I had an opportunity to interview Ray Rice, the Baltimore running back, this week. Rice is part of a super team of young athletes who have partnered with drinkbodyarmor.com, which includes Mike Trout, LeSean McCoy, and Rob Gronkowski. We talk about his investment in that company, along with the game last Sunday in Kansas City, Terrell Suggs, his contract, and his old coach, Greg Schiano.
Q: You were part of an exciting game at Arrowhead this Sunday, a close game that came down to the end. I wanted to ask you about one of the big things that came out of that–Eric Winston’s comments after Matt Cassel was injured. I know you were on the other side of the ball and on the sideline in the fourth quarter. Did you notice that play and happen to notice anything from the crowd when you were there?
RAY RICE: I mean, they were calling for Brady (Quinn) the whole time I was there. I respect every professional whether you are on the other team or not. Whenever you see a guy go down, you always send an immediate prayer up for him, hoping it will be all right. For them guys to be screaming another quarterback’s name during a game while a guy was down, I wasn’t too sure about that. Obviously, our main concern was to come out of there with the win, but whenever you see a guy go down, it doesn’t matter what it is, and it happened to be a concussion, you always want to wish a guy the best and hopefully he has a speedy recovery.
Q: After that, you got the ball back with four and a half minutes left and you were able to kill the rest of the clock and I know that’s got to be a special feeling. You had the three runs in a row to get the first down, can you tell us what that means to be able to close out a drive in a game when you are coming at them.
RAY RICE: It’s just a statement. To know that, number one, you’ve got to think about the trust level the coaches have in you to run the ball three times straight in that situation and not even risk a pass. It just shows that they have a tremendous amount of trust that we will get it done. It really felt good to know that it was put in my hands, and the offensive line, obviously it starts up front. We were able to get the job done and it helped us out, especially with momentum going forward, knowing that we will run the ball in that situation to win the game.
Q: And sometimes those biggest runs are those one yard runs like you got on third and one there. How close was it? I know you turned and you were able to stretch for the first down, but do you take pride in that run as much as say an eight yard run on first down in the first quarter?
RAY RICE: Yeah, I take pride in that run, because the one yard run to get the first down, that’s what closed the game. That’s the one that mattered. So if I was to be judged, if the world was to end tomorrow, and I was to be judged on my last run, that would be the greatest one yard run I’ve ever had.
Q: Well, you have played in every game the last three years, well more than that, going back to your rookie year. A lot of times you are running with the lead and you are up near the top in touches. What’s the key for you in staying on the field, because we know running back is a hard position?
RAY RICE: The key to me staying on the field and staying healthy is the way I take care of my body, and what you put into your body. That brings me to my next deal I’ve got with BODYARMOR SuperDrink. You know, I was cramp prone, and hydration and nutrition has been part of my whole repertoire as a pro. Being able to hydrate myself and not cramp has kept me on the field. You know, that’s one of the things that come with me. What you put into your body is what you’re going to get out of it.
We’re always trying to find an edge, by me drinking my BODYARMOR SuperDrink, and doing different things to take care of my body off the field, like stretch, massage, pool and tub, lifting weights, doing what I’ve got to do, that’s really what has kept me out there, because If I didn’t take care of my body, then your body will tell you when to shut down as well.
Q: The BODYARMOR SuperDrink that you are talking about, how did you get exposed to that and how long have you been using it?
RAY RICE: Well, I got exposed to it in training camp, because I used to cramp a lot. Training camp is the most brutal time for a professional athlete because you are putting so much on your body in a long day. We practice in the hottest part of the day, so I was just worrying about not cramping. Then I caught one in training camp. Once I tried this BODYARMOR–number one, it tasted good, then I read the nutritional facts about it, because I was all about nutrition. Then the hydration part of it just made me perform better during camp. That’s when my marketing people got involved, and we asked about an investment rather than an endorsement, and sure enough, it soon became a true partnership.
I would never invest in something I didn’t believe in, and right now, I’m just happy to be part of the team full term for the long run, and I would recommend it to other athletes as well.
