As I entered the Ohio State Practice facility, after the initial shock of being on such sacred ground. My attention was quickly diverted to a tall figure throwing beautiful spirals to the deep corner of the end zone. As I walked closer I realized it was Jordan Palmer, former back up QB for the Cincinnati Bengals and the top QB mentor for Trent Dilfer’s Elite 11 QB competition. After Jordan’s training session, I quickly approached and asked if I could get an interview with him, and without hesitation “he said sure, just let me know when you’re ready”.
After sitting down and writing a few questions with my associate , I was ready for my first interview, I was extremely nervous I must admit, Jordan took the opportunity to mess with me and ran with it. “JP’, was a down to earth guy and laid back. His knowledge of the game and work ethic will provide many young upcoming QB with the tools they need to become “the Dude”.
DC: What was it like growing up with older brother Carson Palmer, Was it highly competitive between you two?
“JP”: (Quickly snapped his head, while looking up, glared and said)
“No questions about my brother!”
DC: ( Mouth dropping to floor and trying to muster some kind of response.. I took one final glimpse at him and realized he was just joking, Whew!)
“JP”: (Casually Smirks)
“Just Kidding bro! You should have seen that look on your face! Priceless!”
(Right then, after I managed to pick my jaw up off the floor, I realized that this was going to be a great interview!)
“JP”: “But to answer your question: Growing up with Carson was great, having an older brother like him was fun. Carson is just as laid back and down to earth as I am.”
DC: What was it like playing in the NFL together, on the same team? It is rare enough for Brothers to make it to the NFL, let alone be on the same active team roster.
“JP”: “Well Carson has always worked extremely hard, that’s one thing he always taught me. I was there when He (Carson) signed his $120 million contract with Cincinnati. I had a bottle of champagne ready to go on ice. He signed the contract, Stood up, shook hands with Mike Brown and walked straight into his film room. I said ‘Hey Bro, you aren’t gonna at least have one glass of this champagne to celebrate? Carson responded: ‘ No, I need to earn it now.’ I really admired him for that. He showed me what it truly takes in that moment to be successful in the NFL. I will never forget that day, or what he taught me, I try to use that same work ethic myself now”
DC: I remember watching you two in one of your little throwing competitions, If I recall correctly, you were an impressive 5 for 5, and beat Carson that time.
“JP”: “Yeah, I remember the bets between us as well, You definitely didn’t wanna be on the losing end of those! They weren’t for money or anything of value, but being brothers, we were forcing each other to do some really nasty stuff. For instance, one time the loser had to shave their chest..” (starts shaking his head and laughing out loud.)
DC: Who was the Hardest Hitter you have ever played against?
“JP”: What Position? D-Line? Linebacker? Bart Scott if so, but if you mean all positions, then it is Safety.. and by far Troy Polamalu. In my opinion, Troy is the best athlete I have ever seen. No one can cover ground so quickly and hit so hard. I think Troy fell in the draft because no one believed someone so soft-spoken could be such a man-eater on the field. Without a doubt in mind Troy is the fiercest and hardest hitting opponent than anyone I have ever faced.
DC: I heard Jamarcus Russell was making an attempt to return to the NFL, what are your thoughts? What about Tim Tebow? Do you think either of them deserve another chance in the NFL?
“JP”: Good Luck to him (J. Russell). If No one signs him, it’s fair. You’re given an equal opportunity to succeed, especially when you are First Overall. It goes back to earlier, you have to earn it.. It was up to him to earn it, You can’t blame anyone but yourself at this point. As for Tebow, I think he absolutely deserves another chance. He has done nothing but prove that he is a winner, He has the passion and the work ethic to go with all of it as well.
DC: Who are the toughest Defensive Coordinators that you have ever faced? Who are your Favorite Offensive Coordinators?
“JP”: Wow, there are some good ones, Dick Lebeau is always tough, he’s a great play caller and very confusing, Zimmer is up there too, he has some exotic blitz schemes that are hard to deal with, Jack Del Rio also tops my list too. As for Offensive Coordinators.. I excel in the West Coast Offense. I can play in any type of Offense if asked, and my favorite OC’s are Norv Turner and Bob Bratkowski.
(Being a long time Bengals fan, I couldn’t help but shudder when he mentioned the name Bratkowski as one of his favorite OC’s, but there has to be something special about him for him to name him a favorite in his mind.)
DC: Were you ever and Elite 11 QB?
“JP”: “No, I wasn’t I never made the Elite 11, but not making it made me work that much harder, I used it as motivation. It gave me a chip on my shoulder my Freshman year of college, and I came in, and played lights out. Even though I didn’t make it into the cherished final Elite 11 class, I have been participating / working with the Elite 11 for 17 years now.”
DC: What do you enjoy most about being a QB Mentor at the Elite 11?
“JP”: I enjoy being an influential figure in the development of these kids, Most of them don’t get the kind of attention we can give them, in their home town or high school. The Elite 11 is composed of 32 of the best QB Coaches that you can find anywhere in the world. We give them an coaching advantage, so that they have as many opportunities as possible to take that next step and reach their ultimate goal. (playing in the NFL)
(At this point in time, Trent Dilfer showed up for a few seconds, and he helped give some insight on this next question with “JP”)
DC: What does the Elite 11 do, exactly, to help out a young QB?
“JP” and Trent Dilfer: ” We Provide first and foremost the truth. We will not tell someone that they can do something, if we don’t believe that you can do it. We will truthfully tell you what your weakness’ are and what you need to improve. We provide the kids with expertise (as previously mentioned, they have the top 32 QB coaches in the world that come to help these kids learn and excel).
No other camp or program can even come close to this level of expertise and opportunity. The “Mentors” will work on all of their weaknesses, but the kids have to be able to learn, if you cannot learn in this game, then you will hit your peak and eventually fall behind. You are your own worst enemy when you refuse to learn. Being unteachable is going to limit your potential, basically you don’t give yourself a chance, and cut yourself off at the knee’s. Additionally we provide the younger guys with counselling.
It will definitely take them work, nothing comes easy.. especially in this business, but we believe in them. That is why we bring them here, it truly starts with believing in them. These kids are only 16 or 17 years old and they can still be molded at this age. It is much easier to get them into better habits at this age, while they are developing, so when they hit 21, it will all just be an after thought, allowing them to focus on much more advanced steps, like reading the defense, instead of worrying about footwork and release.
As technology advances, we will be able to start helping these kids all the time. We are introducing the E-Coach this year, (A breakthrough coaching tool, which allows the students access to their coaches anytime they need, More to come on this later) it will allow us to help them even more.”
DC: Who were some of the most impressive kids you have personally mentored through the Elite 11?
“JP”: ” Well currently in the NFL there is over 20 active QB’s from the Elite 11, so the List is enormous.. but the most memorable performances that come to mind are: Matt Stafford, Jake Locker and Ryan Mallet. Stafford owned it while he was here, he was an Elite 11 MVP. Ryan Mallet was a ball boy here 1 year (He had so many talented people in his QB class), but he came back the very next year and Lit up the whole competition. Ryan Mallet is definitely one of the best we’ve ever had come through here, despite playing against an enormously gifted QB class.”
DC: Thank you for your time Jordan, I appreciate it.
A Special thank you to Justyn Yahle doing an amazing job with helping me with the interview!