On June 23 the New York Giants made a move that most league observers paid little or no attention to. Like the natural pounding of gentle waves upon a shore, a kind of erosion was taking place.
What was stripped was not just filler on the depth chart, or even an ordinary clipboard holder.
No—what was taken from us was hope.
That hope was embodied in No. 12. When the annual pink slips were handed out, one found its way to Jared Lorenzen’s locker. The portly backup quarterback, who for four years made every overweight, gym-fearing couch potato cheer.
Why did we cheer? Because we all lived vicariously through Jared. He made all of us feel like we could do it. He gave us hope and inspiration.
For many of us, watching football is an all-day event, with rituals and routine second only to religion. For the masses, or maybe just my circle of friends, Sundays mean we are faced with many difficult decisions.
Internally, we wonder, do I get up to retrieve that third bag of mega-sized chips, or do I send the kids or wife to get it for me? Should I drink beer on the snap of every play? And if so, what do I do during commercials?
But I digress.
If you ever played football, the dream of being the star quarterback was always present. You envision playing in one of those packed stadiums, making the great play to win the game.
However, when you have a certain girth, the chances of those dreams coming true are greatly reduced. So you go from lining up behind center to being the center. The offensive line is very important, but the quarterback keeps the audience captive. The thrill of the game relies, almost exclusively, on the decisions of the quarterback.
This position, in some circles, is a god. An iconic masterpiece. The general on the field. Every ounce of bravado is oozing out of him with any and all on-field decisions.
The quarterback is a perfect blend of intelligence, brawn, and durability. Think of a blend of Einstein, Lou Ferrigno (I have been watching old Incredible Hulk episodes), and a Maytag product.
In addition to those attributes, the quarterback is often blessed with movie star looks, along with a salary that only Oprah or Bill Gates would turn down, due to low compensation.
The average fan looks at these players as being in an unattainable position. These men represent perfection in every sense of the word.
Since the days of Johnny Unitas, the chubbiest of us had no one to represent us. Always told to play the offensive or defensive line, many “big-boned” arms have gone by the wayside. If you had an infatuation with stomach satisfaction, there was no place for you behind center.
However, that sense of hopelessness changed on May 7, 2004. That is when Jared officially signed with the G-men. On that day, a tectonic shift occurred.
BJ (Before Jared), you had to be shaped like Mr. Universe. Jared changed it all. Jared did not look the part of an NFL quarterback, but his appeal was that he mirrored many of us. He was an authentic copy of how some of the NFL's biggest fans look (no pun intended).
He helped us to lower our standards, and thus, our workload. With Jared in the league, I knew I did not have to run a 4.0 40-yard dash. My abs were just fine being represented by a large, collective one.
Besides, they make jerseys in larger sizes. As long as I can line up in the shotgun, I’ll have enough time to look at my first read and make the throw. Second and third reads are a different story. He empowered us all. I knew if I could do three jumping jacks and one push-up, I could compete.
To be fair, Jared was no slouch. While at Kentucky, he became the all-time leader in completions, attempts, and yards. So, maybe there is an overestimation of my ability to join the NFL. Jared had real talent.
I would begin to remember flashbacks of my body in better shape. Memories of pick-up games of football, where one excelled. Throwing touchdowns, no interceptions, and avoiding the rush—all fond thoughts of when you felt on top of the world. Dreams of making the pros, lining up under center, reading defensives, and calling an audible.
Then you wake up. No longer in public school, the motivation to go to the gym dissipated, especially after realizing gym memberships are not free. Not willing to pay money to work out, coupled with the introduction of the dollar menu at McDonald’s, left much to be desired in regards to fitness.
Out of shape is how some may remember Jared Lorenzen, but for me, he was me. He was that reflection in the mirror. He was that kid on the playground with the best throwing arm, minus the physique.
The end of Lorenzen's tenure was not a normal termination. In the long, storied history of the New York Giants' backups, he was no Danny Kanell or Dave Brown. I mean, he was no Jeff Hostetler either, but this second-string quarterback allowed every pleasantly plump man to hold onto his dreams and aspirations.
For four years, he allowed couch potatoes to dream. If Jared could do it, so could I.