In 1991, the Dallas Cowboys made University of Miami defensive tackle Russell Maryland the first selection overall in the NFL Draft.
The 6-foot-1, 300-pound lineman became a three-time Super Bowl Champion with Dallas, played in one Pro Bowl (1993), and was a starter for almost his entire 10-year career.
Maryland spent his first five seasons in Dallas before heading to Oakland for four years. He then started all 16 games of his final NFL season with the Packers in 2000.
He officially retired in 2002 as a member of the Dallas Cowboys with 140 career starts, 466 tackles, 24.5 sacks, 1 interception,13 passes defensed, 9 forced fumbles and 6 fumble recoveries.
Maryland was at the Senior Bowl last month, mingling with NFL team representatives during practice sessions. Scout.com's Ed Thompson talked with him to find out what had brought him to Mobile and to discuss his career.
Ed Thompson: How have you been?
Russell Maryland: I'm doing well. I'm still above ground, so I'm all right. It's a blessing everyday.
Thompson: I'm sure the fans would love to know what you've been doing since your pro career ended.
Maryland: I got ten years in — it was a blessing to get ten years in the NFL. My last one was with the Packers in 2000, and after that I took some years off. I contemplated whether I was going to come back to the NFL, but I officially retired in '02 as a Cowboy. Since then, I've been hanging low, taking some time, being with my family. It wasn't until June or July of '06 that I took on a job with a company called Webb Electronics out of Dallas. They do video products, sports video editing products, and all-around just whatever a team needs to get going with video equipment.
Thompson: What's your position with them?
Maryland: Well, I'm a salesman and I get out to places like the Senior Bowl and the Combine and try to get our products and name out there. The company has been in business for forty-two years, so most of the coaches know about them. I know the owner, he used to do some stuff with the Cowboys. He said "Hey, if you're sitting around doing nothing, why don't you come on over and work for us?" I said I'll do that. It's my way of being in this atmosphere, being around the guys, the players, the coaches, but not being in it as a coach.
Russell Maryland in 1996 during a game against the Seattle Seahawks.
Otto Greule, Jr./Getty Images
Thompson: What was your secret to your longevity in the NFL?
Maryland: My secret basically was not thinking too much of myself, not resting on my laurels. I had enough great coaches who kept me from doing that. I never thought that I was too good that I couldn't improve. Whether it was my first year or my tenth year, I would always try to find something I could improve on. I always had a great, competitive attitude. I always wanted to work harder out there on the field, and I think that was probably the most important thing with my longevity as an NFL defensive lineman. Not a lot of people get ten years as an NFL defensive lineman and I was able to start nine and a half of those years, so having that competitive edge helped me along.
Thompson: What are you most proud of when you look back on your career?
Maryland: I'm most proud of being a part of three Super Bowl winners. With the players I played with and the competitors I competed against, I'm most proud of being a part of history. I was a small part, but a part none the less.
Thompson: Are there any defensive linemen here at the Senior Bowl who are standing out to you?
Maryland: Oh yeah, number 49 (Sedrick Ellis) in particular, he's got some real good technique. I've seen a lot of guys who have a good motor, and that was the main thing for me. I always tried to have a good motor and buzz around that field. Anytime you see a guy like that you have to keep an eye on him.
Thompson: Anything you'd like to say to all of the fans who supported you throughout your career?
Maryland: It was a great career, and a heck a lot of fans come up to me and say they appreciate the years I put in. But you know, I appreciate even more the ability to garner that support from fans in the Dallas area, the Oakland area, and up in Lambeau with all of those Packer fans, those cheeseheads, who came out to support us. It was excellent. I loved playing for them, I loved hearing the crowd cheer after I did something well, and it was just great to be able to be in the NFL. It's a blessing to play. A lot of people aspire to do it, but not a lot of people can do it.