INTERVIEW: JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS QUARTERBACK BLAINE GABBERT
Tego Sigel sits down with one of NFL's most exciting young players Blaine Gabbert...
You may have noticed the NFL‘s in town. The Jacksonville Jaguars host the San Fancisco 49ers this Sunday at Wembley Stadium, their home away from. The young Jaguars side are hoping to end their season-long winless streak while San Fancisco will be hoping to build on a recent run of good results.
American Football’s rapid growth in the UK has been massively supported by theInternational Series and following last month’s nail-biter between the Minnesota Vikings and the Pittsburgh Steelers, all eyes will be firmly fixed on Wembley Stadium and we grabbed a few minutes with young Jacksonville Quarterback Blaine Gabbert at Nike Town on Thursday to talk being part of a young team, the energy of the NFL and more…
Is this your first time in London?
How long have you been over?
We literally landed at 7:30am this morning.
Do you bother adjusting to English time?
You have to adjust and that’s the thing we’ve been working on today. We landed, we got to our hotel, I took a couple hour nap and pretty much from noon until now we’re trying to treat it like a normal day.
What would be the big moment in an NFL game that you would show people to get them into the sport?
I think it’s just the ultimate competitive sport. There’s not one single moment in any game, but I would say the ultimate kick-off is great. There’s so much energy in the building. It’s a very unique sport, I don’t think you can find the competitive environment, the competitive nature of the players, the physicality of the players in any other sport around the world. Maybe I’m speaking out of turn but that’s just the way I feel and [the way] a lot of the guys feel.
In most sports around the world players can compete at the elite level as young as 16 years old, in American Football, players have a long incubation period, do you think there are players who could be physically ready for the game at an earlier age?
I think the NFL is very different. The youngest guys coming into the NFL are 21 years-old, I came into the NFL at 21 years-old, junior year in college. You’re going against guys who are 32, 33 and in their prime, so there’s an adjustment period and I don’t think it’s comparable to any other sport in the world from the standpoint of in Soccer, in Baseball and in Basketball you can be 18 and step right in and dominate, but football is very unique, you’re going against physically mature men and that’s something you have to get acclimated to.
The process of becoming a professional football player seems so intense and focused, when you make it to the NFL, how hard is it as a young player to deal with the knock-backs and keep that focus?
I think you learn that as a young player. There are going to be mental and physical setbacks in the game, it’s a very demanding sport mentally and physically. There are going to be disappointments in the game when you don’t play as well as you want to, you’re going to deal with injury, you’re going to deal with broken bones, torn ligaments and it’s just something that comes along with the sport, but I think that’s why we enjoy it so much and love it so much. You’re going against ‘the’ best athletes in the world, playing a physical game and it kind of brings out the best in everybody.
Who are you watching in your position who want to emulate?
There are so many great talents in the NFL and as a Quarterback, you’re trying to watch everybody, because there are pieces you can learn from everybody playing every game and that’s the unique thing about it. There’s not a single guy that you need to watch, everybody does everything well and you just try and learn from them and learn from their mistakes and better yourself.
There’s a whole new wave of dynamic Quarterbacks in the game who can run, who can throw, who can carry, do you feel like you need to be more versatile?
No, I don’t think so and I think there’s a few players that have the ability to do that, but defenses are ever evolving and that’s the kind of in thing right now, it’s something that you view like the Wild Cat Formation, it’s something that’s here and it’s useful and you have to use it when the time is right, but you can’t overuse it per se.
What’s the most satisfying moment for you out on the pitch?
I don’t know. I enjoy playing the game. It’s something you work extremely hard to perform the high level at and game days are extremely satisfying.
What would you call your most frustrating moments on in a game?
The frustrations are part of the game and a Quarterback’s job is to elevate the play for everybody in the football game. It’s to get everybody to play as a unit, to get everybody to play as a one and that’s a challenge that I like to take on.
So few make the grade from those who try to reach the NFL, how much confidence does it give you to know you’ve climbed above so many?
One of your big goals growing up is to make it in the NFL, but you always want to achieve more, you always want something to keep pushing, to better yourself, to better your football team, so at the same time you have made it, but really you’ve just got your foot in the door. There are so many other opportunities you want to take part in, there are so many goals you want to reach before you call it a career.
What about the San Francisco 49ers? What’s the plan?
They’re a great Football team. It’s going to be a challenge for us but we’re excited about the opportunity to go out there and compete at the highest level in a very unique situation out here in London, it’s going to be a great time.
What do you think about the games in London?
It’s unique! I’d never been to London before and everything I’ve seen and being here today has been wonderful, so I’m definitely excited for Sunday and for the rest of this week.
How does it feel knowing you’re involved in a young team that’s building game on game?
We go into the game with the same mindset every week and that’s to get better and keep improving and if you do that then the outcome will take care of itself and of course we haven’t started off the way we wanted to this season, but at the same time, our trend is to continue to see a marked improvement from week to week and knowing that we are a young team and gaining momentum and it’s just something we just want to keep chipping away at and progressing.
Who was your idol growing up?
I always enjoyed watching Kurt Warner and Marc Bulger with the St Louis Rams when they were winning the Super Bowls and they were the ‘Greatest Show on Turf,’ being from St Louis and having season tickets, watching them, it was a fun opportunity to go to those games and see how they did it.
Jacksonville Jaguars Quarterback Blaine Gabbert was speaking at NikeTown London ahead of the second NFLInternationalSeries game. Nike is the NFL’s official uniform provider. For more information visit nikestore.com/nfl #gearupforfootball