Flashback to April 26, 2008. Roger Goodell walks across the stage at the Radio City Music Hall in New York City and announces the 10th pick of the 2008 NFL Draft: “The New England Patriots select Jerod Mayo, linebacker for the University of Tennessee.”
I remember, because I couldn't get to a TV and was compulsively checking espn.com on a cell phone for the newest draft updates. When I read this headline, I said to my fellow Patriots fan, "Really?! Jerod Mayo? We can't do any better than that!"
He responded with three words which truly epitomize the franchise, "Trust in Belichick." I should always heed these words.
Upon being drafted, going through rookie mini-camp and the regular season, Jerod Mayo has acted as a consummate professional, impressing members of the media and teammates alike.
His dedication and adherence to the Bill Belichick “humble pie” way of life in Foxboro allowed him to start every game and be named the 2008 NFL Rookie Defensive Player of the Year.
I sat down with Mayo and asked the following questions in order to understand what drives him.
1) What motivated you early on to play football and become so successful?
2) What were your initial thoughts on getting drafted with the 10th overall selection in the 2008 draft by the New England Patriots?
3) What was the biggest change in your life from playing at the University of Tennessee to the New England Patriots?
4) Was it difficult to adjust from the 4-3 scheme that was run at the University of Tennessee so effectively to Bill Belichick’s patented 3-4?
5) What impact did veterans such as Tedi Bruschi, Mike Vrabel, and Adalius Thomas have on you in getting acclimated to the NFL atmosphere?
6) What was your reaction after your first interaction with Coach Belichick?
7) Coming out of college, many scouts had you listed as an undersized middle linebacker, and there were durability questions as far as whether at 240 pounds you would be able to be a dependable starter. How difficult was it for you to put on weight quickly and maintain your speed and agility?
8) What was the highlight of your rookie season?
9) You were the NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year last year after leading the Patriots with 139 tackles. What do you feel you can do to improve on your fantastic rookie campaign?
10) What do you feel were your biggest weaknesses last year?
11) I have read that this off-season you spent countless hours at Gillette Stadium, in the weight room, and the film room. What do you feel that this time spent will do to allow you to become a better football player?
12) What goals have you set for yourself, individually, this year?
13) You now have one NFL season under your belt. Who has been the hardest individual matchup that you encountered up to this point in your career?
14) How do you feel the signings of veterans, such as Shawn Springs, Leigh Bodden, and Tully Banta-Cain will improve the defense?
15) As we all know, football occupies the large majority of your life. What do you do in your free time?
16) What does this team need to do in order to go back to the Super Bowl?