Rams' Frerotte learns nothing is personal in the NFL
Posted: Wednesday December 20, 2006 1:46PM; Updated: Wednesday December 20, 2006 2:34PM
Gus Frerotte has learned to expect the unexpected over the course of a 13-year NFL career spent with six different teams.
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The first time Gus Frerotte and I hung out, we ended a long night by shooting pool in his basement and doing shots of Amaretto. His wife, Ann, wouldn't let us hear the end of it.
"Amaretto?" she bellowed. "That's really good for Gus' image -- makes him sound like such a strong leader. Hell, Silver, that's not so good for your image, either."
That was more than a decade ago, when Frerotte was the surprisingly successful starting quarterback for the Washington Redskins. Despite being picked in the seventh round of the 1994 draft, Frerotte eventually beat out Heath Shuler --that year's No. 3 overall pick -- and made the Pro Bowl after an impressive 1996 season.
Six teams later, Frerotte is now Marc Bulger's backup in St. Louis, where Scott Linehan -- Frerotte's offensive coordinator last season with the Dolphins, a team Frerotte led to a season-ending six-game winning streak, only to lose his job -- is struggling through a 6-8 season as a rookie head coach.
With Annie's blessing, Gus and I sucked down a couple of Anchor Steams last Saturday evening at the ultra-chic Clift Hotel in San Francisco and talked about our combined six kids, his relationship with fellow Pittsburgh-area native Bulger (named Tuesday to the Pro Bowl) and the play that cost Frerotte half a million dollars.
Silver: Last year you finally got another shot to start, and you did some good things -- the winning streak at the end, helping turn Chris Chambers into a Pro Bowl receiver. But Nick Saban decided to trade for Daunte Culpepper, who you'd backed up in Minnesota, as his starter. Were you bummed out by that decision?
Frerotte: It was pretty hard to deal with at first. When a coach is telling you, "You're too old; we're gonna bring in somebody else," that's tough to take. But it wasn't like I'd been there for a long time, so in the end it wasn't as difficult as I thought it would be. Plus my friend and coordinator [Linehan] had just left to become the head coach in St. Louis, and I was able to go with him, so I can't complain.
Silver: Saban wanted you to stick around and be Daunte's backup. Did you consider doing that?
Frerotte: Uh, no. I had already done that once. And my pride was hurt. We were 9-7 with me as the starter; I thought we had a good thing going.
Silver: What did you think of Saban as a head coach?
Frerotte: Sometimes you really didn't understand where he was coming from. He was always kind of doing all the talking, about everything, but he wasn't always listening. I think he wanted to get involved in the offense, but if you don't really know the offense -- and it was Scott's offense -- that's not necessarily a good idea.
Silver: You'd been with Scott in Minnesota, and that was a big reason you signed with Miami. Tell me about your relationship with him.
Frerotte: Well, he sticks up for his players. I found out later that coach Saban wanted to bench me for that last game of the season, because I had a bunch of incentives on the line, and it could have saved the organization money. But Scott told him, "He's the guy who's gotten us this far. There's no way we can bench him now."