Frerotte family is revved up
By Bill Coats
ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
Sunday, Oct. 07 2007
The Frerotte fellas have a football festival planned for Sunday.
"My one son (Gunnar) has a game at 9 on Sunday, I play at noon and then my
other son (Gabe) plays at 3," Gus Frerotte explained.
Gunnar, 9, and Gabe, 8, will be playing for their youth teams. Gus has a
weightier assignment: He'll be the starting quarterback for the Rams when they
face off against NFC West rival Arizona at the Edward Jones Dome.
Coach Scott Linehan turned to Frerotte this week after determining that Marc
Bulger's broken ribs and sore knee were inhibiting him. Bulger, coming off a
Pro Bowl season in 2006, has connected on just 55.6 percent of his passes, has
thrown twice as many interceptions (four) as touchdown passes, and has a passer
rating of 64.9, well below his career mark of 91.3.
Frerotte, 36, hasn't started a game in two years. "You study your film, you
study your plays and if your mind is strong and it's right, you shouldn't have
any worries," he said.
Frerotte's mother, Pat, was so excited by the assignment that she persuaded
Gus' brother, Jay, to travel with her from Pittsburgh for the event. At Gus and
wife Ann's home in Chesterfield, the atmosphere is charged. Sister Abby, 12, is
as pumped as Gunnar and Gabe over Dad's promotion.
"When you talk football in our house, everybody knows what you're talking
about; it's not a foreign language," Gus said. "It's been in our family. My
wife's dad coached for 42 years."
That would be Harry Beckwith, who coached Frerotte at tiny Ford City (Pa.)
High. Ann was a cheerleader at Kittanning High, a bitter rival. After he landed
the job, Beckwith talked Frerotte into returning to football after a scary neck
injury suffered while playing on the freshman team.
In an interview with the Philadelphia Inquirer, Beckwith conceded that his
motives weren't altogether altruistic. "That was probably the worst football
program in the state," Beckwith said, "and I needed every able-bodied person
who was breathing."
As a junior, Frerotte led Ford City to the first district final in school
The Frerottes lived just up the hill in Ford Cliff, population about 400 and
situated 40 miles northeast of Pittsburgh. His father, Gustave Sr., worked at a
Pittsburgh Plate Glass factory for 44 years. Pat was a clerk in the emergency
room at Allegheny County Hospital, where ninth-grader Gus was rushed after
suffering crushed vertebrae in his neck.
"When I tell people where I'm from, I usually say Pittsburgh because who the
heck would know where Ford Cliff is?" Gus said. "It was a small town, but it
was a good place to grow up."
He doesn't go back anymore. His father died a few years ago; his mother has
moved to Pittsburgh near his sister, Angela. Besides, Gus and his crew have had
many other places to call home since he passed for 2,871 yards as a senior at
Tulsa and was drafted by Washington in the seventh round (No. 197 overall) in
The Rams, who signed Frerotte in March 2006 as a free agent, are his seventh
team in 14 NFL seasons. He did previous tours with the Redskins, Lions,
Broncos, Bengals, Vikings and Dolphins.
Frerotte was with Minneosta in 2003 and '04, and Miami in 2005. At both stops,
Linehan was the offensive coordinator. The signing of Frerotte was one of
Linehan's first personnel moves after he was named Rams coach.
"He was 9-6 for me in Miami as a starter, and he was 3-0 for me in Minnesota in
2003 when Daunte (Culpepper) got hurt," Linehan said. "To me he's a proven
quarterback in this league, and he has (the) leadership skills to step in as a
backup and have the credibility in that huddle to get the job done. Even better
yet, he understands his role; he knows what he's being asked to do."
Frerotte is being asked to kick-start a Rams attack that has been stunningly
impotent. The offense has produced just two touchdowns — none since the first
quarter of the second game — during the 0-4 start. The Rams' average of 9.8
points per game is the league's lowest.
"Somehow something needs to change," Frerotte noted, "and we made several
changes this week."
One is Linehan's decision to call the plays himself, taking over for offensive
coordinator Greg Olson. Frerotte said his familiarity with Linehan's approach
"I just know how he calls plays," Frerotte said. "I really assume it's going to
be the same as it was in the past, being with him in Minnesota and Miami and
how he likes to do things. Hopefully things will go pretty smoothly."
For Gunnar and Gabe, too, he added, anticipating a possible three-way
celebration Sunday night at the Frerotte household. "Oh, that'd be great," Gus
said. "That would make me chuckle ... and a little bit proud, too."