Quarterback Kevin Kolb (black shirt) runs with teammates (left to right) Jeff King, Sam Acho and John Skelton Monday during the opening of the Cards' offseason program.
Kevin Kolb stood in the same place he had the day after the regular season, in front of his corner locker, once again answering questions about his future as the quarterback of the Arizona Cardinals.
Had Peyton Manning come to Arizona, the locker would likely have been Manning's, with Kolb playing elsewhere. Instead, Kolb returned to the team's start of offseason workouts Monday talking for the first time about the team's interest in Manning and his reaction to it.
"You can't get your feelings hurt in this business," Kolb said. "That's just the way it is."
That's not always easy. His teammates acknowledged as much. Players can talk about how they know the NFL is a business, but that doesn't remove the human element from the equation.
"All of us would (be affected)," tight end Jeff King said. "It's how he approaches it. Hopefully it makes him work harder, or think about things he didn't do last year or what have you. Hey, if they were looking to bring in another tight end? I'd take it personal. That's your job, it's your livelihood. I'm sure it adds some fuel to his fire and hopefully we reap the benefits of that."
Kolb's ride in Arizona had already been bumpy. The Manning scenario just added a little extra turbulence. Even before Manning came available, Kolb had gone home to Texas after the season and still felt lingering concussion symptoms for three more weeks, added to the three final weeks of the regular season he had to sit.
That, Kolb admitted, "kind of worried me." Healthy now, Kolb then watched from afar as the Cards made the brief run at Manning right about the time Kolb waited to see if the team would pick up his $7 million roster bonus and keep him around.
Those days, he said, were spent with his cell phone turned off while playing with his children.
"Look, everybody knows what this league is about," Kolb said. "If you have been in this league a while you understand you have to fight for your job every single day, every single year. It's management's job to do their best to improve every position and in my mind, it's their right to go look wherever they need to look. There were a few things that maybe could have been handled a little bit different, and we've discussed those."
Pressed for details, Kolb talked about having better communication. He did speak to coach Ken Whisenhunt at one point, and he said any issues have been resolved.
"I just said, in the future, if you can just communicate with me, I can take it, if this is the route you're going," Kolb said. "I'd just rather hear it from (Whisenhunt) than the ticker (on TV). And he agreed, and that's how relationships grow."
Kolb was already going to have to battle John Skelton for the starting job anyway, something he referred to multiple times. His teammates were understanding – tackle Levi Brown said he would have been angry had the same thing happen to him and added that one year hasn't been enough with which to judge Kolb.
"You stick with a guy, give him a chance to work and get better – see where you can go," Brown said.
Skelton has tried to stay out of the fray -- "It's better to under sell and over deliver than oversell and under deliver," he said – but didn't think the Manning quest was really going to affect Kolb in the long run.
"I don't think anyone needs any extra motivation in this league," Skelton said. "If you don't have that desire or fire from the beginning, you're not going to get it overnight."
Yet Kolb did acknowledge he will likely pocket the Manning talk as fuel, just another line in a lengthy list of reasons to be driven.
"There is plenty to get fired up about or get a spark about and more than that, it's my responsibility," Kolb said. "They made some big moves to get me here and it's my responsibility to hold up my end of the deal."
That's the only thing Kolb will be graded upon in the end, anyway. What he said Monday to how he reacted to March's events means little compared to how he plays starting in September.
"We are all human," King said. "We all think about it. Your actions speak louder than anything you can ever say."