Ron Bartell Press Conference

Rams cornerback Ron Bartell spoke Wednesday about his new contract. He talked about having a defensive head coach for the first time, on the free agency process, on his ups and downs, on his change in his leadership role, and on if he thinks a player getting rewarded will play well with the locker room.

Ron Bartell Press Conference
March 4, 2009

Head coach Steve Spagnuolo

(Opening statement)
"Thanks for being here as always. It's a great day for the St. Louis Rams. The staff and the entire organization is ecstatic about keeping one of our main guys in the fold here. I want to begin again by thanking ownership for their support in putting the deal together and again to (General Manager) Billy (Devaney) and (Executive Vice President of Football Operations Chief Operating Officer) Kevin (Demoff) for their efforts that they've put into this. It was a really back and forth deal and it was fantastic the way it worked out. Ron (Bartell) was a primary focus right from the beginning. I knew all about him because I'd seen him on film and knew him as a player. All you know then is No. 24 but I can tell you that the first time I met him, I knew that the character matched the player. That's the greatest thing about him. We just think that he fits the mold that we're looking for in both the person and the player and I'm individually looking forward to having him around here. I'm going to let him talk to you because he's more important today than me."

CB Ron Bartell

(Opening Statement)
"First of all, I'd like to say that I feel truly blessed to still be with this organization that I feel is heading in the right direction. I'd like to thank the ownership, Billy Devaney, Kevin Demoff, Coach ‘Spags.' Throughout the process they were great. A lot of times negotiations can go back and forth and be kind of bitter toward one side or another but everything was done in a professional way. I really appreciated that. I'm just happy to be here. We've struggled a lot in the past but I have a really good feeling that things are about to turn around with the staff that we have and with the management that they've brought in and some of the guys that we're bringing in. I enjoyed meeting the new coaching staff. We had a great rapport when we met. We talked about a lot of things that they want to implement and I feel like I can be a big part of that. My time in St. Louis has had it's ups and downs, but I feel I've grown as a player and as a man and I hope I continue to do so. I'm just happy to be around."

(On taking the initiative to fly in to meet the new coaching staff and on his first meeting with Coach Spagnuolo)
"After they hired the whole staff, I had just wanted to come in and meet the coaches that I was considering playing for. You don't want to make a decision without meeting someone. That's just the way I saw it. I came in and they were very busy but I was impressed with the way he just dropped everything to make time. We just struck up and had a great conversation. Actually right in the middle of the weight room, we spoke for about 15 or 20 minutes. Then, he took me around and introduced me to the rest of the staff. That was big for me. I understood at that time that they were very busy trying to get everything prepared so for him just to drop everything when he's in the middle of something. And just to make the time to have a conversation with one of his players, I thought that was big."

(On having a defensive head coach for the first time)
"That made quite a difference, especially a defensive guy with his background. Like I said, the things that he did in New York, I thought they were pretty spectacular. Especially, a year ago when they played the Patriots in the Super Bowl, a team that everybody thought was invincible and they dismantled them. How could you not want to play for a guy like that? Me personally, being a cornerback, I look at his secondary and how he coached those guys up. A guy like (Giants CB) Corey Webster and what he was able to do for him and turn him into the kind of player that he is today, that was big for me."

(On the free agency process)
"It's kind of like college, getting recruited all over again. It was definitely rough because of the unknown. In my heart I knew I wanted to be here but I didn't know if it would work out that way. I had some reservations about staying at first, before they made all of the hires, because coming off a 2-14 season you kind of question whether or not this is the place you want to be. Once I was able to meet the coaches and once they hired Billy who I just had the utmost confidence in, it was an easy decision to come down to in the end. It was cool to have other teams appreciate what you've done in the league and find out where you stand in their eyes. At the end of the day, it came down to a gut feeling, me being comfortable with the situation that I'm in, a place where I truly believe that we can get this thing turned around and I wanted to be a part of that."

(On if he got a feeling for how his game is perceived and about how the Rams are perceived)
"One thing I did learn is how teams plan on attacking me next year. That was a big key and that's one thing I really did learn. I did learn that a lot of people have an appreciation for the way that I play, for the way that I've grown over the years and the way they've watched my career blossom. I just want to keep getting better."

(On his ups and downs, moving from cornerback to safety to nickelback and if he ever thought the day would come where he would be a high-level cornerback)
"I knew it would come. Like I said, every year I've made it a point to get better at something. I feel like I'm not even at my peak yet. I feel like the best is yet to come. All of the moving that you discussed, at the time when you're doing it, you really don't have an appreciation for it. You're like, ‘oh man, they moved me again.' I wouldn't change anything in the world. I think it's made me a better player, a more versatile player. I don't know if a lot of guys get through that and go through what I've been through and still succeed. A lot of guys don't get asked to learn every position in the secondary. One game you play at corner, the next game you might be at safety or nickel, especially for a young guy. It's made me a better football player. It made me a better professional, so I wouldn't change it for the world."

(On if he can believe he's come this far from Howard University)
"Not at all. Growing up in Detroit, where I grew up, going to a small school, Howard University, getting drafted in the second round when a lot of people thought you shouldn't have. Being up here today, speaking to you guys, it's a dream come true. I can't put it in words."

(On the change in his leadership role)
"I thought I started to take more of a leadership role the last couple of games last season. Me and (former Rams S) Corey Chavous were just having a discussion about it last season at the end of the year. He had put it on me. He pretty much told me that a lot of guys have respect for what I'm doing, so it may be time for me to step up more and be more of a vocal guy. I'm not really big on ‘rah rah' and all of that, but I try and lead by example. When they invest this kind of money in you, I think it's your duty to take a leadership role on this team. Something has to change around here so if it takes me being more vocal, or a guy like O.J. (Atogwe) stepping up and saying some things, then you know what, we're going to have to do that if we want to change things."

(On if he has specific plans for the money)
"They only thing I'm going to do is buy my parents a house and get them out of the neighborhood that they've staying in. That's about it."

(On if they are still in Detroit)
"Still in Detroit."

(On if they live in a tough neighborhood)
"When I was growing up, it wasn't the best, but it was okay. Over the years, it's gotten pretty bad so I want to change their situation and get them in a more comfortable living situation. Once I do that, I have no plans."

(On if he has heard from old friends)
"I keep a close-knit circle. Everybody has been so happy for me and I've gotten a lot of calls and everything but not out of the woodworks that I don't know."

(On if he has gotten calls from teammates)
"Tons of them. Leonard Little called me the other day congratulating me, telling me that he's happy I'm here. I heard from Torry (Holt) the other day, Corey, O.J. I've gotten a lot of calls. I think everybody is happy to see this happen. Quite honestly, we have let a lot of good football players get away in the past, such as (former Rams) Kevin Curtis, Brandon Chillar, Ryan Pickett. Guys didn't stay. So to see a guy that was drafted here and has come along and gotten better as a player stay here I think that's big for the organization."

(On if he thinks a player getting rewarded will play well with the locker room)
"Of course it does because it lets you know that if you do what you're supposed to do, you have an opportunity to get rewarded for it and you don't have to seek it out from another team. You can get it from the team that drafted you at the place that you call home. I think it does play well in the locker room."

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