Tag Archives: Alabama

Oakland Raiders Ken Stabler Selected As Senior Finalist For Pro Football Hall Of Fame

CANTON, OHIO – Quarterback Ken Stabler and guard Dick Stanfel were selected as senior finalists for the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s Class of 2016. Stabler and Stanfel were picked by the Hall of Fame’s Seniors Committee that met in Canton today.

“This is wonderful news for the Snake, wonderful news for anybody that has ever associated with Stabler, the Raider Nation, the Raiders, all of the coaches and players who ever played with him.
“Everybody that played with him and coached him knew that he had those qualities. He was a Pro Football Hall of Fame candidate way back then. So, it’s magical that he finally made it (as a finalist). It’s long overdue and I’m very happy for him.”
– Former Raiders Head Coach Tom Flores

Stabler was drafted in the second round out of Alabama by the Oakland Raiders in 1968. The left-handed quarterback was known for his exciting style of play and ability to win games. He compiled an impressive .661 winning percentage over his 15-season career with the Oakland Raiders (1970-79), Houston Oilers (1980-81) and New Orleans Saints (1982-84). In all, “The Snake” threw for 27,938 yards and 194 touchdowns in his 184-game career. Stabler, who passed away on July 8, 2015, was the only quarterback since the AFL-NFL merger to lead his team to five consecutive conference championship games. He guided the Raiders to the AFC title game each season from 1973-77. He also quarterbacked Oakland to a victory in Super Bowl XI with a 32-14 win over the Minnesota Vikings.

Stabler was twice named the NFL’s Most Valuable Player (1974 and 1976) and voted to the NFL’s All-Decade Team of the 1970s.
Stanfel, who passed away on June 22, 2015, was selected in the second round of the 1951 draft by the Detroit Lions. In seven seasons with the Lions (1952-55) and Washington Redskins (1956-58), he developed the reputation as one of the finest guards in the NFL.

Dick Stanfel

The former University of San Francisco standout was named first-team All-NFL five times, voted to four Pro Bowls and selected to the NFL’s All-Decade Team of the 1950s. He also was once voted by his teammates as the Lions Most Valuable Player. Noted as a team leader, Stanfel was an integral part of the Lions teams that appeared in three straight NFL championship games. Detroit captured back-to-back NFL titles in 1952 and 1953.

The Seniors Committee is comprised of nine members of the overall selection committee. Through mail vote, the 2016 senior nominees were reduced to a final list of candidates. Then, on a rotating basis, five of the nine members meet at the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton to discuss each of the senior candidates and select the finalist. A senior nominee is a player whose career ended at least 25 years ago.
Stabler and Stanfel must receive the same 80 percent voting support that is required of all finalists. The Hall’s Selection Committee, at its annual meeting to be held on Saturday, February 6, 2016 in San Francisco, Calif., will consider 18 finalists, including two Seniors (Stabler and Stanfel), one Contributor (to be named in early September), and 15 Modern-Era candidates (to be determined from a preliminary list announced in mid-September). Current bylaws call for a class no smaller than four or larger than eight. The Seniors finalists will be voted on for election independent of the other finalists.

The Pro Football Hall of Fame’s Class of 2016 will be formally enshrined during the Pro Football Hall of Fame Enshrinement Weekend in Canton, Ohio on Aug. 4-7, 2016. The Enshrinement Ceremony is televised nationally by the Hall of Fame’s broadcast partners, NFL Network and ESPN.

Courtesy of Oakland Raiders Media Relations

John Madden Remembers Ken Stabler; Q & A Media Conference Call Transcript

John Madden On The Passing Of Ken Stabler

Opening statement from Coach Madden: “Yesterday was a very sad day with the passing of Ken Stabler. It was a shock to all of us. You think that Kenny is one of those guys that whatever you throw in front of him, it’s not going to get him down. Then, when you hear Kenny Stabler died, it’s like a kick in the gut. You think of the good times and the memories, all of the games and all of the practices and all of the meetings. No matter what you throw in front of him, he enjoyed it. He always had a twinkle in his eye and a smile. He was one of the greatest competitors ever. When you think of the Raiders and you think of the Raiders of the 70s, Ken Stabler has to be right on top. He was just, of all the people you coach, and I coached a lot of great ones and a lot of Hall of Famers, he’s one of the guys that is really at the top of the class.”

