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Pride Of Detroit exclusive interview: Eric Ebron talks injuries, pissing off Stafford and his love for Call of Duty

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Check out our discussion with Eric Ebron.

NFL: Detroit Lions at Indianapolis Colts Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

Eric Ebron is always one of the most hotly discussed athletes in Detroit. Whenever he does something on the field or says something off of it, it garners a lot of attention and brings in a lot of hot takes from fans and analysts alike. Anything written about Ebron typically results in pages upon pages of comments, most of which are written in capital letters.

So when I got the opportunity to talk with the highly-discussed Detroit Lions tight end about injuries, Jim Bob Cooter and his love for video games, I jumped at it. And Ebron did not disappoint. Below is a transcript from our conversation on Tuesday afternoon.

Previously: Check out our interview with Golden Tate on pregame spaghetti and why he loves Michigan State.

How are you feeling right now, there are some reports out there that you might miss a couple games. I know you probably can’t get too specific with us, but how are you feeling right now?

I’m as good as I’m going to get, as far as right now. I’m not allowed to talk about injuries, again, that question and stuff Caldwell has got to answer. I’m living, I’m breathing, I’m alive. When I get back out there is when I get back out there.

You looked like you were struggling a lot through that Bears game, I think you deserve a lot of credit for fighting through that. Were you fighting through a lot of pain there or did the adrenaline kick in there?

I really don’t know how to answer it, because I’ve always been the guy to be like a tough guy. I fight through whatever it is that I got. I’m not even really sure whether you’d call it pain or just wanting to be out there for my teammates. I just call it “want to.” Some people got it and some people don’t. I’ve just have a lot of “want to” and I want to be out there to provide for my teammates.

That kind of plays into your whole #P4K/“Play 4 keeps” attitude, right?

Absolutely. Absolutely.

You’re obviously very active on social media and I have to ask because I’m insanely curious. I follow you on snapchat. A couple times you’ve shown this treatment that you’ve been getting on your legs?

What treatment?

You have something connected to your thighs?

Something connected to my thighs? I don’t know. I probably was in a game ready machine, if I think about it. A game ready is the only thing I can think of that I might be in. But a game ready machine is nothing but an ice-up, I’m pretty sure every athlete has one, just for inflammation and ice. It’s for inflammation and soreness, so just basically getting that out of my body. I use it every day, really.

I imagine you have to. Football is a tough game.

I’m telling you.

You’re very active on Snapchat, Twitter, all of that. Lions fans can kind of be a cruel bunch, sometimes. We’re cynical bunch, so I’m wondering—you’ve got one of the most positive attitudes I’ve ever seen come through Detroit, how do you maintain that when you sometimes face some negative people?

When you’ve grown up the way I grew up, and been through the kind of things I’ve been through at a young age, nothing can really faze you. As I’m just going through this process of being an NFL athlete, I’m just enjoying it. Whatever comes with it comes with it, but you’re not going to affect my attitude of me getting to where I have gotten and being where I have been. I’m just enjoying it.

Obviously you were on the sideline [last week], but you were tweeting during the game. Were you there at the game?

I was not. Absolutely not.

Where were you at?

I was where coach Caldwell told me to be. [laughs]

[laughs] Fair enough. What’s it like watching the team, not even from the sidelines?

It gives you a different point of view. Especially when you know the offense. You know, playing tight end you pretty much have got to know everything. I was sitting at home and I was calling out plays with Matt. I was seeing the same things Matt was seeing. And they just executed a great game plan, man. To be down as many people as we were down on offense, they played their butts off, man. And I just give kudos to Jim Bob and the offensive staff for putting together such a great game, with being so shorthanded as we were.

I just couldn’t help but tweet because it was just so exciting to watch. And I’m a passionate person and definitely this game makes me even more passionate about it, especially when you know what you’ve been through as a team. I was loving every minute of it, and we beat an undefeated team shorthanded. It was just great to watch.

What do you think of your replacements? Have you even met with Clay Harbor?

I was in meetings with Clay all week. All I can do—for guys that are older than me and have been through this before—all I can do is give my input about what Matt sees and what we’re looking for and stuff like that. He’s been around the game for some years and there’s nothing I can really teach him, he pretty much knows he’s playing tight end. All I have to do is help guide him on how we do it our way. He went out there, he did a good job. Blocking, he was pretty solid, and I’m pretty sure if any passes would have went his way, he would have done a great job with that as well.

Speaking of catching passes, you’re kind of having a career year so far. Obviously you’ve only played four games this year, your rookie year you were averaging just under 20 yards per game, now you’re over 50. Is there something this specific offseason that you did to be a bigger part of this offense?

I’m just testing my quarterback. I’m in his ear. I’m in his pocket. I’m getting on his nerves. I’m pissing him off. Whatever I have got to do to let him know that I’m here, I’m going to be here and there ain’t nothing you can do about it. That’s pretty much how I’m doing it. I hope I’m getting on his nerves, because then it makes for a great game, and all I’m doing is just executing. He knows where I’m going to be, I know what he’s thinking. He knows what I’m thinking and we’ve just built a great chemistry and that’s all I can really put it on. Me and Matt. My coach is coaching me to always be in that spot. Asking me all the time, “What did you do with Matt today? What did you do with Matt today? What did you do with Matt today?” I just try to stay close to my quarterback and make him angry and make him upset with me. But I’m pretty sure he likes me now. [laughs]

Let’s talk a little about Matthew, because I think right now he’s probably playing the best football of his life. Have you really seen a transformation this year or this the same quarterback he’s always been?

