Lions FS, Amari Spievey Interview
Amari Spievey played college football at the University of Iowa in the Big Ten. He had problems at school that he had take care of and went to Iowa Central Community College. He transferred back to Iowa, and finished up playing his sophomore and junior year there. He entered the 2010 NFL Draft and was drafted in the 3rd round, 66th overall by the Detroit Lions. He became a contributor on special teams early in his career, and then last year, he was their starting safety for the entire season. This was done in March 2012.
Amari Spievey : This is Amari Spievey, #42 for the Detroit Lions, and you’re listening to www.prointerviews.org
Announcement : My name is Max Strauss with www.prointerviews.org/, www.facebook.com/ProInterviews/ and www.twitter.com/ProInterviews/. I’d like to welcome you to the interview with S, Amari Spievey. Spievey attended Iowa, but due to academic troubles, he transferred to Iowa Central Community College in 2007. He then fixed himself up and went back to play at Iowa for the 2008 and 2009 seasons. He declared for the 2010 NFL Draft after his junior season. He was drafted in the 3rd round, 66th overall by the Detroit Lions. He switched to safety when he made it in the NFL. He has played a lot of special teams, but also has started at safety for plenty of games in his young two-year career. Here is the interview with Lions Amari Spievey.
Strauss : When did you start playing football?
Spievey : I started playing at nine years old. I played in Middletown, CT for the Middletown Tigers. I was an athletic, little kid who loved to run and was fast. I played running back, and I excelled at running back for many, many years up until I got to college, and then I made the switch. When I went to college, I played cornerback, and then in the NFL, I switched to safety. I never played safety in my life until I became an NFL player.
Strauss : What was your high school football experience like at Xavier HS?
Spievey : Xavier High School was an unbelievable experience. I learned so many things there. Playing sports was so much fun. No girls were there, so I made a lot of great guy friends. We were all close with each other. It made it easier to play sports because everybody was close. I played running back there, won my first state championship while I was there, during my senior year. We were either 12-0 or 13-0. It was unbelievable. I had so many touchdowns and I did so much. It was with my buddies, and that made it all the more possible.
Strauss : How was your recruiting experience like to Iowa? And, being from Connecticut, what was it like to go to Iowa?
Spievey : Well at the time, most of their coaches were from Connecticut. Their offensive coordinator is from Connecticut. I could relate to their coaching staff, being out in Iowa was a bit of culture shock. It was sort of crazy. When I first got there, I was questioning myself. “Do I want to be here? Do I want to play football?” It was very, very different from the east coast. I had to get used to it my first year, but after that, I grew up and became part of it. I decided that this is what I wanted to do. I took care of business, and I made it out.
Strauss : Not many people realize how much adversity you faced in college at Iowa. What was it like for you to go to Iowa Central and also have to play football, and also work on your grades?
Spievey : To be honest, I don’t really know how I made it through all of that. If I had to do it again, I don’t know. I probably would have quit. It was a crazy situation. It felt like I was kicked out of heaven. I was at a D1 school, had everything in front of me, and I was going to start the next year, and they told me that I had to leave. It crushed me. That anger and that rage that I had pushed me through that year. The year flew by. I hated every second of it, but it’s what I need to open up my eyes. It was a huge eye opener and it changed my life. It made me appreciate what I had. I guess I never really appreciated the blessing that I had. I appreciated being talented at football and having a free ride, when I went over there to almost nothing. It really put me in my place. Being kicked out was probably the best thing that ever happened to me, and it changed my life for the best.
Strauss : Will you take me through what it was like playing for Iowa Central, and maybe you have some favorite or positive memory from the school?
Spievey : To be honest, I hated it. Iowa is boring period, but Iowa Central was one of the worst things and the closest thing to it was a jail. There was nothing anywhere. Basically, I felt like I was at a prison. My teammates definitely made it fun. I had a great time with them there. Everybody played hard, had goals, and wanted to win. Everybody wanted to make it out, and we actually had a pretty good team. That made the experience a lot better. I respect all the guys on the team. They could have been like, “Oh a D1 guy came in who is going to take spots on the team.” But they didn’t treat me in that way at all. They accepted me. They knew my situation. They wanted to see me make it back. That situation could have been a lot worse. They could have out-casted me, but they didn’t. They were open to me, and that was a good thing. I appreciate everybody over there that helped me make it back.
Strauss : Then you made it back to Iowa, and what was the feeling like when you returned and you were a Hawkeye again?
Spievey : It felt like I was back home. I was back where I needed to be. It just felt really good. I made sure that there would be no way possible that I couldn’t play D1 football again.
Strauss : You played with some players who are in the NFL now. You played with and were drafted with Pat Angerer, do you have a favorite memory from playing at Iowa?
Spievey : I have a lot of good memories. Just being around teammates like them. Pat Angerer, he was our linebacker. He is one of the funniest guys ever in the world. He’s very funny. He’s a great guy to be around, and he’ll always make you laugh. I’ve never seen Pat mad in my life. Being around guys like Pat Angerer, Tyler Sash, Jeremiah Hunter. I was surrounded by a great group of guys, and it made playing at Iowa a lot of fun. On top of all of that, sometimes you would have a bad day, but they would make sure you’re having fun. Rick Stanzi is also a great guy too.
Strauss : You decided to leave college a year early. What was the decision behind doing that, and why did you end up doing it?
Spievey : To be honest, I didn’t want to miss the opportunity to be in the NFL. I felt like I put a couple good years together, and I had a good chance to be drafted pretty high. I was the second pick in the 3rd round which isn’t too bad for a junior from Iowa. I felt like if I had waited I could have been a 1st or 2nd round pick, but I also could have gotten hurt. I felt like I just kind of had to go.
