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I Can't Believe These Guys Get Paid To Write About Sports

Discussion in 'Other Sports' started by LeGrouper, Jan 11, 2003.

  1. LeGrouper

    LeGrouper Contributing Member

    May 24, 2002
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    This is from the ESPN website today. This has to be the nerdiest piece of sports writing I have ever seen.

    Eight QBs searching for ultimate prize
    By Greg Garber

    In "8 Mile," Eminem plays a scrappy, young rapper from Detroit whose trailer park roots and astonishing rise to prominence bear a curious resemblance to the life story of … Eminem. In the anthem "Lose Yourself," he breaks it down:

    Look, if you had one shot, one opportunity To seize everything you ever wanted … One moment Would you capture it or just let it slip?

    Matchup breakdowns
    Check out Greg Garber's breakdown of each QB matchup this weekend:

    Maddox vs. McNair

    Vick vs. McNabb

    Garcia vs. Johnson

    Pennington vs. Gannon

    For the eight quarterbacks who lead their teams into this weekend's NFL playoff games, this is that moment, that one "oppatunity." For sheer range and plot intrigue, this Class of '03 is the deepest in recent memory. Eminem got nothin' on these guys.

    "When you look at this season, the quarterbacks are a mirror of how diverse and unexpected this season has been," NFL Films President Steve Sabol said from his Mt. Laurel, N.J., office on Tuesday. "It's fascinating how they got here and the ways that they play.

    "You've got the No. 1 draft choices and the guys from the big colleges, but then there's the Rich Gannons -- a guy from Delaware they thought so little of they wanted to make him a defensive back. And Jeff Garcia came from San Jose State."

    Sabol has seen every NFL championship game since 1950 and has been capturing images for NFL Films for 40 seasons now.

    "The quarterback position has always been a great storyline," Sabol said. "Go back to the '50s and look at those quarterbacks. There was a difference in styles even then. Bobby Layne, Norm Van Brocklin, Johnny Unitas … each one had his own distinct style.

    "It reminds me of the Harry Truman quote: 'The only thing new in the world is the history that you don't know.' I've always felt the same with football. For every new thing, every new story, you can always say it's somehow been done before. Bill Walsh and the West Coast Offense -- Allie Sherman was doing something similar with the Giants in the 1960s. The 46 Defense? You saw it with Greasy Neale and the Eagles in the '40s.

    "Sure, this year is a great storyline, but I've read that same story in earlier decades."

    Eight is, uh, plenty
    This year's back-to-the-future warrior is 6-feet-2.5 inches and 218 pounds. He is 29.6 years old and has 6.6 seasons of NFL experience. He threw 21 touchdowns and only 10 interceptions this season. He is the composite of the eight quarterbacks whose teams remain alive in the chase for Super Bowl XXXVII.

    He is the Atlanta Falcons' Michael Vick.

    Chad Pennington of the New York Jets.

    The Philadelphia Eagles' Donovan McNabb.

    Steve McNair of the Tennessee Titans.

    The Pittsburgh Steelers' Tommy Maddox.

    Jeff Garcia of the San Francisco 49ers.

    The Tampa Bay Buccaneers' Brad Johnson.

    Rich Gannon of the Oakland Raiders.

    Eight storylines, in the case of these NFL quarterbacks, is more than enough. M&M? Forget about Marshall Mathers, Eminem's given name. We give you Steve McNair and Tommy Maddox.

    McNair grew up in Mount Olive, Miss., raised by his mother Lucille, one of a cotton-picking sharecropper's 11 children. Despite working back-to-back eight-hour shifts at the local light fixtures factory, she alone managed to equip four sons for success. Maddox, for his part, ran his own insurance agencies in Dallas and Forth Worth during his five-year hiatus from the NFL.

    While five of these quarterbacks -- McNair and Maddox included -- were first-round draft choices, Garcia wasn't drafted at all. He played in the Canadian Football League for five seasons after graduating from San Jose State. Gannon, the league's MVP, sat out the 1994 season with a shoulder injury and wondered if he'd ever play again.

    The Elite Eight grew up in eight different states and went to eight different schools -- OK, nine, with Garcia's Gavilan (Junior) College. Five are married (Gannon, McNair, Pennington, Maddox and Johnson), while the other three are single.

    Four have struggled with debilitating injuries.

    McNabb missed the regular season's last six games with a broken ankle. Johnson has missed three games, including the last two, with a lower back bruise. After suffering a rib injury, McNair failed to participate in a full practice for 41 days before returning last Thursday. He never missed a game. Maddox sat out three weeks after temporarily losing the ability to move his arms or legs in a Nov.17 game in Nashville.

    Half of these passers are 30-something, the other half 20-something. Gannon, who had his breakout season at the age of 37, is nearly a generation older than Vick, who announced his arrival at the age of 22.

    One of them -- no, not Mr. Vick -- was the youngest quarterback to throw an NFL pass since Elmar Angsman of the Chicago Cardinals in 1946. It was Maddox, who also came out after his sophomore season (UCLA), at the age of 21 years, 2 months.

    Two of them are grizzled veterans (Gannon and Johnson), who both played for Vikings and Redskins before finding a home with their present team.

    “ When you look at this season, the quarterbacks are a mirror of how diverse and unexpected this season has been. It's fascinating how they got here and the ways that they play. ”
    — Steve Sabol, NFL Films President

    One of them (Pennington) threw to Randy Moss in college, another (McNabb) lost in the 1996 NCAA basketball championship game, as a reserve guard for Syracuse, to Kentucky.

    Quiz time. Match the quarterbacks with their middle names: McNair, Johnson, Vick, Maddox, McNabb.

    A) Dwayne B) Alfred C) Jamal D) LaTreal E) Bradley (Answers below.)

    Three of these players have major MVPs in their resume. Gannon, as advertised, won the 2002 NFL award, while Maddox was the XFL MVP in 2000. Garcia was the Grey Cup MVP in 1998 for the Calgary Stampeders.

    Two -- McNair and Vick -- were drafted to play baseball, McNair by the Seattle Mariners and Vick by the Colorado Rockies.

    One (Pennington) was a Rhodes Scholar finalist at Marshall. Another (Gannon) was a Catholic League (Pa.) champion -- in crew. Still another (McNair) tied Terrell Buckley's Mississippi high school career interception record of 30.

    Quiz answers: A) Vick, B) Maddox, C) McNabb, D) McNair, E) Johnson, whose first name is actually James.

    Not one of these eight ever won the Heisman Trophy, although several didn't miss by much. Vick was third in 1999 -- as a freshman -- when Ron Dayne won. That same year, Pennington was fifth. Vick was sixth in 2000 when Chris Weinke won and McNair was third in 1994, when Rashaan Salaam was the winner. When Ricky Williams won in 1998, McNabb was fifth.

    The last three quarterbacks to win the Super Bowl are terrific examples of the Eminem, out-of-nowhere phenomenon. Kurt Warner stocked grocery shelves in Iowa. Trent Dilfer was a congenital underachiever. Tom Brady replaced an icon.

    For the record, not one of this year's surviving passers have won Super Bowl -- yet.

    Greg Garber is a senior writer at ESPN.com.

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