by Mike Hayes - 10/14/2005
Here's a little NFL trivia to chew on while pondering the fate of the quarterback challenged Jets, the Roethlisbergerless Steelers and last week's Matt Schaub-led Falcons.
Who are Andrew Walker, Cleo Lemon, Dan Orlovsky, Craig Nall and Quinn Gray?
If you knew that one of more of these chaps are members of the select fraternity of the 100 or so NFL quarterbacks you are probably a fantasy football junkie, a college football junkie or just a plain old junkie.
And while fans, coaches and general managers, perhaps even some of the players themselves hope they never see an NFL snap, the group just might include the next Tom Brady.
Don't forget, it was Brady, a fifth-round draft choice and backup at Michigan, that replaced the injured Drew Bledsoe in 2001 and led the Patriots to a Super Bowl upset of the 14-point favored Rams. Of course the rest is history, as Brady has added two more rings to his collection in just three years.
While Brady's rise to elite status in the NFL has been meteoric, it is hardly the first time in the NFL in which a backup quarterback has led his team to a Championship.
More trivia. Who was the QB for the 1972 Miami Dolphins, the only undefeated team in the history of the league? Bob Griese, right?
Wrong. Try Earl Morrall in relief of the injured Griese.
True or False? Phil Simms led the New York Giants to their second Super Bowl in 1991.
False. Jeff Hostetler subbed for the injured Simms.
How about the 1969 Baltimore Colts. Johnny Unitas, right?
Wrong again. Try Morrall, who was either the most gifted or most lucky backup QB in NFL history.
Actually the tag of luckiest backup QB is probably best reserved for Frank Reich, who served as Jim Kelly's understudy in Buffalo for years.
It was Reich, in relief of Kelly, who orchestrated the greatest comeback in the history of the league, in a playoff game no less. Trailing 35-3 in the 3rd quarter, Head Coach Marv Levy likened his team's chances to those of "winning the New York lottery."
Reich held the lucky ticket though and somehow managed to rally the Bills, in front of what was at that point a half-empty Rich Stadium, to a 41-38 overtime win.
Who was the only college QB to rally his team from a 31-point deficit?
Frank Reich? Correct.
In 1984 Reich's Maryland team trailed the Bernie Kosar led Hurricanes of Miami 31-0 in the first half, but Reich managed to rally the Terrapins to a 42-40 win.
Jet fans, on the heels of last week's upset of the Bucs, can only hope history repeats itself in the same manner, as the soon-to-be 42-year old Testaverde leads the Jets this week at the 3-point favored Bills.
You see it was Testaverde who took over for the injured Glen Foley in the second game of the 1998 season and led the team to the AFC title game against the Broncos.
For some more irony see Pittsburgh, where Tommy Maddox could fill in for Roethlisberger as the Steelers host the Jaguars as a 3-point favorite this week.
It was Maddox who was selling insurance before embarking on a last ditch effort to make it in the NFL. The former No. 1 pick out of UCLA was the MVP in the short-lived XFL where he led the Los Angeles Extreme to the XFL title before being invited to Steelers camp. He made the team as a backup before supplanting Kordell Stewart in week 4 of the 1992 campaign and he never looked back……..that is until he hurt his elbow in week 2 last season and Roethlisberger took over.
Since we're on the topic of backup quarterbacks and irony I found it interesting to see that Brady's backup with the Pats, Matt Cassell a rookie out of USC, saw the first action of his career when he completed 2-of-4 passes with an INT in a blowout loss to the Chargers a couple of weeks ago.
What do you think the odds would have been last year that Cassell, who backed up Heisman Trophy winner Matt Leinhart as a member of the Trojans, would have seen action in an NFL game before Leinhart never mind complete a pass.
That's a bet I wouldn't have taken even if I knew then that Leinhart, much to the delight of academicians, would make the noble decision to return to college to complete his education with one course - BALLROOM DANCING.
Maybe, just maybe it will be Cassell who as a sub for Brady some day becomes the next Tom Brady.
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