Jeremy Bloom: Obviously it was disappointing. It was difficult trying to battle that hamstring injury. When they put me on IR, I was disappointed, but shortly after that I realized the opportunity I had being on IR. I had the opportunity to be with the team and the ability to watch film of anybody in the NFL. I had the ability to physically reshape my body for football and mentally immerse myself in the game for the first time in my life. I was always balancing something else, whether it was skiing or school. I never had the opportunity to fully focus on the game. That helped a lot, and that's really the way I approached it.
CS: Growing up in Colorado you basically grew up on a ski slope. Obviously you loved football, but skiing was a big part of your life, right?
JB: It was a part of my life, but I didn't really grow up on a ski slope. We grew up in a town called Loveland, Colorado, which is about two hours from any ski resort. It basically started out as a family thing to do. My mom and dad wanted to take our family away from our hometown and go up and enjoy the mountains and just enjoy spending time together on the weekend. Initially I was on the slopes when I was four years old. I wasn't crazy about skiing. I was wondering, "Why am I out here in the cold doing this?" I just didn't get it, and I didn't like it that much, but we did it as a family. When I saw the Olympics for the first time, that's when I realized I could go somewhere with skiing. That's why I developed a huge passion for it and loved the sport.
CS: I see a lot of similarities between being a skier and being a return man in the NFL. It takes a lot of the same attributes. Do you think being a skier has helped you thus far as a return man?
JB: I think it has. The one parallel of it is the vision -- to react at obstacles and different things coming at you really fast, because that's what freestyle skiing is. You're going 35 mph with bumps coming at you so quickly and jumps coming at you so quickly. It's the same thing with football. However, physically, the two sports couldn't be more different. You don't use your hamstrings in skiing. The muscle groups that you use are completely different than football. I really realized and understood that for the first time when I took those two years off from football and just focused on skiing. It was a huge challenge and much bigger than I anticipated.
CS: What were your thoughts when the NCAA told you that you could no longer play football at Colorado?
JB: I was in Chili in South America when I found out [about the ruling]. I was battling back and forth and it was frustrating. I was trying to do whatever it took. I didn't care about making money. I would pay for my training, my travel; I didn't care. I tried to do everything to work with my compliance department through the NCAA. There had to be a way to make this happen, and they just wouldn't budge for anything. The finality of it really hit me hard. When I finally got the call it was a done deal, it was frustrating. Opportunity doesn't always come up in life, it's very few and far between, and fortunately I've had my share. I worked so hard to have that opportunity; not the NCAA, not anybody else. It wasn't the lack of ability that I had that was taking me away from the game, it was an organization that had nothing to do with me.
CS: How difficult was it for you to have to transform your body from football to skiing than from skiing to football?
JB: I switched back and forth on a constant basis, so my body was always in ski shape and football shape at the same time. I guess there was a small transition between the two, but it wasn't really that drastic. When I didn't play for two years and only skied, I didn't do any sprinting or running. I didn't do the things I physically would do [for football]. That set me back. That's probably the reason why I hurt my hamstring last year. It was physically a challenge to get myself back into football shape.
CS: What was draft day like for you, and was it a sigh of relief?
JB: Yeah it was. The waiting game was not fun. I experienced a lot of situations through athletics where decisions were made that are completely out of your control. The NCAA thing was one of them. Draft day is another thing. You have no control, and you have to just sit back and relax as much as you can and allow things to happen. You have no idea where you're going to go. You have no idea if you're going to get drafted. People are told that they're going to go in the fourth or fifth round or maybe the first day and they don't get drafted. That's a huge disappointment. I really went into draft day with the mindset of not getting drafted, and with that mindset I didn't want to be disappointed. But when I was drafted, it was very special.
|Jeremy Bloom avoids a tackle by Carolina's Derrick Strait|
Jim McIsaac, Getty Images
JB: I've been here for a year and I've been working with the media since 2002. You have to understand what the dynamic is in a town, and I do. It's a very competitive media market. It's a huge market to begin with, a lot of money. Everyone wants to have the best story or the most controversy, and that's what sells. If you understand the pressure the media is under and the demands in their business, I don't take it personally at all. Another reason it's like that is that we have such wonderful fan support and a great fan base in Philadelphia. I'm human. Everybody is human and I think there is a human element when people talk totally about you. I think it can affect you, but I understand the dynamic and the pressure they're under as well. It really makes sense to me.
CS: How do you feel about your performance in the preseason?
