The 2000s were a time of growth for the NFL. We began to see an undeniable change in the way the game was played, as well as the way it was presented to the audience. While many of the elite veteran quarterbacks of today were getting their start during the early portion of the decade, there were many other players at the position who never went on to achieve the same success, even though they were household names at the time. They had varying degrees of success, but they were renowned throughout NFL circles during their heyday.
Even though their careers never did measure up to the all-time greats, they were still noteworthy enough to keep tabs on as the years progressed. You’ll no doubt recognize many of these names as NFL mainstays during the era they played in, even if they didn’t quite ascend to the heights that some of their peers did. Either way, they got plenty of press just for being an NFL quarterback. Let’s see what some of these Y2K era signal callers have been up to since retirement.
Ranked below are 15 forgotten 2000s NFL quarterbacks, and what they’re doing now.
15. Rex Grossman
Coming out of Florida, the consensus was that Grossman was going to be one of the top quarterbacks in the NFL, sooner rather than later. The Bears hadn’t had a franchise player at the position for a while, and in 2003 they made the move to draft Grossman in the 1st-round of the draft. Though a popular move at the time, it soon turned out to be a massive disappointment for Chicago.
The returns were minimal, and even though Grossman was under center for the team’s first and only Super Bowl appearance since the renowned 1985 season, there was no doubt that it was the defense that was leading the way for success that season. Currently, he operates Florida Medical Staffing with his wife, a staffing agency for nurses.
14. David Garrard
The Jaguars went through numerous options in an attempt to find a franchise quarterback in the 2000s, and they’re still looking to this day. Garrard was a 4th-round pick out of East Carolina, and he was able to overachieve, making his career in the NFL to be a respectable one, especially for the position that he played. His success was middling in Jacksonville, but it could have been a whole lot worse. At the very least, he provided some sense of stability for a mostly mediocre team.
Garrard retired in 2010, after playing the entirety of his nine-year career with the Jaguars. He transitioned out of football quickly, despite several failed comeback attempts, and now owns a Retro Fitness gym in Florida, where he resides.
13. Chris Simms
Being the son of a Super Bowl-winning quarterback is never easy, but in Simms’ case, he never came close to living up to the legacy. Mainly a starter for the Buccaneers, he never got his footing in the league, and was sub-par all the way through. Backup stints for the Broncos and Titans soon followed, but it was clear that Simms wasn’t going to be the franchise quarterback that his father Phil was.
His post-playing career, thankfully, turned out to be much better. Simms has maintained a broadcasting career with NBC, CBS and Bleacher Report over the last six years. It was a good career move, and one that keeps him around the game, without having to actually play quarterback on the field.
12. Aaron Brooks
Probably underrated during his time in the NFL, Brooks made the most of his 4th-round selection, and turned in some very good seasons as the Saints starter. Combining a running ability with a rocket arm, he was actually one of the premier young quarterbacks in the league for a while in the mid-2000s. The downside is that his career was short, and he never got to play on any marquee teams during it.
Now, Brooks is back in his home state of Virginia, where he operates a land development business, and has a family. It’s a far cry from being the franchise quarterback of the Saints, but it’s a decision that Brooks is happy with overall, as he expressed occasional discontent over his playing days in New Orleans. Ultimately, it’s a situation that turned out for the best, even if Brooks never did reach his full potential on the field.
11. Kyle Orton
Orton was drafted by the Bears to be the insurance policy for Rex Grossman, and eventually took over as the starter in 2008. It’s fair to say that Orton had the better overall career, although that isn’t really saying much. While he played well for a 4th-round pick, he still wasn’t the long-term answer for either Chicago or Denver, the two teams where he saw the most starting time.
He would bounce around the league as a backup, including stints with the Cowboys and Bills, before finally retiring in 2014. After retirement, he moved his family to Louisiana, and has expressed interest in coaching football at the high school level. Orton has also kicked the tires on potentially running for U.S. Congress, after seeing his father’s involvement on the Iowa State Labor Commission.
10. Byron Leftwich
The Jaguars quarterback hunt in the 2000s began with Leftwich, though it certainly didn’t end with him. In contrast with many others, he was actually supposed to be an elite NFL player when he was coming out of Marshall. A big-bodied quarterback with a cannon for an arm, his upside seemed to be limitless if he could find himself in the right system. Unfortunately, Jacksonville just wasn’t the place for that during this era.
Leftwich stumbled through several backup jobs until he retired in 2012. Most recently, he’s been getting into coaching, and has landed a job with the Cardinals as their quarterbacks coach, after being a coaching intern for the 2016 season. Hopefully, this can signal a successful post-playing career for Leftwich, who despite his struggles with the Jaguars, was always a fan favorite throughout the league during the prime of his career.
9. Jon Kitna
Kitna ended up having a better career than anybody suspected, after going undrafted out of Central Washington in the 1996. He immediately proved that he belonged as an NFL quarterback with the Seahawks, and parlayed his early success into a long career that just ended for good a few years ago. Most notably, he was an upper-tier player with the Bengals in the 2000s.
His final NFL season was in 2011 with the Cowboys, and now he’s been trying his hand as a high school coach at both his alma matter, and in Texas, most recently. There’s no telling if Kitna wants to continue his coaching career into the collegiate or professional ranks, but for now it seems like he’s enjoying a relatively quiet post-NFL career.
