AF Insider: Hi Derrick, thanks for agreeing to speak with me. So, I guess the first thing the fans want to know is if you’re going back to Jacksonville?
Ross: I’ve already signed a contract so it looks like I’m going back to the Sharks. I have some interest from other teams, other people, and organizations around the league, but for now, it looks like I’m going back with the Sharks.
AF Insider: You had a pretty good season last year, put up some good stats?
Ross: I think 25 rushing TD’s and 3 or 4 in the post-season, thanks to my O-line
AF Insider: What did you think of the NAL’s first year?
Ross: It was a new league and coming from the AFL you never know what you’re going to get with each player. Once I figured it out I became loose and like me again. The talent level is not quite the AFL yet, but it’s a competitive league and I think it’s going to get better. There were a lot of rookies out there and I’m a vet, so I’m maybe a little advanced on them, but the guys that played last year, I’m sure they’ll get it.
AF Insider: A couple of the expansion teams have brought in very good veteran QB’s and coaches so it looks like the talent level is being upgraded everywhere.
Ross: Yeah, that’s good for the league’s competitiveness. It’s going to be a good season, but everybody is still going to have to come through the Sharks. I’m not really concerned about it because we get to play everyone and they still have to see us.
AF Insider: Where do you like spending your time?
Ross: Home is Huntsville Texas but could be Philadelphia as well, and I’m in Florida now. I like spending my time wherever I’m happy.
AF Insider: That’s very diplomatic, are you going to run for office when you’re done with football?
Ross: (laughing) No, I’m just being honest I like being happy. I like Texas, of course, and I like Jacksonville. I even like Philly so wherever I’m at, I’ve always been happy. Right now it’s Jacksonville. I like the organization so, yeah, it’s great to be here.
AF Insider: Philadelphia gets cold.
Ross: Yeah it does (laughter) but I still have friends in Philly and pretty much every state. I’m a world traveler, (laughter)
AF Insider: In arena football sometimes you don’t know where you’ll be from season to season and sometimes it seems like it’s even game to game.
Ross: I know it. I’ve been fortunate with every team I’ve ever been on they actually seem like they want to keep me. I see different things with teams pop up every year and I wouldn’t want to relocate like that. I’ve been fortunate enough to stay here, but we’ll see. We’ll see how it goes.
AF Insider: You have been lucky to not move around a lot. What keeps you going?
Ross: I’ve been playing this game a long time and now I’ve got my ring and I’m hopeful we can repeat. It’s also about the younger guys just coming up, I can help them and maybe pass my legacy on to someone else. I’ve got to pass the torch. You can’t play forever and it would be nice if I knew someone could say “I learned from Derrick Ross.”
AF Insider: So are you announcing your retirement after this season? An arena football insider scoop?
Ross: I’m not (laughter), I’m not announcing my retirement! It is getting near the end and I do have to decide what I’m going to do for the rest of my life and start making plans for that. I have, but I’ll be ok. (laughter) I don’t even want to think about that because I still love the game.
AF Insider: How old are you, Derrick?
Ross: (laughter) No, I don’t want to say.
You may as well fess up, I’m going to find out. It’s probably on your wiki page
Ross: (laughter) I’m 32.
AF Insider: What do you do in the offseason?
Ross: Mostly I work out. I go on appearances here in Jacksonville because of the team. Most of the time I’m working out and I’ve lost a lot of weight this offseason. I really want to see what I can do in this league without the weight. I’m usually around 290-300 and now I’m down to 270. It’s going to be a little different Derrick Ross this year. It might shock some people. I want to lose the weight and make it one more spectacular season, or two more, or three more.
AF Insider: Do you think the weight was holding you back?
Ross: I think I did great with the weight, but I want to see what it’ll be like without it. It’ll mean I can move around a little quicker, move my hips a little more and those 10 and 12-yard gains can be 30 and 40-yard gains. I’m really looking forward to the season to see how I do.
AF Insider: How are you feeling otherwise? Body feeling ok?
Ross: My body feels great. It’s a blessing I haven’t had any injuries. One of my ex-teammates said you start feeling it around 35 so I’m still looking forward. I don’t know what it is, but maybe God’s blessed me (laughter).
AF Insider: You married, kids?
Ross: No, I’m not married. I’m trying to find a girl in Jacksonville that’ll make me stay, but it’s hard. I can get ‘em, but I can’t keep ‘em (laughter). I don’t know what it is, it’s like after a while it’s like I don’t buy your bullshit, bye. (more laughter). No, but I really am, I have all these dates lined up, but I don’t know, I’m not lucky like that.
AF Insider: When this article comes out you’ll probably have the lonely hearts club lining up outside the locker room door.
Ross: Hey I don’t mind that as long as she’s a good girl, and hot (laughter).
AF Insider: Better watch out for the ones that want you to sign their breasts.
