QB Jeff Blake Chats With Reporters

Baltimore Ravens quarterback and free agent Jeff Blake visited the Steelers on Monday and met with the media. Following is the transcript from that interview:

R: What do you think?
JB: "It's a great opportunity. It's a great opportunity for me to come out and talk to Coach [Bill] Cowher for the first time instead of looking at him from across the field. It's a big difference for me. I'm having a great time. I'm just taking these trips, seeing what's out there for me and my family."

R: Would you accept a back-up role?
JB: "Right now I am just checking out my options. I want to leave all of the doors open as much as I can and who knows, see what happens."

R: Is the door open in Baltimore?
JB: "I'm sure it is. I didn't leave there on a bad note. I did everything they asked me to do. As a player and a person who was there with the team, I didn't ruin that. We just didn't agree on the money. That's the only thing and that's part of the business. I don't think you should get personal when it comes to the business aspect of it, because that's part of it. I just want to go out and play football, but yet still I want to be able to take care of my family."

R: Are the expectations lower here?
JB: "I want to keep all of my options open. There are other guys out there who are free agents too. If those doors shut on me, I still have a place where there may be an opportunity for me to have a job. The key is, at the end of the day, to have a job. When you are too big-time to realize that, you won't be in this league that long."

R: What are your thoughts on Kordell Stewart and the Bears?
JB: "I don't know. I was there. I missed him by about an hour. They have their preference of who they want. Of course they didn't tell me, they did tell me they were going after Kordell."

R:  Would you need to compete for the starting job here?
JB: "I'm in a position where I can be a starter, I am a starter and I've done it for a long time. If teams want an experienced quarterback, they have it in me. If I don't have the opportunity to be a starter, my options are still open."

R: Is this a fall back option if you don't receive an offer from Arizona?
JB: "I am not saying it's a fall back. If they make me a good offer I might not even leave. We'll see what happens. I'm not here to pacify anybody or to bide time. I have a family. I have kids and they are waiting to see me. This trip is very important to me. I don't do anything to waste people's time. I do it because I am interested. This is a business too. I hate to say it, but it is. Sometimes it boils down to money. We'll see what happens and take it from there."

R: If you sign here, do you expect to compete for the starting job?
JB: "Oh yeah, definitely. It's inevitable for me to play. Historically speaking, wherever I go, as a back-up or a starter, I wind up playing. That's just the way it's always been for me. Even in the situation I was in at Baltimore last year I ended up playing. This is my 12th season and out of the 12 seasons I played 11 years and started eight of those years. Inevitably I'm going to be playing somewhere."

R: What appeals to you about the Steelers?
JB: "Knowing that they are going to do something funky every week. As I'm watching ESPN I'm thinking 'I wonder where they've got [Antwaan] Randle El this week.' It's a fun offense. Just being with an organization that's done it every year, year in and year out, being very consistent with getting to the playoffs, which in turn gives them a chance to get to the Super Bowl every year. If you aren't in it, you can't win it. They've been in the hunt every year."

R: Does that hurt Arizona's chances?
JB: "You have to look at everything and see what is happening, see where the team is going, see who they are getting in free agency, who they are losing, players they have around them, the coaching staff. Everything takes precedence when you have been in the league as long as I have and had the opportunity to see things, see how people operate, see how people tick - are they a time bomb, are they with you through thick and thin. All those things take precedence with me. I don't just do it to do it. It's not all about money for me. I've been in this league awhile and I've just had one signing bonus. I've started eight years with only one signing bonus so money is not an issue. I've always been in the lower bottom of the totem poll when it comes to getting paid as a quarterback in this league. That is really not an issue. The issue to me is commitment. If you are committed to me, I am committed to you."

R: How much would Stewart get from the Ravens?
JB: "I know whoever they get, they are going to get more than they were offering me. It's just inevitable. I can't see anybody signing a contract like that if they are coming in to be a starter. If they are a free agent, you can shop around. That's your right as a free agent. You have the right to shop around. I don't know why they took that right away from me. As a free agent, I have that right and they didn't want me to do that. They tried to take that away from me and I don't think that's fair."

R: Something was mentioned in a report lately about you smiling with Cowher after the last game. Was it a problem with the Ravens?
JB: "I just heard that somebody wrote that. That wasn't said until after the fact that I started doing these trips. They could have said that the whole off-season. They didn't say anything bad about me until I started taking these trips. I'm bigger than that. I am not going to retaliate against something like that. I have been playing against Coach Cowher for 11 years and it's a respect factor I have playing against him. I enjoy playing against him. Some of the best games I've played have been against Pittsburgh. It's the competitiveness that I have in me when I see him that I want to play at a higher level and he knows that. After the game, he said you almost got me again and I said that's right. It's more of a competitive thing after a battle. You go up and show sportsmanship. That's all it was. It wasn't like I was trying to lose the game. If you think that you've got issues, bad issues."

R: Could you play for him?
JB: "I don't know. I've never played for him before. I've been playing against him for so long. I'm sure it would be fun, though."

By Jim Wexell

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