Recent reports seem to indicate what has been speculated all off season. Peyton Manning will not be payed the $28 million option to remain a Colt in 2012. It seems unfair that quarterback greats often end their careers with such a fall from grace. This isn’t the first time and most likely won’t be the last time a business decision trumps the good a player has done for an organization.
In 1993, Bill Belichick learned a lesson on how not to handle a beloved local athlete. He dropped Bernie Kosar from the team after a week 8 performance in which Bernie apparently ignored plays called by the coaching staff and threw a touchdown off of a play that he told the media was “drawn up in the dirt.” Bernie went on to play for Dallas and Miami picking up a Super Bowl ring with Dallas in Super Bowl 28.
Joe Montana was traded by the 49ers to the Kansas City Chiefs to make room for Steve Young in 1993. Montana led the Chiefs to the AFC Championship game and Young led the 49ers to the NFC Championship game but neither team made it to that years Super Bowl. Montana’s second year in Kansas City ended with a playoff loss and he then retired.
The not so same story happened years later when Brett Favre retired from the Packers, then unretired and was traded to the Jets as the Packers had decided to move forward with Aaron Rodgers. He then retired again only to unretire to play for the Vikings. It is believed that he is and will stay retired but if he unretires I will update this post accordingly.
Dan Marino’s only Super Bowl appearance ended in a loss to Joe Montana’s 49ers in Super Bowl 19. He retired after the 1999 season due to health reasons after the Miami Dolphins declined the option on his contract. The greatest quarterback to never win a Super Bowl. It just doesn’t seem right.
Jim Kelly lost four consecutive Super Bowls. Possibly the most impressive feat you would not want to accomplish. While he ended his career with the team in which he started, the Buffalo Bills, the Super Bowlless greats all have a special place in my heart.
Otto Graham is arguable the best quarterback to ever set foot on a football field. The sad part of it is you need a historian present for anyone to remember, let alone acknowledge the amazing career he had playing with the Cleveland Browns. He played ten seasons and made the championship game all ten years winning seven of those games. More impressive is, after retiring after winning the 1954 championship game 56-10 over the Lions, Otto Graham was convinced to come back by then coach Paul Brown during the 1955 training camp. He went on to win the NFL Championship against the Los Angeles Rams 38-14. The sad part of the story is that this was over a decade before the first Super Bowl. Most peoples’ football knowledge only goes back as far as the 1966 season when Bart Starr led the Green Bay Packers to the first Super Bowl victory on January 15th 1967.
The one example that sticks out to me of a quarterback great going out on top is John Elway winning superbowl 33 against the Atlanta Falcons, 34-19. Now, I know he prevented the Browns from reaching the Super Bowl 2 of his 5 visits to the big game but you have to respect a man who ends on his term on the top of the summit.
With all of the history behind great quarterbacks being treated unjustly in the business of football it begs the question, are the Browns searching for a franchise quarterback’s heart to break after ten years of services rendered? If it involves Super Bowls and record breaking stats I will pay for the therapy sessions after the break up.