Quotes from Joe Roth on...

His first bout with cancer
"It made me realize just how important it is to be alive. After you beat something as terrible as cancer, the pressures of football are meaningless by comparison."

"I can feel this scar under my ear and realize what's really most important in life."

"It (the discovery of cancer at 19) really changed me. It made me realize how lucky I am to be physically capable. I see kids who are sick and mentally retarded now and I get very sad. I know now how fortunate those of us who are healthy really are."

"You know I used to be one of those guys who thought this kind of thing will never happen to me. You read it in the paper but you never think it will hit you. Then I think, if I hadn't taken care of it, it probably would have killed me. That's why I don’t take things for granted anymore. I used to take football that way. But not now. It's more fun this way.”
"It was certainly traumatic. It didn't have any physical effect. I felt good the whole time. That's what made it so odd, though. To know that something is happening in your body, maybe threatening your life, while as far as you can tell, you're subsisting so well."

"When you go through something like that, you think that every time you step on the field you're just happy to be able to be there. I'm just grateful that I am able to play as well as I have and just to be alive."
His decision to attend a Junior College out of High School
"Going to a Junior College was the smartest move I could have made out of high school. I really couldn't throw the ball very hard when I left high school, and the only passes I completed were to the wide open receivers."

"My brother Tom told me JC would be the best move. I wasn't really sure what I wanted to do and coming here (Grossmont) gave me two extra years to decide. It also helped me get used to college-type scholastic work."
His first year playing quarterback at Grossmont Junior College
"Sure, I'm a little surprised to be having this kind of year. But I really don't keep track of records too much."

"The one difference I've found at the JC level is that it's good to be a tall quarterback. I never paid much attention to that kind of talk in high school. But at Granite Hills I could step back and look over the defensive line when I wanted to throw. Up here, it's harder to see. All I can see is the tops of heads. The defensive backs react a lot quicker. Junior college is definitely a higher caliber of football."
Why he chose to attend the University of California?
"I like it at Berkeley because people are interested in so many things besides football. That's why I didn't want to go to some other schools which are known virtually as ‘football factories.' You're transformed into some kind of cosmic person. Sooner or later, I'll quit playing football. Then how long will the publicity last? Then what will I do?"

"I was sold on Cal because a passing offense and the academics were both important to me. But spring football (1975) was really tough. We kept things simple in JC, but this offense was really immense and complex."
The decision not naming him the starting QB for the 1975 season
"I was a little frustrated not playing right away but in looking back, not being rushed probably did me a lot of good. But how can you not pass well with receivers like Rivera, Muncie and Walker?"
His greatest asset as a quarterback
"I think my accuracy is my main strength. I may not throw the ball as hard as some, but I'm pretty good at getting it to the right spot."
His success as a quarterback at Cal
"I owe everything to them (the line) and the offensive system. It's a super offense and we're so prepared. When you have so much time, you can't help picking out second and third receivers – somebody's got to be open."
Publicity and media attention
"It's really good to get publicity and I feel fortunate. I try not to let my head swell. I try to be a leader by example and stay calm and poised in the huddle. My success depends on ten other guys on the field with me."
Winning the Heisman Trophy
"I'm not a symbolist. The Heisman to me is an elusive type trophy. Some players get so totally involved in competing for that that they forget about team success. In our offense, we just take what the defense gives us."

"I'm really not concerned about all the All-American and Heisman Trophy talk. If we do well, everything will fall into place. I'm looking forward to playing Georgia (#16), Oklahoma (#5), and ASU (#3) and I'm sure we'll be ready."
His outlook on life and the future
"I like the cliché about looking at the glass as either half full or half empty. I see it as half full."

"Being an athlete was what I wanted to be. When that was over I wanted to be a coach."

"I'm just happy to be alive and happy to be here. Pressure doesn't bother me as much as you might think. It's nice that they're talking about the Heisman Trophy. I like that. But I know we can only do so much. I'm the quarterback and I can do only as well as the team does and the team can only do as well as I do."

"I hope to go into coaching or forestry some day. But I want to go on and play football at a four year school after next season."
How he viewed himself
"It's hard to picture myself through other people's eyes because I still view myself as just another Joe Blow walking down the street."

"Really, just figure I'm a normal guy. What if some guy sitting down there on the street corner got cancer? Would everybody make a big fuss? Even now, some of my teammates here from Cal have heard the reports, and it's funny how they look at me. Some have heard that I only have three months to live, and they wonder what they should say, how they should act. It has a lot to do with the disease. People are scared. It's on the top of the disease totem pole."
His request to the media upon learning of the cancer reappearance
"I'd really appreciate it if you didn't mention the fact that the thing has come back. I've kicked it once before and I'm going to try to do it again. Don't tell anybody else about it. I don't want to be thought of as a freak. So I'm Joe Roth, the quarterback from Cal; that doesn't make me special at all. If they guy who sold papers at the corner had the same thing nobody would care. They took that black mole out from behind my ear a couple years ago. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't."
Dealing with the return of his cancer
"I'm under no pain and I feel good. After you've had this once, you always know there's a chance it'll come back, so it didn't come as a shock. But I had no idea it was a recurrent malignant melanoma during the season."

"Right now, I'm thinking positively, but if everyone keeps coming up and feeling sorry for me, I'm afraid it will start making me feel the same way. I mean, I feel I won't be the same Joe Roth anymore. Instead, I'll be Joe Roth underdog, the guy everybody feels sorry for. I don't want that. Really, figure I'm just a normal guy. What if some guy sitting down there on the street corner got cancer? Would everybody make such a big fuss?"

"I know how much I can do for a lot of people…how much it will mean if I keep a positive attitude about the whole thing. I know how much I have to be thankful for, how many right turns at the fork in the road I've been fortunate enough to make. I guess, in a way, it's a good problem to have. You know, one out of four people have cancer…Like I've been telling myself, I'm just keeping up the statistics."

"Dying is not so tough. For the last three years I've lived with the realization that the next day might be my last. I'm lucky to be here as long as I was, so don't feel any pity. A lot of people younger than me and older than me have to face up to this sort of thing. I'm nothing special. I'm Joe Roth, a student and a football player."
His love for his family and friends
"The photos on the wall seem to tell it all; they show the people who have been good to me; those, right now, I wish I could see."