EJ Manuel Buffalo Bills NFL Draft 1st Rd Pick QB
EJ Manuel has become a polarizing figure among Buffalo Bills fans. The Florida State QB has performed statistically better than Christian Ponder, his predecessor who was selected with the 10th pick in the 1st round of 2011 NFL Draft, but, and even with an outstanding performance in the Senior Bowl, EJ Manuel has been unfairly panned. Still, he was the 16th pick in the NFL Draft.
Here’s his first interview:
Q. E.J., congratulations.
E.J. MANUEL: Thank you.
Q. Talk a little bit about going to Buffalo and what that means for you as a quarterback, a franchise that obviously needs some quarterbacking help.
E.J. MANUEL: Most definitely. First off, I just want to thank God. I’m extremely excited about the new opportunity, extremely excited to be a Buffalo Bill. I know there’s a lot of work to be done, and I plan on going out there and doing it.
Q. E.J., is there a sense of pride about being the first quarterback taken, and are you surprised that that happened?
E.J. MANUEL: I think it just ended up happening because the teams who I thought needed quarterbacks or were going to take quarterbacks early in the first round, they didn’t. Buffalo traded back. They ended up picking me, and I’m definitely going to be extremely excited to be the first quarterback taken. That’s something I can always tell my grandkids years from now.
Q. Who talked to you on the phone when you got the call?
E.J. MANUEL: It was first Mr. Nix, Buddy Nix gave me a call. The chills game over me, man. I heard my phone rang, and I knew it was Buffalo at 16, and I knew that was my chance to go. He called me, and I was extremely happy.
Q. I know West Virginia is cold, but not like Buffalo. Do you have goosedown? Are you ready for this?
E.J. MANUEL: Absolutely. I’m from Virginia actually. Cold isn’t a problem. It’s still football at the end of the day.
Q. Buffalo has 140 inches of snow a year.
E.J. MANUEL: Hey, I’ll get my shovel.
Q. Talk about your emotions afterwards.
E.J. MANUEL: I was telling myself, I’m not going to cry because I knew my parents ‑‑ my parents are definitely emotional people, figuring what we’ve gone through with my mom, what she’s battled through.
I just started thinking about all the hard work my parents have done and myself and my sister, and all of it coming together tonight. It was just a great feeling.
Q. What was your mom’s reaction?
E.J. MANUEL: My mom’s reaction was just excited. Nothing out of the ordinary. My mom is always going to be proud of me whether I went first or second round, same with my dad, same with the rest of the family. The fact we got the call was a great breath of fresh air.
Q. Is it strange that you’re sitting here? Geno Smith is still waiting to find out what it’s like. What do you think that he’s going through at this moment?
E.J. MANUEL: Geno is one of the first guys came and gave me a hug when I was heading out to meet Roger Goodell. That says a lot about Geno’s character. I’ve known Geno since tenth grade. Wherever he goes, he’s going to have a great, successful NFL career. I’m just looking forward to it.
Q. They were calling this a weak Draft for quarterbacks; is there extra motivation to prove that’s not true?
E.J. MANUEL: I think we’ll all definitely carry that chip on our shoulder. Besides wanting to be a competitor or being a competitor anyway, I think when you have naysayers and people in the media, personally, I don’t listen to them, but we’ll always have that chip on our shoulder, and five years from now we’ll all have successful careers.
Q. E.J., we’re from Buffalo, and we think you’re the boss. How excited are you to play for the Bills? Rabid fan base, going crazy.
E.J. MANUEL: Happy to have this hat on, red, and white, and Blue. I’m excited. That’s all I can say right now.
Q. Get excited, NFL. He’s coming to Buffalo.
E.J. MANUEL: I’m going to go in and work hard and learn the offense. It’s up to Coach Marrone and Coach Hackett. It’s up to what the team wants to do. This isn’t about me. This is about the team still.
I think they have great pieces in place. Whatever quarterback is starting from day one, that’s going to be the guy.
Q. What about the prospect of competing with Kevin Kolb?
E.J. MANUEL: I’m looking forward to learning from him. He’s been in the league four, five, six years now. He’s a great quarterback. They brought him in. Looking forward to learning from those guys. I feel like we’re all learning from day one because of the training camp we have.
Q. Did the coach or GM tell you anything about you can compete for the starting job right away, or was that not brought up?
E.J. MANUEL: It wasn’t really brought up. Obviously, they invest a first round pick in you and trade up to take you, you obviously know what it is.
Sorry, I’m just excited right now. I’m at a loss for words right now. I’m just looking forward to getting there and shaking their hands and getting started and getting ready to go to work.
Q. There’s only two picks left in the first round of the Draft. If you’re the only quarterback taken, is that something ‑‑ an honor that you find in yourself?
E.J. MANUEL: I think so. It’s definitely something to be proud of. Nonetheless, I’m just excited to be a Buffalo Bill right now.
Q. Not a lot of people had you in a first round grade. Getting invited to come here, did that give you a hint that maybe something good was coming up?
E.J. MANUEL: I think so, whether it was going to be first or second round. Besides the first round, I was more so happy to have my family here. To allow us to all come here and enjoy this together as a family. I’d rather be here than Virginia Beach. Where else would you want to be but New York City for the Draft? So it’s a great time.
Q. E.J., what are your attributes that make you ready to be a starter in week one?
E.J. MANUEL: First off, you’ve got to go in and learn the offense. There is definitely an acclimation from college to the pros. I feel I have the physical ability to go in and play as an NFL quarterback.
So first things first. Go in and learn offense.
Q. E.J., what was it like to finally get your hug from Goodell?
E.J. MANUEL: What was it like? Oh, man, I came in for the best friend hug. I told him I was going to do it when we went out there on the stage at the beginning. So it was a great feeling. I’ve seen it over and over on TV. I’ve been watching the Draft for years. So actually to have that moment for myself, it means a lot to me.
Q. Did you have a sense ‑‑
E.J. MANUEL: I did. It was just a matter of when. I felt it was either going to be the Bills, Cleveland, Philadelphia, or the Jets. Those are four teams I felt really good about. I had great rapport with the Bills staff, the Bills coaches. I’m just happy they took me at 16.
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