To paraphrase Jeff Pearlman, talking about being a quarterback is far more riveting than actually being a quarterback. At least that is the position that John Beck has taken this offseason. I mean, check out these quotes from John Beck this offseason.
I love football. I love playing the game. I love standing in there on third down and getting whacked in the chin and completing a pass and quieting the crowd. When you’re playing on the road and it’s third down and they’re screaming, and you can rip a pass in there and get it and shut ‘em all up, I love it.
I love scoring a touchdown and knowing exactly what that person that I threw the touchdown pass to put into it. I like knowing that my O-line never gets to touch the football, but they’re busting their butts because they want to win, and they’re OK with not touching the football.
I love seeing everybody excited. I love the feeling after the game when you’ve put in all that work and you won . . .
[Record Scratch, er disc skip–no one knows what a record scratch sounds like, right?]
Beck hasn’t thrown a pass in the last three years. He started four games for the Dolphins in 2007, and was, to put it kindly, not good. He only threw 2 passes in the fourth start, but in the first 3, the Dolphins managed only 20 points, while Beck averaged 4.98 yards per attempt and threw 3 interceptions. Worse yet, the two touchdowns that Miami scored in his starts were a Ted Ginn punt return touchdown and a 43 yard fumble return. So, he led exactly zero touchdown drives as a starter in 2007. Beck may have gotten whacked on the chin, but I’m pretty sure he didn’t shut any crowds up other than his own.
John Beck, if you do not recall, played quarterback at BYU, and entered the NFL as an older 26-year old rookie after having gone on a mission. The thought at the time was, because of his maturity and his background, that he was one of those “most ready to step in and start” guys. And he had to be because he was about 3-4 years older than most rookie quarterbacks. He got one chance in that almost winless year for Miami, and then Bill Parcells, Jeff Ireland and Tony Sparano came to town and said no thanks.
Fast forward to 2011. He turns 30 in August. He is a 3rd string quarterback who is getting by in the league holding the clipboard. There is nothing about him at this point that would suggest he is going to be anything more than a replacement starter. People might like to point out stories like Kurt Warner, but those aren’t similar. In most of those breakout cases, we had no prior history of horrendous fail at this level, and the breakout occurred before age 30. You won’t find a guy who played as poorly in the little time he had starting like Beck, and then later emerged at age 30 or older to become good.
Still, I love this story. You see, John Beck annointed himself the leader of the Redskins last month, and began calling draft picks. He organized player workouts. He said that he was glad Donovan McNabb was on the outs because “[i]f I want my opportunity, I have to have stuff like this happen so I can get an opportunity.” He began giving quotes like the one above. He took all that self-help advice to heart in the turmoil of the offseason. If you start acting like a leader, if you project that aura, then good things will follow.
Rex Grossman, meanwhile just goes about his business with that calm confidence that we’ve come to expect. Dan Steinberg of the DC Sports Bog* talks about Rex Grossman being on the radio this weekend and talking about the QB position. From Grossman: “You know, he’s one of those guys that is under the radar, and he’s promoting himself and getting himself out there. He’s doing everything he can to promote himself, basically.”
I look forward to the Grossman versus Beck quarterback pillow fight once football resumes. It’s these kind of little stories that you can’t find by looking in a record book. I’m fully confident that if you look up John Beck’s career stats twenty years from now, you’ll see just a few losses and not much else. But we will all know that in the summer of 2011, when everyone else was losing with the tedium of the lockout, the spin, and the arguments between ownership and players, John Beck was winning.
*full disclosure: I have a contract with Dan to link to his stories and cross-promote, so this post is just pre-text to meet my quota. I’m expecting a subpoena any day.
[photo via Getty]