Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Incomplete Passes Lead to Complete Successes


By Mark Brunell

(Brunell is a veteran NFL QB who has started over 150 games for both the Jacksonville Jaguars and Washington Redskins. At one point he was a dynamic athlete at the QB position and a pro bowl performer. For the last three seasons he’s skippered the Redskins offense with a noodle arm and good, Christian values…and a propensity to give up on a play almost immediately after the ball is snapped.)

The ball is snapped. And immediately four to seven extremely large, sweaty, usually black men are running at you, their only goal to toss your person forcefully to the ground. No, this isn’t some nightmarish, medieval tale of barbarianism and torture. It is simply life as an NFL signal caller—a life I've lived since 1994.

Surviving almost 160 NFL starts is something in which I take great pride. After a brief stint in Green Bay playing behind Brett Favre, I was shipped off to Jacksonville with the daunting task of skippering a nascent NFL franchise, the expansion Jacksonville Jaguars--under Coach Tom Coughlin, a tremendous God fearing leader. Few things threaten a QB’s life expectancy more than playing for an expansion franchise, often behind a makeshift offensive line, but back in those days I was fleet enough of foot to escape most pressure before taking too many punishing blows. We enjoyed some great years in Jacksonville, culminating in our magical playoff run in ’96; and I will always look back on those days fondly.

Then, in the spring of ’04, as my career had clearly made the turn onto the back nine, as they say, I received a phone call I had never expected. It was Hall of Fame Coach “Joe” Gibbs, who had come out of retirement to again coach the Washington Redskins. To my astonishment, Coach Gibbs explained that he wanted me to be his quarterback.

Coach and I talked for hours that night—we discussed all manner of things: our love of Christ and clean living, and most notably—our shared hatred of turnovers of any kind. I’ve thrown 106 interceptions in my career, and am certain that Satan had a hand in every one of them. Coach Gibbs asked me if I thought I could avoid INTs whenever humanly possible, if he gave me the reigns to this team, and I assured him that I thought that I could.

And it was at this moment that I had an epiphany: You know where interceptions never take place? Out of bounds. Yes, it’s so true, and yet so simple. This moment was the beginning of what has now been an almost four year love affair I’ve had with throwing the ball out of bounds.

It’s undeniable that there is a serene beauty to watching a ball safely sail deep into the sidelines, where you can rest assured nothing bad will happen. I’ve encountered many a 3rd and 9 behind center here with the Redskins, and have almost always avoided successfully turnovers in those situations. Now, some will argue that I’ve also avoided first downs, but to be fair—what’s more important: one measly first down, or maintaining the right to return the ball to the opposition on our terms? I think that’s a pretty simple answer.

Some who don’t understand how these things work have pointed out to me that the year I threw the most interceptions (20) was the best year of my career (1996), when I passed for 4400 yards, rushed for 400, had a completion percentage of over 63% and averaged an insane 7.8 yards per attempt. These people just don’t “get it.” 20 interceptions? That’s more than one a game! I'm frankly surprised our team was able to persevere through that level of constant hardship—yet we did…all the way to the AFC Championship Game, come to think of it…though I attribute that all to the Lord’s grace in allowing us overcome my sinful INTs.

So, the next time you see me, whether it be in a preseason game or the regular season…or a backyard touch game at the church picnic, launching one skyward towards nothing and no one—make sure to reap the beauty of it. No one’s taking our ball a way—not on my watch. You can rest assured of that.

God Bless,


Mark

81 Comments:

At 10:04 AM, Blogger Greg said...

Dear Churchie LeFemme,
As a devout Christian, aren't you concerned about playing for a team whose mascot is a dirt-worshipping heathen? What kind of message are you sending to our kids?--That it's okay to be a Native American? Shame on you, sir!!!

Signed,
Pious in Potomac

 
At 10:14 AM, Blogger aaron said...

Couldn't we say "the Lord" instead of "Christ." I mean, Christ, I'm starting to feel marginalized.

Signed,
Man 'O Manichevitz

 
At 10:18 AM, Blogger Geoff said...

Mmmm...sacrilicious...

 
At 11:00 AM, Blogger Jerry said...

If Mark returns, maybe we can get him to describe his interactions with his skill position teammates.

 
At 11:13 AM, Blogger Clark said...

