Brady Quinn and 4 Other NFL Backup Quarterbacks Who Aired Their Grievances
It must be hard to be second string at such a high-profile position as quarterback. Some NFL players have filled backup duties with patience and hard work, biding their time until opportunity strikes. League MVP Aaron Rodgers, for instance, rode the pine behind Brett Favre for three seasons with the Green Bay Packers before earning the starting job for himself.
But for some unfortunate or undeserving quarterbacks the backup spot comes with added stress and even some second-guessing. Here’s a look at five players who found themselves at the center of the wrong kind of quarterback controversy:
When Tim Tebow emerged overnight as the Denver Broncos’ savior this past season, Tebow found his share of detractors. From some comments that backup QB Brady Quinn shared in an article to appear in the March issue of GQ, it seems Quinn was one of them. “Just ’cause they were chanting his name. There was a big calling for him. No, I don’t have any billboards. That would have been nice,” Quinn said, among other things. Quinn has since apologized, and it’s doubtful that he’ll be back in Denver next season.
Quinn wasn’t the first backup quarterback to question his teammate’s work ethic this offseason. In January, Jets’ rookie backup Greg McElroy called unnamed teammates “extremely selfish” on an Alabama radio morning show and said he believed that not everyone in his locker room was playing hard to win. “For sure, McElroy has a right to be frustrated after the Jets’ disappointing season, but with a locker room in serious need of a common identity, his comments aren’t helping things,” said Timothy Burke at Deadspin.
During the 1999 season, the Bills had two competitive quarterbacks to choose from in Doug Flutie and Rob Johnson, and the team went with Johnson in the postseason, resulting in a loss to the Titans. Flutie at the time thought that he could have helped earn his team a victory. Six months after the season ended, Johnson’s response came to light in Penthouse magazine: “I think that [what Flutie said] was more of an insult to the entire team. That’s just the type of guy Doug is. He’s not much fun to play with — you just have to deal with it,” Johnson said. Unsurprisingly, their next season was dominated by the struggle to choose a quarterback, but the team opted to release Flutie before the 2001 season.
Jets’ quarterback Glenn Foley was unhappy in 1998 to be demoted for what he called ”behind-the-scenes” events that earned Vinny Testaverde the starting nod. Coach Bill Parcells refused to discuss Foley’s comments, and Foley didn’t elaborate on what he meant by it. ”There are certain things that happen that you guys aren’t privy to. It’s not something that happened this week or last week. It’s just the nature of the business. I’m just the backup quarterback the week of a big game, and what I say or do doesn’t make any difference,” he said later. Foley couldn’t help but keep chiding his old boss once he left New York for Seattle the next year. “His gambles paid off unbelievably in the two years I played there and some of them were eye-opening but it seems like the odds finally caught up with him,” he added.
When Daryl Lamonica remained in the 1969 AFL Championship game after injuring his hand, his backup George Blanda reportedly criticized the Raiders for the decision. The New York Post reported that Blanda said, “He never should have come back in there. I might have moved the club after a while.” But Blanda denied he ever made those comments. “There are a lot of misrepresentations and distortions,” Blanda claimed. After the team released Blanda before the 1970 season, they brought him back for his 21st professional season. He had a sensational year, culminating in the AFC title game where he relieved an injured Lamonica and became the oldest quarterback ever to play in a championship game. Although that loss to the Baltimore Colts was the end of his quarterbacking years, Blanda remained the Raiders’ kicker for five more seasons.