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Rams

Column: The No. 1 hype is great, but now Jared Goff wants to get down to business

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The Rams introduced quarterback Jared Goff, the first-overall pick in the 2016 NFL Draft, on Thursday. Gary Klein, Lindsey Thiry and Bill Plaschke break down his potential as a quarterback, and as the newest star in Hollywood. 

When the lights went dark and the questions dried up and Jared Goff was finally able to stalk toward an exit after enduring the grandest of entrances, the quarterback paused and threw his first pass as a Los Angeles Ram.

It was a 50-yard scowl.

“I am done,” he said softly, glancing at the spent litter of cameras and microphones and hype. “I am so ready to get this thing started.”

He looks like Ryan Gosling but with the fire of Nolan Ryan, a bit of which finally appeared after his introductory news conference Friday afternoon in a cramped hotel meeting space near L.A. Live.

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Less than a day after the Rams chose him as the No. 1 overall draft pick, working on little sleep and surrounded by hordes of pressure, Goff managed to give all the right answers. But lurking through the pretty words, and later evident in that expression, was all the right stuff.

“He’s got a lot of pressure,” said Jim Everett, the former Rams quarterback who showed up with Vince Ferragamo to welcome Goff to the Rams family. “But if the composure he showed in this first press conference is the same thing when he’s in the pocket, he’ll be just fine.”

He said he loved to be in Los Angeles, the Bay Area dude even calling this place “home.” But the former California star also sighed wearily and said the most important area of town was the one where he could get a football and a playbook.

“I’m ready to get back into football, ready to get back into playing,” he said. “I really just want to get back into playing.”

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He is going to be a singular star. Just check out his good looks and strong presence, an aura such that his agent Ryan Tollner refers to him simply as “The Natural.” But now click on the draft night video of dozens of his Cal teammates erupting in what appeared to be sincere jubilation — hooting and hollering and dancing — upon hearing the news that Goff had been the top selection. He might stand alone, but he also clearly has teammates believing he stands with them.

“It was special and really cool to see,” Goff said. “It means a lot to me to see how excited they were.”

He talked in lofty terms about his work and personal ethic, saying, “I hold myself to a high standard on and off the field.” But if he feels wronged, well, did you see his 3-year-old tweet after the Dodgers’ Yasiel Puig allegedly showed up his beloved San Francisco Giants?

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Jared Goff, the Rams’ No. 1 pick in the NFL draft, is introduced to the media in Los Angeles. 
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“I really hope Yasiel Puig gets a fastball in his ribs tomorrow,” read Goff’s 2013 tweet, which doesn’t come close to matching Larry Nance Jr.'s old tweet about Kobe Bryant, but is still fiery enough.

Three years later, on Friday morning, Puig finally responded to tweet with, “Big hug, Welcome to L.A., I show you around, be my guest to a Dodgers game #PuigYourFriend.”

So, of course, Goff sheepishly accepted the invitation, saying, “I will take him up on that. It was a really cool move for him to do that and treat me like that.”

He’s nice enough, but it appears he will also be nasty enough, which is exactly what the Rams need out of a 21-year-old kid who will be paid $28 million to grow not only into the franchise’s face, but also its heart.

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“All that stuff is great … for attendance and hype,” he said of his unique position on the city’s sports landscape. “At the same time, I’m going to be really focused on being the best player I can be, the best teammate I can be, the best leader I can be, and let all that stuff take care of itself.”

Watching the news conference from the shadows while holding Goff’s new No. 16 jersey, was another athlete who made his big league debut in Los Angeles. It was Jerry Goff, his father.

That’s right, as a tough backup catcher, Goff made his first big league appearance in Dodger Stadium on May 15, 1990 against the Dodgers’ Ramon Martinez. He went hitless, striking out twice, but he learned from the tough day. Later that season, on Aug. 19 at Dodger Stadium, he faced Martinez again with a vastly different result.

“Got him back with a home run,” he said with a grin and a stat that was quickly confirmed. “When you only hit seven homers in the big leagues, you remember them all.”

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Jared learned perspective from his father, who scraped around the big leagues for six years before becoming a Bay Area firefighter.

“I wasn’t that great of a player, I had to work my butt off,” Jerry said. “I tell [Jared], every time you’re not working, somebody else is working. He gets tired of hearing me, but he listens.”

Jared also learned his resiliency from his father, who tied a dark major league record in his final career game yet is not flustered when answering questions about it today. During a nightmare Sunday afternoon in 1996 while catching for the Houston Astros against the Montreal Expos, Goff coughed up six passed balls and never played in the big leagues again.

""I lost my concentration, it snowballed, it is what it is,” Jerry said. “What are you going to do, right?”

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Twenty years later, Jerry Goff’s son is stepping into that same kind of heat. Who knows whether it will be too much? But for his first steps, well, right about now they’re probably headed toward some football field.

Like Jared Goff said, he is so ready to get this thing started.

Follow Bill Plaschke on Twitter: @billplaschke


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