Strauss : What was your draft day experience like?
Spievey : To be honest it was pretty nerve-racking. I was expecting to maybe at least go in the second round. It is what it is. I was kind of disappointed, but I was also happy to be drafted within the first two rounds. It was bittersweet.
Strauss : Did you have a party for your draft day?
Spievey : I had a couple family members over. It wasn’t too big. I didn’t want to have a big party, and then not get drafted at all. I didn’t want to do that at all. I had my aunt, my mom, my brothers, and my sisters over. I was in a room by myself while it was on in the living room.
Strauss : What was your welcome to the NFL moment? When did you finally realize that you were finally playing in the NFL?
Spievey : It was when I first got my jersey with my name on the back. During camp, you can have any jersey with no name on your back, but just a name on your helmet, but once I finally got my uniform, and had my name on my jersey, I was like, “I made it.”
Strauss : After the Lions drafted you, how quickly did you know that you were going to become a safety and they were going to switch you?
Spievey : I remember that I was hurt a lot, so I couldn’t really run. They kept calling me slow. One day, Coach was like, ‘I want to try him at safety.’ They were like you don’t know the plays, but just go after the ball. They moved me, and were like, ‘One day, he’s going to help us, and he’s going to start.’ That’s what happened.
Strauss : Head Coach, Jim Schwartz comes from a defensive background. How much impact has he already had on your career in two years?
Spievey : He helped me and gave me a shot. He’s the one that moved me to safety, so I wouldn’t be on the field if it wasn’t for him. I owe a lot to him. I wouldn’t be on the team at all if he didn’t want me.
Strauss : What was it like to get your first start?
Spievey : It was kind of nerve-racking. I never started before. It was new. Anytime there is something new, you kind of hesitate. I didn’t want to mess up. That was my problem last year, I played not to mess up instead of playing to make plays. I have to stop worrying about that, and just play the game.
Strauss : The Lions are known to have a great defensive line, and how has that helped you as the starting safety?
Spievey : It helps a lot. They make a lot of tackles. They rush the quarterback into throws. Most of the time we play over-top and we get a lot of picks. We had a lot of turnovers this year. They harass a lot of quarterbacks and a lot of running backs. They help me relax and let me play the ball.
Strauss : What’s it like practicing against Calvin Johnson and Matthew Stafford? And, how have they helped you develop your skill-set so you can become a better safety?
Spievey : They are so good that they force you to practice good as well. They force you to step up in practice because if you don’t they’ll get you. At all times, you have to be ready to play and bring your A-game. It helps you in the game because you can’t get better if no one is pushing you to get better. They prove you to get better every practice.
Strauss : Do you have a favorite memory in the NFL so far?
Spievey : Just stepping out there for the first time. The fans cheering me on. They accepted me. That was one of my most happiest moments. It was my first home game and it was my first start. I had a really good game.
Strauss : Players always talk about how they want to improve themselves and become the best. How do you plan to improve your game and become better for next season?
Spievey : Basically to strengthen my weaknesses. Try to learn and correct the mistakes that I made. Try to learn who gave me problems last year, whether it was tight ends or wide receivers or quarterbacks, and to try to make sure that doesn’t happen this year.
Strauss : For someone aspiring to play in the NFL, do you have any advice for them?
Spievey : Just believe in yourself.
Strauss : Thank you so much for your time Amari. I really appreciate it.
Spievey : No problem.
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->Here are the personal questions that Amari Spievey answered.<-
Strauss : If you could meet anyone, who would it be and why?
Spievey : It would probably be Bruce Lee. He was so passionate and so disciplined in everything he did. He continued to work hard at his craft even when he became the best. I would like to meet anybody that was the best, even Michael Jordan. But for me growing up, I always wanted to be like Bruce Lee. He was my first real role model, and someone who I wanted to be like. It would be him because I’d want to find out what kept him going to be the best.
Strauss : In terms of football, who’d you look up to?
Spievey : I looked up to Emmitt Smith. I was a big-time Dallas Cowboys fan growing up. He wasn’t always the fastest guy, but he just kept working. He played and won a couple Super Bowls. He was an amazing athlete.
Strauss : Have you ever met Emmitt Smith?
Spievey : No, but I saw him. He was an honorary captain when we played the Cowboys last year.
Strauss : But you didn’t get to talk to him or anything?
Spievey : No unfortunately. But, another guy that I looked up when I was younger was Barry Sanders, and I got to shake his down this past year. That was one of my happiest days.
Strauss : What was it like to meet Barry Sanders?
Spievey : I have been in Detroit for two years and when I did get to meet him, it was unbelievable. I think he is the best back of all time to ever play the game. When I got to shake his hand, it was amazing! It was the first time I have ever been starstruck in my life.
Strauss : What is your favorite TV Show?
Spievey : Not really, I don’t really watch TV.
Strauss : What is your favorite movie?
Spievey : I love the Austin Powers series. The best one is the 2nd one which is Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me. I love Dr. Evil, everything he says and does is really funny to me.
Strauss : What is your favorite type of pie?
Spievey : Warm apple pie with vanilla ice cream.
Strauss : Do you have a special pre-game ritual?
Spievey : Before a game, I like to sit down and clear my mind. I try to get rid of any distractions, and I listen to either gospel music or some rap in order to help me clear my mind.
Strauss : What is your favorite song to?
Spievey : It’d be Big Fats, I’m Ready.
Strauss : If you could have any super power, what would it be?
Spievey : I’d like to be able to have a powerful mind, be able to read people’s minds, and be able to move things with my mind. You could do anything you wanted if you have that ability.
Strauss : Thank you so much for your time.