Tuesday, January 13, 2009

In Praise of Gus Frerotte

Call me a dreamer, but for a while there I was hoping Gus Frerotte might lead the Minnesota Vikings to the Super Bowl.

I've been a fan of Frerotte's since he beat out Heath Shuler as the Washington Redskins' quarterback in 1995. Shuler was a first-round draft pick--number three overall. Frerotte was drafted in the seventh round, the 197th player picked.

I'm not going to pretend Frerotte is one of the greatest quarterbacks ever, though he's one of only two players drafted in the seventh round (in 1994) to play in the Pro Bowl. That was in 1996, and I don't think he's been back since. In 15 years in the league, he's played with seven teams.

He's got a 74.2 quarterback rating and, unfortunately, he's probably going to be best remembered for butting his head into a wall during a game against the New York Giants. He was feeling good because the Skins had scored. He sprained his neck.

But this season, in his second stint with the Minnesota Vikings, he took over for Tavaris Jackson--Minnesota's second-round pick. Frerotte went 8-3 and threw a 99-yard touchdown pass in November to tie the NFL record. The Vikings finished 10-6 to go to the playoffs. Jackson was 2-3. He took over when Frerotte broke two bones in his back, and the Vikings lost in the playoffs.

The thing is that while superstars like Tom Brady or Terrell Owens get all the attention, our own achievements are more akin to Frerotte's or those of Redskin James Thrash, an undrafted free agent who's been in the league since 1997. To my mind, what makes Frerotte (and Thrash) so special, is that they go out and do their jobs, without whining, without complaining like too many of the superstars

The Post's Mike Wise put it this way in a column about Daniel Eugene Ruettiger, the Rudy of the movie "Rudy": "[W]e get so consumed by the destination sometimes that we forget it's really about the journey--that it's not always where you end up in life; sometimes it's about the heart and courage you show in between."

Then there's this: A few years back, in his first stint with the Vikings, Frerotte had an incredible game with an unbelievable quarterback rating. Afterwards, in the locker room, he was asked what he could do next week to top it.

"Never play again?" he said.

1 comment:

Rachel said...

I read your great piece in the Post today, and I had to stop by. As a perpetually dejected Vikings fan, I'm glad I did. :)

Great blog!