Scott Quessenberry wasn’t like others when settling in to watch Super Bowl LIII. Quessenberry, the former La Costa Canyon standout, had a unique perspective in watching the Patriots beat the Rams.
Quessenberry competed against both teams during his rookie year with the Chargers.
And the results were two Chargers losses.
Although the playoff defeat to the Patriots was more lasting. The Chargers were four quarters shy of playing for their second Super Bowl berth before being dismantled by the eventual world champions.
“It was a bummer,” the 6-foot-3, 310-pound Quessenberry said. “We have similar blocking schemes as the Rams and the Patriots really brought the pressure to the Rams, like they did against us. They tried to attack it the same way.”
The game went a familiar direction for the Patriots, as they produced a 13-3 win to claim their sixth Super Bowl title. While Quessenberry tips his helmet to the Patriots, being manhandled by New England, 41-28, left a mark.
“It was kind of a kick in the butt what they did to us,” Quessenberry said. “But it shows that we have to get it in gear and I’m already excited for next season.”
His initial campaign is in Quessenberry’s scrap book. While the ex-UCLA star briefly chills in Carlsbad before starting the grind again, Quessenberry admits the rookie season was a challenge.
“They say it is the longest year and I can definitely see why,” said Quessenberry, who saw action in all but one game last season.
After the Bruins lost to Kansas State in the Cactus Bowl, the main point going forward for Quessenberry was preparing for the NFL draft. It’s a physically and mentally exhausting ordeal for the most important job interview of a young man’s life.
“After the bowl game I had a week off and then on Jan. 3 I started training and it was nonstop,” Quessenberry said. “First it was the Senior Bowl, then the NFL combine, then the draft, then the rookie camp, then the mini-camp and then offseason training activities. After a three-week break it was time for training camp and then you play a 23-week season. Yeah your body feels it.”
The body of Quessenberry’s NFL work was solid. He made the squad as a fifth-round pick, impressing the Chargers with his brawn, brain and versatility. A stellar center at UCLA, Quessenberry put guard on his resume, too.
Special teams? Quessenberry volunteered there as well.
“I got the opportunity in week two at right guard on the field goal team,” Quessenberry said. “And that blossomed into more opportunities on the field goal block team and even some time on punt returns. I really wasn’t expecting that. To have a role and see it expand was really awesome.
“I didn’t expect that but when they told me to do it, I just played hard, competed and I was rewarded for it.”
The big payoff could come this year, with the Chargers eyeing their interior offensive line. Waiting in the wings is Quessenberry.
“I definitely think I learned a lot and I’m looking forward to expanding on what I learned as I can play right and left guard now,” he said. “If that turns into a starting role, instead of being the first guy up inside, I’ll do it to the best of my ability.”
His path at center is blocked by Mike Pouncey. But instead of being down about being out of his favorite position, Quessenberry goes into sponge mode around Pouncey. The attentive Quessenberry absorbs everything the classy Pouncey says and does.
“It’s really cool because I get along great with him and I’m learning a lot as I build for the future,” he said.
In the past, their paths’ had crossed. When Quessenberry was at LCC he was invited to a camp for the nation’s top prep players.
Among the speakers was Pouncy, who happened to be the first person Quessenberry encountered when walking into the Chargers’ locker room.
“The whole thing has come full circle which is pretty awesome,” Quessenberry said. “We got to know each other at the camp and we kind of stayed in touch.”
Now he could reach out and touch Pouncey from his locker nearby.
“He is an all-time guy and an All-Pro player and all he wants is what is best for his teammates,” said Quessenberry’s whose brother, David, plays for the Tennessee Titans. “It’s really cool to be able to bounce ideas off him.”
It’s almost time to rebound from that rookie year, hitch up the britches and return to work.
“I’m excited to get going again and April can’t get here soon enough,” Quessenberry said. “The first year was tough but I wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world.”
Sportswriter Jay Paris has written his “Sports Talk” column since joining the Coast News in 2013.
Paris, a Cardiff resident, is a longtime Southern California writer, getting his start with the Orange County Register before coming to San Diego in 1992 to cover the Chargers.
He had the Chargers beat for more than two decades with Oceanside Blade-Citizen, the North County Times and the San Diego Union-Tribune, before being named a sports columnist with the San Diego Union-Tribune.
Paris has won numerous awards voted on by his peers in the Pro Football Writers of America. He has also been a staple on countless media platforms, everything from the KPBS to MLB Network and various radio outlets.
Paris is also the author of three books, with his latest one being, “Shohei Ohtani: The Amazing Story Of Baseball’s Two-Way Japanese Superstar.” He has also written “Game Of My Life Chargers” and “Game Of My Life Rams.”
He currently covers the NFL in Los Angeles for Forbes. com and is a contributor to USA Today Sports Weekly.