It’s safe to call Jared Goff unflappable.
He was thrown into the spotlight early in his career when he lost seven straight games as a rookie.
He was evacuated from his home late last year during the California wildfires.
He started the NFC championship game in the mega-loud Mercedes-Benz Superdome with a malfunctioning headset and would trail the New Orleans Saints by 13 at halftime.
Despite all of this, the 24-year-old, third-year Rams starting quarterback is in the Super Bowl. He’s the first quarterback drafted No. 1 overall to reach the Super Bowl in his first three seasons.
Where does he get his cool?
“I get that question a lot,” Goff said to reporters this week ahead of Super Bowl LIII in Atlanta. “I don’t have a good answer for you because I don’t know. It was something that I was kind of born with and how I grew up and how I’ve been. I probably attribute it to my parents and the way they raised me and just try to understand that it’s still just a game and have fun with it.”
He may be soft spoken and reserved off the field, but the mental toughness is evident. He’ll need that in Super Bowl LIII, when he faces the New England Patriots and quarterback Tom Brady, who won his first Super Bowl when Goff was 7 years old, back in 2002. The 17-year age gap between Goff and Brady, 41, is the largest age differential between opposing quarterbacks in Super Bowl history.
“Now I get a chance to play in one with him,” Goff said. “At the same time, we do respect him, but I’m going to go out there and do my best and be the best I can be and hopefully come out with a win.”
Unfazed by adversity
Goff was born in the North Bay, part of the San Francisco Bay Area, to Jerry and Nancy Goff. He attended Marin Catholic High School and played college football for the University of California, Berkeley, starting in all 37 games he played in over the course of three seasons.
The Rams made Goff the No. 1 overall pick in the 2016 NFL draft, and he began his rookie season as the backup to Case Keenum. Goff was promoted to starting quarterback in mid-November of that season. He started the team’s final seven games and lost them all, finishing at 4-12.
“To be honest, I never lost confidence,” Goff said of that experience. “There was some tough times, especially early on. I had good perspective on it, though. I knew it was only seven games. I didn’t pay attention to what anyone was saying, just kept my head down and kept working, trying to be myself.”
The Rams have reached the playoffs in two seasons since, with Goff at quarterback and Sean McVay, who was hired in January 2017, as coach.
“When you look at Jared’s career trajectory, even going back to high school, college and pro, this is a guy that’s been able to be unfazed by some of the adversities that he’s faced, whether that be in a game or over the course of a season,” McVay said. “That’s what you love. That’s what you want your quarterback to demonstrate.”
Forced to evacuate
The Rams practice facility is in Thousand Oaks. It’s the same city where a mass shooting claimed the lives of 12 people in a nightclub in November and where wildfires erupted not long after. That month, members of the Rams, including Goff, were forced to evacuate from their homes. The team was preparing for a game against the Kansas City Chiefs, which was scheduled to be held in Mexico City.
“As tragic as it was, as many people that lost their homes, we tried to use it as a time that could bring us all together,” Goff said. “A lot of us were not in our homes. We had to stay together at hotels for a little bit longer. Then amidst that we went off to Colorado to prepare to play in Mexico.”
Any questions Goff had about the fires, he would lean on his dad, who worked as a firefighter for about 20 years.
On November 13, the NFL announced the game would be moved back to Los Angeles because the playing field at Estadio Azteca did not meet league standards for playability and consistency.
“That game got switched back to LA, and it was kind of a big cluster,” Goff said.
The game was held at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum and became an instant classic. Los Angeles won 54-51 in a thrilling back-and-forth scoring fest. It was the first game in NFL history in which each team scored more than 50 points.
“Getting that win against Kansas City is a moment you look at as kind of a game that brought us all together,” Goff said.
Staying even keel
On Tuesday in Atlanta, McVay spoke about the early issues Goff experienced in the first quarter of the NFC title game.
“He just kind of stayed even keel when we were down 13 and he couldn’t really hear,” McVay said. “We had some headset community problems where his headset went out. We tested it in pre-game. It went out right before we went out for that first series. He just handled it like a vet and didn’t allow the circumstances to dictate or elicit a different response from him.”
Said Goff: “It was tough. It was really tough – the toughest environment I’ve played in. It was the same for a lot of guys on our team. It was a tough first quarter, just trying to settle in, trying to get into a rhythm as far as understanding how loud it was and some of the stuff we had to do to deal with that. Made some adjustments and started to roll.”
McVay expressed confidence that Goff will be ready for his biggest challenge yet.
“In terms of the magnitude of the game, you don’t shy away from it, but I haven’t really felt like any moment is too big for this guy,” he said.