Q: Now, this last offseason, you also signed a contract extension and I know that as with you, and Matt Forte and Maurice Jones-Drew and several others, there was posturing going in because you’ve got to use your leverage going in as one of the top players to get paid. How much do you think the franchise tag impacted your ability on that contract?
A: Well, franchise tag, what I did know is it guaranteed me one year. Obviously, what any player looks for in the NFL is longevity. By me knowing that I got a five year deal, and a fair deal, it really made me feel good, number one, about my team and my organization, and it made me feel good that my agent got the job done. I could be sitting here with the franchise tag and been an unhappy camper right now, knowing that I had one year left, or maybe a half a season left with a team I really love. That’s where I’m at with the contract situation, I’m just happy it’s all said and done with, and now I get to go ahead and just go out and play for a championship with my team.
Q: One of your teammates has been out this year with injury, Terrell Suggs, and there are reports that he could be back in the next month or so, he’s really doing well. Have you talked with Terrell or see him on a daily basis? Can you tell us how he’s doing?
RAY RICE: He’s working hard. He’s working very hard. Obviously we miss the guy, and he’ll come back when he’s ready. That’s the greatest part about the situation, Terrell Suggs will come back when Terrell Suggs is ready. He knows his body better than anybody else. No one can be the judge of that. But he’s working very hard. I’ve seen him, and obviously, the guy looks like Terrell Suggs. He’s a beast. He’s a physical specimen. You get that kind of presence back on the field, it obviously helps out with the pass rush a lot. We miss him, and obviously when he comes back, it will be great for us.
Q: You’re active on Twitter and you are also one of Rutgers most notable alumni as far as following the football team, your old coach is now in the NFL, and he had a little mini-controversy that pops up from week to week with the kneel down stuff, what was your reaction when you heard about that?
RAY RICE: Well, we did that in college. Coach Schiano is going to play until the last whistle. If it’s within the rules, he’s going to do it. That’s just the kind of guy he is. I can’t knock the guy for doing something that he’s used to doing. That’s the way he coaches, that’s the way the team responds, and not everybody’s going to like it, but how is he supposed to just change something?
He’s trying to build an identity in the NFL for himself, so you’ve got to do what you’ve got to do.
Q: And they talked about unwritten rules, but there are different times of kneel downs, where the quarterback is trying to drain clock because the game is very much in balance, and others where the offense is basically letting up, saying we are not going to try to score on you anymore, we’ve already won.
RAY RICE: Given the situation, obviously, you’d be smart–if you’re asking me, the game’s clearly over. I’ve been playing for–this is my fifth year–I think either team knows that it’s time. But he’s a new coach in this league, and he’s trying to build an image for the way he wants his team to play. That’s just the way it is.
Q: Was some of that attitude the same thing that attracted you–did he recruit you to Rutgers?
RAY RICE: Yeah, he was there when I arrived, I played for Coach Schiano my whole career at Rutgers.
Q: So was that some of the same mentality that attracted you when he recruited you?
RAY RICE: Yeah, he was a great man, and a family man, and he’s a great coach. We turned a program around, we were not too good, and when I ended up leaving, a lot of people knew about Rutgers University, so that was his era while he was here, and they continue to do a good job right now.
Q: We talked about running back longevity, and a lot of the stars are done by age 31, 32. What are you doing to prepare yourself for when that changes, and for after your career?
RAY RICE: To make it to your thirties at my position is very rare, and obviously, one thing I’m going to do now is take care of my body as of now, and try to do the best I can when the time comes. By me being involved in BODYARMOR SuperDrink, my health and nutrition is number one. I can’t go out there and perform at a high level if I don’t hydrate my body the right way.
Performance is everything, and you are always judged by the way you perform on the field, so by me getting involved with something that will help me perform better, it’s definitely going to help my longevity. Obviously, yes, I want to play into my thirties. We know that is rare at the position, so I want to control what I can control now, and that’s taking care of my body.
[photo via US Presswire]