At age 12, Matt Cassel played in the Little League World Series. After his junior season in college, he was drafted by the Oakland A’s as a pitcher. He has two brothers who have been professional pitchers. And, while a part of the football team as a backup, he never started a game as a quarterback at USC. Clearly, this is much closer to the path of a Major League starting pitcher than an NFL starting quarterback – he even started a game at USC at halfback, not QB – but that’s what Matt Cassel is.
In his second season with a Chiefs team that ended 2009 with an impressive 20-point victory over Denver and added former Notre Dame head coach and New England Patriots’ offensive coordinator Charlie Weis to the latter position, Cassel is more comfortable than ever and looking to improve on his 16 TD, 16 INT performance from last season. Despite the Chiefs’ 4-12 2009 record, Cassell is used to winning. He contributed to undefeated seasons in New England and at USC and even reached the Little League World Series.
Matt Cassel joined the Border Patrol on WHB in Kansas City to discuss this off-season, the end of last season, Charlie Weis, playing baseball and the Little League World Series.
On how this off-season is different:
“It’s definitely a different off-season coming in in year two. I think that I know the expectation level that Coach Haley expects out of all his players and the familiarity with people and surroundings and everything else. It’s not like you’re coming in like last year where it’s a whirlwind and everything is new to you. You’re trying to fit in and you feel like a rookie because you don’t know anybody. You don’t even know where to go to eat let alone make your way around the locker room. It’s refreshing to come back this year and be settled and understand that now it’s all about football.”
On how the strong finish last season will carry over:
“It’s huge I think. The way we ended last year and the momentum that we built up, it gave everybody a great perspective on when we play together and we play as a unit, that we can be successful and we can be very dynamic both offensively and defensively and on special teams. I think in the Denver game, that was quite evident for everybody that we have the potential to be a good football team. This off-season, I think that everybody is excited about that because how we finished the year. Hopefully we can take that momentum and build off of that.”
On adding Charlie Weis as offensive coordinator:
“It’s great. We are just starting right now, so I have been able to meet with him quite a few times now. We have a good relationship. Todd Haley and Coach Weis speak the same language. They have the same background. It’s been pretty refreshing to have somebody come in here that already knows what’s going on. It’s just one of those things that I think will take time and we are going to build our relationship… From what I hear and from preliminary reports coming out of Kansas City, a lot of it is going to be the Kansas City Chiefs offense from last year. Coach Weis is a great addition. He is going to come in and I am sure he is going to have a lot of great ideas, but it’s going to be a collaboration between Coach Haley and Coach Weis. From speaking with Coach Haley, I know that he still wants to be very involved in the offensive game plan in whatever capacity that is.”
On if he thought about playing baseball instead of football:
“I actually went out of college and played one year of baseball in college my junior season and I got drafted out of college to the Oakland A’s. To be completely honest, I didn’t really give it much of a thought. I thought it was a nice and a nice compliment to be drafted and I appreciated it, but at the same time, I wanted to finish up my senior year in college just do the education and football and everything else going on. I was a pitcher. I’m not going to say that I was much of a pitcher because I didn’t throw anything off-speed.”
And on being the most famous player from the 1994 Little League World Series:
“That’s pretty cool. It was quite an experience to be 12 years-old and go through that. At the time there was a baseball strike, so we were the only baseball on television. ESPN was covering the World Series and we went all over and doing interviews. We went on Letterman and Jay Leno and Disneyland. You should have seen it. It was unbelievable.”