The position of quarterback in the National Football League is perhaps the toughest to scout. No amount of physical tools or level of success in Division I college football can make up for the certain “it” factor only identifiable when you get a guy onto NFL turf at crunch time. If you don’t believe me, just ask Mark Sanchez. The Golden Boy did it all at the University of Southern California. He threw for over 3000 yards during his junior year drawing the draft attention of every NFL team that needed a franchise quarterback to lead their respective squads to glory. The New York Jets won the the competition for the blue chipper by drafting him 5th overall in 2009. That Sanchez kid had it all — he was a starting quarterback in the nation’s largest market, he was even dating Jamie Lynn Sigler better known to non-HBO subscribers as Meadow Soprano. The problem for Mark, however, was that he couldn’t get things done when the whistle blew and he needed to perform on the field. He struggled mightily and benched several times, he was even the victim of internet download lore by being the star performer in one of the biggest NFL bloopers of all time. Just google, “Butt Fumble,” and you’ll see exactly what I’m talking about. Go ahead and look it up… I’ll wait here. Okay, see what I mean? That terrible, terrible, TERRIBLE play is what he’ll be remembered for in the Big Apple. He lost his job in NYC and then bounced around the league. Now he’s riding the bench in Dallas, more than likely very satisfied to still collect a paycheck eight years after being a draft-day bust. The poor son of a gun probably didn’t even get an invitation to Meadow’s wedding when she married one of Lenny Dykstra’s kids last year for God’s sake.
Mark Sanchez’s story isn’t really unique. For every Heisman Trophy-winning stud like Cam Newton, there are dozens of guys like Gino Torretta, Jason White, and Matt Leinhart who had their quarterbacking careers peak just before they left the comfort of campus. The flip side of the Mark Sanchez story can be seen in another breed of quarterback in the mold of the great Warren Moon. The talented signal caller went untouched after the NFL Draft and had to go work in Canada before getting an NFL job years later. He shined brightly in the city of Houston and went on to a dazzling NFL career, capped off with his Hall of Fame enshrinement.
Many great NFL field generals felt the cold shoulder of professional scouts on draft day, only to achieve great success. Tony Romo wouldn’t have even been allowed into the NFL Draft arena if he didn’t have a ticket. I guarantee that he wouldn’t even have been recognized by any of the NFL general managers of the day, and his draft day experience was spent waiting by a phone that wouldn’t ring, but like any truly great success story, it only takes one person to give you a chance at the brass ring. Cowboys coach, Bill Parcells, gave Romo that window of opportunity to be his third string quarterback in Dallas. He took advantage of every chance given until he won the starting job in Big D and went on to be one of the most beloved players ever for America’s Team.
If you are a young quarterback that feels spurned by the big time college scouts, just try to keep in mind that Warren Moon and Tony Romo, along with other greats like Kurt Warner, were in that same position and turned things around in their favor. Be a Moon, not a Sanchez.