After a nice Thanksgiving, I was thinking of all that for which I am grateful. When I thought about football, I thought about how happy I am that I’m not a Browns fan.
Here’s the perfect video/song for your favorite Browns fan. It’s a Factory of Sadness. In fact, if you Google “Factory of Sadness” you will get multiple Cleveland Browns links & images, including t-shirts. Mike Polk returned to the Factory this year. My two favorite bits on that link were the one about Brandon Weeden “He’s already probably staring down the first receiver he is going to throw to (next week)” and “I’m not sure I’m going to be able to get drunk enough to make that game watchable, but the difference between me & you is that I am at least going to try!”
While we are on the Browns, here’s one more. Basically, the Browns have some of the best, funniest, most long suffering fans in the NFL & I am glad I am not one of them.
It looks like Jason Campbell may be able to start at quarterback for the Browns this week. That usually isn’t great news for your team. In this case however, it means that the Browns won’t have to start either Alex Tanney, who was signed from the Cowboys practice squad last week or Caleb Hanie, who was signed as a street free agent this week. Tanney has never played in an NFL regular season game & Hanie has played in 10 games since signing with the Bears as an undrafted free agent in 2008.
This further confirms what I said last week about Vince Young not getting another shot & Tim Tebow needing to think about a position change to get another chance in the NFL. Truthfully, I think either player would give the Browns a much better option to come in with little preparation and win a game. I don’t think a lot of Tebow as a quarterback, but you can’t tell me that Caleb Hanie is a better option.
Some people say that it is too late for Tebow to change positions. Their argument is that he would be competing against players who have spent decades learning to play their particular position. That is true, but I think that quarterbacks learn the routes and the blocking assignments for all of the other positions and can make the transition. To prove my point that it can be done, here is a list of some of the best players to switch to another position from quarterback. For years there was prejudice against black quarterbacks and successful black college quarterbacks were often forced to change position if they wanted to play in the NFL. “For so many guys in my era, that was just how it went,” said Tony Dungy, 58, the first black NFL coach to win a Super Bowl. “They would say, ‘Hey, you can play in the NFL but it’s going to be a position change. Or you can go to Canada and play quarterback because the style of the game kind of fits what you do.’ And that’s what happened in the ’70s and ’80s.” Dungy switched from quarterback to safety and won a Super Bowl ring playing for the Steelers in 1978. Of course he is better known now as a Super Bowl winning coach.
Thankfully, I believe that attitude has finally changed. Here’s my list in no particular order.
Hines Ward played quarterback at Forest Park High School in Georgia. When he went to the University of Georgia he primarily played as a wide receiver as a freshman, although he played some running back. As a sophomore As a sophomore, he alternated between wide receiver and quarterback. In the 1195 Peach Bowl he started at quarterback and set Bowl records for Georgia completing 31 of 59 passes for 413 yards. The next year Mike Bobo was the quarterback and Ward only threw 3 passes.
Once he got to the NFL he became a full time receiver and had a borderline Hall of Fame career. He caught 1,000 passes in his career & threw just 2. He gained 12,083 receiving yards, which is 21st all time. He was also a Super Bowl MVP. That is a pretty successful transition.
Josh Cribbs injured his shoulder trying to make a tackle for the Jets on Sunday and will miss the rest of the season. He has had a pretty successful NFL career so far though. He is in a tie for the record for most kickoff returns for a touchdown with 8 and he is also tied for the most kickoff returns for a touchdown in a single game, with 2. He has thrown 15 passes in his NFL career. He was a threat to run and pass as a quarterback at Kent State. I think that if he were coming out of college today, he might even get a shot as a quarterback due to the recent success of running quarterbacks. At Kent State he set the school record for all-purpose yards and still holds several career records at the school, including passing yards and completions.
He signed with the Browns as an undrafted free agent. Officially listed as a receiver, he has also worked as a running back, with 141 carries. He never really broke out as a receiver, but his skills as a return specialist have sent him to 3 Pro Bowls and earned him a spot on the NFL’s all decade team for the 2000s as the 2nd team kick returner. When he signed a second contract with the Browns in 2010, he made $20 million. That’s a fantastic change for a previously undrafted free agent.
Following in Josh Cribbs’ footsteps, Edelman was a great quarterback at Kent State. He threw for 3,196 yards & 26 touchdowns and broke Cribbs’ single season total offense record. He did catch 1 pass for 11 yards, punted a few times, and worked on kickoff returns, which is amazing for a quarterback. He had offers to play QB in the Canadian Football League, but he wanted to play in the NFL.
Edelman ended up being a 7th round draft pick of the New England Patriots. As a rookie he returned punts and stepped in at wide receiver when Wes Welker was injured. He even played at cornerback in 2011 due to injuries and he did a decent job. In the first few games of 2012 he was featured a bit more than Welker, before Welker game back and led the team in receptions. As a free agent this year, the only team outside of the Patriots who brought him in was the New York Giants despite the fact that at that time he had the highest career punt return average among active players. He signed a 1 year deal with the Patriots, but I think that next year he will be offered a solid long term contract from several teams. So far this year he has 70 catches for 711 yards. According to Tom Curran of CSNNE.com, Tom Brady now calls him “Minitron.”
Antwaan Randle El
Randle El was such a well-rounded athlete that he was drafted by the Cubs to play baseball, but chose to play quarterback at Indiana instead. While at Indiana, he also played baseball and basketball. By the time he left school, he was 5th on the NCAA all time total yards list with 3,895 rushing yards and 7,469 passing yards.