This list has Brunell ranked as the 23rd best QB of all time.

http://www.armchairgm.com/index.php?title=The_100_Greatest_Quarterbacks_of_the_Modern_Era

That's absurd on its face, but his lifetime stats are actually a lot better than you would think...

 
At 11:37 AM, Blogger Mark said...

I haven't taken the time to look at the website yet. Could anybody tell me where Elvis Grbac ranks? Very near the top, I'm sure.

 
At 11:48 AM, Blogger Greg said...

I like how the website calls Kurt Warner "The Spice Girls of Quarterbacks".

It's got Mark Brunell ahead of Namath, Aikman & Theismann.

 
At 11:50 AM, Blogger Geoff said...

And Elvis just missed the top 100.

 
At 11:54 AM, Blogger TJ said...

Browning Nagle is #101 I'm sure...

 
At 1:48 PM, Blogger Carter said...

Redskins Record over the last 5 years...

2006 5-11
2005 10-6
2004 6-10
2003 5-11
2002 7-9

Besides the 2005 run...just not that good of a football team. How can the skins brass still hold on to Cerrato and not hire a true GM? The system doesnt work.

 
At 2:28 PM, Blogger Geoff said...

You know, Cerrato is most likely an idiot (he certainly sounds like one) but I was thinking about this last night, while watching the Gumbel to Gumbel interview PacMan (Jones, not Billingham)--in an odd way, the Redskins kind of dodged some bullets with some of their high draft picks. In '01, had the Browns not picked him, they could have ended up with Courtney Brown...who was probably even worse than Lavar. And two years ago, there was a serious chance they could have picked Pac Man...but they got rogers instead. Sure, he's not very good either...but it seems a better scenario than dealing with Mr. Jones. So, that's my first Redskins "glass half full" thought in a while.

Other than that, Gibbs is more afraid to fail than he is hungry to win, and that's why they suck. I actually think they have sufficient talent in enough areas to compete.

 
At 3:19 PM, Blogger Geoff said...

Tthe inspiration for my 2007 fantasy team name "Thick Ropey Braids of Urine":

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U-hMU8dwbtI

 
At 3:40 PM, Blogger Mark said...

If Pacman still has an agent, he needs to keep him off TV, forever.

He couldn't have come off as more smug and unapologetic during that interview if he tried. Well, that's not entirely true. He could've walked in to the room with some strippers walking pit bulls while his entourage sprayed them with champagne. Other than that though, he really nailed the huge douchebag angle.

 
At 3:50 PM, Blogger Geoff said...

I liked when Bryant just kept rattling off all the charges and PacMan would just say "not guilty" over and over again. Very compelling. The guy who ran the Louisiana backwoods dogfighting operation came out looking like he was more on the up and up.

 
At 3:55 PM, Blogger TNT said...

I just like Gumble, in a very serious tone and manner, asking PacMan, "Did you make it rain?" And then PacMan saying, in "English" worse than most immigrants, he didn't know how make it rain was being defined. Once given a definition by Gumble he conceded he did in fact make it rain. Gold.

 
At 3:59 PM, Blogger Mark said...

Geoff, that dog fighter LOVED his dogs. He really loved them. I can't believe you'd intimate he's not a reputable character.

 
At 4:12 PM, Blogger Geoff said...

He loved his dogs like OJ loved Nicole...and to a lesser extent Ron...

You have to admit, Real Sports brings it every friggin time. Oh, and programming note--Hard Knocks episode #2 tonite.

 
At 4:27 PM, Blogger Mark said...

I agree. I never seem to know when its on (I'm sure its not hard to figure out) but I immediately change to it when it appears on the guide.

I posted a little column on the first episode of Hard Knocks earlier today.

 
At 10:53 PM, Blogger Geoff said...

Dear Herm Edwards,

I'm watching Hard Knocks. I'm not buying your schtick.

Sincerely,

Geoff

 
At 9:14 AM, Blogger Geoff said...

Big article in today's Post about how Brunell and Todd Collins are in a battle to see who will back up Campbell. If anything, that is a damning indictment of the Skins overall QB situation. You have Brunell, who has looked as impotent as a Nevada Gaming Commissioner in all recent action...and you have Todd F'ing Collins, who last started a game in 1997. Ironically, the last game he started was a week 16 1997 game against the Jaguars...and...Mark Brunell...which aired on NBA and was followed up with the post game show, and then repeats of NewsRadio and Caroline in the City.