DSC00662
Madden Remembers Ken “The Snake” Stabler Q & A

Q: Can you think of a logical reason that Ken Stabler is not in the Hall of Fame?

Madden: “No. If you just look at how he played and what kind of quarterback he was, he’s a Hall of Fame quarterback. I think what happens is we get so caught up today in statistics and then comparing statistics. You can’t do that with different eras. For example, when we threw a medium range pass it was 17 yards deep. Now a medium range pass would be 8-10 yards. We didn’t have any of those smokescreens or when you split it out and throw one yard passes, or throw passes behind the line of scrimmage. I’m not saying that’s wrong, that’s the way they play today. But then you look at his stats and his completions and interceptions, the deeper you throw, the more you’re going to have but the more big plays you’re going to have. Then you compare those to the players today and it’s not fair. That’s the only thing that I can think of. If you were to look at Kenny Stabler as an Oakland Raider… we had great rivalries with the Miami Dolphins, who were one of the greatest teams in the history of the NFL, and the Pittsburgh Steelers, who were also one of the best in the history of the NFL. Terry Bradshaw is in the Hall of Fame and Bob Griese is in the Hall of Fame, and look at Kenny’s record when he played those teams.”

Q: In the last few years there, after the Super Bowl, could you talk about how the tension between Al Davis and Ken Stabler?

Madden: “Not really. There was nothing there. That’s not a thing. I’ll tell you, we won the Super Bowl in the 1976 season, which was ’77. The best team, to me, in the history of the Oakland Raiders was the next year, was ‘77, the year after we won a Super Bowl. We went back, we beat Pittsburgh in the playoffs and they didn’t have Franco Harris and Rocky Bleier, and that was one of the things they said. The next year, early in the season, we went back and we played Pittsburgh in Pittsburgh and we beat them there. That was the hardest fought, hardest played game that I can remember. It was also the height of the Raiders. I don’t think there was a ever a team before that or after that who was better than the Raiders. Having said that, we had a lot of injuries in that game. We struggled. We lost the Championship that year to Denver. There was nothing there after the Super Bowl because I thought we were better after the Super Bowl than we were the Super Bowl year. Although the Super Bowl year we only lost one game.”

Q: You were with the organization when they drafted Ken. Can you remember the circumstances?

Madden: “Yeah I do. It was ironic. We drafted another quarterback in the first round, Edlridge Dickey. We were kind of choosing between the two. We had Kenny Stabler rated as the number one pick. So, we took Eldridge Dickey from Tennessee State and then in the next round, the second round, and Kenny Stabler is still there. So we said he’s too good of a player to leave on the board in the second round so we took him. We ended up with two of them. What we didn’t know, and scouting back then isn’t what it is today, is that he had injured his knee and that he needed surgery. We brought him in and then he had to have the surgery so he missed that whole first year. He missed the second year so he really didn’t start playing for the Raiders until the third year that we drafted him.”

Q: Did you ever come to Alabama to visit with Coach Bryant to talk about Ken?

Madden: “Yeah I talked to Coach Bryant about him a lot. I had the greatest respect for Bear Bryant and his quarterbacks. I had George Blanda, who played for Coach Bryant at Kentucky. George would always talk about Coach Bryant, this and that. He was a well-disciplined, well-trained quarterback. Then I had great respect for Joe Namath. I thought, if we can get a quarterback that’s like George Blanda and like Joe Namath on our team, that’s going to be a pretty good deal. Eventually, we did.”