8. Brady Quinn
Once slated to bring the Browns back from the brink of disaster, Quinn was just another in the long line of quarterbacks who failed to do that. Given their track record, he can’t really be blamed for that, even though it did put a sour note on the rest of his career. A highly-touted prospect out of Notre Dame, he was supposed to have much more success than what ended up materializing.
But Quinn didn’t let his NFL career define him, and he has a family now that is very involved in philanthropic work on a regular basis. On top of that, he has a regular analysis job at Fox Sports covering college football. So despite his sub-par pro career, Quinn’s been able to rebound fairly well.
7. Brian Griese
Another son of a Super Bowl-winning quarterback (Miami Dolphins legend Bob Griese), Brian Griese was yet another offspring who couldn’t live up to his father’s accomplishments. Denver expended a 3rd-round pick on him, and arguably didn’t even get a corresponding return. After his time with the Broncos, Griese largely went into backup duty, where he saw his career slowly come to an end, concluding in 2008.
Off the field has seen better results for Griese, who does a ton of philanthropy for breast cancer, through his own Judi’s House organization, to honor his mother who passed away from the disease. It’s a worthy cause to be certain, and Griese is a past-NFL presence that everyone can be proud off.
6. Kyle Boller
Thinking back to a time when the Ravens didn’t have Joe Flacco as their starting quarterback is difficult, but Boller filled that role in the preceding years. Unfortunately, his production on the field couldn’t come close to the production from the Ray Lewis-led defense, and Baltimore’s postseason efforts were always thwarted because of it. Boller was expected to do big things as a 1st-round pick, but the results never materialized.
In a somewhat surprising post-career move, Boller has decided to get into the whole-food market, announcing the production of a new energy bar, called PHIVEbar. He claims there are exponentially more benefits to his nutritional bar compared to competitors, and has entered the business venture along with his wife, model Carrie Prejean.
5. Quincy Carter
The Cowboys were supposed to be getting the long-term replacement for Troy Aikman when they took Carter during the 2nd-round of the 2001 draft. Despite a playoff appearance under Carter’s watch, his scramble-first mentality didn’t sit well with a team that had been predicted on pocket passing for the past decade. Carter had a few years as a starter and then flamed out.
He continued his playing career, however. Despite a few relatively minor run-ins with the law over controlled substances, including one from last year, he’s been active in numerous peripheral leagues. Most recently, he was playing for the Corpus Christi Fury of the American Indoor League. A far cry from the NFL, but at least Carter was able to stick with the sport in some capacity.
4. Joey Harrington
Harrington is still a player that’s going to sting the souls of Lions’ fans, as he was the biggest hope at quarterback the franchise has had in recent memory, Matt Stafford aside. When you expend a 3rd-overall pick on a player, you expect them to produce. But Harrington was nothing more than a middling talent, masquerading as a blue chip player.
Like so many others, he decided that his football knowledge would be better utilized in the broadcast booth. He’s been a college football analyst for Fox, as well as on local stations in Oregon. It was Harrington’s days as an Oregon Duck that allowed him to be a 1st-round pick.
3. Jeff Garcia
Most notable as one of the quarterbacks who threw to Terrell Owens in his storied career, Garcia provided some quality play for numerous NFL outfits during his decade-plus long career. Never having the most natural ability, he was still able to get the job done more often than not. He finally hung up the cleats in 2011, but has stayed around the game in some capacity.
He’s been on the advisory board for the USFL, as well as gigs as an offensive assistant in both the CFL, and with the Rams in the NFL during the 2015 season. He’s also been a private instructor for quarterbacks, and has worked with the likes of Tyrod Taylor and Mark Sanchez. It seems as if Garcia is just fine with counting to work around the sport, and it wouldn’t be surprising to see him take on a coaching job sometime down the line.
2. Trent Green
Though you can find him in the broadcast booth now for CBS, Green actually had one of the more underrated careers for a quarterback during his era. He was under center for some very competitive Chiefs teams, and always had command of a very good offense. He was also slated to be the starter for the Rams in 1999 until he got hurt, which spurred on the infamous comeback story for Kurt Warner. At least he got a Super Bowl ring out of the whole situation, despite missing significant playing time.
A broadcasting career fits Green to a tee. He’s a recognizable and respected face around the league, even if he isn’t the first the first player most people think of from the Y2K Era. But he was actually one of the more consistent presences in the league back then, and is a good choice for live TV.
1. Brad Johnson
Renowned as maybe the most mediocre quarterback to end up winning a Super Bowl, Johnson probably wouldn’t have his career any other way. He was able to land a ring by playing with an all-time great defense in Tampa Bay, and he’s probably just fine with that. Johnson will go down as one of the most fortunate quarterbacks in league history, and a halfway decent player as well.
He now lives in Georgia, and has spent a lot of time coaches his two teenage sons in multiple sports. As he lives a relatively quiet life after a hectic football career that saw him play for many different teams, it’s unlikely to think Johnson would complain now. He probably overachieved for a late-round draft pick, and now can get back to some degree of normalcy during retirement.
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