• 36°

Super Bowl: Grossman has learned to deal with cheers and criticism

By Eddie Pells

Associated Press

The browbeating, the nitpicking, the ever-present specter of the bench.

Rex Grossman was used to all that well before he became embroiled in his love-hate affair with Bears fans in Chicago this Super Bowl season.

Remember — he played college ball for Steve Spurrier.

It was a successful, if not always harmonious, relationship — one that led to a Southeastern Conference title for Florida and gave Grossman a slew of records, to say nothing of the layer of thick skin that has come in handy in Chicago.

“One wonderful thing about Rex is that if you jerked him out of a game, he wouldn’t pout,” Spurrier said Friday in an interview with The Associated Press. “He doesn’t complain. He always figures, ‘Maybe Coach had a reason to take me out, and maybe I’ll be back in there pretty soon.”‘

He kept coming back. Nearly won a Heisman. Became a first-round draft pick. And now, he’s one win from an NFL title.

But none of this journey through the pros has been easy. He played the apprentice role his first year, missed virtually all of 2004 and ’05 with injuries. He came back in time to flop in the 2005 playoffs. Yet despite that, Bears coach Lovie Smith — the anti-Spurrier — gave Grossman the job to start 2006 and stayed with him the whole way.

Even though the Bears scored exactly as many points (427) as the Colts this regular season, Grossman had his share of ugly moments. Tough times and nasty headlines were common. When things got bad, Smith played the role of the reassuring father, keeping Grossman calm and reiterating his faith in his fourth-year quarterback.

It was, well, a bit different from the coach-quarterback dynamic at Florida.

“Coach Spurrier was effective by being able to yank him out of games. That gets your attention,” his father, Dan Grossman, said Friday. “But it was more than that. He was very much into details — perfect, precise mechanics. Perfect routes run by receivers. It helped Rex immensely to go through the Spurrier times. He wasn’t always easy on Rex, but it’s all right. That makes you tougher.”

Spurrier’s quarterback carousel spun fast as ever during Grossman’s freshman year in 2000, one in which the Gators won the SEC even though their starting quarterback was announced seemingly on a week-to-week basis.

The Super Bowl will mark Grossman’s first appearance at Dolphin Stadium since the moment of his most dramatic benching and comeback. He missed curfew in the lead-up to the 2002 Orange Bowl, and Spurrier made him start the game as a backup to Brock Berlin despite a record-setting year that led Grossman to a runner-up finish in the Heisman voting.

He threw for 248 yards and four TDs in a little more than two quarters to lead a 56-23 romp over Maryland.

Spurrier says he’ll be pulling for the Bears on Super Sunday. A number of his former players — defensive linemen Alex Brown and Ian Scott and safety Todd Johnson — play in Chicago. So does Grossman.

He is overcoming the long-held belief that quarterbacks in Spurrier’s system don’t translate to the pros. Many who were successful at Florida, like Shane Matthews, Danny Wuerffel and Doug Johnson, went on to less-than-memorable NFL careers.

Grossman has broken through, in part because of his talent … and with help from some of the hard lessons he learned from Spurrier.

“Maybe Rex does have the most passing ability, maybe he’s the most pure passer, of anyone I coached down there,” Spurrier said. “He may have had the best chance to be successful. Who knows? The others were very good, too.”

Comments

Comments closed.

Coronavirus

State to vaccinate medically vulnerable starting March 24

Coronavirus

One new death, 20 new COVID-19 positives reported in Rowan

Kannapolis

Kannapolis man dies in moped crash

Crime

Salisbury Police chief addresses K-9 video, says officer separated from animal

Local

Rowan Rescue Squad sets record straight on fundraising typo

Local

City approves DOT agreement, Salisbury Station project could begin next year

Local

County plans to use vulture effigy, enforce violations to remedy animal carcass feeding problem

Education

Two weeks after ending enhanced protocols, Catawba has no COVID-19 cases

News

Council to hear revised version of Downtown Main Street Plan

Local

Veto override of NC school reopening bill fails in Senate

News

Political Notebook: Majority of likely voters, local legislators support school reopening bill

Coronavirus

COVID-19 vaccinations in Rowan top positives since start of pandemic

Crime

Man faces drug charges after breaking and entering call

Lifestyle

Waterworks schedules 2021 Summer ARTventures

Crime

Blotter: Man faces drug charges after being found passed out in vehicle

Ask Us

Ask Us: What programs exist for litter cleanup?

Business

County begins accepting restaurant grant applications

Crime

Blotter: Salisbury man charged with nine more felony sex offenses

Nation/World

Biden team readies wider economic package after virus relief

Nation/World

Spacewalking astronauts prep station for new solar wings

Nation/World

Cuomo sorry for remarks aide ‘misinterpreted’ as harassment

Nation/World

Trump calls for GOP unity, repeats lies about election loss

Education

Rowan County administers 700 vaccines, with majority going to local educators

Crime

Shoplifting at Walmart presents challenge for Salisbury police