Some can’t hear the word no. Even when it’s screamed in their ears so often they can see it in their head, they can’t hear it. Some don’t have an off switch. Some burn out way too quickly. Some mumble and raise a hand. Some stand tall and offer a wide-eyed stare over a comfortable grin. Some have really never lost control, no matter the irritation or menace. Some are always silently at the front of the line and are listening, learning and demanding more. Some train like a soldier for war, preparing their hearts, minds and muscles for another tour of duty in their pursuit of perfect personal productivity.
Some have it. Some don’t. Some really do leave it all on the field, court, office and playground. Some recognize it. Some don’t. Some get it. Some don’t. Some waste and lose it. Some worship it. And then there are its champions, whose actions literally change the world. These champions demonstrate it, and in doing so, provide the world with undeniably beautiful points of reflection that remind us of our potential for greatness.
Brady Quinn (Cleveland’s possible football equivalent to their basketball titan LeBron James) has seen, recognized, heard, questioned, performed and pursued it from the time he was a boy in Dublin, Ohio, to his record-breaking years at Notre Dame, to the here and now of today.
It is summed up in one rarely overused word—excellence—and Quinn’s all about it.
C Magazine: You’re asked to pen the newest Nike slogan. Do it.
Brady Quinn: I’m a passionate guy that likes to work hard, so I’m an all-day type of guy, so I would say something like Relentless Passion.
The draft… Were you scared just a bit at how chance and circumstance seemed to be playing craps with your future?
I think you know going into the draft that you always have the possibility of the draft not working out the way you had hoped. And really it almost faults on the year. You almost try to look back and ask yourself, “Should I have come out early as a junior? Would that have fit me better as a quarterback?” You never try to look back in regret. I think you try to look at things like there is a reason that they played out the way that they did. I had complete faith in God that I was meant to come back for my senior year and finish school and do all of the things that I wanted to do and to try and accomplish. But again, it is all a part of the fun experience of the draft.
Are you a numbers guy? If so, what numbers matter most?
The wins, that is all that matters. I think one of the biggest things for me is that you can go back and look at a guy’s performance over a game here and there, but winning drives this league. And as long as you win, you allow yourself an opportunity to succeed. The ultimate goal is the Super Bowl. Too many guys get caught up in their stats. Yeah, it’s great if you want to go to a Pro Bowl, but I would rather win a Super Bowl.
Choose one to be remembered by: class act, tough as nails, or smart as hell.
That’s a great question. How about I throw in a fourth. I think I’d rather be known as a man who walked by his faith, because in the end, all those things kind of transpire through how you walk. I think toughness is something that you see over time, but being classy and treating people with respect and integrity, that’s all going to fall in part.
Single or dating?
In high school you were the man, in college you were the man and now you’re one of a few badass men bringing glory back to Cleveland. What’s it like to live the life every Midwestern guy wishes he could?
It’s a busy life, you know. I think everyone always looks at certain positions and they aspire to be there and want it to be their goal. But they sometimes don’t understand the work that goes into it, the pure exhaustion, the sleepless nights and everything else that goes into putting yourself in the position to be that guy.
Did you ever wake up and go, “I’m the man!”
No, I’ve never looked at things that way. I’ve recognized being really fortunate to be in the position I’m in, because I know it can be taken away in a heartbeat.
I read about you playing baseball when you were growing up and your dad making you throw more pitches than you probably could at the time. Trait wise, what do you get from your mom and dad?
I get my passion from my mom. From my dad, I get vision; he has a much greater worldly view of things.
Boxers, briefs or commando?
A combination of all three.
You are an advocate of Pedigree’s adoption programs and promotions. Which past or present Steelers players would have been good matches for the Browns?
Back in the day, I’d say “Mean Joe Green” or Terry Bradshaw. Today, I’d say Hines Ward or Troy Polamalu—both play really hard.
Build the perfect athlete using past and present athletes from all sports to address speed, power, vision and endurance?
Deion Sanders’ speed; Mariusz Pudzianowski’s power, Roger Staubach’s vision and Lance Armstrong’s endurance.
Is it true that you work out at 3:00 in the morning?
Yeah. Actually, I do that a lot in the off-season. For me, it was frustration after my rookie season, not playing as much as I wanted to. This past season, it was frustration from our season and unfortunate circumstances that you have to deal with sometimes and just the way life is. For me it is fun. When I was a sophomore in high school, you could have caught me at a Gold’s Gym 24 hours over.
Self Sacrifice: apply it to your career and personal life?
I think that is the main ingredient in being a leader—self-sacrificing for your teammates and for one common goal, which is winning each game and winning a Super Bowl. I don’t think there is a greater ingredient that goes into being a leader. As for my personal life, I think that again would fall into the category of faith. I think you can sacrifice your wants and your desires for what you believe.
Given your aspirations and projected future, are you really able to leave it all on the field at this point in your career? Can you take those risks?
I think you have to. I have never played the game any other way. If you look back and watch tapes from high school and college, I took hits because that was how I was taught to play the game. I remember my 6th grade travel team and we couldn’t find a league to play in, so we found this league in central Ohio and they had teams that were 7th and 8th graders. We were playing guys in full-blown puberty! We got our butts kicked every week. I think that alone made me realize how this game is played.
