When Mark Ingram won the "NCAA Football 12" cover vote, he realized one thing: No matter who steps up to test his skill, he's not losing at his own game.
"How am I going to be on the cover and have somebody whoop me? It's a matter of pride," Ingram told me at EA Sports' Draft Night Premiere party, a suave get together in one of Manhattan's most swanky spots, highlighted by dozens of this year's top draft picks getting the first hands-on of the new college football game.
"I wanted to win last year," Ingram continued, "but this year, I have to win. There's no way I'm going to be on the cover of a game and lose."
And judging by what I saw at the party, those aren't just empty promises as Ingram was holding court on the PlayStation 3, scoring at will against his football peers, talking an unbelievable amount of trash, and running the virtual Alabama offense about as efficiently as it has ever been run in real life.
Now, I've seen hundreds of cover athletes come and go, some sticking to PR speak about the game while not knowing the difference between an Xbox and a lunch box, but Ingram is different. The kid has some serious game, and I think if this whole football thing doesn't work out with the Saints, he might be able to make some serious money on the competitive gaming circuit.
Or at least be able to pickup some cash during the lockout.
Anyway, I sat down with Ingram at the party to find out about his gaming habits, the draft, and his hopes for when he first sees his character in "Madden NFL 12." Here's what the former Heisman winner had to say.
Jon Robinson: I was watching you beat up on all your fellow draft picks at "NCAA Football 12." When did you get so good?
Mark Ingram: I've been playing the game since middle school. I've always been a gamer, that's why it's so special to me to be on the cover. Not only is it a game I love to play, but the fact that the fans voted me in, that's special. The fans wanted to see me on the cover, and by choosing me, they made a dream come true for me. I want to thank everyone who voted for me. It really means a lot.
Jon Robinson: The cover shot is really unique looking. How do you think it turned out?
Mark Ingram: The cover shot is great. It was actually one of the hardest poses we shot the whole day, but the guys at EA chose that shot and I love it.
Jon Robinson: How intense does the "NCAA Football" competition get in the locker room?
Mark Ingram: You wouldn't believe how heated some of these games get in the locker room and at the house. Almost had some broken friendships over the game. Heated arguments and heated rivalries go hand-in-hand with this game, but it's all fun. It's unreal to me that I'm on the cover.