Q: You mentioned yesterday in your statement that you trusted Ken because he was ‘cooler’ under pressure than you. How would you describe his demeanor? How did you balance each other?

Madden: “He helped me because the hotter the game, the hotter I got and Kenny was truly just the opposite, the hotter the game, the cooler he became. We’re playing Baltimore in a playoff game in Baltimore and it was one of the real great games in NFL history, the kind that got lost because it wasn’t a championship game or a Super Bowl game. It went six periods. The end of regulation, we’re tied, and we go another period and then we’re tied and then we’re going into another period. We had a timeout and it’s our ball. We’re just crossing midfield. I’m talking to Kenny during the timeout and he has his helmet cocked back and he’s looking up at the stands and I’m saying let’s do this, let’s do this. Then, he says, ‘you know what, John?’ and I thought, ‘oh great, he has a play.’ So I asked him ‘what?’ and he said ‘these fans are getting their money’s worth today.’ That’s the way he was. I was going all over the board on what we should do, and he was just cool, looking up into the stands. In the Super Bowl against Minnesota, the first couple of drives we got stopped and had to kick field goals. I was all upset about not being able to finish and score. Kenny put his hand on my shoulder and said ‘don’t worry about that, John, there’s plenty more where that came from.” It did affect me. I thought, when he said that, he’s right. I felt a heck of a lot better about it. It was the whole team. That’s what he gave to the team. He would throw a bad pass and it didn’t bother him. He would forget it and go on to the next one. He’d throw a low pass into the dirt and he’d move on to the next play. He didn’t let things affect him. He was always positive. In those days, the quarterback called the plays. There was a lot to that, too. Sometimes we forget how smart Kenny Stabler was. He was a brilliant quarterback with a brilliant football mind. He would set things up. There’s a thing that they don’t even judge anymore, called field general. Ken Stabler was a true field general. The offensive players really believed and followed him. Anything that came out of his mouth, they totally believed.”

On The Field Reports’ Shawn Jonas Asks John Madden: 

Q: Could you tell us a story or a quote on things that Kenny would say postgame, after the win or loss?

Madden: “We didn’t have a lot of losses. After the game, he wasn’t one to say a lot. He didn’t give speeches before the game and he didn’t give speeches after the game. He just enjoyed it. He enjoyed football. He enjoyed practice, he enjoyed playing. He enjoyed every part of it. He enjoyed living. After the game, he was just thinking of the next thing. His leadership was brought about the way he presented himself, held himself, and the esteem his teammates held him in.”

Q: Did he say anything after the Holy Roller game?

Madden: “No. I think after that Holy Roller game, you think of Kenny Stabler and you think about how he was involved in more name games than anyone. We were all in shock after that game. We had used our last timeout and we called a play and the last thing I said to Kenny when we went out, I said ‘no matter what happens, the ball has to come out of your hands. We cannot take a sack,’ because the game would have been over. So, he knows that. He’s thinking that and he starts to scramble, he starts to get tackled, he knows he has to get rid of the ball and he does. The rest is history. After that, it was just kind of shock. The day or two after that, then it kind of became like oh yeah, that was a play we work on, we knew what we were doing, and all that bologna. The bologna didn’t follow right after the game.
Q: Thinking back on the character that was Kenny Stabler, was there ever a moment where, knowing he was that kind of free spirited character that you were afraid he’d get that phone call that night before a game. Do you have any stories of that?

