For some reason NFL teams have started this trend that if you are 35 or older, you no longer have the right to be a starting quarterback. Whether you have shown sings of deterioration or not is irrelevant because franchises seem to think that training a young quarterback, who they deem “the future of the franchise” is more important. Because of this, guys who still are better than average quarterbacks are stuck behind mediocre youngsters without even the possibility of competing for the starting job. Let’s look at some of the guys who were thrust into a backup role too quickly.
Far from a superstar, Frerotte has bounced around the league as a backup ever since he left the Redskins in 1998. I’m not saying that he should have started everywhere, but definitely in 2008. In ’08, the Vikings had him and young question mark Tarvaris Jackson (“question mark” is being nice because he showed almost no sign of being even a decent quarterback). Instead of having a competition, the Vikings chose to give the reigns of a potentially great team to the youngster and put Frerotte on the bench. The result? Jackson was terrible in an 0-2 start and was benched for Gus, who went 8-3 in his 11 starts until an injury ended his season. This begs the question, “If Childress was so quick to pull Jackson after two games, why was he the starter to begin with?”
Collins has been a career backup everywhere he went. In Washington, he was never even mentioned as a contender for the job and even had to work hard to be the backup, as fans anointed Colt Brennan as the next big thing (they had already given up on Jason Campbell even in 2007). After losing four straight going into week 14, the Redskins were in a total free fall and emotionally unstable from the tragic death Sean Taylor. In a week 14 game against Chicago, Campbell went down with an injury and Collins came in as a nobody. Collins not only led the Redskins to a comeback win, but won the next three and clinched a spot in the playoffs. The Skins would lose to the Seahawks in the first round, but Collins had proven he could be a valuable asset. Despite out performing Campbell in the four games, Todd wasn’t even given the possibility to compete for the starting job in training camp.
This guy is one of the most underrated quarterbacks ever. After a tough 2004 season, he signed with the Detroit Lions to be Joey Harringtons backup. JOEY HARRINGTON! After that stay, he signed with the Eagles to back up Donovan McNabb and when McNabb went down, Garcia showed he was still starter-quality by leading the then 5-5 team to the second round of the playoffs. Garcia was finally given another opportunity to start in Tampa and showed he was worth it. He posted two seasons with a passer rating of above 90 and even made the pro bowl in 2007. Despite this success, Tampa would even resign him because of his age and he is now unable to compete for a job. He was even cut this year because the Raiders because they had JaMarcus Russell and had faith in their young quarterback (fail).
Can you believe that in 2003, the St. Louis Rams let Warner go because they wanted to start Marc Bulger? Yea, let that soak in. After the former MVP was dumped, what happened? He was signed by New York…not to be their starter, but to simply hold the job until rookie Eli Manning was ready. After that season was over, the Cardinals did the same thing with him when they drafted Matt Leinart. It is very lucky for the Cardinals that Warner was there because Leinart has been nothing short of terrible and Warner got the job despite being “too old.” Since then, Warner has single handedly led a team with a tradition of failure to two division titles and even a Super Bowl appearance. Think about this, Warner led the Cardinal to an NFC championship five years after the Rams, and then the Giants, thought he was too old to start.
After spending his entire career as the leader of the Titans, he saw himself instantly being replaced by Vince Young. Not only did Tennessee not consult him on this, but they actually told him they wanted him to mentor the very guy that was going to replace him. One he said he didn’t want to and that he thought he still had talent, they banned him from the facilities and cut him. McNair was then signed by the Ravens who needed a quarterback that could win now, instead of later, and got just what they wanted. He led the team to a 13-3 record and even got to bean his old team 27-26 by throwing for 375 yards and three touchdowns.
I end with this guy because he defines my entire argument and everyone knows his story. After basically being forced to retire by the Packers after losing in the 2008 NFC Championship game, Favre decided to comeback to the dismay of the Packers, who were ready to start the Aaron Rodgers era. After a giant fiasco, Favre was traded to the Jets and had a mediocre season, where they started out brilliant and then faded in the final weeks to miss the playoffs. While that is far from an eff-you to the Packers, what he did this year was. Signing with the Vikings, Favre beat the Packers twice and is a game away from going to the Super Bowl. He is having one of his best seasons ever, and is showing everyone that age doesn’t matter.
I don’t know why teams are so quick to dump old quarterbacks so quickly. It is one thing to do it if you are the Lions last year and are rebuilding for success in three or four years, but when a team has the ability to be good now, why give the reigns to a young, unproven guy. Look at this year’s Jets. I’m not saying Mark Sanchez is going to be great, I’m just saying that he should be the starter this season, when the defense and running game are that of a Super Bowl contender. Why didn’t they bring in a veteran like Garcia to compete with instead of another young guy like Kellen Clemens?