Ross: (laughter) It’s like I’m sorry ma’am I can’t sign your breasts in front of your son (laughter). After you take him home you can come back and then we can make something happen. (laughter)
AF Insider: Me: (laughter) Oh man, some of those women who might have lined up just fell out of line.
Ross: (laughter) Yeah, they’re gonna say that’s why he can’t keep a girl, that right there.
AF Insider: The coaching change last year, it happened right in the middle of the season how did that affect you?
Ross: Well, Coach (Mark) Stoute, he’s a good coach. Have you ever met someone who’s well-intentioned but doesn’t quite mix with this team? That’s basically how it was. We had that game after Tommy (Grady) got hurt and we had Damien, but he was the only QB we had, and he was running Damien, all these QB sneaks and I’m like hey, that’s why I’m here, why would you risk messing up our only QB? We had a blow up on the sidelines and but I don’t think it had anything to do with me, However, the next week he was gone. I don’t have any ill will against Coach Stoute, it just is what it is. It was a business move for the Sharks. I mean we were undefeated with him so, you know he is a good coach, it’s just something wasn’t right. Siaha Burley came in and he did a good job. I mean we won the championship, but this is the arena game and you never know what you’re going to get and that’s God’s honest truth. Every year something happens that I’ve never seen or heard of.
AF Insider: That’s why you have to enjoy every moment
Ross: Yeah, that’s it. It’s like I tell everyone, I’m not going to let life pass me by. The young guys coming up need to know this, you just gotta have fun. It’s why I’m starting my podcast. My life is crazy! I get up every morning and do anything I want all day, writing books, doing all this crazy stuff, the battling with the women (laughter), so it’s like it’s a different story all the time.
AF Insider: Getting back to football, in the NAL, not counting you, who do you think the best Fullback is?
Ross: It’s got to be Undra (Hendrix) It’s got to be Undra. He’s a great Fullback. He ain’t the GOAT, but he’s great (laughter).
AF Insider: Hey, let’s talk about the Goat, you said it, not me (laughter)
Ross: (laughter) Yeah, hey, I’m not an arrogant guy or anything, but c’mon man, everybody’s got to compare number two to me because they’ve got to compare them to someone.
AF Insider: Last year I interviewed Chris Dixon. It was right after the Texas Revolution had just won the CIF Championship and I asked him who he thought the greatest QB was in the history of the IFL and he said, “Well if it isn’t me, then who is it?” That’s not arrogant, that’s just the truth.
Ross: That’s right, he’s right. In his case, you look at passing records, wins, championships, it’s just true. Number two is so far down.
AF Insider: In your case, it’s the same thing, the stats don’t lie. You’ve got 195 TD’s and the next guy on the list is Wagner at 127 and he retired I think 10 years ago. Mykel Benson is still playing, but he’ll need something like 85 TD’s to catch you.
Ross: It’s just a fortunate thing where you can move a little bit, you’re big enough to block and you can score TD’s. It’s all a blessing, it really is all a blessing and that’s why I’m going to enjoy it because I know it’s not going to last forever.
AF Insider: Have you ever wondered wished arena football would run the ball more?
Ross: Oh man, I always wondered what it’d been like if instead of getting 5-10 touches I got 20-30? I’m like Marshawn Lynch, give it to me on the two-yard line and I can get in. It’s funny, I know real life is bigger than that, and arena football is just a game, but to me, I can tell my son, hey your Daddy was pretty good at it. Antonio Brown’s Dad was pretty good at it, in fact, Eddie Brown is a legend in this game, and look at how his son is doing in the NFL.
AF Insider: Tell me about the upcoming season?
Ross: Hey. I’m going to go to Maine and eat some lobster, they say that’s expensive (laughter) so I don’t know. I get to travel again this year and it’s going to be fun
AF Insider: I’m hoping to get to a Sharks game or two. The closest team to me is the Carolina Cobra’s so maybe I’ll see you there. If not, I have friends and family in Massachusetts and I might be able to get out to a Pirates game.
AF Insider: The Massachusetts Pirates, they’re the third expansion team. You really don’t care who you play against, do you? (laughter)
Ross: (laughter) Hey. if they line up against me they’re gonna get destroyed. (laughter) You know what I mean? I love this sport, I really do. After my NFL stint, I thought my career was over and I made another one in this arena game. I’m just so happy man, people don’t understand how happy I really am.
AF Insider: Tell me about the NFL?
Ross: Back then I was smaller. I was a Running back but I was behind Larry Johnson and Michael Bennett. I had my game against the Pittsburgh Steelers, and they killed me (laughter) those guys are hard, they’re animals, buddy. In arena ball I’m a big fish in a small pond, but not in the big league.
AF Insider: Hey Derrick, thanks for speaking with me man, I’ve had a blast.
Ross: Hey, put me in a good light, don’t put me in a bad light, I’m trying to get a woman Ok? A wife!