What was the hardest test you took in college? Name the class if you can.
What is your most notable characteristic?
I lack emotion sometimes. I try not to be too low, not to high, you know, somewhere in between. So I guess my control at times.
You and Wally Szczerbiak share #10 in Cleveland. Any similarities with your styles?
I still go back and remember those days when he would take over the games at Miami of Ohio. I’m a huge fan of his. I told all of my friends when the Cavs got Wally Szczerbiak, that is the last ingredient we need for a championship. And we both just happen to have the same number.
You are walking down death row. What did you just eat?
Chipotle. The usual chicken burrito, hot sauce, cheese, lettuce, corn and black beans. Extra chicken.
Do you talk to the opponent during the game, say, after a sack or T.D? If you do, what do you say?
I don’t talk a whole lot. You know, I will talk to players I know are Christian after they get a sack and they start jawing off cursing and saying everything. I’ll give them a reality check and ask them if they are really professing their faith the way they should be. Usually, it will take guys back a bit because they think that they can put on a helmet and be someone that they aren’t.
Which player talks the most?
Bart Scott. I remember I was on the sideline when I was a rookie and he started talking trash to me and I was just standing there. I kind of looked around like: “Is he talking to me right now?”
Any tattoos yet?
No. My mom would probably kill me.
How do you personally measure the success of a game?
By winning and losing.
Which designer has the most real estate in your closet?
Probably Astor and Black right now. And then Lucky Jeans.
Do you feel like you were truly grounded prior to taking your first snap? If so, what’s been your anchor?
I do, and again I always come back to my faith because there is no other reason to turn anywhere else. And without a doubt, my first snap under center I felt more comfortable and more grounded than anywhere else. It felt like going home after you been at college for a year. It felt like this is what I was meant to do. It just felt like that was what I was born to do.
What bands or songs did you listen to before games to get pumped up in college or in the NFL?
My center and I in college would listen to Jimmy Hendricks’ “All Along the Watchtower” as we would drive up before mass. I still listen to it to this day.
Barry Sanders or Jim Brown? Why?
Jim Brown. First off, he was a bigger back and he defiantly had all of the tools, whether it was running, blocking, whatever. He was one of the greatest athletes of all time. He was also a tremendous Lacrosse player; I think people fail to realize that.
Root beer or cream soda?
Glazed or jelly-filled?
What qualities do you like most in a coach?
What is your greatest fear?
What is your current state of mind going into a new season?
Becoming the leader our team and city need—someone that can be fearless and take control with complete confidence and be accountable for their actions, right or wrong. When it comes down to it, I want to be the guy who the bullets are flying at. Some will probably hit me and some may miss, but I’m going to make sure that I’m always there to drive through and be accountable for every action that I make out there.
What is your most treasured possession?
My mom gave me a Bible when I was young that I still keep in a drawer next to my desk.
What do you dislike about yourself?
My awkwardness at times. Sometimes, I will see myself in pictures or other things and I just look completely awkward.
What was 13-year-old Brady’s junk food order at the movies?
You know, it’s funny. I don’t think I ever really had a junk food order. I would get popcorn and butter and that would be about it. My dad was strict.
Late night delivery—pizza or Chinese?
Art museum or history museum?
What do you think is the most important issue facing the world today?
A lack of strive for excellence. I think people nowadays are either comfortable or they just have a lack of drive in doing what we were created to do. They are just going through the motions. If anything, we lack boldness, boldness for the sake of excellence.
You’ve always been a sucker for___.
Your secret dream is to ___.
You can trade shoes with any other athlete. Whose are you wearing?
Tom Brady. I think he has hit the pinnacle of what every quarterback wants to do right now, from a football perspective. From an athletic standpoint, I think to be someone like Michael Jordan or Tiger Woods where you are known worldwide for being amazing and transcending every other athlete that has ever played or will play.
First Browns poster in your room?
Got a favorite restaurant in Columbus?
Are you a wolf or a rabbit?
What do you bet when playing Madden with your buddies?
What irritates you?
Ever been in a real fist fight?
Yeah, when I was younger, not anytime recently. I box as well, which is obviously different than a fist fight.
Time is ___.
Our greatest asset.
Family is the root of ____and the answer to ____.
Happiness and life.
Do you have a post or pre-game ritual?
Pre-game—I read some Bible verses that my mother sends via text.
Any particular verse?
No, it is her thing. She has always done it for the longest time. She finds it and I’ll read that and then take a big gulp of honey about 20 minutes before every game. I’ve been doing that since I was in like 3rd or 4th grade. It helps keep your voice, but it also gives you a sugar high.
Besides working out, what do you look forward to most in the off-season?
Traveling. If you could put the world on pause where would you go? Ireland.
Who is your hero?
What is the hardest thing you’ve ever had to do?
I haven’t had to go through too many hard things. I had to speak at my Grandfather’s funeral out in California. That was probably the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do because I was old enough to understand what death meant and there were so many emotions that played a part in trying to say anything. I was like 11.
What’s the best advice you ever received, and who gave it to you?
Dance with those who brought you here—meaning, keep the people close to you with you. I got it from Dr. Mick Franco while I was at Notre Dame.
What is your favorite part of the game?
The last two minutes.