 
At 9:26 AM, Blogger Geoff said...

and by NBA I of course mean NBC...and not "The NBA on NBC" or the catchy John Tesh theme song.

 
At 9:38 AM, Blogger Greg said...

I "read" in this morning's USA Today that Pacman Jones is entering the world of hip-hop. Let me guess, his "lyrics" will largely reference: money, cars, fame, haters and women. Naturally, he'll be shilling some hyper-luxury brand names: Gucci, Prada, etc.

 
At 9:53 AM, Blogger Geoff said...

I'm just glad Adam is staying busy. Idle hands are the devil's playground...which is ironically the name of the gentleman's club PacMan will be at this evening.

 
At 9:55 AM, Blogger Geoff said...

This seems like a show Greg probably really enjoyed in his youth.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=px5njG8ikvo

 
At 10:36 AM, Blogger Greg said...

Pro-Stars...Pro-Stars...I've got that song in my head now.

Were I around for it, I'm sure I would have loved it.

 
At 11:14 AM, Blogger Mark said...

So Michael Jordan had rockets in his shoes all this time? What a cheater. Is there nothing legitimate about the NBA?

 
At 2:04 PM, Blogger Geoff said...

No one really has the brass balls to erect (ngs) a pro abortion billboard featuring a coat hanger...right? Or not...

http://wcbstv.com/topstories/local_story_227221809.html

 
At 2:40 PM, Blogger Greg said...

I'm sure I know the guy who came up with that. He's in my brother's fraternity.

 
At 2:55 PM, Blogger rob said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

 
At 2:56 PM, Blogger rob said...

deleted stupid political comment. return to your regularly scheduled sacrilege.

 
At 2:59 PM, Blogger Geoff said...

Thanks to Dan Steinberg of the Post's SportBog for linking to this post. We need the dues...

 
At 3:03 PM, Blogger Geoff said...

And I don't know if it's a coincidence or not that I commented about the last Collins start being against Brunell about an hour before Stein did...but even if it's not I'll take it as a compliment.

 
At 3:29 PM, Blogger Geoff said...

Recent search that brought someone to the Wheelhouse--"Pat Summit's girlfriend"

 
At 4:17 PM, Blogger Whitney said...

That's just wrong.

How they spelled "Summitt," I mean.

 
At 8:57 AM, Blogger TJ said...

So, who among you thinks the preseason needs to end immediately?

 
At 8:57 AM, Blogger Geoff said...

Jason Campbell's okay. Marcus Washington's okay. I'm okay...though I will be in a third world nation this time next week...

 
At 8:59 AM, Blogger Geoff said...

I got home from NY pretty late last night and watched the Skins game--my first half review: Offense looked like a strong B right up until JC's knee almost exploded. Defense looked scrumtralescent and frisky. Todd Collins is light year better than Mark Brunell. Second half: Zzzzzzzzzzzzz...

 
At 9:15 AM, Blogger TJ said...

And Jerry's boys had guys dropping like flies last night...

 
At 9:27 AM, Blogger Geoff said...

Yeah, Michael Jennings is the only one that sounds major...and I don't think he was a huge part of their plans.

 
At 9:31 AM, Blogger TJ said...

Speaking of injuries, the Falcons lost D.J. Shockley over the weekend, meaning this is their trifling QB trio:
Joey Harrington
Chris Redman
Casey Bramlett

Bobby Petrino is counting the days until he can draft Brian Brohm with the #1 overall pick.

 
At 10:22 AM, Blogger Geoff said...

Snyder raised the price of beer this season up to $8--highest in the league. However, a punch in the face as you enter the stadium is still free.

 
At 10:24 AM, Blogger Geoff said...

So Michael Strahan is going to come back to the Giants later this week? Shocking. I really thought he was gonna sit the year out or retire...and do auto dealership commercials so he could pay his wife the $14 million he owes her.

 
At 11:03 AM, Blogger Geoff said...

Why does the ESPN Fantasy Football Hall of Fame only induct players that no one would ever start unless confronted with a litany of injuries? Mike Alstott? Maurice Jones Drew? Are Greg Jennings and David Garrard going in next week?

 
At 11:25 AM, Blogger Mark said...

