If I were able to interview one player on the 2009-2010 Arizona Cardinals—I would have to choose Matt Leinart. I was fortunate enough to live in the Los Angeles area during the 2002-2006 USC Trojan football seasons.
Those teams were out NFL in the LA area and every Saturday became our Sunday morning as the Trojans rolled out superstar after superstar onto the field, year after year.
As everybody knows, Matt Leinart was the golden boy, 'Hollywood' quarterback who won the Heisman award and then turned down the huge payday and returned to school for another championship push with his team.
He had it all—or so it seemed—even rumored to have been dating Paris Hilton and connected to Nick and Jessica.
Leinart was destined for super-stardom but has never quite fulfilled on his potential. As he sits at second on the depth chart for yet another season, the questions are becoming increasingly louder as to just how capable of playing at this level Leinart really is.
In fact, local fans have even begun to use the word 'bust' when mentioning his name on the daily talk radio shows.
In my humble opinion, Matt Leinart is no 'bust'. Not yet at least.
In all honesty, I really don't think he has been given a legitimate shot at being the No. 1 guy.
Even further, when he did get the chance to start, he actually did show a lot of potential and promise. How's this for an intriguing stat? Leinart still is the only rookie quarterback to lead his team to a 14-0 lead in the first quarter in his first two games started.
He was injured shortly after that and then battled, and lost, with Warner for the job the next season. It just never really seemed like a fair shake.
It also happened to be that some now-infamous beer bong pictures came to light during that off-season.
The pictures were fairly innocent enough and showed young Matt in all his party glory—holding a beer bong while a young college coed swallows it down, sitting in the hot tub with three girls—but they are all pretty innocent enough in nature.
Especially when you consider what Leinart probably witnessed and did while in his heyday at USC and in Paris Hilton's bedroom alone!
Even still some might argue that those photos derailed his young career. Can you imagine that?
In a league that many sportswriters jokingly refer to as the National Felons League, Matt Leinart lost his starting job because he was beer-bonging (totally legally) with some (total legal) girls.
This is a league after all, in which Ray Lewis, a perennial defensive player of the year candidate, plead guilty to obstruction of justice charges in a double murder trial and was named Super Bowl MVP the following year!
So Matt Leinart presents a bit of an enigma within himself and his career. He presents a story that so far is not fully told and could even be an unpolished gem—perhaps sitting on the Cardinals bench, a young Elway still in the making, without any of us even knowing.
However, only time will tell on his NFL career and whether or not he will become the player that had so much hype surrounding him throughout his college career.
But if there ever were a player that I would like to interview and pick his brain, Matt Leinart would be that guy. So alas, my interview questions for Matt Leinart:
1. What are your personal goals for the 2009-2010 season?
2. Where do you feel you stand in terms of the overall offense and can you lead this team if called upon?
3. Do you feel you have ever really been given a legitimate opportunity to be the starting quarterback for this team?
4. What are some of the differences between the college game and the NFL game in your mind and do you feel by this point in your career you have made the full adjustment?
5. Looking back on the early stages of career, do you have any regrets? Would you change anything regarding your NFL experience? Do you ever regret your draft-day decision even to this day?
6. What is your outlook for this team for the 2009-2010 season?
7. Can you explain how a No. 2 quarterback (on the depth chart) stays loose for a game and remain mentally prepared to go in if called upon?
8. Do you feel you could be a starter in the NFL right now and how successful do you think you would be?
9. What are your personal career goals?
10. Do you feel that realistically you could achieve those career goals while with this franchise? Do you believe that ownership is committed to winning?
11. You have gone from Dennis Green to Ken Whisenhunt in your young career—how tough of an adjustment was the coaching transition and how does Whisenhunt keep you and Brian St. Pierre (the No. 3 QB on the depth chart) motivated every Sunday?
12. Do you still have any contact with Paris Hilton? :)