and Joe Montana Dreams” : I saw a movie once about “the elephant graveyard” in Africa. Some secret sacred place where old elephants went to die. In 2008 it was called Congress, but I digress. Is there such a place for old quarterbacks? ….. the eagerly anticipated YA Tittle column! …… AND The Curse of Francis Scott Key !
This isn’t really about YA Tittle (or Nancy Pelosi). I used YA facetiously at the end of that brilliant Disaster column. The real gem hidden in that column was the phrase “…. several alphabets worth of hurricanes”. THAT woulda been worth $5 if I’d sent it to Readers’ Digest’s “Towards More Colorful Speech” editor. Think about it. ….. (Yes Albert. Hurricanes are named in alphabetical sequence each year.)
Is there a more honored and prestigious position in American culture than “Quarterback’? It transcends sports. It transcends gender. Gals are every bit if not more infatuated with Quarterbacks past or present than guys are. To make a cross-gender comparison …… One Quarterback is worth a Chief Cheerleaders PLUS a Homecoming Queen.
A QB teaming up with either a chief cheerleader and/or a Homecoming Queen (as often happens) creates unrealistic expectations for success in life that can be unattainable. Otherwise nice, decent folks have crumbled under the pressure of that unforgiving potential.
A QB at any level is in the rarified air of his particular universe regardless of its global significance. As his universes expand so does the accompanying prestige. QUICK ….. name the four placekickers still vying for the Super Bowl? Name any four strong safeties? But Manning, Favre, Brees and Sanchez ….. THEM you can name. So can every Hooters waitress in America. …. QUICK …. Name a Hooters waitress? “Brandi”.
Each year there are over 200 QBs among the assorted divisions of college football from the Tim and Colts to whoever is QB at Mount Union. I don’t know who the Mount Union QB is but everybody who knows/cares about Mount Union sure does.
The QB of a woeful 0-12 program is still a celebrity within the universe of his school orbit. He is still “a field general”. He still “barks signals”. He still “brings his team outta the huddle”. It is “his team” because he is THE QUARTERBACK.
Everywhere BUT TEXAS, QBs are culled from the mass herd around 7-8 at the entry levels of Pop Warner. Certainly not every Pop Warner “little field general” will achieve Manning-esque glory. 30+ Pop Warner QBs will vie for the 2-3 QB slots available among their local high schools. How many high school QBs does it take to fill the available college slots? How many college QBs does it take to populate NFL rosters? What happens to the “rest of the QBs”?
(In Texas quarterbacks are determined at birth with the official “Quarterback Naming” ceremony. The Tys, Colts, Jacks, Majors, Rhetts, Clays have no choice …. no choice whatsoever.)
Do you recall who was the quarterback your senior year in high school? Heck, MAYBE YOU WERE! Off the top of my head, I can think of a dozen “former QBs” who follow this website. Names familiar to most of you because – duh! They were QUARTERBACKS!
Are QBs like Marines? Can one ever be “a former QB”? Once and Forever. Down – Set – Semper Fi – Hutt – Hutt.
High school reunions are ideal petri dishes for observing the evolution of the American psyche. The geek turned software mogul ….. the ugly duckling who became a swan ….. the high school swans who faded ….. the under achiever who found his/her niche ….. and always “What happened to the quarterback?”
In prepping this column I noted all the QBs I’ve known from rec league thru major college. Guys I was actually around on a regular basis for a season or longer. I came up with 19 names. I lost touch with a few of’em. A few have been toe tagged considering my baby boomer status. Of the ones still on my radar, only three “soured on the vine of life” for whatever reason.
The burden of “being QB” can be heavy. The high school QB who became the scary sales guy at the local Chevy dealer w/ a cheap haircut and even cheaper cologne. He tried selling insurance, hearing aids, and finally “no one really knows what”.
His “champagne wishes and Joe Montana dreams” unfulfilled.
A for real QB never says “I was quarterback.” He says “I played some football”. It’s his teammates who will forever say “HE was our quarterback”. If he was a “for real” quarterback.
The majority of QBs I’ve known made the transition from “gridiron hero” to productive member of society pretty darn well. A few became corporate field generals. Several joined the military. Several even joined God’s team as “men of the cloth”. Most just found an occupational niche that suited them and settled into Life after QB. In so doing they pursued two even more illustrious titles – Husband & Daddy ….. ( and lately a 3rd – Granddaddy!)
EUREKA! I have solved the #1 bumfuzzling dilemma of the new year ….. “How come Roy2Rings can’t transform this roster load of Mickey D All Stars into his usual well-oiled juggernaut?” How did this stellar assemblage become the 5th best team in the Orange County Rec League ?”
How come after 20 years, 500+ Ws, and TWO freakin’ rings is The Blue Messiah behaving like a mid-major lifer … a grimacing glob of arm-waving, foot stompin’ frustration ?
Go back three years to the finals of the ACC Tourn in Tampa ….. UNC vs a cinderella NCSU in the finals. That National Anthem …… Sidney’s boys ramrod straight like the color guard at The Tomb of The Unknowns …… Roy’s boyz pickin’ their noses and nonchalantly playing grab-ass while the “bombs bursted in air”. …. uh oh!
The basketball gods took note that fateful day. It was too late to do anything THEN; but retribution would be forthcoming. Yea verily – A Reckoning awaited. Fast forward to the current looming trainwreck of NIT proportions. Dem Boyz ‘N Blue and their 2Ringed kinda nutty coach done been slapped with – The Curse of Francis Scott Key.
I’m an Internet Legend …. not an exorcist. But here’s an idea I am running by The Popular Young Chancellor:
This coming Tuesday at noon, all ye rambunctious rafter-gazing loyalists (1) gather at The Old Water Fountain ….. (2) paint your nekkid bodies the correct PMS shade of blue and …. (3) streak thru McCorkle Place yelling “Jose, can you see?”
…… anyone got a better idea?