the Football issue

with all the great players that had come through Alabama. Even with all the All- Americans and all the championships, there had never been a Heisman trophy winner from Alabama at that point. It’s still surreal to me when I think about it. How did you celebrate? I rode around the city in a limo with my mom, my grandparents and a couple of media people from Alabama. We saw the Statue of Liberty, went to Ground Zero, grabbed a slice of New York style pizza and just enjoyed the night. As a past winner you get to help decide who takes home the trophy every year. I don’t think people know that you get to vote for first, second and third choice. How does the voting process work? It’s pretty much just submitting a ballot online with your first, second and third choice, or you can call the head man for the Heisman and tell him your choices. That’s pretty much how it goes. You watch it, you see who you like.Then you list one, two, and three — or you can just list one. Nick Saban is one of the best — and most feared — college coaches in history. What’s it like to play for him? He demands perfection every day. If you’re doing your job and getting after it, you’re not going to hear from him too much. If

Mark OF A CHAMPION Interview with Mark Ingram Photo is used with permission of the New Orleans Saints.

S aints running back Mark Ingram played college football for the Crimson Tide, won the Heisman Trophy, and was a member of the national championship team when Alabama beat Texas to win its 13th national title. He was named Offensive MVP of that game after rushing for 116 yards and scoring two touchdowns on 22 carries. You bucked family tradition when you picked Alabama over Michigan State, where your father and grandfather both played. Nick Saban is one of the greatest recruiters in college football history, but why did you ultimately choose Alabama? It was a situation where I made the best decision for me . I had the support of my family, who attended Michigan State. We just felt like, going to Alabama with Coach Saban, I could maximize my full potential. I had the support of friends and family, and I prayed on it. God made it an easy decision. You were the first Alabama player towin the Heisman and at the time, the youngest player ever. The results are announced live. What’s it like leading up to the ceremony? Can you relax and enjoy the experience? It’s kind of nerve-wracking. You try to be with your family and just enjoy the great experience in New York City. I didn’t win anything at the College Football Awards so I didn’t think I was going to win the Heisman trophy. It was just a special moment, especially

you’re slipping, if he thinks you’re slacking off, or if he feels like you’re not working to your max, then he is going to be on you. He’s a perfectionist.That’s what makes him great. Now you’re playing for another great coach, Sean Payton. How is the relationship between a coach and athlete different between college and the pros? When you’re in college, you’re young, and they’re trying to help develop you into a man. It’s similar when you get to the NFL, but a lot of players already have a family and kids. I have a family and kids; so does Coach Payton. It’s grown men dealing with grown men. It’s just a strong business relationship. We all want the same things: to do well, to perform well and to win a championship. I feel like, in college, it’s about developing young men into grown men. The pros are grown men having strong working relationships and working together towards a common goal. You had the best season of your NFL career last year. Here’s to another one. But one final question ... who plays Alabama for the BCS championship this season? I know Alabama is going be in it again. I don’t know who the opponent will be, but I’m taking Alabama again. We’re going to bounce back strong after last year.



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