Sex, Lives and Football (Players): Decoding Cody Kessler

By Joanne Kong

Twitter: @kongfu4u 

Fortunately, or unfortunately (depending who you are), the Cleveland Browns are having a tough season thus far.  In week 1 they lost quarterback Robert Griffin III, who looked promising in the pre-season, due to a broken bone in his left shoulder, currently reported to be out for 10-12 weeks.  In week 2, the Browns lost back-up Josh McCown due to a deep shoulder sprain.  So, in week 3, the Browns will start 3rd string quarterback and rookie, Cody Kessler.

This could be a big opportunity for the rookie quarterback.

Do you remember how Tom Brady got his start in the NFL?  Brady took over as the starting quarterback in his second year in the NFL with the New England Patriots after an injury to Drew Bledsoe, and eventually led the Patriots to victory in Super Bowl XXXVI (2001).  And Brady has been the Patriots starting quarterback (at least when healthy and not suspended) since.

tom-brady-with-rings – Tom Brady @ Super Bowl Ring Ceremony for the New England Patriots in June 2015.

Tom Brady – Photo

Not to put any pressure on Kessler.

The Cleveland Browns haven’t been in a post season since 2002, when they lost the Wild Card game against the Pittsburgh Steelers (33-36).  Since then, the Browns have been mediocre, perpetually finishing fourth in the AFC North division, with the exception of 2007 (10-6) when they finished 2nd and 2010 (5-11) when they finished 3rd.   The Browns dismal record might be explained by their inability to find stability at their quarterback position.  Since 1999, the Browns have had 26 starting quarterbacks, including Cody Kessler, 12 of which were designated starters at the beginning of the season.  Let’s face it, the Browns need to find a franchise starting quarterback if they want any chance at the post-season, and Kessler could be the answer.  Besides, Kessler couldn’t be any worse than Johnny Manziel.  You probably remember, the Browns had the misfortune of drafting Johnny Manziel in 2014 with the 22nd overall pick, believing he was the next coming…to bring the Browns to the Super Bowl.  As we all know, Manziel had too many off field issues to allow him to be effective in the NFL and before you knew it, he was just a bad internet meme.

With that said, who is Cody Kessler?

First, let’s look at some basic facts:

Name: Cody Kessler

Age: May 11, 1993 (23)

Hometown: Bakersfield, CA

High School: Bakersfield Centennial

College: University of Southern California (USC)

Position: Quarterback

Team: Cleveland Browns (3rd Round, 93rd overall pick in 2016 NFL Draft)

Height: 6 feet 1 inch

Weight: 215 lbs

Hand Size: 10 & 7/8” inches

Career Highlights: California Gatorade Football Player of the Year (2011); USA Today High School All-American (2010); Las Vegas Bowl MVP (2013)

Birth Sign: Taurus

1)      Cody Kessler’s Family.

Cody Kessler didn’t become an NFL quarterback overnight.  With a strong and supportive family, parents Christie and Don Kessler, Cody Kessler grew up hearing stories about troubled young adults from his father, who is a retired corrections officer from Wasco State Prison, where he oversaw inmates in the commissary and the yard.  In 2014, Don Kessler became the coach for Bakersfield Centennial High School, molding young athletes’ college bound for Division 1 scholarship programs.

And it’s not easy.

About 1.5 million high school football players are competing for spots on 125 Division 1 programs, and there are only 85 scholarships awarded to each team making the odds less than 1%.

“If you aren’t willing to give up Friday and Saturday night,” Kessler explained, “if you aren’t willing to not be that social guy, you probably aren’t going to make it to that level.

Cody Kessler’s parents couldn’t be prouder of their two sons.

Cody Kessler’s young brother, Dylan Kessler, is currently a senior at Bakersfield Centennial High School.  And what a surprise, Dylan plays football too.  Huh, I wonder what college football program he’s bound for…USC, of course.

2)      Cody Kessler has a Nickname.

It’s Kess or Kessler.

People tend to call him by his last name.  Super original, isn’t it?

3)      Football or Basketball?

Growing up, Kessler’s favorite sports were football and basketball.  On the basketball court, Kessler was a point guard.  As a junior at Bakersfield Centennial High School, Kessler was named the Player of the Year after averaging 29.5 points, 11 rebounds, and five assists per game. The following fall, he was the Player of the Year in football, becoming the first player in the area to win those awards in football and basketball.

4)      Kessler’s USC Years.

Besides from football, there were some academics involved at USC.  Kessler was a Sociology major and also worked towards a master’s degree in Communication Management.

During the off season, Kessler and 15 of his USC teammates spent 5 days in Haiti in the spring of 2012 building homes and assisting those in need.

As for USC football, Kessler started as USC’s quarterback from 2013 – 2015.  During his college career, Kessler had a 67.5% pass completion, 10,339 passing yards, 88 passing touchdowns, 7 rushing touchdowns and 19 interceptions.

In 2013, Kessler led USC to a victory over Fresno State in the Las Vegas Bowl.  Kessler completed 22-of-30 for 345 yards with 4 touchdowns, receiving MVP honors.

Junior year at USC in 2014 was Kessler’s best year.  He threw for a record seven touchdowns against Colorado, winning 56-28.  And threw for six touchdowns against the rival Notre Dame Fighting Irish, with the most touchdowns thrown by a single quarterback against the Irish in the 127-year history of the program.

cody-kessler-at-usc Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times – Kessler’s USC 7-touchdown record, defeating Colorado (56-28)

Cody Kessler – LA Times Photo

5)      Kessler’s Favorite Stadium.

