Flirtin' with Disaster: One Theme Song for Each of the NFL's 32 Starting QBs
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No matter how many people extol the virtues of offensive linemen and running backs and remind us that "defense wins championships," there can be no denying that the true rockstars of the NFL are the league's quarterbacks.
From "Broadway" Joe Namath holding court with the press poolside before Super Bowl III to Tom Brady marrying supermodel Gisele Bundchen, quarterbacks have always been at the center of attention in the modern era of professional football. Each QB is one of the faces—if not the face—of his franchise and of the NFL.
As some of the league's most visible players, quarterbacks are assigned personas—whether real or contrived—by NFL fans, writers and even the league itself. It follows that each quarterback deserves his own theme song—a song that captures this persona, the role or character that each field general plays.
Here are those signature tunes for all of the league's starting quarterbacks, from modern day legends like Brady, Ben Roethlisberger and Aaron Rodgers, to single season fill-ins T. J. Yates and Matt Moore.
Eli Manning (New York Giants)
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Prior to the 2004 NFL Draft, Eli Manning pitched a fit about not wanting to play for the San Diego Chargers—the team that held the No. 1 overall pick. His father Archie echoed those sentiments, and lo and behold, the Chargers dealt Manning to the New York Giants, allowing him to play in the nation's biggest market.
In "Fortunate Son," John Fogerty rails against privilege and divisions in Vietnam-era America, decrying the fact that wars are fought by the poor and working class, but not the rich. Not quite using your family's position in the NFL hierarchy to ensure that you play out your career in the Big Apple, but it's the same idea.
Tony Romo (Dallas Cowboys)
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Tony Romo's trials and tribulations during his tenure in Dallas are well-documented. From dropping the snap on a potential game-winning field goal against Seattle in the 2006 wild card round to never getting past the divisional playoffs and amassing a 1-3 lifetime record in the postseason, Romo seems like he can't gain any ground on his critics who claim his play doesn't merit the attention he receives.
Until he plays up to his supposed potential in a game of consequence, he (along with Jerry Jones and Cowboys fans) will be searching for the elusive satisfaction of once again legitimately calling Dallas "America's Team."
Michael Vick & Vince Young (Philadelphia Eagles)
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Each was lauded as the next big thing coming out of college, the perfect iteration of the modern-day, dual threat quarterback and a revolution of sorts. But, as with the progressive revolutions of the Sixties, the verdict is still out on this QB revolution, as Vick's supposed renaissance appears stalled under Andy Reid and locker room unrest.
Meanwhile, Young continues to try to resurrect his career and fulfill his promise coming out of Texas.
Rex Grossman (Washington Redskins)
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Aaron Rodgers (Green Bay Packers)
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There is no question Aaron Rodgers paid his dues before reaching the pinnacle of the football world by leading the Green Bay Packers to a victory in Super Bowl XLV. Not to mention winning the Super Bowl MVP while he was at it.
After being drafted out of Cal by the Packers in the 2005 NFL Draft, he quietly bided his time behind Brett Favre for three seasons, before assuming the starting role in 2008. Since he took over, Rodgers has become not only the game's best passer, but he has also settled into the role of the current and future face of the NFL.
"I Got Mine" tells the story of reaping the benefits of hard work and dedication to one's craft.
Long before the Black Keys were winning Grammy's for their work on 2010's Brothers, they were touring incessantly and recording album after album of incendiary blues rock. After the band gained a certain level of notoriety, they released 2008's Attack and Release, produced by Danger Mouse (of Gnarls Barkley and The Grey Album fame), and "I Got Mine," the album's second track, was a bold statement of triumph in the face of adversity and after great struggle.
Like Rodgers, the Black Keys paid their dues and have been able to stand at the pinnacle of their profession, proclaiming victory.
Jay Cutler (Chicago Bears)
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If your girlfriend/fiance/ex-fiancée/fiancée-again is a former reality TV star, you can't complain when you're associated with the cheesy, bubblegum pop tune that served as her show's theme song.
