“He asked who we were playing this week,” said Cody, who appreciated the joke.
Cody is the rookie starting at safety for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the team the Cardinals – including assistant head coach/run game coordinator/offensive line coach Russ – plays Sunday at University of Phoenix Stadium. And of course, Russ knew that. All the Grimms did.
“We’ve been looking forward to it since the preseason,” said Chad Grimm, the Cards’ offensive quality control coach as well as Cody’s brother.
Cody is the story right now, a seventh-round pick out of Virginia Tech (where Chad was his teammate for two seasons) as an undersized linebacker who had to transition to safety. Not only did he make the team but was elevated to starter when Tanard Jackson was suspended by the league.
He has two interceptions in his four starts and, not surprisingly, one proud family.
“He has always been an overachiever,” Russ said. “He makes the most of the chances he had and the opportunity arose and he stepped in. You probably want somebody with a lot more experience, but how do you get experience? You’ve got to put somebody in to play.”
Said Chad, “Everything has been, I don’t want to say shock, because we knew he was capable of doing it. But to go from a seventh-round draft pick to starter in the NFL is quite rare.”
Russ Grimm’s life as a coach hasn’t made it easy for him to watch his sons play football. When he coached in Pittsburgh, he’d finish up early on a Friday, hop in his truck and drive four hours to Virginia, where they lived and went to high school.
The last time Russ saw Cody play live, he and Chad flew back to Virginia Tech’s opener against Alabama in Atlanta in 2009, before the Cardinals’ regular season had started.
They did all get together for Russ’ Hall of Fame induction in early August this year, when Bucs coach Raheem Morris allowed Cody – despite it being Tampa’s scrimmage weekend, and despite Cody fighting for a roster spot – to go to Canton and take part.
“(Raheem) said he would fly him there himself if he had to,” Russ said. “I told him that wasn’t necessary. He just needed the time off.”
Even with the life Russ has led as both a player and coach, both Cody and Chad said they weren’t necessarily groomed for the NFL. Cody said he has always loved football and “it’s more of an achievement I was able to make it, not to get away from (Russ’ legacy) but because it’s been in the family.”
“I never really felt pressure,” Cody added. “I think (being Russ’ son) is pretty cool. I remember the first big article I had written on me in high school, (the headline) was ‘Chip off the old Hog.’ ”
Chad said his father “blindsided me” with the invitation to join the Cardinals’ staff before the 2009 season, after graduating from college the year before.
“It came out of nowhere and was a big shock, but (coaching) was something I always wanted to do and hoped would happen,” Chad said. “But we had never really talked about it.”
There’s something else the Grimms also haven’t talked much about – Sunday’s game.
Chad said the Cardinals aren’t going to attack his brother – even with potential inside information – as much as plan for the Bucs’ defense overall. Russ, who watches a lot of Buccaneers games on video every week to see his son, said he hopes Cody plays well, “but not well enough to beat us.”
“He knows the rules,” Russ added. “Once you put on a different color jersey, the game is the game.”
Afterward, well, every other conversation gets a little more interesting.
“I’d just like to get the win because, yeah, it’s my dad’s team,” Cody said. “It gives you more incentive to be able to talk trash at the beach when you hang out with him.”