Madden: “No. No, because he wasn’t that way. That was, at the time when I was with him, that was overplayed and overrated, and that wasn’t the way he was. I made a deal with him and I don’t know if it would work today, but I made a deal with him that I won’t mess with him in the offseason. I didn’t have one of those things where you have him come in for minicamp, OTAs and all that stuff. I just let him go. I said the offseason is yours, but the tradeoff is you give me the season. The season is mine. And you know I mean anything that I say that we have to do during the season is done. We had meetings before practice, we had meetings after practice, we had meetings at night, and he was always there, he was always attentive, and like I said, he was a brilliant guy, and the stories about him that came out later, to me, the Kenny Stabler, that I know, the stories were vastly exaggerated.
There’s one story, I don’t know if anyone remembers this, someone was talking to his mother about Kenny, and saying, you know, he’s this and he’s that he’s wild and he stays up all night and he does all these things and his mother says, ‘You’re not talking about Kenny, you’re talking about his daddy.’ And I always thought of that quote and I always thought that there’s quite a bit of truth in that.”

Q: How aware would you say you were of the severity of Stabler’s cancer, how advanced it was, and what do you think it says about him that he made it such, that he kept to himself, that so many of his former teammates didn’t have any idea?

Madden: “Yeah, I was unaware. I was not aware of that he had cancer, and I didn’t. That was a big part of the shock, but if you know Kenny Stabler that’s Kenny Stabler. We used to have a thing. Kenny Stabler never went into the training room. And he didn’t want any of his teammates to ever see him getting treatment. He never went in the training room. He wouldn’t be seen in there, he wouldn’t step in there. So, I thought, well this is ridiculous because he would take a little beating during these games too, and he needed treatment. So I would talk to him about it and he just didn’t want to go in the training [room]. So I said, well you know, let’s do it at night, so you know when everyone leaves. And you know George Anderson our trainer would come back at like nine o’clock at night and that’s when he got his treatment. But, he didn’t want any of his teammates to ever see him in the training room getting treatment. And I think that probably followed him through life.”

Q: I was just hoping you could tell us kind of a story, maybe not on the field, but about Ken Stabler that kind of epitomized who he was as a person?

Madden: “Well, you know the thing was, he was always, always ready to help in any way he could. And, when he would go out he was always polite. I mean he was a real southern gentleman, you know. And, he was, we would have post game parties and he would be around and he’d make a point to talk to all the coach’s, all the coach’s wives, and treat them like they were really something. He really treated people with respect and then, the other side of him, like I said, he enjoyed life. He would rather tell a joke or tell a story or hear a joke or hear a story then anything that’s real serious. But, when he had to be serious he’d get down and be as serious as anyone. And, when that wasn’t needed he was just going to enjoy the moment.”

Q: Many players recall the immaculate reception game. What do you remember about it?

Madden: “Yeah, I’ll never forget that game. He did. He came in off the bench and the Steelers didn’t know a lot about Stabler at that time, and they gave him a little room to his left in there pass rush, and he ran, and he ran for a touchdown, and that put us ahead. So that set up the immaculate reception. Now, the Steelers were behind, time was running out, it was a fourth down play, the immaculate reception was, and the last play, last ditch effort, and then that happened. So, he set up the situation that put them behind, that made them get into that mode to make that drive.”

Q: Did you ever wonder if the dynasty would have been different if they didn’t win that game?

Madden: “No, it wouldn’t have been different. I mean, they lost the next week, I think, but that was just the start of their dynasty. I think they probably realized then that, that they had put together a pretty good team, a very good coaching staff and they were ready to make their move. I think that was a thing. I don’t think that they realized that this is the start of the dynasty, but this is definitely our turnaround in the playoffs, going in the right direction now. And, we’re not going to be the same old Steelers.”

Q: What do you credit his, just innate ability to throw the football and get the ball to open receivers?