You might want to take a look at Jones-Drew's numbers from last year Geoff. He put up 13 TDs and served as a great #2 RB for much of the second half of the season.

 
At 11:28 AM, Blogger TJ said...

I would think the injuries to playboy Will Demps and Sam Madison are a bigger concern than the Jennings injury.

 
At 11:32 AM, Blogger Geoff said...

Mark, I know--he lit up the Skins for a couple hundred all purpose yards. But Fantasy Hall of Fame?

 
At 11:37 AM, Blogger Mark said...

I get your point. I think ESPN is trying to make a big deal out of the fact that he put up those numbers despite not being drafted in just about any league last year.

 
At 11:44 AM, Blogger Mark said...

Why the fuck am I defending ESPN? I must still be drunk from last night.

 
At 11:47 AM, Blogger Geoff said...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hQyFT3ANbUA

Joe Theismann loves muff diving.

 
At 12:20 PM, Blogger Greg said...

I hope he knows it's poor etiquette to wear headphones while engaging in said activity.

 
At 1:02 PM, Blogger TNT said...

One of the links on the video was to Theismann getting his leg broken. I forgot how visually disturbing that event was.

 
At 1:44 PM, Blogger Geoff said...

Really? I remember it as a bittersweet moment that led to the legendary emergence of Jay Schroeder.

 
At 1:53 PM, Blogger Geoff said...

Someone just came here searching for this:

chef "geoff burr"

 
At 3:05 PM, Blogger Geoff said...

Mike Vick...pleading guilty. Career...over. If you take a step back and think about that, it's an amazingly big deal.

 
At 3:13 PM, Blogger Mark said...

Yep. I know everybody is pretty sick of the story but its a staggering fall from grace when you consider where Vick's career was just five years ago and the seemingly limitless possibilities (both on and off the field) it presented.

Personally, I can't wait until ESPN makes the story into a movie starring Nick Cannon in five or six years.

 
At 3:21 PM, Blogger Geoff said...

I'm going with Mehki Pfifer. And seriously, a number one overall draft pick will be in jail, probably for something like two years, and will then be suspended by the NFL for a year or two. It's insane. Apparently the word is that the NFL will suspend him for something like 4 or 5 years and will allow half of their suspension to run concurrently with the prison sentence.

 
At 3:22 PM, Blogger Greg said...

This is a really huge deal. He's going to spend close to a year in jail and might finish up his career in Canada.

What I don't get is the groups that are pledging support for Michael Vick. Idiots.

 
At 3:25 PM, Blogger Greg said...

Too bad Vincent Schiavelli is no longer alive to play Arthur Blank.

 
At 3:26 PM, Blogger chip said...

Anyone want to bet Vick doesn't SERVE 12 months?

He'll miss this season and next for sure. That's probably it. He will never be a star for anything other than his crimes again, but I assume he will be a back up and maybe starter for a bad team three seasons from now.

 
At 3:28 PM, Blogger RK said...

Wow, that's huge-ngs. And didn't Vick just recently sign a monster new contract? What happens to the "guaranteed" bonus part of that now? Do the Falcons have a force majeur clause for unexpected legal meltdowns so they can keep their money?

 
At 3:29 PM, Blogger Geoff said...

I feel pretty confident he'll be sentenced to at least 2 years, if only because the three gentleman who were to testify against all got 12-15 months. Now, to Chip's point, even if he's sentenced to 3 years, he'll probably serve something like 8 months.

 
At 3:30 PM, Blogger Geoff said...

If the league suspends Vick, the Falcons have the ability to void his contract and also recover some of his signing bonus.

 
At 3:33 PM, Blogger chip said...

The latest ESPN piece says that fed prosecuters were SEEKING 12-18 months, didn't specify if that's what they wanted period or for a guilty plea. Even if that's true that was their price for a guilty plea, that means he will certainly not serve a year. WHat's not clear is whether they intially sought 12-18, which could mean he coule be sentenced to 6-9 with the plea, and end up serving a couple. I doubt it, those numbers don't comport to what we were hearing all month. But regardless, I think the most likely outcome is he sits out this year and next only.

 
At 3:33 PM, Blogger Mark said...

Yeah, Mekhi Pfifer is a better pick. I know everyone seems to think that he'll play (even if only as a backup) again in the NFL but I'm not so sure. He's completely untouchable at this point. How could you ever sell him to your fans after this? Plus, who wants to take that kind of risk for a QB who was a below average passer and leadet, at his best?

