Q&A with Brady Quinn

Posted by ESPN.com's James Walker

BEREA, Ohio -- It is not a stretch to say Brady Quinn waited most of his life to be the starting quarterback of the Cleveland Browns.

Raised in Columbus, Ohio, Quinn was a die-hard Browns fan growing up and dreamed of someday leading the team. His travels took him to a successful football career at Notre Dame before eventually becoming a first-round pick of the Browns in 2007.

But since joining the Browns, Quinn's career has yet to get off the ground. He stood on the sideline for a majority of his rookie year and started just three games in 2008 before breaking a finger on his throwing hand.

While competing with teammate Derek Anderson, this year will be the first legitimate chance for Quinn to win the job he's coveted since a youth. Recently Quinn sat down with ESPN.com's AFC North blog to discuss his approach heading into the 2009 season.

Brady, I will throw you a curveball right off the bat. With Charlie Weis at Notre Dame, and Romeo Crennel and Eric Mangini in Cleveland, why have you been unable to avoid the Bill Belichick tree your entire career?

Quinn: [Laughs] I love it. For me, I had success with [Weis] in college. And although things didn't necessarily work out the past couple of years, it's been time and time again a successful tree. The coaches come from a great pedigree. They command a lot of respect, and you know what you're going to get every day with hard work, discipline and smart football and people keeping each other accountable.

Does that mentality and style fit you well?

Quinn: Without a doubt. That's why it's easy for me, because it's all about the team. It's all about our team and putting it before everything else. That's something that I'm a huge advocate of, and I try to be as humble and selfless as possible.

It's fair to say you waited most of your life for this opportunity to lead the Browns. During the process of competing for the job, are you able to take this all in?

Quinn: It truly is surreal. I guess I kind of look back at my life at this point and having the opportunity to play for Notre Dame, which was a dream come true. That was a team I rooted for growing up and had an opportunity to play for them was a dream. Now being that the Cleveland Browns was a team I rooted for growing up, I'm 2-for-2 in that category. It's all surreal, and I'm trying not to get too caught up in it. I'm just trying to get better each day and try to do something special each day. So hopefully I can look back on something great.

Would it really have been any different if, say, you were drafted by the Oakland Raiders, San Francisco 49ers or Denver Broncos?

Quinn: I think it would. It would be special because you're playing in the NFL, and you're allowing yourself to have a job that you love. Playing football every day, that's unbelievable. But it doesn't have that same lure or aura about it, because it wasn't the same team you rooted for growing up. The 49ers, I grew up liking them as well because I was a Joe Montana fan.

Your rookie contract two years ago caused you to miss most of training camp and a chance to compete for the starting job right away. Do you regret that with the way things have played out so far?

Quinn: Not really, because you can't always look back and say "What if, what if, what if?" That's not the way life works. There is nothing you can do about it now. So you just have to move forward and press on. God's got a plan and everything will work out the way it's supposed to.

Would you consider yourself a patient person?

Quinn: [Laughs] Maybe I would now. I'm probably not as patient as God would like me to be. But I know I wasn't patient coming out of the draft. I definitely wasn't. But I would say I am more patient now. The problem is, I'm probably still not patient enough.

How would you describe this offense, and what could Browns fans expect to see from it in 2009?

Quinn: I don't want to build up people's expectations, but we're going to be a smart football team. We're going to be disciplined in everything we do. I will just leave it at that.

Here is a bit of a hypothetical question: Any thoughts on potentially playing against Brett Favre in the season opener at home against the Minnesota Vikings?

Quinn: [Laughs] There is so much hypothetical into that. Who knows what's going to happen with Brett Favre? He's an unbelievable quarterback and someone I've looked up to growing up. So that situation will take care of itself in due time.

What's your relationship like with Derek, and has it evolved over the past few years?

Quinn: It's definitely grown. When you first get here, we don't really know each other as much. Obviously, you spend so much time together that you become like a family. We've been through a lot of adversity together. People always think that guys like that wouldn't get along off the field together. But we're both going through the same struggles and battles here and there. So we've been able to kind of share the experience and really be friends through it and enjoy different parts of the competition.

Who is the better golfer?

Quinn: Definitely him. Derek plays way more than me. I'm more of weight-room guy and he's more of a golf guy.

Speaking of workouts, a lot of quarterbacks are not hardcore weight-room guys. Why is the weight room such an important part of your regimen?

Brady Quinn: Well, it's a few things. Looking at my past, it was something that allowed me to propel to start when I was a freshman coming in at Notre Dame,
as well as giving me an advantage in high school. Then as I've gotten to the NFL I noticed guys become limited by injuries, and a lot of injuries happen because guys don't take care of their bodies. So I've always prided myself on hard work and that's just extended into the weight room. It's something where, not only do I enjoy it, but I feel like it gives me an advantage over everyone else, because I work so much harder there and do the little things.

We asked Baltimore Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco a similar question recently. Everyone is chasing the Pittsburgh Steelers. So for a team like the Browns, especially in the division, how do you close the gap and help bring back the rivalry?

Quinn: I know the biggest thing for us right now is getting better. We have so much stuff going on that you can't really focus on the Steelers right now. We will worry about them when they come during the season -- as well as the rest of our opponents at this point. But we got so much we need to do. That's really where our focus is, and I think as long as we focus on ourselves to get better and better, I think eventually that is going to bring the rivalry back.