Matthew Stafford (Detroit Lions)
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Detroit had just finished a historic 0-16 season in 2008 and drafted the new face of the franchise in what appears to have been the first step toward resurrecting a once proud team. Despite the Lions inching closer to a playoff berth after beating the Oakland Raiders in dramatic fashion on Sunday, the jury is still out on whether the Lions will continue to build or if the team truly sold its soul for a few flashes of glory.
Christian Ponder (Minnesota Vikings)
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The Minnesota Vikings' offensive line has been atrocious at protecting their quarterbacks in passing situations during 2011.
According to Football Outsiders, the Vikings' line gives up a sack nearly once every 10 passing plays and ranked second to last in pass protection going into Sunday's game against the New Orleans Saints. In his nine games under center, rookie Christian Ponder has been sacked a total of 28 times. That can't be helpful to Ponder's confidence and development, but it will remain the story until Minnesota bulks up its offensive line.
Drew Brees (New Orleans Saints)
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A classic Southern rock song for the current king of the NFC South and pro football in the Southeast.
Originally drafted by the San Diego Chargers with the first pick in the second round of the 2001 NFL Draft, Drew Brees played second fiddle to Doug Flutie (Yes, Doug Flutie...in 2001) for one season before taking over as the starter from 2002 through 2005.
Following the 2005 season, the Chargers, who were allegedly scared off by Brees undergoing arthroscopic shoulder surgery to repair a torn labrum, offered him an incentive laden contract. Brees instead chose to go on the open market, eventually signing with the New Orleans Saints. The rest, as they say, is history.
Since joining the Saints and their (then) first-year head coach Sean Payton, Brees has been set free, shredding defenses to the tune of 192 touchdowns, 27,698 yards and a 98.0 passer rating. Additionally, he's led the team to three postseasons (with a fourth appearance likely this year) and the organization's first Lombardi Trophy.
Matt Ryan (Atlanta Falcons)
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There's only one theme song for the man who goes by "Matty Ice."
Josh Freeman (Tampa Bay Buccaneers)
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Josh Freeman and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' erratic, disappointing and, at times, bumbling play conjures up thoughts of a drunken pirate who aims his sights on a helpless victim, but can't focus on his target after an evening's worth of rum.
Which makes the theme song from Disney's Pirates of the Caribbean a fine choice indeed.
Cam Newton (Carolina Panthers)
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Kid Cudi's anthem about dodging life's bullets and exercising a certain inalienable right captures Cam Newton's dogged approach to his route to the NFL and to his now burgeoning pro career.
Through the first 14 games of his rookie year, Newton has registered an 82.3 passer rating behind a below-average offensive line against the pass rush, completing nearly 60 percent of his passes and connecting on 17 touchdowns.
That's right—he has thrown touchdowns.
True, he has thrown 16 picks, but Newton has nonetheless shown much promise as a rookie.
Alex Smith (San Francisco 49ers)
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Drafted first overall by the 49ers in the 2005 NFL Draft, Alex Smith spent his first six seasons working under six different offensive coordinators and two defensive-minded head coaches (Mike Nolan and Mike Singletary), while the team limped to a 37-59 record.
With Jim Harbaugh taking over the reins as head coach in 2011, many wondered if he would push Smith out to make room for a quarterback of his choosing. Instead, Harbaugh pledged his support to the oft-maligned Smith, and nearly three-quarters through the season, the 49ers are 11-3 and in the driver's seat for the #2 seed in the NFC.
It would appear that Smith truly is on a path to redemption.
Kevin Kolb (Arizona Cardinals)
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But, after Kolb went down with a concussion in the 2010 season opener, the allegedly reformed Michael Vick took over and never looked back. After this summer's lockout was resolved, Kolb was traded to the Arizona Cardinals, left to wonder what might have been in Philly.
Tarvaris Jackson (Seattle Seahawks)
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After starting 21 games for the Minnesota Vikings during the 2007 and 2008 seasons, Tarvaris Jackson toiled for two more years on the team's bench after Brett Favre gave Green Bay fans everywhere a giant middle finger and signed with his longtime archrival.