Ray Lewis was the best defensive player in the game at the time of his arrest so he's worth the risk and possible PR hit. Vick, not so much.

 
At 3:34 PM, Blogger Geoff said...

Never mind--he is going to get 12-18 months, and he will be required to serve 87% (seriously) in a prison and the remainder in a halfway house, by statute. So he will serve a minimum of 10.5 months in prison.

 
At 3:35 PM, Blogger Geoff said...

Andy Pollin this morning suggested that when Vick returns, it may not be as a QB. It sounds ridiculous but might kind of make sense.

 
At 3:37 PM, Blogger Geoff said...

Roger Cossack seems to think that this particular judge may increase the jail time agreed upon by the federal prosecutors and Vick's people.

 
At 3:40 PM, Blogger Geoff said...

Wizard DeShawn Stevenson is in trouble again:

A man was shot at the home of a professional basketball player early Monday morning, according to the Orange County Sheriff's Office.

The shooting happened at the home of DeShawn Stevenson, a guard with the Washington Wizards and former player with the Orlando Magic, officials said.

Investigators said they were called to 1348 Lake Whitney Drive after someone reported shots fired at the home. Stevenson was at the home during the shooting, along with Brandon Hunter, a forward with the Cleveland Cavaliers, a third man identified as Richard Millsap, and a woman identified as Jennifer Calderon.

 
At 3:52 PM, Blogger Geoff said...

after reading Don Bank's comments on how groundbreakingly dumb Vick is, I just really enjoyed a clip of a local Atlanta reporter asking Vick "In the end, do you believe you will be exonerated?" Vick immediately appears nervous...looks both ways...pauses...and says "Ummm...no comment." Yep--no clue what it means.

 
At 3:52 PM, Blogger Mark said...

According to reports, Stevenson was asleep at the time of the incident. It looks like he's only guilty of hanging out with idiots like Brandon Hunter and allowing him (and friends) to bring skanks home to his house.

 
At 3:53 PM, Blogger Geoff said...

John Clayton just said that best case scenario, from what he hears, is that Vick will be back on the football field for the 2010 season. He'll be 30.

 
At 3:54 PM, Blogger Geoff said...

DeShawn, and his best friend "DeShaun" (seriously) we're arrested for statutory rape and kidnapping back when he was on the Jazz and the two DeShawns were found in a hotel room with a couple 17 year olds. He's no stranger to trouble.

 
At 4:02 PM, Blogger Mark said...

I'm well aware of DeShawn's previous run-ins. I was just pointing out that he (supposedly) wasn't involved in this incident.

Don't forget that he was also involved in huge fight at a high school in Fresno (during a dunk contest or something that he attended as a spectator) just days after being drafted by the Jazz.

 
At 4:05 PM, Blogger Geoff said...

I still think DeShawn is a relatively ok guy. He was 19 and his buddy was 18 when they got caught with the 17 year olds. And the kidnapping charge was dropped...and was pretty preposterous from all accounts.

 
At 4:18 PM, Blogger Mark said...

I tend to agree. He managed to stay out of trouble in Utah, which, I can't say confidently I'd be able to accomplish.

 
At 4:21 PM, Blogger Greg said...

Richard Millsap and Jennifer Calderon went to Eau Gallie High School.

 
At 4:36 PM, Blogger Jerry said...

I'd like to see Vick come back to the CFL or Arena Ball or whatever the 3rd tier league is when he gets out of the can. It would be pretty fun to watch him run circles around drunk Canadians.

 
At 4:37 PM, Blogger Mark said...

Yes! I'm waaay too excited by that news.

How did you find that out?

 
At 4:39 PM, Blogger Mark said...

Vick would be the real life version of his former Madden character (circa two years ago, give or take) in the CFL. That would be fun to watch.

Maybe we'll all be such a big deal by then that we'll be able to score soem press credentials and attend his first game and then go get hammered and attend the ballet.

 
At 4:41 PM, Blogger Geoff said...

The Canadian ballet is no joke...the Canadian money, on the other hand, is hilarious.

 
At 6:25 PM, Blogger Clark said...

vick's got the kind of explosive moves that give him at least a 20% chance of avoiding butt-rape in prison

 

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