He was drafted in the second round by the Pittsburgh Steelers, which is somewhat odd for a player whose position you expect to change. Over a 9 year career with 2 teams, he had over 4,000 yards in receptions and over 4,000 yards in punt & kick returns. He did manage to throw a few passes in the NFL. He completed 22 of 27 passes. His passer rating of is the highest quarterback rating of anyone who three at least 20 passes in the history of the NFL. In fact, despite having flashy return plays like a 99 yard kickoff return for a touchdown, probably the play for which he will be most remembered was a 43 yard game winning pass to Hines Ward in Super Bowl XL.
On December 6th 1968, Marlin Briscoe became the first black quarterback to start a game in the NFL. He began the season as the 3rd stringer for the Denver Broncos, but after the starter broke his collarbone & the backup wasn’t able to do much, Briscoe was brought in to finish a game. After that, he started for the rest of the year. He threw for 14 touchdown passes, but also had 14 interceptions. He did lead the league with a 17.1 yards per completion average. Marlin Briscoe was drafted in the 14th round of the 1968 NFL draft by the Denver Broncos.
He was released before the start of the next season and was picked up by the Buffalo Bills. In Buffalo, he changed positions to receiver. He became an All Pro in Buffalo & had 1,036 yards receiving in 1970, but was traded to Miami for the 1972 season. He never caught more than 30 passes in a season after 1970, but he was part of two Super Bowl winning teams in Miami. He also played for the Chargers and the Patriots before he retired after the 1976 season.
Freddie Solomon was the last quarterback for the University of Tampa. They dropped football the next year. He was a running quarterback & amassed 3,299 yards running the ball, which was an NCAA record back in 1974. He was a second round draft pick of the Dolphins as a receiver. He returned punts and caught a few passes for the Dolphins, then was traded to the 49’ers in 1978. He played for 11 years catching 371 passes for 5,846 yards and 48 touchdowns. He also ran for 519 yards and 4 TDs and returned four punts and one kickoff for scores. He was an All Pro in 1980 and he retired with two Super Bowl rings. Perhaps the most famous play in which he was involved was one where he was the primary receiver, but he slipped coming out of his cut. That meant that Joe Montana threw the ball to Dwight Clark for “The Catch” that put them in the Super Bowl. He had a couple of clutch catches on that drive.
Brian Mitchell may not have been able to continue his career as a quarterback, but by any measure, he had a successful NFL career. After becoming the first player in NCAA history to throw for more than 5,000 yards while rushing for over 3,000 yards, he was drafted in the 5th round of the 1990 draft by Washington.
As the quarterback at Southwestern Louisiana he didn’t return any kicks, but that’s what Washington wanted him to do. He did it well. He is currently second on the NFL’s all-time list in all-purpose yardage with 23,330 yards, behind Jerry Rice. He is also first all time for combined yardage for a non-wide receiver. His 13 special teams touchdowns are second in NFL history, behind Devin Hester, and his nine punt return touchdowns are third. Mitchell was ranked the 2nd greatest specialist in NFL History by NFL Network’s NFL Top 10 Return Aces.
In 1998, Anquan Boldin was named Florida’s Mr. Football while playing quarterback for Pahokee High School. When he moved up to Florida State University, he primarily played wide receiver, with some time spent at quarterback.
In the 2003 NFL Draft, he was selected in the second round by the Arizona Cardinals. He won the AP Offensive Rookie of the Year award. He played for the Cardinals long enough to see them come close to winning a Super Bowl. He was traded to the Ravens and was a key factor in the Ravens winning the Super Bowl. He caught several jump balls in key moments when Joe Flacco seemed to trust him to just go up and take the ball away from the defender. He was traded this year to San Francisco and he has done a good job so far bailing out his young quarterback on contested balls. He is just short of 11,000 yards for his career. He has been to 3 Pro Bowls.
Gene Washington is the current director of football operations for the NFL. It was a different world when he entered the NFL in 1969. He was the quarterback at Stanford and was the first round pick of the San Francisco 49ers. They immediately converted him into a wide receiver. Beginning with his rookie season, he made it to four straight Pro Bowls and was selected onto four All-Pro teams. He had almost 7,000 yards receiving in a time when passing yards were harder to come by than today.
I spent too much time on the football portion this week, so I’ll just throw in a few wine reviews.
Kungfu Girl 2012 Washington State Riesling 2012 Evergreen Columbia Valley Charles Smith Wines
Green apple, guava, great acid. I tasted papaya, followed by even more green apple. It finishes dry or just off dry, but it really tastes like a green apple Jolly Rancher. It smells like white flowers & a little bit of green apple. It doesn’t smell as intense as it tastes. I had this with smoked turkey fried rice. This has great mouth feel & a mouthwatering, lingering finish. On the finish I got some slightly creamy lime. This was on spectator top 100 wine this year & definitely worth it for the price.
Cline North Coast 2012 Viognier
This is one of the first Varietally correct Viognier I have had in California. It has all of the peach & apricot that you might expect. It has the honeysuckle on the nose that I like. This is a very nice inexpensive Viognier. There is some tropical fruit as well, particularly guava & kiwi. It isn’t particularly complex, but it is nice and varietally correct.
3 Girls Cabernet 2011 Lodi
Earthy, with dark red fruit. This has some mint & oregano. There is also some ripe plum. This is a better wine than I expected. It has some varietal character and at under $10, it is a solid everyday wine. There are a number of herbal notes. It has light tannins. This wine tastes older than it is, so I would say drink this now.
Here’s a nutty, oaky Chardonnay. It reminds me of nuts toasted in butter. There is some lemon on the finish. It has great mouth feel. It is probably too over the top for most food pairings, but it would be good with buttery popcorn, or buttery lobster, or buttery whatever.
Gnekow Family Winery Campus Oaks Old Vine Zinfandel 2010
I tasted candied cherry and bright red fruit. It has medium tannins. It kind of reminds me of Ludens cherry cough drops.