A free agent last offseason, Jackson signed a two-year deal with the Seattle Seahawks and left behind the messy situation in Minnesota—the Twin Cities are coping with Favre's ignominious exit, Leslie Frazier being installed as the permanent head coach and the questionable future of the franchise in Minneapolis.
"Rearviewmirror"—a sonic masterpiece off Pearl Jam's 1993 sophomore effort Vs.—perfectly captures the feeling of watching your past fade into the distance as you seek out a new beginning. Seattle fans can only hope Jackson has found that fresh start and left his past behind for greener pastures under head coach Pete Carroll.
Sam Bradford (St. Louis Rams)
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If he doesn't right the ship soon, Sam Bradford is destined to end up back in Oklahoma talking about his high school and college triumphs, probably shilling for a used car dealership or insurance agency. Fortunately for Bradford, he'll also have some spare time to count the 50 million guaranteed dollars that he is set to receive from the Rams.
Tom Brady (New England Patriots)
It's tough to narrow the list of songs for Tom Brady down to one—the man is the best quarterback of this generation and an immediately recognizable icon of American sports. But it's undeniable that Tom Terrific will forever be associated with U2.
In Super Bowl XXXVI—the first after 9/11—the Pats beat the Rams on a last-second field goal to complete an improbable run that began with Brady stepping in as the starter when Drew Bledsoe went down with an injury in Week 2.
Who played halftime at that Super Bowl? U2, of course.
Bono and company (who were riding the wave of success created by their comeback album All That You Can't Leave Behind) played a scorching halftime set consisting of "Beautiful Day," "MLK" and "Where The Streets Have No Name."
After "Beautiful Day," the names of those fallen on 9/11 ran in a scroll behind the band and tears flowed freely in living rooms across the country. When Bono opened his jacket to reveal its stars-and-stripes lining during the last song, the collective head of post-9/11 America exploded with good will and resolve.
All of this right in the middle of Brady's coming out party.
The look of sheer joy and disbelief on his face during the trophy ceremony is one of the great images in the NFL's history, and in many New Englander's minds, "Beautiful Day" is blaring in the background.
Mark Sanchez (New York Jets)
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One of the lighter songs from Living Colour, the jazz/funk/hard rock/metal fusion pioneers, "Glamour Boys" is about those among us with tons of style, but little substance.
Mark Sanchez may be a media darling playing under the bright lights of New York, but his stats don't lie. With a career passer rating of 74.3 and nearly as many interceptions as touchdowns (46 to 52), he better hope the modeling jobs keep flowing in after his playing days are over.
Ryan Fitzpatrick (Buffalo Bills)
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It's only fitting that the sole Ivy Leaguer on the list, current Buffalo Bills quarterback and Harvard alumnus Ryan Fitzpatrick, is assigned "Oxford Comma"—a song referencing an obscure grammatical term by a band of indie art rockers who met at another Ivy League school (Columbia).
The song's opening line ("Who gives a f*** about an Oxford comma?") sets it on its course as an irreverent comment on, well, not giving a f***.
Matt Moore (Miami Dolphins)
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Matt Moore has been a ramblin' man since heading to college at UCLA in 2002. After starting off-and-on for two seasons with the Bruins, he spent a year in junior college before transferring to Oregon State, where he posted two solid seasons and was ultimately named an All Pac-10 Honorable Mention in 2006.
Unselected in the 2007 NFL Draft, Moore signed as a free agent with the Dallas Cowboys, who promptly waived him before the start of the season. The Carolina Panthers picked him up off waivers and he started 13 games for the team over four years.
A free agent heading into the 2011 season, Moore signed with the Dolphins as Chad Henne's backup, only to find himself thrust into the starting role when Henne went down for the season in Week 4. Since taking over as starter, he has led the Dolphins to a 5-5 record.
Moore is under contract with the Dolphins for 2012, but with the 2012 NFL Draft's depth at quarterback, it's likely Moore will be gone, at latest, after 2012, left again to hunt for a new home.
