BY: ED COLE
TEMPE, Ariz. – A lot of Cardinals players had sleepless nights before and after they faced Red Bryant when he was with the Seahawks.
“I would think (Cardinals right tackle) Bobby (Massie) might have a few nightmares about him (Bryant), (along with former Cardinals tackle) Nate Potter, (and) some of those tight ends we had (in) the early years when I got here,” Cardinals offensive coordinator Harold Goodwin said. “That guy’s a great player. He can make a difference, and it’s good to have him. It’s a big body, he’s hard to move, and he’s still athletic. You guys saw him out there with all that size. It’s good to have him.”
“But yeah, he did cause some nightmares,” Goodwin said.
Fortunately for the Cardinals, those nightmares can turn into sweet dreams, now that Bryant’s on their side, after he signed with the team on Thanksgiving Day.
It was kind of a crazy situation for Bryant and his family. He says he and his family traveled back to his hometown of Jasper, Tex., the day before Turkey Day to spend the holiday there. In the process of that, he got a call from the Cardinals, with them wanting him to come out and workout for them. He did just that, and he’s now a member of the Cardinals.
“I’m excited for the opportunity,” Bryant said. “I’m looking forward to doing everything I can to help this team continue to have success like they’ve been having all year.”
It was a little strange seeing Bryant walking through the Cardinals locker room on Thursday. After all, he spend the first six years of his career with the Seahawks, who’s arguably the Cardinals most hated rival.
Even though the battles have been rough and rugged on the field between the Cardinals and Seahawks over the years, Bryant and his former teammates never looked down on Arizona for one solitary second.
“It’s a lot of respect,” Bryant said. “Like I told (Cardinals head) coach (Bruce) Arians, and I told (Cardinals) general manager (Steve Keim), that being in Seattle, we gained a lot of respect for the Cardinals. I remember the year that we won the Super Bowl, the only team that beat us at home that year was the Cardinals, so it’s a lot of respect (for them). Then, to have an opportunity to come here and do whatever I can to help this team, I’m extremely grateful.”
Bryant was at a crossroads in his life back in March, after he was released by the Jacksonville Jaguars, and he didn’t know which way to turn.
“The first team that I was supposed to sign with was the (New England) Patriots. Great organization, I was just in a bad head space at the time, and I really thought I wanted to retire,” Bryant said. “I really had a heart-to-heart with my wife. She convinced me to give it one more shot, and the Buffalo Bills gave me an opportunity, but at that particular time, I wasn’t in the best shape, and I couldn’t take advantage of the opportunity, so I had made up my mind that I thought I wasn’t going to play this season, and I was going to try and come back next year, so for the Cardinals to give me this opportunity this late in the season, I hope I can take advantage of it this time.”
Bryant had took that time away from the game to spend with his wife and their three young children in their home in Jacksonville, Fla., which is always a good thing.
Now it’s time for Daddy to go back to work, which Bryant feels he’ll be ready for this weekend in Santa Clara, Calif., as the Cardinals will take on the San Francisco 49ers for the final time this season.
“I will be (ready), I will be. That’s the goal,” Bryant said. “If I’m put out there, I’m gonna just do what I’ve always did, and play my heart out.”
“The coaches, they’ve been straight up (with me). They said, ‘We brought you in here because we felt like you could help us,’” Bryant said. “If I do my part, I’ll create a role for myself.”
Defensive coordinator James Bettcher is chomping at the bit to get Bryant out there on Sunday and see what his new toy can do for him.
“As you know our history here: We sign someone on Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, they’re playing by Sunday,” Bettcher said. “We’ll work out that rotation by the end of the week, and who’ll be starting inside, who’ll be in the mix, and who’ll be playing, but to have a guy of his (Bryant) caliber, we all know what his history is. He’s a physical, hard guy to move. (He) has played winning football, (he) understands what it takes to win, and (he) can help reinforce that culture here that we’re building. He’s been there, and done that in this division (NFC West), so obviously another important piece that we really feels (is) a great addition.”
Bryant was a part of some great defenses in Seattle, and won a world championship with them in 2013.
Bryant says he’s fortunate to be in another great situation with the Cardinals, because the defense he sees down here is very similar to the one he played in with the Seahawks.
“I like the defense because (it) has playmakers from the d(efensive) line, (to the) linebackers, to the secondary,” Bryant said. “This team is mentally tough. They’ve faced adversity throughout the whole season, and (for them) to be 8-2, that’s a testament to the character in this locker room, to the coaching staff, and the whole organization.”
“I’m just coming in, (and I’m) just trying to learn as fast as I can, and trying to find a role wherever I can,” Bryant said. “This team has everything it needs to go on the type of run (Super Bowl run) that they want to go on.”