JB: Nobody is more critical on me than me. To be honest with you, I am pretty happy with the way I've played this preseason. I really am. I feel like I've done a lot of good things. I certainly made my share of mistakes, and I feel that I've learned from them and I will continue to learn from them. I am actually really happy with the way I've played. I want to continue that. I want to continue to be consistent, and as a special teams unit as a whole, we have some work to do. I'm not the only one who wants to score a touchdown every time; I know the other ten guys want to score as well. It's just learning how to work with the guys and be a cohesive unit. The big returns will come.
CS: I don't understand why everyone is down on you. They say that you're a possible cut. I've seen you play this preseason...and you haven't dropped a kickoff or punt. You make the first man miss on a majority of the returns you have. You haven't dropped a ball as a receiver. You've made some tough catches as a receiver and have taken big hits, but you still held onto the ball. But yet there are some who say that you're on the bubble? Can you explain?
JB: You can never believe what the media says. To think that our front office thinks the same way the media does is completely not accurate. Whether the media is right or wrong, it doesn't matter because you will never know what the front office is thinking. They could be very happy with me. They could look at me on film and say, "Wow, he's doing a lot of great things." The media is always looking for a story. That's a story I think some want to write, that I may get cut. Whether it's true or not, it may have an element of accuracy to it. That's the reality of being in the NFL. I don't care who you are. Do you think Jeremiah Trotter knew he was going to get cut? It can happen to anybody at anytime. In my opinion, it's so vital to your success that you don't pay attention or buy into those things that are completely out of your control.
CS: Talk about your ties to Philadelphia. You spent a lot of time in the area as a kid. Your cousin is Colby Cohen, who was just drafted by the Colorado Avalanche in this past year's NHL Draft. How crazy is that, that you were drafted by the Eagles and grew up in Colorado and Colby grew up in Philadelphia and was drafted by the Avalanche?
JB: The irony behind the fact is that my dad grew up in Lower Merion, and he went to Lower Merion High School. Colby's mom obviously stayed out here [in the Philadelphia area], she lives in Radnor, PA. And as a professional, I get drafted to Philadelphia and Colby gets drafted to Colorado, there's a bit of irony there. It's something that we both kind of laughed about and shook our heads at. I know he's really excited for his opportunity. He's got a great opportunity up in Boston. He proved himself on a higher level. A lot of people said he should have gone in the first round, and he expected to go in the first round, so he's got a lot to prove and he's got a lot of motivation to do it.
CS: What's the first thing that runs through your mind when you're about to receive a kickoff or a punt?
JB: The first thing I think about is very fundamental of making the right decision. If it's a punt, I want to make the right decision of calling a fair catch or if it's a return. After that, it's scoring. Every time I'm back there, every single time I am in punt or kickoff return position, I want to score.
CS: Watching you thus far in preseason, it seems like you're running too upright with very little juke in your step. What are your thoughts?
JB: Juke in my step. [Pause]… That's something I can improve on, but to be successful it's really important that you have a small seam that you can hit. Your job is to make the first guy miss as a punt returner and burst up field and make the other person miss and get to the seam. I can't wait for that to happen.
CS: I've dissected your play this preseason and I like what I've seen, but honestly, I'd like to see you use your hips more. It appears that you're running stiff with very little fluidity in your hips and not being effective making the second and third opponent miss.
JB: That's a great point about moving my hips more. I've heard some people say that. A lot of times it's a right [side] return, so you want to make the first guy miss. If you don't take that return to the right where your blockers are supposed to be, it's not looking good in the meetings for yourself. Every return we have, whether it's a left return or a right return or a middle return, is all schemed to that direction. You can only improvise so much before you want to get to your blocks being set up towards the outside.
CS: I understand what you're saying, but when I watch a guy like Devin Hester, he's a guy that will start towards the outside slowly. He lets his blockers set up in front of him. Then he makes the first guy miss with a juke. He then gives another juke and improvises with misdirection during the return. He just lets the return happen as it does.
JB: I think that's something that the more I play and the more comfortable I become, I think I will have more freedom to be creative like that. I think you're right, and that's something that will develop.
CS: With the last game approaching in the preseason and cut down day in sight, what do you feel you need to improve on as a player?
JB: I am very proud to be an Eagle. I am very fond of our organization and our coaches. As far as our game on Thursday, I am excited. It's our last preseason game. It's the last game before it really matters. I am really at peace with whatever happens. It's going to be a decision that's out of my control. Like I said, to be honest with you, I am really happy with the way I've played up until this point. I'll never tell you that I can't get better, because I need to improve a ton. I am a young player and I feel like I have a lot of developing years ahead of me. But as far as the progress from last year to this year, I can tell you I am much farther along. I want to keep being consistent and reliable and dependable, and the big plays will come.
A member of the Pro Football Writers of America and the Football Writers Association of America, Chris Steuber has provided his analysis of the NFL and NFL Draft prospects on the web and on the radio since 1999.