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December 6, 2012

Book examines great quarterback controversy

It’s been said that the least important position on a football team is the backup quarterback until the starter gets injured. Then it becomes the most important one. Backup quarterback is a great spot to occupy in the pros if you don’t care if you ever play. That way you’re well-paid, always popular with the fans and face little risk of injury.

I remember 20 years ago when Don Strock was the backup to Dan Marino in Miami. For several seasons he rarely played, but was well-compensated and never got hurt. He seemed to accept his position without complaint. Today that attitude would be hard to find. Nobody wants to be a second-stringer and it’s especially volatile if two highly touted quarterbacks are on the same team. Then all hell can break loose.

We’ve seen this situation up-close-and-personal with the New York Jets and it’s been a disaster. Their starter has been Mark Sanchez and the backup was supposed to be Tim Tebow. Sanchez is a decent quarterback who looks insecure. Tebow was a Heisman Trophy winner in college, but pro football is a different animal. In the NFL he is more suited to fullback or linebacker. 

Sanchez and the Jets have been horrible this season and the fans are screaming for Tebow. Under the pressure, Sanchez has played worse and worse. The odds of Tebow changing things are dubious because he throws the football like a wounded duck. What to do? Having two quarterbacks who want to start is usually a recipe for disaster.

There was one situation in NFL history where the drama of a quarterback controversy was magnified greater than ever. In the late 1980s the San Francisco 49ers were blessed (or cursed) with having two future Hall-of-Fame quarterbacks, Joe Montana and Steve Young. Montana was revered and possibly the best quarterback in the history of the league. Young was an up-and-comer who had all the tools to be an all-pro quarterback.

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