Madden: “You know that was what he had and do it quickly. I mean he had a thing that would always set in his mind from the time he saw something until the ball left his hand, was the quickest mechanism that I’ve ever seen. And, I don’t know how you measure that or I don’t know exactly what that is, but I mean some guys see it, then they’re going to step, then they’re going to throw, and then it’s too late. I mean he sees it, boom. It would come out and then, you say with great accuracy and that’s what a quarterback has to have. When Kenny Stabler came to us that’s what he had. He didn’t have the strongest arm, but he had a very accurate arm, and he knew where to go with the ball and he could see and read quickly, and then when he read something, and saw and it read it quickly, the ball would be out of his hands. And the thing that I always liked about him, is, I made a statement yesterday, that up until this day, if I had you know, one drive, or we had to make a drive to win the game, I’d want Kenny Stabler as a quarterback. And you just think of, in those situations, and in those drives when he would, when he gets in his drop, in his drop back, and his drop and that back foot would set, then he would stand straight up. I mean, he would get, I don’t know if you ever remembered this or would have seen this, he would get taller. He would make himself taller in the pocket. There’s some guys that tend to make themselves smaller in the pocket, Kenny Stabler would go back and then he would rise. You just think, that’s the way he played. The bigger the situation I’m going to get back, I’m going to get to the head of my drop and I’m going to step and I’m going to rise and then I’m going to rise to the occasion, and that’s what he did. And then, like you say, he just had great accuracy. To me, that was a natural thing more than a taught thing.”

Amari Cooper’s Press Conference After First Rookie Mini Camp Session

May 8, 2015 1:15 PM PT

Alameda, CA. – The number one wide receiver, and fourth player overall in the 2015 NFL Draft,  Amari Cooper participates in his first practice as an Oakland Raider.

The rookie mini camp session was only a day after he arrived in Oakland and the Raiders also announce the signing of the Highly touted receiver out of Alabama to a contract.

He played three seasons at Alabama, appearing in 40 games and making 30 starts. Cooper left Alabama as the school’s most productive receiver in their illustrious history, setting school records with 228 receptions, 3,463 receiving yards and 31 receiving touchdowns. The 6-foot-1, 211-pounder also ranks near the top of the SEC’s receiving record books in every major category, finishing third all-time in receptions, second all-time in receiving yards and first in receiving touchdowns while helping the Crimson Tide win the BCS National Championship in 2012.

As a senior, the Miami, Fla., native was awarded the Biletnikoff Award, given annually to the nation’s most outstanding receiver. He was also named the SEC’s Offensive Player of the Year and finished third in voting for the Heisman Trophy. On his way to being a unanimous first-team All-American selection his senior season, Cooper posted 124 receptions (fourth most by any player from a Power Five Conference in FBS history) for 1,727 receiving yards (Alabama and SEC record) and 16 receiving touchdowns.

It was important for the former Alabama wide receiver to get the business part of the game taken care of so he could put all of his focus on football.

“My agent advised me to do that, so I guess it was important to him,” said Cooper.

Cooper participated in a short press conference after his first rookie mini camp session. 

All Media by Shawn Jonas

The Oakland Raiders Select Alabama Wide Receiver Amari Cooper Fourth-Overall In The 2015 NFL Draft

April 31, 2015 9:58 PM PT

Alameda, California– With the fourth-overall pick in the 2015 NFL Draft, the Oakland Raiders selected WR Amari Cooper (Alabama). The 2014 Fred Biletnikoff Award winner and Hesiman Trophy finalist joins the Silver and Black after a three-year career with the Crimson Tide (2012-14), totaling 228 receptions for 3,463 yards (15.2 avg.) with 31 TDs. Here is some more information on the Raiders’ first-round selection, as well as a closer look at some highlights from Cooper’s illustrious collegiate career.

In three years at Alabama, Cooper emerged as one of the nation’s most explosive and polished receivers. Below is a look at his offensive totals at Alabama.

