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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.

Chris Redman is one of the more obscure back-up quarterbacks.
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.

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 up.

"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 ceremonies.

OK, maybe not this serious.
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.

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!!

Arizona Brian Brohm
Atlanta Chad Pennington (injured)
Baltimore Brian Hoyer
Buffalo Mark Brunell
Carolina Marc Bulger
Chicago Jordan Palmer
Cincinnati Seneca Wallace
Cleveland Byron Leftwich
Dallas Dan Orlovsky
Denver Curtis Painter
Detroit Trent Edwards
Houston Chris Simms
Green Bay Kyle Orton
Indianapolis Brodie Croyle
Jacksonville Bruce Gradkowski (injured)
Kansas City Billy Volek
Miami Stephen McGee
Minnesota Sage Rosenfels
New England  Kevin Kolb
New Orleans John Beck (McNabb now 3rd string) 
NY Giants Patrick Ramsey
NY Jets Todd Collins
Oakland Drew Stanton
Philadelphia Matt Flynn
Pittsburgh Tarvaris Jackson (injured)
San Diego Chris Redman
San Francisco Brian St. Pierre
Seattle Chase Daniel
St. Louis Josh Johnson
Tampa Bay Derek Anderson
Tennessee A.J. Feeley
Washington Troy Smith
  Charlie Whitehurst
  Joe Webb


OK, how did you do? Be honest! You say you knew most of them?

I say you gotta be kidding!