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HARDEST, RISKIEST, TOUGHEST, GREATEST Job in Sports
PETER KING
September 07, 2009
That would be quarterback in the NFL, of course. So what does it take to make it? SI gathered five of the league's elite young players at the position, opened up the notebook and let them tell us
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September 07, 2009

Hardest, Riskiest, Toughest, Greatest Job In Sports

That would be quarterback in the NFL, of course. So what does it take to make it? SI gathered five of the league's elite young players at the position, opened up the notebook and let them tell us

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PALMER: Fear of failure always drives me. I don't want to let my guys down. After we lose and I see my linemen, it's like I let them down. That's the feeling a quarterback has to have.

RODGERS: When you're playing quarterback, it's knowing where the stress points are in your protection. You're conscious of where you might get pressure. But fear? No.

ROETHLISBERGER: Even if I do ever feel anything like that, and I'm not saying I ever feel scared or nervous, I'll never show it. We can't. Not at our position. Everyone's looking at us.

KING: Let me put it this way—think back to big moments or big games. How does your stomach feel?

RODGERS: When I was a point guard, I wanted the ball in the last two minutes. When I was a pitcher, I wanted the ball in the last inning. That's why in the big moments in games, I'm not tight. Those moments are why you play.

ROETHLISBERGER: I love that. I want the ball. Our defense does some amazing things, but I want to have the ball, and that's the way I've always been playing sports.

KING: Like on the last drive of the Super Bowl?

ROETHLISBERGER: On that drive I ran out and thought, This is going to be really hard. Because we had kind of struggled late in that game. Not saying I definitely couldn't do it. I just knew it would be tough regardless. When I got in the huddle, I told the guys, "I don't have any speech. Just think of all the extra work we put in, all the extra film study we did together. It'll all be for nothing if we don't do this." Then we get a holding call on the first play, and it's going bad. But here's the thing about playing quarterback in this league: Even if you don't feel [confident], you have to show you feel it, so when your teammates are looking at you, they believe it.

ROMO: In an individual sport it's much easier. In tennis you serve and lose, and you look at yourself and say, O.K., I'll get the next one. In the NFL, it's so much about other people.

RYAN: You don't want to let the guys down. As for nerves, I always find myself more nervous before the game, before the kickoff, before the first snap. Then when you're in it and you take a couple of hits, you get into the flow of the game. Honestly, when the game's on the line, I feel calmer than on the first series because I'm into the game. I'm not thinking about how big the moment is.

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