RECEIVING

Year      School       Games     Rec     Yds       Avg    TD

2012   Alabama       14             59    1,000    16.9   11

2013   Alabama       12             45      736     16.4      4     

2014   Alabama       14          124    1,727   13.9     16

 TOTALS                       40          228    3,463   15.2    31

AWARDS

2014 Fred Biletnikoff Award winner — Nation’s top wide receiver –

2014 Unanimous All-American and Preseason All-American

2014 SEC Offensive Player of the Year and First Team All-SEC
Third in 2014 Heisman Voting (1,023 points)

2012 Consensus All-American (FWAA, Sporting News, CBSSports.com, CollegeFootballNews.com and Scout.com)

2012 SEC All-Freshman (selected by coaches)

TITLES

Two-time SEC Champion (2012, 2014) – BCS National Champion (20

He had 228 catches for 3,463 yards and 31 touchdowns in three seasons. That includes a standout junior season where he had an NCAA best 1,724 receiving yards.
Here is a brief look at where Cooper’s offensive exploits ranked among his peers in the SEC and NCAA, along with some other notables from his Alabama career:

Receiving Touchdowns

• Ranks first in SEC annals (since 1956) with 31 career TDs
• Finished first in the SEC, and second in the NCAA, with 16 TDs in

2014
• Second in the SEC with 11 TDs as a freshman in 2012, an Alabama freshman record

Receptions

• Ranks third in SEC history (since ‘56) with 228 career receptions
• Topped the SEC and NCAA in 2014 with 124 receptions, setting the

SEC record
• In 2012, finished with 59 cathces, second all-time among Alabama

freshmen

Receiving Yards

• Second all-time in SEC history (since ‘56) with 3,463 yards
• Led the SEC, finishing second in the NCAA, with 1,727 yards in 2014 • His 1,000-yard season in 2012 was good for fifth in the SEC that season, and the third-best yardage total among Alabama freshman

Jack Del Rio, ” Polished”

“The repetitions that he’s had playing the position, running the route tree and doing all the things that he’s done to develop himself, makes him a guy that has that label of being polished,” Del Rio said. “That’s why. He’s earned it.

“It’s rare when you find guys that come into the league and they have that kind of polish on them coming out. Typically, guys have something they haven’t done. He has pretty much done all those things. He knows how to get off press. He knows how to attack defenses, find the soft spots and run the full complement of the route tree. So that sets him apart in terms of the rest of this (draft) class.”

Jack Del Rio answers a question about if you ink Amari Cooper in as a starter from day one.

“I think the way we like to do things is to come in and earn your role and compete,” Del Rio said. “But the expectation level should be high for a young man that comes in that is selected that high in the draft. But he’ll need to prove it on the field and earn it. That’s how, really, it is with everybody. There certainly is a high expectation that goes along with somebody selected that high.”

 

General Manager Reggie McKenzies Comments:

“Cooper was high on our board from the start,” general manager Reggie McKenzie said. “Honestly, it didn’t matter about the position. It was about the player. We thought we had a chance to get a really good player.

“It’s nice when it goes hand in hand, when you have a player that fits one of your needs. It was great when that fell into place.”

Raiders only meeting with Amari Cooper was at the combine. They didn’t bring him in for a workout. They learned about Cooper by talking to people around the Wide Receiver.   They also had some inside knowledge of the player. Linebackers coach Sal Suneri’s son Vinny was a defensive at Alabama with Cooper from 2012-13.

He’s a character player supremely focused on football, but McKenzie also lauded Cooper’s on-field ability, which the Raiders have studied for some time.

“It seems like he can run a route with his eyes closed,” McKenzie said. “He’s exceptionally quick. He’s fast and he understands the game. You can tell the guy’s been playing football and playing that position all his life. You can tell that. He’s an extremely hard worker and you don’t hear any negatives about this guy, so it’s no wonder he’s as good as he is because the intangibles outside of his skill set are extremely high.”

“When Cooper was there, we were excited,” McKenzie said. “We had an idea of kind of how the draft would go, but when Cooper was officially there, it wasn’t a whole lot of debate.”

 

Amari Cooper’s Conference call Q & A

Q: Considering the Raiders weren’t one of the teams that brought you in for a visit, how shocked were you to hear your name called when they were on the clock?

Cooper: “I wasn’t that shocked. I kind of knew they liked me.”

