In nine NFL seasons, Eddie Royal played for several quarterbacks, including Jay Cutler, Tim Tebow and Philip Rivers: three guys with three completely different reputations.
What are those guys really like, you wonder? Well, Tiki Barber and Brandon Tierney asked Royal that very question from Radio Row in Minnesota on Monday.
“It’s kind of what you would expect a little bit, but he was more of a leader than he gets credit for,” Royal said on Tiki and Tierney, referring to Cutler. “I’ll give him that. Because there’s been a lot of times where he’s playing with young receivers, and sometimes you call the play and a guy doesn’t know where to line up. But Jay knew where everybody needed to go. He’d send you over there. There wasn’t any dirty looks or anything. He was a pretty good leader, and guys actually liked him.”
Wait, people liked Jay Cutler? Really?
“I know there’s some stories out there about him,” Royal said, laughing, “but a lot of the teammates liked him.”
Royal, who played with Cutler in Denver and Chicago, thinks Cutler’s non-verbals led to his not-so-great reputation.
“I think it’s his facial expressions,” Royal said. “He doesn’t give off the best facial expressions. I can see it when I’m watching it. He gets a bad rap because of that. Everybody’s looking for positive body language, and he doesn’t give off much of that.”
Tebow, meanwhile, was the exact opposite. What he lacked in ability, he made up for with heart and grit.
“We loved the guy,” Royal said. “We’re winning, and so you had nothing to complain about. As a thrower of the football, yeah, you wish it was a little bit better, but we won football games and he was a likable guy.”
The same could be said for Rivers – at least if you’re on his team.
“I loved playing with Philip – and coming from Denver, I didn’t like the guy at all, so it was hard for me to even sign there,” said Royal, who played for the Chargers from 2012-14. “When I first met him, he had a bible, a kid’s toy and a playbook in his front seat. That tells you everything you need to know about Philip Rivers. It’s family, it’s football and it’s faith. Just the intensity that he brought every day, competing in practice – what you see is what you get. I hated to keep competing against him, but when you’re on his team, it’s like, ‘I’ll run through a wall for this guy.’ You hear that a lot about guys, but you really mean it when you say it about Philip Rivers.”
Barber believes that Rivers, 36, is unlikely to win a Super Bowl but that he’ll still be considered one of the top quarterbacks of his generation – even without a ring.
Royal, 31, isn’t so sure.
“I feel that way, but I don’t know if everybody else will,” he said. “Everybody’s judged by how many championships you win and winning the big game, and for him not having that, it kind of hurts his legacy a little bit. I wish it didn’t, but I think it really does. I just wish that he could do it. I wish they could have gotten to the playoffs this year, especially with a healthy Keenan Allen this year. I wish he would have got that opportunity.”