The quarterback earned a trip to the Pro Bowl as a rookie by leading the Bengals to the playoffs and collected a few nicknames along the way.
DAN PATRICK:What was a highlight of your off-season?
ANDY DALTON: I went to Napa with my wife for our one-year anniversary.
DP:Did people in Napa recognize you?
AD: A couple of people did.
DP:How do those interactions go?
AD: They were very respectful. They did ask who I was to make sure I wasn't just a random redhead.
DP:They weren't Steelers fans, were they?
AD: They were not, thankfully.
DP:What if your wife was a Steelers fan?
AD: She's not.
DP:What if she was?
AD: It would be tough for her.
DP:Why? Pittsburgh always beats you guys.
AD: C'mon now. Things are going to change. I've only had one year at it.
DP:What advice would you have for a rookie coming into the NFL?
AD: There's a lot going on, especially [if you're] playing quarterback. When you go home you might just want to play video games. You might just want to hang out and do nothing. But you need to study more. Get into the playbook. Watch some more film.
DP:You had great numbers—20 TDs, 3,398 passing yards. But then you look at Cam Newton, and his numbers were even better. How do you explain that?
AD: He came in and tore it up. He's a tremendous athlete. He had a lot of guys making plays for him, which definitely helped.
DP:Do you compare yourself to Newton?
AD: Everyone was comparing me and Cam because we were the only ones who started every game.
DP:So who had a better year?
AD: We both had good years.
DP:C'mon, Andy, stop sidestepping the rush. Answer the question.
AD: Numberswise he had a better year. Teamwise we had a better year. I think I was a big part of our getting into the playoffs.
DP:Does being redheaded help get you sponsorships?
AD: There's definitely been some contact because of my hair. The red hair helps.
AD: We're trying to work something out with the soda, Big Red. That one's very fitting. I've been called Big Red throughout my life.
DP:Is that your nickname?
AD: Everyone calls me Red. I guess now everyone's starting to call me Red Rifle.
DP:Did any defensive player say anything to welcome you to the NFL?
AD: I don't know if anyone said anything. My first preseason game, when Ndamukong Suh decided to power slam me, he didn't have to say much.
DP:What goes through your mind when that happens?
AD: I was looking for a flag. That's all I was doing.
DP:Did you say anything to him when it happened?
AD: No. I was trying to find my helmet.
DP:Do you think that was personal or just because of the position you play?
AD: I think it's the position. As you've seen multiple times on TV, I'm not the only guy who he's done that to.
"We're already taking steps to gain that IOC recognition. We have, I think, 64 countries that are playing American football now, and that's one of the requirements. That's been growing dramatically—I think it was 40 just five years ago."
—ROGER GOODELL, NFL commissioner, on efforts to make football an Olympic sport
Cowboys owner Jerry Jones expects receiver Dez Bryant to address his off-field problems, or Jones vows to move on. "He's got to step up and accept responsibility," Jones said. "I'm demanding that he work through it. He must do it or we can't count on him."... NBC swimming analyst Rowdy Gaines doesn't believe Michael Phelps will retire. "In two or three years, he's going to get bored," Gaines said. "He's a swimmer. That's what he does best. He's not going to go out and get a job."... Fox NFL rules analyst Mike Pereira believes starting the season with replacement refs will present major problems. "It strongly compromises the integrity of the game," Pereira said. "Officials with 1,400 years of [combined] experience make as many as five mistakes per game. It demonstrates how hard it is, and now you're going to get people out there with no experience."... Arizona Cardinals cornerback Patrick Peterson had four punt return TDs last season and has grown to loathe making a fair catch. "I hate that [in] my gut," Peterson said. "It kills me.... When I do a fair catch, I feel like I wasted an opportunity."
MICHAEL J. LEBRECHT II/1DEUCE3 PHOTOGRAPHY (PATRICK)
TOM DIPACE (DALTON)
MIKE COPPOLA/GETTY IMAGES FOR PEPSI (PETERSON)
KIRBY LEE/IMAGE OF SPORT/US PRESSWIRE (PEREIRA)
JOE SCARNICI/GETTY IMAGES FOR CITI (GAINES)
MICHAEL PRENGLER/CAL SPORT MEDIA (JONES)