bowl. That's something I never wanna go through again. I mean, I'm retired so I won't get that experience. I tell people all the time that if I had a choice of playing in the Super Bowl and knowing that if I played I would lose, I don't wanna play. I don't even want to get to that level because words can't explain how difficult that was to get over that hump. You were right there.

Applebee's on McKnight Road. I used to live off McKnight Road, so Pittsburgh people know what I'm talking about. I used to go to Applebee's and eat their sliders or cheese sticks. I'm low key, so it doesn't take much to please me.

What I like about working in the media is my ability to bring the locker room to a microphone. You know, give stories that fans probably don't ever hear. In my experiences in the NFL and being with other dynamic players and coaches, it's huge. I love that side that the NFL allows former players to do.

The biggest challenge is I try not to be overcritical. A lot of analysts tear down on players, but I know what it's like to go out there and perform on Sundays. It's extremely hard. One thing about football or professional sports: You have a bad day, and everybody sees it. If you have an 8-to-5 day, nobody cares. But on that platform, people are super critical. So I try not to be, but I am honest and try to be entertaining.

The [Steelers' tradition] is unbelievable. When you walk into the facilities, we saw Lombardi Trophies. When you walk up and down the hallway, you see a Hall of Famer in pictures. At any given time in the locker room, while you're getting ready for practice or a workout, you see Mean Joe Greene walk through, or Mel Blount, Rocky Bleier and Lynn Swann. The greats of greats continue to be a part of the program there. Most organizations don't have that history or tradition. You feel like once you're a part of the organization, it's your job to really continue to be the standard.

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