I can say I’ve seen this, but now we’re seeing more of it. He’s now taking complete control over our offense, which is just what a quarterback should. We’re just doing nothing but rallying around him and we’re just trying to make his life easier as a receiver. We’re just trying to catch the ball, move and excel on plays that they’ve called for him. Matt takes on the challenge every week of switching it up and a new game plan and things like that. So all we have to do is make things easier on him, and it’s working. He’s playing fantastic.

Do you do anything interesting or quirky before games?

It’s what I’ve been doing since college. I would always eat ice cream the night before, bananas and caramel. And then the day of the game, I talk to my mom, I talk to my dad, I talk to both of my brothers. I talk to my coach in high school. There’s no specific order, but I must talk to them all before every game. After that, I just get my words in there with them, and I just go out there and play.

The NFL announced last week that they’re going to allow alternate cleats for Week 13. I know you’ve had your alternates cleats shown off a couple times, you had those Christmas ones last year then you had the Muhammad Ali cleats. Do you have something prepared for Week 13?

I do. I’ve got two pair. I’m not going to tell you what the first pair are. But my second pair are for my grandfather, which will be for Parkinson’s disease, it’s what my grandfather passed away from. So I’m going to have a special pair of cleats attributed to him. That’s pretty much it.

You did the same thing with the Muhammad Ali cleats, right? Those were for charity?

Right, absolutely. Right.

Let’s move onto Call of Duty, because I hear you’re a big COD fan. I’m myself a fan, but I haven’t played since Modern Warfare 3, so tell me what I’m missing?

Since Modern Warfare 3? We had Black Ops II, Advanced Warfare, Black Ops III, which is the most recent one. Those are pretty solid games, but what I’m most excited about is Infinite Warfare. I’m most excited about it because they’re bringing back a little bit of the old. It’s made by Infinity Ward, who, in my eyes, is the best creators of the Call of Duty because they brought us the Modern Warfare and stuff like that. I’m excited about what they’re bringing this year, because it brings back a little of the past. They remastered Call of Duty 4, which I’m halfway to beating already. I’m just excited about what they have this year.

I know the group that I run with is also very excited. We’re just ready for the game.

Is anyone in that group one of your Lions teammates?

Now I run with Andre Roberts. Golden Tate just got on Playstation, so he’s a little rusty. He was an Xbox guy, but I had to convert him. Sorry Microsoft, I know you’re a big sponsor of the NFL and everything, but I’ve been a Sony guy since I’ve been born. I run with him and I run with my best friend and my cousin. We’ve been doing it since ninth grade in high school. I know we’ve been through every Call of Duty since World at War: Call of Duty 2, I think.

Is there anyone that can beat you right now?

Andre is pretty good. Never will I say he’s better than me, but he’s pretty good. He can run with my group, but he’s not better than me, no. I doubt there’s a better NFL player out there that’s better than me at Call of Duty. There might be, but I doubt it.

Do you want to give out your gamertag for the Lions fans out there?

Oh yeah, zipemup_legend, for my nephew’s first name. “Zip em up” is a header that, basically what we do is like my “Play 4 Keeps” brand, is like: We go in there, we zip em up, and we’re out of there. We just zip em up, man. When people start talking smack, all we say is we just get zipped up and we’re gone. That’s it.

We’re just about to let you go. I do have one more question. Like I mentioned before Lions fans can be a cynical bunch. The Lions are at 2-3, there’s some reason for optimism here. Can you give us one reason why the Lions should continue to be optimistic for the rest of the season?

You’ve got to think about what we just started. You know we’ve got a new offensive coordinator, who took over half of last year, but he was on the fly. But what we did last year, we took a season that we were not so good and made it great. And now, we have Jim Bob and now we’re transitioning into a full-time offensive coordinator and it takes time usually for an offensive coordinator to completely get a groove, for the offense to completely get their groove. And the defense as well, because we’ve got a lot of young people and I feel like you should be really optimistic about the season because we are young and we’re probably one of the youngest teams at very key positions: center, cornerback, tight end, myself, I’m very young . Our receivers are young, Theo is young, Marvin is young.

We have a group of guys that are go-getters, man. No matter what situation, we have fought through every game and every situation, and we have tried to come back if we were down, and we have won games when we were down. We’re just a group of fighters, man. We have no quit within our system. We all bond together. We all galvanize. We just want to win, and we’re not going to let up until we do. We’re not going to let up until we do something great here.

That’s the mindset of everyone, everyone that’s in that room. And you can tell we put in work nonstop in practice, in the weight room. You’ve got guys on their off days in there killing it. Like today is our off day, and there were 30-40 people in there just wanting to learn, wanting to get better and we’re just trying to do everything we can to be great. And that’s our mindset. We just want to be great, and we’re going to do it.