Damien Woody is a retired offensive lineman who played for the New England Patriots, New York Jets, and the Detroit Lions. He was selected to the Pro Bowl in 2002 and won two championships with the Patriots in 2001 and 2003. Woody is one of the great players to play the game both on and off the field and has mentored many incoming rookies as they transition from college to the NFL. Woody currently shares his knowledge of the game with the world as an NFL analyst for ESPN. Pro Player Insiders’ Melissa Mahler had a chance discuss some of the wisdom Woody offers to this year’s incoming rookie class.
PPI: What was your Draft memory?
DW: I was drafted back in 1999, you hear projections about who will go where and I probably heard from about 10-15 teams and on draft day. I had a little party with my family at my aunt’s house and when pick 17 came along, the Seahawks traded the pick to the Patriots; I heard my name called and the house to erupted.
PPI: What are some things you would tell the players as they make the step from college football to the NFL?
DW: Enjoy the moment. This is a very special moment for anyone transitioning from college to the pros. Secondly, once you get drafted, then its time to go to work. Take care of your business. Understand that football is not just a game, but it is also a business so make sure you have the right people surrounding you, and learn how to say no. That is the biggest thing I would tell any draftee.
PPI: How do you carry that message to the rookies?
DW: It’s all about being repetitive because it’s so important. You keep repeating the message and you just hope the message hits home. The draftees are under a lot of pressure so it’s really important to have the right support system around you. At the end of the day, it’s all about making the right choices. Us as veterans need to do our part and inform them of the pitfalls that we learned from so they don’t make the same mistakes.
PPI: Outside of football, what are some of the things you do off the field?
DW: Currently I’m an NFL analyst for ESPN and I also own my own real estate company. Between that and my wife and kids, it all keeps me very busy.