"Anything you go through in life you have to learn from the good and the bad. I have been everywhere from the top of the list in high school and college to the No. 1 pick in the draft. My NFL career was very successful in a lot of ways, but it was also unsuccessful in some ways," Couch said. "I don't mind telling kids that. I let kids know that you are not always going to succeed the way you want, but you have to continue to try and set goals to work as hard as you can."
Still, the competitive fire in Couch still can be stoked when he thinks of the way he has been labeled a "bust" by some because he didn't have a better NFL career. Even though his statistics are ones many players would have been happy to post, Couch knows expectations for him sometimes cloud the way he's perceived.
"I really do feel I was judged unfairly at times. I feel like given the team I was placed on, I did a lot in a short period of time before I got hurt. We made the playoffs in my third year, which was unheard of for an expansion team," Couch said. "We won seven of our last 10 games that year to get in the playoffs. We had some good times. The bad thing for me was untimely injuries that I had to deal with. I never missed a game in high school or college, but with an expansion team in the NFL I got hit a lot. "I don't regret anything. I was blessed in a lot of areas. The NFL was good to me in a lot of ways. I would love to still be playing, but it didn't work out that way. I am thankful for the opportunity I had. I got in six years and started five for the Browns. That's not bad.
"The biggest problem with being a No. 1 pick is the expectations. Anything less than a career like Peyton Manning or Troy Aikman or John Elway and you look like a bust after being the No. 1 pick. Look at the guys they compare you to when you are a No. 1 pick. But look at guys that were really busts and their numbers are not comparable to mine. I threw 70 touchdown passes. If I had been picked 20th in the draft and my career went that way, people would have said I had a pretty successful career. But as a No. 1 pick, if I didn't have a career like Manning or Elway, then I am viewed as a failure by some." Success can also be measured in other ways. First, Couch was financially successful. He jokes that his brother, Greg, gave him no choice but to save and invest wisely.
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