The 49-year-old singer/songwriter/Dolphins fan, whose live performances often include a Prince song, mourns the death of a cultural icon and musical genius.
DAN PATRICK:How are your Dolphins looking, heading into the draft? You feeling pretty good?
DARIUS RUCKER: Super Bowl!
DP:Oh, Super Bowl again?
DR: We're going to the Super Bowl this year.
DP:They're going to attend?
DR: We're winning it! And the [South Carolina] Gamecocks are going to win the national championship in football! So you know it's going to be my year.
DP:Better chance to win big, Dolphins or Gamecocks?
DR:[Laughs.] I think I have a better chance at winning the Cy Young than either one of those teams doing that.
DP:I saw what you had to say about Prince and what he meant to you. I know you perform at least one of his songs in your set. Did you know him?
DR: I saw him in concert but I never got to meet him. You know we, Hootie & the Blowfish, actually [did a] cut of "Raspberry Beret" back in the day.
DP:That didn't make it on any of the albums, did it?
DR: No, no. It wasn't as good as Prince's.
DP:So what Prince songs do you perform in concert?
DR: Well, I retired "Purple Rain" maybe two tours ago but I guess I'm going to have to break it back out this year. It's so funny man, you're playing this big country music show and you come out and start playing "Purple Rain" and then see the people's faces go, "Omigod!" That was always incredible.
DP:As an artist, Prince was just so big. For a guy who was only 5' 2", he was like King Kong up there.
DR: Absolutely. You can't come close to what Prince did. Just the subtle dance moves and the way he orchestrated his band. Also, the thing that no one's talked about or that I haven't seen anyone talk about much is his guitar playing. He was one of the best guitar players in the world. The talent that guy had was just over the top.
DP:He was a great musician. I think that's what's lost nowadays. He was a writer and a producer, but he could also pick up just about any instrument and make it his.
DR: Absolutely. Like you said, all of that is a lost art now. I'm a singer, but I don't play the guitar. I play with the guitar. Prince would play the keyboards and he'd blow your mind. He was a drummer first, but he could play it all. He was that guy who just transcended music.
DP:How do you think he would be perceived if he was just coming out today with his style?
DR: If he came out today he'd be just as big. I think "Purple Rain" would still be a hit. That whole album could come out today with songs like "Let's Go Crazy," and they would fit right into what's happening today.
I asked Rams general manager Les Snead if he would have still traded up for the No. 1 pick if the team hadn't moved from St. Louis to Los Angeles. "Definitely," Snead said. "It didn't matter what city we were going to be playing in. This is a football decision and we think it's the best decision long term." ... Former QB David Carr, who was the Texans' top selection in 2002, discussed the pitfalls of going so high. "[Being] the first pick is overrated—you're going to a bad team," Carr said. "Troy Aikman once told me, 'You just gotta be ready when your team is ready, whenever that is.'" ... UCLA linebacker Myles Jack said he would also like to play running back, his former position, for whichever team chooses him: "I think it would be fun, but not yet. First I want to master my craft at wherever they put me—hopefully linebacker."
MICHAEL J. LEBRECHT II (PATRICK)
IMAGE GROUP LA/ABC/GETTY IMAGES (RUCKER)
RIC TAPIA/AP (SNEAD)
NFL/GETTY IMAGES (CARR)
TODD ROSENBERG (JACK)
JONATHAN DANIEL/GETTY IMAGES (PRINCE)