As the Bengals and Rams continue their preparations for Super Bowl LVI, the teams took time out to speak with the media at today’s virtual press conferences. Bengals Quarterback Joe Burrow has the opportunity to become the first overall number one pick to lead his team to the Super Bowl in his second season. Meanwhile, Rams Quarterback Matthew Stafford, the first selection in the 2009 draft, has spent twelve seasons with the Lions before enjoying postseason success with the Rams. There has only been one previous Super Bowl featuring two overall number one drafted Quarterbacks. That was six years ago, when Peyton Manning and the Broncos defeated Cam Newton and the Panthers.
Among the interesting discussions today, the two Quarterbacks commented on each other. Burrow was a teenager when Stafford got drafted. Burrow shared his memories of Stafford on the field. “I always enjoyed watching him. The Lions always played on Thanksgiving, so I got to see him play with my family all around. I always thought he didn’t always get the credit he deserved for what he was doing. He was one of the best players in the league for his entire career and just because they didn’t have the team success in the playoffs, it overshadowed what he was doing as a player.”
Stafford spoke about the Bengals QB. “Joe Burrow is a really talented guy, great competitor, very even keeled, throws great, moves around great. I think he does a great job for a young player. I’ve been a fan of his since he was at LSU. I love the way he plays, I love the way he competed there, and that’s just done nothing but carry over into this league. He’s in this game because he’s willed that team to a bunch of wins and that’s an impressive thing for a guy his age.”
The Bengals Quarterback also discussed the team’s arrival in Los Angeles yesterday afternoon. “It’s a little different now that we’re out here. It’s a little tougher to eliminate all the distractions, but I think our guys are doing a pretty good job of that. We haven’t had any practice yet, so I’m excited to get out to practice today. We just finished up our first walk through, so once we get into the practice schedule of a normal game week, I think it will be easier.
Burrow also shared his advice for young “up and comers” joining the NFL from the draft. He advised, “Eliminate all the distractions, focus on what got you to this point, and that was playing football.”
Bengals Cornerback Eli Apple commented on his experiences in the NFL that led to this moment. “It’s been a long journey with trials and tribulations, just learning the game. Just putting that work in, to get to where I am now. It’s the process.” He also added, reflecting on being released by the Panthers, “Charlotte was another great learning experience for me, as well. It feels great to have this opportunity to do your best so you can win. Charlotte was just tough, being hurt all the time, and they didn’t get the real me out there.”
Bengals Head Coach Zac Taylor shared what he felt was the most important strength a Quarterback needs to have in the NFL. “Mental toughness. You’re gonna face a lot of adversity and a lot of difficult moments. It’s easy when you’re at practice, seven on seven, and preseason games, but when the season really matters, your mental toughness is gonna be challenged. You gotta be thorough with your process, you gotta be consistent with your process, and I think those are areas where Joe (Burrow) really excels.”
Rams Quarterback Matthew Stafford was asked about the advantages and distractions of playing at home. “We don’t have to travel which is nice. There’s probably some guys with a few more family members in town, but I think the organization did a great job helping us find spots to put those families so that we can continue to create as much of a normal atmosphere as we possibly can and to continue to get ready to play this game on Sunday. We are the away team in our home stadium, but it is nice to have some of the comforts of home. But we still gotta go out there and play the game. We gotta go out there and earn it.”
At today’s press conference, Rams Head Coach Sean McVay spoke with what sounded like a very sore throat. When asked about this, he commented, “I feel great. I just sound like s—t.”
Coach McVay shared the message he’s giving his players this week. “I think we try to have a normal weekly rhythm and routine. You don’t minimize what a great opportunity has been earned by both teams. And so, you wanna take in the magnitude of the opportunity, but not make it too big to where any of our guys are overwhelmed. Trust your preparation, trust your process. The nerves are good. You know, this pressure is a privilege. But you do acknowledge what a great opportunity it is to try to finish in the right way, but you want to keep a normal rhythm and routine as far as our preparation goes.”
The Rams have moved tomorrow’s practice to the Rose Bowl. Florida National News is in Los Angeles to cover Super Bowl LVI. Stay tuned for coverage leading up to the big game on Sunday, 2/13.