Being a rookie NFL quarterback can be rough. For every Peyton Manning success there are dozens of failures such as Ryan Leaf and JaMarcus Russell. St. Louis Rams quarterback Sam Bradford definitely fell on the successful side of things in his 2010 rookie season. After being drafted in the top slot and given a record-breaking rookie contract of $78 million dollars, Bradford won the starting job and went on to break some records on the football field as well.
Bradford broke Manning’s rookie record for completions and attempts in a season and was second only to Manning for yards in a rookie season. He also set the rookie mark for most consecutive passes without an interception. Although the Rams went 7-9, they were only one game away from making the playoffs. This was an improvement for St. Louis as it had only won six games in the previous three years. Combined.
MADE MAN: You had an excellent rookie season. However, many argue that sitting a couple years, like Aaron Rodgers, helps a quarterback learn the system and become successful. Do you feel that starting your first year is the better way to go?
SAM BRADFORD: There are pros and cons to both philosophies but I really feel that getting out there and playing your first year is much more beneficial than sitting on the sidelines. I feel like you can learn so much more when you are on the field getting game-speed reps. There is nothing that can substitute for experience, so if it were up to me I would play all the time.
MM: In what area do you think you made the biggest improvement from you college career to your first year in the NFL? Where do you still need to improve?
SB: There are still a lot of areas I can improve on. Obviously defensive recognitions, footwork, quickening up my release. I’ve still got a long way to go before I am where I want to be. I think I did a good job of just letting the game come to me. I didn’t force many things, didn’t make many bad decisions with the football. That allowed me to have the success that I did this year.
MM: This year you faced your main competition for Rookie of the Year, defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh of the Detroit Lions. He had a pretty good game, intercepting one of your passes. Are you happy to get next season off from lining up across from him?
SB: Yeah. (Laughs) I mean he is a great player. You aren’t happy to have someone off your schedule, but if you don’t have to play him that’s definitely a positive.
MM: What current NFL quarterbacks do you look up to? Who is you all-time favorite?
SB: I look up to guys like Peyton (Manning) and Tom (Brady). If you look at what they’ve been able to do throughout their careers, they’ve played at such a high level so consistently over the past years, its very impressive. I always enjoy watching them. From my younger days I really enjoyed watching (former Dallas Cowboy Troy) Aikman play.
MM: You received the largest contract ever for an NFL rookie. What is the coolest thing you have bought with your NFL money? A house? Car? Solid gold jet-ski?
SB: (Laughs) A Ping-Pong table. Definitely.
MM: Do the Rams have a rivalry that compares to Oklahoma-Texas? Is there any rivalry in the NFL that compares to those in college football?
SB: I’m sure there are. I don’t know if we really have one. I mean all of our division games, you could consider those rivalry games for us, but I’m not sure if we have one quite as big as OU-Texas.
MM: What’s your assessment of the quarterbacks playing in this year’s Super Bowl – Rodgers and Ben Roethlisberger. What are their strengths and weaknesses?
SB: I think they are both very good quarterbacks. I think they’re both very athletic, very mobile, they make a lot of plays outside the pocket. They are both just great, very good quarterbacks. No comment on their weaknesses.
MM: What do you think the Packers need to do offensively to overcome the brutal Steelers’ defense?
SB: Both defenses are very good, but obviously, number one, don’t turn the ball over. If they can find a rhythm early and stay in that rhythm I think they have a shot.
MM: So who is going to win?
SB: Sorry, no predictions.
MM: We think the Packers are going to take it, you don’t think so?
SB: No. I can’t say.
MM: We see you ditched your shaggy haircut from this season.
SB: It’s something I started in high school where I would go into the season with really short hair and let it grow all year. And then at the end of the year I would always cut it. This year I teamed up with AXE Hair and they hooked me up with their stylist. They took me to New York, gave me a buzz look, which is awesome.
MM: More intimidating locks: Troy Polamalu or Clay Matthews?
SB: (Laughs) Umm. I don’t know. They’re both pretty intimidating. I would say Polamalu, though.