Ben Roethlisberger (Pittsburgh Steelers)
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Even if the allegations aren't true, Ben Roethlisberger was dumb enough (and creepy enough) to get himself into two unfortunate situations within a two-year period.
As a Steelers fan, it pains me to admit that one of the franchise's two legendary quarterbacks will forever be tainted because of, at best, his own inability to recognize a bad situation when presented with one. And, at the very worst, well, I'd rather not discuss the worst.
I'll just keep telling myself that no charges were filed.
Joe Flacco (Baltimore Ravens)
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Now, in his fourth season overall, as well as his fourth as a starter, he has yet to lead the Ravens back to the promised land for the first time since the 2000 season. The team will be singing the blues until Flacco does so and Deer Tick's most recognizable song, off their 2008 debut album War Elephant, captures that sense of desperation.
Andy Dalton (Cincinnati Bengals)
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Six of the team's seven home games have been blacked out, only selling out their November 13 showdown with the Pittsburgh Steelers. Recently, the Bengals failed to fill Paul Brown Stadium for their game against in-state rival, the Cleveland Browns.
Colt McCoy (Cleveland Browns)
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After two years and 21 losses (and counting) in Cleveland, you've gotta think that Colt McCoy is pining for his glory days playing football on Saturdays at the University of Texas, being idolized by an entire state and playing his games in front of a stadium full of rabid fans.
Did I mention his Longhorns only lost eight games in four years with Colt as the starter?
T. J. Yates (Houston Texans)
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Wait, who's playing quarterback for the Texans now?
T. J. Yates, former UNC Tarheel and 152nd overall pick in the 2011 NFL Draft, is under center for Houston after Matt Schaub and Matt Leinart went down for the season. Despite being the proverbial last kid on the bench, Yates has handled the role of starter ably, going 3-1 and helping the team clinch the franchise's first AFC South championship.
Matt Hasselbeck (Tennessee Titans)
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Blaine Gabbert (Jacksonville Jaguars)
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Sorry Jags fans, but it's a reality you may very well have to face.
Yes, the Vikings could end up in Los Angeles or maybe the current movement to return the NFL to the City of Angels will fall short. But with the NFL starving to return the game to the country's second largest market and Minnesota having a longer, substantially more distinguished history in the league, odds are the Jags will go if any team goes.
Dan Orlovsky (Indianapolis Colts)
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Or, if you prefer...
Orlovsky and the Colts may have taken home their first victory of the season against the Titans last Sunday, but you shouldn't expect to see much change with this former UConn Husky taking over for the wretched Curtis Painter.
Carson Palmer (Oakland Raiders)
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This lesser-known song off the "Loser"-producing album Mellow Gold is a tale of professional disenchantment—a middle finger directed at all the terrible bosses in the world.
Think Judge Reinhold flipping out at three jobs in Fast Times at Ridgemont High or Scarface telling off (nearly) everyone at "His Royal Beefiness" in Half Baked.
Palmer joined that group of disgruntled employees this past offseason, finally snapping after nine seasons in Cincinnati, requesting a trade, allegedly refusing to set foot in Paul Brown Stadium again and eventually forcing his way out via trade to the Oakland Raiders.
Philip Rivers (San Diego Chargers)
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No quarterback is caught whining more often than Philip Rivers.
Whether he's begging for a call, yelling at a ref or pouting on the sidelines, Rivers appears to think that a crime has been committed anytime something doesn't go his way. One of these days, you half expect him to take the ball and go home.
Matt Cassel (Kansas City Chiefs)
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After graduating high school in 2001, Matt Cassel quietly bided his time at USC (behind both Carson Palmer and Matt Leinart) and with the New England Patriots, not starting another game until Tom Brady tore his ACL and MCL in the 2008 opener.
A patient boy he was, making his presence felt immediately when given the opportunity and helping the Patriots to an 11-5 record. With Brady's return imminent, Cassel was traded to Kansas City, where he has since held the starter's role.
Tim Tebow (Denver Broncos)
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Submitted without comment.