Q: How did you get that feeling that they liked you?

Cooper: “Just talking to them at the combine.”

Q: You were targeted 170-something times last year. As an NFL rookie, you might not be targeted that many times. Is that going to be frustrating for you?

Cooper: “No. I’m just going to work as hard as I can and whatever results yield from that, I’ll be fine with it.”

Q: People talk about how polished you are. What are some of the things that you think you still need to work on most?

Cooper: “Just being consistent in my performance. Looking the ball all the way through every single time, so that I can catch the ball as many times as it’s thrown to me. High-pointing the ball every time. Just the small things to make me a better player.”

Q: Do you know anything about Derek Carr?

Cooper: “From what I’ve heard, he’s a really great, young quarterback. To be honest, I didn’t watch many NFL games last year. What I’ve heard, he’s a really good quarterback and I can’t wait to build a rapport with him.”

Q: How much did Lane Kiffin help you to develop to the player you are?

Cooper: “He wanted to see every player reach their fullest potential. He harped on the small things with me, like looking the ball all the way through and high-pointing the ball so that I can be the best player that I can be.”

Q: How did you develop your approach? Where did that come from?

Cooper: “Just being diligent and conscientious as a receiver. Just trying to be the best I can be. I think for the most part, it’s come because I’ve played this position all my life. Usually when you get a wide receiver at the college level, they haven’t played wide receiver their whole life.”

Q: How young were you when you started playing wide receiver?
Cooper: “Third grade. From the time I started playing football, I’ve always played the same position.”

Q: How did you choose to play wide receiver in the third grade?

Cooper: “I didn’t choose it. I wanted to play running back because when you’re young, all teams really do is run the ball. We had two great running backs, one was the coach’s son and the other one was really good, but they knew I was a great athlete, too, and they used me at receiver.”

Q: One thing that you are better at than most prospects is your route-running. How much of that have you focused on?

Cooper: “I’m a wide receiver. There are only two ways you can get open at wide receiver, your releases and the top of your route. The whole route-running process is really important. I just focused on it and try to be the best that I can at it so I can create as much separation I can for my quarterback.”

Q: Did you watch any specific wide receiver on film to pattern yourself after?

Cooper: “When I started playing wide receiver at a very young age, my coaches tried to teach me how to run a route. I was already good at it because I had been doing it already in my backyard, I just didn’t know what the routes were called. I was pretty good at cutting so it came pretty natural and pretty easy.”

Q: What’s your experience level with California and the Bay Area?

Cooper: “I’ve been there twice just recently. I went there for a Nike shoot and for [ESPN’s] Sports Science. My first time being there was in the past month.”

Q: So, in fourth or fifth grade, you’re in your backyard running routes?

Cooper: “No it was before that. It was when I was like five or six before I started playing organized football. Me and my friends were in the backyard just playing football.”

Q: So you’d just run the routes and they’d throw to you?

Cooper: “Yeah, we would just play against each other. We’d try to guard each other. We had to find ways to get open, that’s what I mean when I say I was already running routes. I was just finding ways to get open. When I had to run a slant route or a comeback route, which the coach called it, I was already familiar with running and getting open so it came easy.”

Q: Would you say it was perfecting your route running that led to your breakout season last year?

Cooper: “It was a combination of different things. I think my mindset is probably the most important thing. Being able to stay positive through whatever injury I had or whatever situation I was going through and focusing on the best player I can be and the best teammate I can be.”

Q: What drew you to football as a kid?

Cooper: “Probably this place called The Barnyard, it was my after school program.”

What They Are Saying

Screenshot_2015-04-30-22-01-33-1-1

Screenshot_2015-05-01-05-34-50-1

Screenshot_2015-05-01-05-33-54-1

Screenshot_2015-05-01-05-33-30-1

Screenshot_2015-05-01-05-33-10-1

Screenshot_2015-05-01-05-34-17-1