Exclusive Interview: Super Bowl XLII Winner Reuben Droughns

Reuben Droughns is a former NFL player who retired right after he won the Super Bowl with the NY Giants back in 2008. Now, Droughns is in Serbia preparing the Serbian National Team for the B-Group of the European Championship. We did an interview with him about his college and pro days, as well as coaching in Europe.
Oregon
We were bound for success. The type of recruiting they were doing, the type of athletes they were getting, it kinda built that character that Oregon is that team you want to see. Oregon is that place you want to go to.

When I got to Oregon, things were starting to change when it comes to the uniforms. My first year there was 1999., which was the first year they started changing the uniforms up. With Nike behind us, they just started creating, and creating.

Oregon mascot is something else. It was first Donald The Duck. In 1998 they dropped Donald, picked up the 'O' and started using the Duck. The Duck is awesome! Every time you score he'd do push-ups. I think it's built around the Army/Navy type of tradition, and it's amazing to see such a character develop through the years. Students are the ones "behind" the Duck, and it takes a fun personality to be able to get into the character of the Oregon mascot.

NFL
At first I didn't know if I'll be drafted because I was hurt. It came to the point where I thought I'd be a free agent. When I got that call from coach Bobby Ross of Detroit Lions, wow, that was a tearful moment! I was actually at a party during the draft, and, I started partying way early so I managed to fall asleep before I even got the phonecall. I had someone waking me up to pick up.

Not too many teams were calling me before the draft. Teams were worried because of my injury and if I'll be able to run again.

As a rookie, I went through everything rookies go through. Some of the things I can't even say (laughs). As a rookie you had to sing, I was tied up to the goal polls etc. As a veteran, we probably did worse things to some of the rookies, than the things I had to do during my rookie year. That's definitely for a book! Once, we went into one of the rooms where rookies were at, we threw something really sticky at the guy while he was sleeping, and wrapped it up by covering him in feathers.

After I was drafted for Detroit Lions, I was on the practice squad for the Miami Dolphins, played for the Denver Broncos, Cleveland Browns and New York Giants.

Super Bowl
My favorite moment in my career was the last play of the Super Bowl game back in 2008. I was covering the on the last play, standing next to the quarterback Eli Manning. We scored a TD when it was 2 seconds on the clock until the end of the game, and won the Superbowl vs New England Patriots.

When you're preparing to play in the Super Bowl, you want to do everything right. It's something that you worked for all year long, and you're finally there. 

I was the opening kick off guy. I went down there and made the tackle. On that first kick off return you establish what's that game going to be. It gets your defense motivated enough to play that game. If you go down the field making a great play, and your defense is on the sideline watching it - that right there is the moment. 

Our tactic for Tom Brady was to put as much pressure as possible. We had a great D-line that kept us alive the whole season. 

We had a feeling we will win. We practiced on 2 minute game all the time. Every day we practiced 2 minute, 2 minute.. Eli is one of the best 2 minute QBs out there, and my locker buddy, David Tyree made an exceptional catch!

Europe
I wanted to coach. I wanted to coach people that will listen. I wanted to feel I was building something. I came to Serbia to help coach, and to spread my knowledge as much as I can. I wanted to start a new chapter in my life after retiring from the NFL. 

I didn't really have coaching experience, so it was more me building my coaching strategy based on people who coached me. Football in Europe reminds me of football in The States back in the 70's. It's definitely evolving though. One thing I know for sure - these guys follow and are willing to learn.

Once I arrived I made my team sure that they can talk to me, I'm a down to earth guy. Just because I won a Super Bowl, it doesn't define who I am. Guys were pretty amazed that I'm there, coaching them. Of course they wanted to hear the locker room stories and things of that nature. 

Some of the biggest 'mistakes' I see out in Europe are guys not being dedicated. Guys that are capable of being such great athletes who are not putting enough work. Guys have to understand that they are more of a pioneer for this sport, they're setting something up that's growing. They don't really understand that. 

One of my biggest goals out here is to get these guys to believe as well. Just because something might seem easy, it doesn't mean you don't have to work for it. I want them to believe anything is possible. One of the words I don't let my guys use at practice is "CAN'T". I want them to be able to say "I CAN do that."

Stick with it. Don't think that just because you're young and you don't know what you're doing because you never played the game before, you can't learn the game eventually. You'll adjust to the game and it will catch up to you. 

Mia Bajin
TAG