Grossman begans Bears apprenticeship

Updated: July 31, 2003, 5:22 PM ET

BOURBONNAIS, Ill. -- Rex Grossman could have handed the ball to his agent during contract negotiations with the Chicago Bears and said: "Call me when it's finished."

Instead, Grossman made sure he paid attention to every detail before the five-year, $7.6 million deal was reached a week ago.

"I wrote everything down," Grossman said. "I paid attention. After every meeting -- and they probably had 20 meetings in 48 hours -- I got the report after each one and wrote things down."

It's the same meticulous approach he plans to take to the field as he serves his apprenticeship, starting as the Bears' third quarterback.

Except for the first several games as a high school freshman and one season as a redshirt at Florida, Grossman's has been a starter.

After finishing second in the Heisman Trophy race as a sophomore, Grossman wobbled a bit last season under a new coaching staff and then decided it was time to move on.

Already in practice sessions, he's shown the powerful arm that allowed him to be one of the most prolific passers ever at a school that loves to put the ball in the air. Grossman finished his career at Florida with 9,164 yards, 77 TD passes and a completion rate of 61 percent.

He was the fourth quarterback selected in April, taken No. 22 overall by the Bears. Chicago already has two veterans in Kordell Stewart, signed as a free agent, and backup Chris Chandler.

"I feel like there's not pressure on me to start right away. I'm going to learn the offense and whenever I do get a chance to play, I'll be comfortable and ready," Grossman said.

Reading defenses in the NFL, avoiding blitzes, stepping up into the pocket and throwing over and around huge linemen are all part of the transition.

Watching veterans like Stewart and Chandler can help. But actually doing it is the best way to get the feel.

"He's definitely not going to get the lion's share, but he'll get work," Bears coach Dick Jauron said.

Grossman's football background is strong. Both his father and grandfather played at Indiana. His grandfather, also named Rex, went on to play for the Baltimore Colts.

Grossman is baby-faced and at 6-foot-1, 222 pounds, a stocky quarterback whose confidence is evident. For those worried about his height, he said he's never had trouble throwing over tall linemen.

In high school, he was 42-4 as a starter and then started 31 of 35 career games for the Gators, running Steve Spurrier's pass-happy offense as a sophomore and throwing 34 TD passes with just 12 interceptions.

Some would say he's cocky. Grossman said it's all how you look at it.

"It's a hard thing to describe," he said. "I have confidence in myself and my teammates that on every play, we will be successful. I always think I can do it.

"Cockiness to me is kind of like coming out and saying you're going to do this and that and rubbing it in people's face or carrying yourself in a way that is kind of extraverted. My cockiness is more introverted."

This story is from's automated news wire. Wire index