Mark Brunell Wins Long-Awaited Super Bowl
After 16 NFL seasons, Mark Brunell is finally a world champion.
Brunell was a critical part in the University of Washington's dominance during the early 1990s. Brunell led the team to three straight Rose Bowl appearances, winning in 1991 and 1992.
Brunell was drafted in the fifth round of the 1993 NFL Draft by the Green Bay Packers, and was on the bench during the emergence of Brett Favre from 1993-1994.
He was traded to the expansion Jacksonville Jaguars in 1995, for a third- and fifth- round pick.
After a 4-12 inaugural season (3-7 with Brunell as the starter), the Jags would go 45-19 the next four seasons, making the playoffs all four years.
Brunell took the Jaguars to the AFC Championship game in 1996 and 1999. Brunell lost to the New England Patriots in 1996 (who were later defeated in Super Bowl by Brett Favre's Packers) and the Tennessee Titans in 1999 (who would lose to Kurt Warner's Rams).
Brunell still hold multiple Jaguars franchise records. His career numbers with the Jags are 25,698 yards, 144 touchdowns and a QB rating of 85.3.
Additionally, he leads the Jags with a 63-54 record as a starter. Teammate Jimmy Smith had seven consecutive 1,000+ yard seasons with Brunell as quarterback.
Brunell was also a Pro Bowler in 1996-1997 and 1999 and was named the game's MVP in 1997. Brunell's best season as a Jaguar came in 2000, when he threw for over 3,000 yards and 20 touchdowns.
Brunell, however did throw for over 4,300 yards in 1996, but threw more interceptions than touchdowns and was sacked a league-leading 50 times.
After struggling with a hamstring injury in 2003, Brunell was dealt to the Washington Redskins. During his time in Washington, Brunell would leap frog in and out of the starting role with Patrick Ramsey and Jason Campbell.
In 2006, Brunell set an NFL record with 22 consecutive completions, breaking the 66- year old record set by Hall of Famer Sammy Baugh, who played his entire career with the Redskins.
Brunell was benched for the final time in 2006, after the Skins won only three of their first nine games and he was released following the 2006 season.
Brunell signed with the New Orleans Saints, who had just lost the NFC Championship Game, in hopes of winning a championship.
And in 2009, his strategy paid off.
Brunell appeared in all 16 games as a holder for the 2009 New Orleans Saints and occasionally came into the game for All-Pro, Drew Brees.
As the holder, Brunell had a front-row seat as kicker Garrett Hartley kicked the game-winning field goal in OT against Brett Favre's Minnesota Vikings in the NFC Championship Game.
Brunell's Saints came went into Super Bowl XLIV as four-point underdogs to the Indianapolis Colts, but came away with a 31-17 victory, giving New Orleans its first championship in their 42-year history.
“It was just great, we’ve been waiting a long time for this,” Brunell said after the game. “To be on a championship team this late in my career. … You get 17 years [in the NFL], and you just wonder if you’re ever going to be a part of something like this.”
Brunell, who turns 40 in September, will be a free-agent this off-season and is uncertain about his NFL future.
Despite being a backup, Brunell's leadership and experience had a major impact on the Saints 2009 success and is revered for his example on and off the field.
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