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The Rush: Andrew Whitworth on being “the old guy” and the NFL’s diversity issues

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Rams Super Bowl Champion and Walter Payton Man of the Year Award winner Andrew Whitworth is on the show, chatting with Jared Quay about the age gap between him and his younger teammates, why he stays out of touchdown celebration dances, the origin story of Odell Beckham Jr. becoming a Ram and how the NFL must address its problem of a widespread lack of diversity in the coaching and management ranks. Plus, make sure to check out how Whitworth gives back to the community through his foundation Big Whit 77 and the Rams organization.

Video Transcript

ANDREW WHITWORTH: There's that fantastic clip earlier in the year. I think either Chicago or Tampa, we threw a bomb touchdown early in the game. And we just so happened to be, like, on the 30-yard line, which is directly across from my bench seat. And I mean, Matthew throws it. Van or somebody catches it. And I don't even move.

I just straight beeline from my bench spot. I don't even head towards the end zone, the field, nothing. I'm just gone. Hey, I'm going to sit on the bench. You guys enjoy the touchdown.

[MUSIC PLAYING]

JARED QUAY: Yesterday, I got to catch up with Super Bowl winner and Walter Payton Man of the Year Andrew Whitworth. Here's part two of our conversation.

Between winning the Super Bowl and the Walter Payton Award, do you feel like your career is kind of peaking at the age of 40?

ANDREW WHITWORTH: You know, it's unbelievable. It's true. I told somebody, I said I don't know in four days if I've ever had something like that happen in the sense of just in your career and in life. Just what a four days. It was amazing to be a part of the Walter Payton Man of the Year Award and then also to turn around and win a Super Bowl against a franchise that you played for for 11 years and meant so much to you.

I mean, it's just a wild, wild week. And it's something I think I'll really have a hard time ever getting over right now. I mean, I don't know when that positive energy is going to leave, but it's been really cool.

JARED QUAY: Usually, only people play who 40 are, like, kickers and Tom Brady. So my question is, have more in common with your teammates or your teammates' parents?

ANDREW WHITWORTH: Definitely teammates' parents. I actually found out maybe a couple of months ago that one of the O-linemen in my room-- I think his dad's only like two or three years older than me. So that was a very humbling, humbling conversation.

I'm closer to having a daughter who's their age than I am to them. So I try to keep my ears closed and just walk through as fast as I can, keep my music up loud if I got some headphones on, and ignore the conversations.

JARED QUAY: Did you have to explain to them who was performing at the halftime show, like, yo, you don't know this dude music?

ANDREW WHITWORTH: Yeah, exactly. That's the thing. That's the other part you don't realize too is how far removed those guys are from that era of music. Yeah, they know who they are. And they've heard the songs. But that was literally like, hey, man, when those songs came out, the initial release of those songs is most of the biggest days of my life at my age.

It's like you can literally remember every release and every day and how cool it was go get the CD. Well, first off, you had to explain to them what a CD is. But to go get CD was amazing, right? And showing it in your backpack to everybody in your class, like, ooh, look at the CD I got today.

So they have no idea about that life.

- That's so 90s.

JARED QUAY: One of your teammates that won a Super Bowl with you, Odell Beckham Jr. just announced the birth of his first child and that he had successful surgery to repair his ACL. What's your experience with having Odell as a teammate?

ANDREW WHITWORTH: Well, I think what's really cool for me with Odell is that, for years, him and I have talked in the offseason seasons about him becoming a Ram. I can literally remember in 2018, at our Super Bowl there against the Patriots, I literally ran into him. And he jumped on me, gave me a big hug.

And he was like, I've got to be a Ram. You've got to make this happen.

WALTER WHITE: Just make it happen.

JARED QUAY: Also, he did some really cool celebrations in the Super Bowl and through the year. As a lineman, how much are you involved in the celebration? Do they tell you what they're going to do? Do you get to celebrate with them? Are you surprised when you see it?

ANDREW WHITWORTH: You're usually more worried about when they score, are you going to be the guy running up to them that gets like shunned, like, hey, let me do my dance. So I usually just beeline it for the Gatorade. I don't even worry about what the celebration is, the hug. I'll see all those same guys on the sideline.

So it's like, hey, you know what? My old self is about to go take my butt and sit on the bench. And I'm going to suck on some Gatorade. And then when y'all get over there, I'll dab all of you up. And we can talk all you want. But I ain't got time to stand out here and dance around.

- Nobody got time for that.

JARED QUAY: Every offseason, the discussion about lack of diversity amongst NFL coaches and management is revived, especially this year with the Brian Flores lawsuit against the league. As a player, do you think there's a silver bullet that can break this cycle for good?

ANDREW WHITWORTH: I think maybe we need to rethink how we can find a way to really actually encourage teams and make sure that the playing field is equal for all coaches and everyone that wants to pursue a job opportunity in the NFL. I just think there needs to be a better way.

I think obviously, it was great, the intentions of the Rooney Rule. I mean, obviously, the intention was right. But maybe there needs to be something more. Maybe we need to revamp it, restructure it, find more ways to create opportunity for coaches, regardless of their color of their skin or their background, that we're finding and opening doors for people and giving the ones that deserve those opps chances.

I mean, I look at our team and a guy like Raheem Morris. I mean, a leader and an example and who he is each and every day. I mean, how somebody can sit down in a room with this guy and do an interview and not say that this is who I want leading my franchise, I got no idea, because I know the energy he brings and the leader he is day in and day out.

And he's one of those guys that, every now and then in your career, you get a little bitter or a little upset when a guy doesn't get an opp. And for me, he's one of those. I mean, to see him not get a chance this offseason, it's tough for me. I got a tough time swallowing that one because I just think that he's a guy that deserves that chance, has earned it, and carries himself in such a special way that I hope he gets it.

JARED QUAY: Well, Andrew, man, thank you for coming on here and Rushing with me today, man. Congrats on the championship, man. Thank you for all your service you did to become the Walter Payton Man of the Year Award, man. And I hope to have you back on here for after you win a Super Bowl next year, man. So just put that into the air right now.

ANDREW WHITWORTH: I like where your head's at, Jared. I appreciate that, man. It's a lot of fun, bro. I appreciate the opportunity to visit today. And I look forward to doing it again.

[MUSIC PLAYING]