Oregon’s Autzen Stadium and Notre Dame are at the top of his list of stadiums outside of the Coliseum.  We’ll have to wait to see which NFL stadiums he likes the most, after he’s played in a few of them.

notre-dame-stadium Notre Dame Stadium – Aerial View Publishing

Notre Dame Stadium

6)      Kessler’s Girlfriend.

Yes, Cody Kessler has a girlfriend and she seems to be fitting right into the Kessler family.

Valeriya Kuklishyna, a Ukrainian model, has been dating Cody since early 2016.

But, if you’re thinking of throwing your hat in the ring, you should know Cody Kessler has a type…and its models.  During his time at USC, Cody dated fellow student Tabitha Grayston, a model who signed with LA Model agency.

Grayston and Kessler first met on campus at USC after Grayston transferred to the school. And yup, she was a sorority girl, Kappa Kappa Gamma.  Grayston also tried her hand in acting, known for The Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause (2006), 3-Minute Game Show (2007) and Good Day L.A. (1993)

7)      Kessler knows the Carr’s.

When Cody Kessler was a sophomore in high school, the Carr’s moved back from Houston to their hometown of Bakersfield, CA.  The two families met through mutual friends and quarterback guru, Steve Calhoun.

David Duke Carr, older brother of Oakland Raiders quarterback Derek Carr, played college football at Fresno State and was a former NFL quarterback, drafted by the Houston Texans first overall in the 2002 NFL Draft.  After being released from the Houston Texans, Carr played for the Carolina Panthers, New York Giants (twice), and San Francisco 49ers.  In 2013, after being released by the New York Giants for a second time, David Carr announced his retirement and is currently a NFL Network analyst.  David Carr was with the New York Giants during their Super Bowl XLVI win against the New England Patriots, receiving a Super Bowl ring.

Back in Bakersfield, David Carr began tutoring not only his younger brother Derek, then a senior at Bakersfield Christian, but Cody Kessler.

8)      #5 Cleveland Browns Kessler.

After the combine, it was believed that Kessler would end up being a late draft pick or an undrafted free-agent going into the 2016 season.  Lance Zierlein on player analysis stated: “Can orchestrate an offense with confidence and accuracy when operating from a clean pocket, but doesn’t appear to have the mentality of a player willing to take the risks necessary to strike with big plays often enough on the pro level. Kessler has moments where it is easy to like him on tape, but the traits and tape look more like those of a good, career backup than playoff starter.”

But, the Cleveland Browns must have seen something they liked…maybe it was Kessler’s hand size.

“Oh yes, it does,” new Browns head coach Hue Jackson said.  “It matters because we play in a division where all of a sudden there’s rain and snow, and it’s different. Guys with bigger hands can grip the ball better in those environmental situations. We’re looking for a guy who fits what we’re looking for at quarterback, and so hand size is important.”

Cody Kessler’s hand size came in at 10 & 7/8”, in a league where NFL teams like their quarterbacks to have a hand-size of 9 & ½” – 10”, according to senior analyst Dane Brugler.

Whatever the reason, Cody Kessler was drafted by the Cleveland Browns with the 93rd overall pick in the third round of the 2016 NFL Draft.

On June 8, Kessler signed a four-year contract worth about $3.4 million, which included a signing bonus worth about $660,000.

9)      Kessler’s Favorite Late Night Snack.

Kessler keeps it simple when it comes to looking for something to snack on in the middle of the night.  All he needs is a jar of peanut butter and a spoon.

10)   Favorite Music Genre.

Who knew, he loves country music!

11)   Favorite NFL Team.

Before getting drafted, Kessler didn’t admit to having a favorite NFL team.  I’m certain if you’d asked him now, he’d probably say the Cleveland Browns.   But, he did say his father, Don Kessler, was a huge Miami Dolphin fan.  And because of that, Kessler grew up watching a lot of Dolphins’ football and loves Dan Marino (but then again, who doesn’t).

12)   Cover-Boy…Cody Kessler.

During his time at USC, Kessler donned the cover of Sports Illustrated.


So will Cody Kessler make it in the NFL?  Only time will tell, but just in case, the Cleveland Browns have a back-up plan.

The Browns signed Charlie Whitehurst.  Don’t know who Charlie Whitehurst is?  You might know him as “Clipboard Jesus”.

Charlie “Clipboard Jesus” Whitehurst - Photo

Charlie “Clipboard Jesus” Whitehurst – Photo

Whitehurst, currently 34-years-old, was drafted by the San Diego Chargers in the 2006 NFL draft (3rd round, 81st overall).  After spending multiple years with the Chargers and Seattle Seahawks, Whitehurst was a back-up quarterback for the Tennessee Titans and then the Indianapolis Colts.  Whitehurst is now with his fifth NFL team, the Cleveland Browns.

During his career, Whitehurst completed 55.1 percent of his passes, averaged 6.13 yards per attempt, and thrown for 10 touchdowns and seven picks.  His career passer rating sits at 74.7.  In the past two seasons, Whitehurst has appeared in just 11 games.

For all you Kessler fans out there, it’s likely that rookie Cody Kessler will start in week 3 against the Miami Dolphins (remember, it’s Don Kessler favorite NFL team…huh).  The Dolphins defense looked solid against the Seattle Seahawks (week 1) and poor against the New England Patriots (week 2), so which Dolphins defense will show up in week 3 is up in the air.

As a final thought, whichever way it goes for Kessler against the Miami Dolphins, Kessler has to be a better dancer than Tom Brady.

At the Super Bowl Ring Ceremony for the New England Patriots:

But when you have 4 Super Bowl Championships under your belt and are voted 3-times the Super Bowl MVP, Brady could have done the “sprinkler” and no one would care.  In fact, it might have been better.


And in case you don’t know how to do the “Sprinkler”.


Oh, and if you need to find me, I’ll be the other person doing this at the club with you.

Enjoy and TTTL!