Obscurity is being a back-up quarterback in the NFL
"You Gotta Be Kidding!"
by Mickey Charles, CEO Sports Network
OK, you got drafted by an NFL team, the family is already looking at new
homes, visits to the local Mercedes, Lexis and Cadillac dealers are de rigueur
and the team just happens to have a jersey ready with your number on it. Life
is good! And, so it says in the small print, the best is yet to come. What
they did not tell you, however, is that they already have someone behind
center, someone with a major name, earning the huge bucks cemented in that
position, and the other thing with your name on it is a clipboard.
Being the backup quarterback in the NFL can be the same as living on another
planet in a universe as yet undiscovered by any astronomers. Will you, one
day, become Tom Brady or Drew Brees, both of whom happened to be in the right
place at the right time and had the opportunity to prove how good they really
were when away from the practice squad? Possible. Likely? Pretty big
odds. Chances of fading into obscurity are large. You find yourself like some
woman wanting to be pregnant and checking her biological clock. Yours is
determined by years and, sadly, into your thirties you are being considered as
a candidate for the sports home care center.
Maybe you should have studied medicine after all.
All the bravado to the press is not believable. Face it, the "I'm here to do
a job and it is all for the team, doing whatever is asked of me so we can win"
is fine but you are not the one that will be going to Disney on national TV
and the truth of the matter is that the ring you may one day wear will
indicate you were there but did not participate in the big dance at all, other
than showing up. Bummer ... major bummer.
Chris Redman is one of the more obscure back-up
That scene on TV of you and your clipboard listening in when the quarterback
you want to be and the offensive coordinator are trying to work out what went
wrong and what happens next is just that, a scene. You are the understudy
hoping that the lead oversleeps, has a frog in his voice, trips on the way
into the theater or suffers in some other way just short of terminal. Not a
problem. That is reality. You have to be standing on the sidelines, your
heart skipping a beat, helmet ready to be placed on your head, ball in your
hands, a quick glance at the myriad of plays on your wrist...like a last look
at the lyrics of a song ... when the starter goes down and hesitates getting
"Nothing serious," your mind races," just a torn ligament, broken finger on
his throwing hand, ankle sprain cutting down mobility, minor concussion...just
enough for me to get in there." Ah, if only we could read your thoughts at
that moment. If, on the other hand, they are more like, "Please, God, not
now, not sure I am ready, I do not have all the plays in my head. Will they
let me pass or just direct me to hand off? Can I handle it? Is my mother
watching from the stands? What about the coach, is this it, can I do it,
someone help!" then you should have handed the jersey back at the draft
But, even worse, as has been pointed out, no one really knows who you are.
Some of you might not care, just take the check, start thinking of the future
when you are released and no one picks you up or, on the other hand, make the
most of any opportunity that presents itself and impress the team for whom you
are playing or everyone else watching that needs a quarterback. But, please,
not a team that needs another back-up. Frying pain into the fire would never
have more meaning.
OK, maybe not this serious.
Who are these athletes, these men on the sidelines, these once well known
college quarterbacks for whom tens of thousands cheered, hundreds of thousands
over the years, and whose names resounded with admiration and potential for
their respective futures in the NFL. What happened on that train ride? When
did the derailment occur? Do you know who they are? Sure, Joe Webb has come
out of the darkness and has a bright future ahead of him, thanks to injuries
to Brett Favre and Tarvaris Jackson, along with Favre's pending retirement for
the 18th time or so. Kevin Kolb is easy, the presumed starter until the
desperate Eagles came up with their "forgiveness approach" and "everyone is
entitled to a second chance" [especially when we need him to get Michael Vick
out there]. But what of the rest? Donovan McNabb is now third string, a
fixture in the NFL until "the trade" and now relegated to getting dressed
because his contract calls for it, no other reason.
Do not go to the Internet for this. Do not cheat. Do not call your buddy
that lives, eats, breathes NFL and knows everyone. Do not consult with your
cousin, the fantasy maven. Do not do anything but try to match these back-up
quarterbacks with the teams for which they play right now.
Obscurity works after you rob a bank. It might work in the NFL for a backup
quarterback if he wants to rest a bit, no chance of getting hurt and likes
watching. It does not for those that came to play, to establish a name, break
some records, take bows, win titles, make an all-star game, maybe a Super
Bowl, get some endorsements, be on a Wheaties box, play golf in a sports
legends tournament, do what you are supposedly being paid to do. It is not
very gratifying to know that others will be hanging up photos of themselves
throwing the game winning pass, vaulting into the end zone on a run after a
broken play, being held up on the shoulders of team-mates after winning a
title or two, handling one press conference after another while you are
looking a place to hang your now encased in glass clipboard.
For the rest of you, the fans, take the test. Match 'em up!!
||Chad Pennington (injured)
||Bruce Gradkowski (injured)
||John Beck (McNabb now 3rd string)
||Tarvaris Jackson (injured)
||Brian St. Pierre
OK, how did you do? Be honest! You say you knew most of them?
I say you gotta be kidding!