Some guys are easy to hate, while with others, it's difficult to even say you “dislike” them. Clearly, Brady Quinn is in the first category.
First, he played college ball for Notre Dame, and if you're not a Fightin' Irish fan, there is a good chance you love to hate Notre Dame. Don't be fooled for a second, many of the Quinn-haters never wanted him to succeed simply because he came out of that college in South Bend, Indiana.
After that, comes his physical appearance. A frequent Quinn comment I've seen of late is that he is better on the cover of GQ than behind center for an NFL football team. I'll be honest, while I don't consider myself a bad-looking guy, I often have a built-in dislike for people who are too good-looking. While it may be a plus with Quinn for the ladies, a GQ cover boy does not inspire rough-and-tumble football fans to root for him.
Next, he was drafted by one of the worst and oft-hated teams in the NFL, the Cleveland Browns. Kansas City has one incident when Matt Cassel was injured, taken greatly out of context in my opinion, where the fans have been thrown under the bus for their cheering during the injury. Cleveland's had a bad reputation with both franchises in their city bearing the Browns name as some of the meanest, nastiest fans in the NFL. No matter who they are playing, a lot of fans of many different teams are happy when the Browns lose.
So, it's no surprise to me to see comment after comment on article after article about how the Chiefs' hopes are dashed, that they must be clearly giving up on their season by going to Quinn or someone is going to lose their job because of starting Quinn. With all the venom out there against Quinn, I think sound reason has lost out on evaluating this still-young quarterback.
Let's take a closer look at the new man behind center in Kansas City and answer the question, “Does Brady Quinn deserve the support of the fans?” Many other writers have already expounded on whether Quinn was given a fair shake in Cleveland or Denver. Regardless of what you think about Quinn's performance for the teams he has played for thus far, there are more compelling reasons Quinn should be given a chance to be a starting quarterback in the NFL.
For starters, he has been one of the hardest working quarterbacks in the NFL, regardless of whether he was starting or a backup. Few first rounders dealt a similar hand would have handled their lack of opportunity with such an uncommon work ethic. Every coach he's had in the NFL has extolled his dedication and desire to succeed. Whether starter, backup or backup hoping for an opportunity, Quinn prepares himself as good as any other player in the league.
Quinn's first home start will come against the Oakland Raiders, a team in need of a quarterback the year Quinn was drafted. Their offensive coordinator at the time praised him, and their current coach describes Quinn as “a pro in every sense of the word.”
When Cleveland brought in new front office and coaching, the team went a different direction after one year. Both head coaches Quinn played for in Cleveland praised his work ethic and preparation. Eric Mangini, wanting to win immediately, moved away from Quinn for a few games. During that time, Quinn prepared every week as though he were the starter and, ultimately, won the job back. Cleveland GM Mike Holmgren, incorrectly as history has now shown, felt the Browns could start winning immediately without waiting to develop a young quarterback and dealt him to the Denver Broncos.
In addition to a superior work ethic, Quinn is the consummate team player. He consistently makes the most out of whatever opportunity he is given and works hard without complaining. He supports his teammates and respects the decisions of his coaches.
While in Denver, Quinn-haters like to point out he could not even beat out Tim Tebow. Quinn was promised, shortly after his trade to Denver, he would be competing for the starting job. A few weeks later, Josh McDaniel's Broncos drafted Tebow, and the chances of starting for Denver quickly eroded for the former Notre Dame standout. Another team's first round handoff could not compete with Tebow-mania, and Quinn handled the situation like a seasoned professional and a true team player.
According to the Denver Post, “Quinn drew high marks from Broncos personnel last year for the way he handled himself as the 'other' quarterback alongside Tim Tebow and Kyle Orton. Quinn was usually the guy helping Tebow, often after practice.” Quinn took on his new role with a maturity beyond his experience, and he strove to be the best backup he could be for his team...in spite of the fact the opportunity promised to him never materialized.
Fans' disgust with Cassel occurred much prior to his dismal performance this season. As early as this summer when Kansas City hosted MLB's All-Star Game, fans publicly displayed their disdain for Cassel. The season starts, and game after game the turnovers accumulated showing last year's injury-plagued season was not the only cause for Cassel's dismal play. All the while, Quinn supported the starter of the team. As fans spent their hard-earned money to fly a banner calling for Cassel's benching, Quinn did not even allude to the fact that he was the heir apparent (at least for this season).
Even with strong words from the head coach asserting the possibility of a quarterback change and a subsequent injury to Cassel, Quinn maintained his composure and called Cassel the starter. While it would be easy to say he was just saying what he had to, Quinn was so well-composed with his statements to the press, nobody could even claim he was trying to capitalize on the opportunity. Quinn simply prepared every week as best he could and let Romeo Crennel determine the direction of the team.
After a poor performance, in his only start so far as a Chief, Quinn showed poise and professionalism. While some Quinn supporters blamed his interceptions on his receivers, Quinn pointed to his own faults and acknowledged he had to get better. And until Crennel made the change official, he faithfully proclaimed Cassel as the starter of the team.
I'd be remiss if I did not recognize there is another quarterback who displays a similar work ethic, and his name is Matt Cassel. While many have questioned his talent, few, if any, have questioned Cassel's dedication and hard work. Backing up quarterbacks at USC, Cassel worked hard. As Tom Brady's backup, he put in the work and prepared every week. When opportunity knocked through an injury, ironically at the hand of the Kansas City Chiefs, he seized it with all that he could. If Cassel were still a Patriot or played for any other team, whether in a starting or backup role, he'd be quietly hoping for and appreciating the chance Quinn has been given. He'd be rooting for Quinn to succeed.
At the end of the day, work ethic, a good attitude and a team member is not enough. Cassel showed us that. If any other quarterback with an amazing collegiate career had less than a full season of starts under his belt and became the quarterback for the Chiefs replacing a guy who completely failed behind center, there would be a hopeless optimism and a huge desire for the guy to succeed. Quinn may have come out of Notre Dame, and he may look more like a model than a professional football player, but he is made of the stuff the Chief fanbase wants to root for: He's a hard worker who respects his teammates and supports the team the best way he can in whatever role he has at the time.
For now, that role is the starting quarterback of the Kansas City Chiefs. And I, for one, am rooting for Quinn to succeed. I hope more and more Chiefs fans look at the man behind center against our most-hated rival and feel the same.
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