The way the game of football has progressed throughout history, it’s become clear that the quarterback is the most important position on the field. This is especially true within the NFL. A good one affords any given team the chance to become a contender, and a bad one will likely hinder a team’s chances, or at least put a cap on the level of success they are able to achieve. With all of this responsibility inevitably comes a level of fame that most other athletes will never achieve. Truly, the quarterback for an NFL team is one of the most visible and commercialized aspects of any franchise.
As such, each era of the NFL has its stable of quarterbacks that were major aspects of the league’s draw. Understandably, their fame has deteriorated over time as a new crop of quarterbacks have come and taken their place. It’s the natural progression of relevance for players in the NFL, but especially for the quarterback position. Let’s take a look at some of the league’s most notable, but oft-forgotten throwers of the ball.
Ranked below are 15 forgotten NFL quarterbacks, and what they’re doing now.
15. Rex Grossman
While Grossman may have played in a Super Bowl with the Bears, he was hardly one of the league’s elite arms, despite being drafted in the 1st-round coming out of Florida. He had been one of the best hurlers that the Gators had seen in some time, but he wasn’t able to fully translate that talent to the NFL, despite being such a highly-touted prospect.
He was able to hang on for a while, and obviously his most notable season was playing in the 2007 Super Bowl with Chicago, but on the whole Grossman was a disappointment. He remained a big name however, and today he and his wife run a medical staffing agency in Florida. He’s probably found more success in this endeavor than he did during his playing days with the Bears.
14. Kordell Stewart
During his days with the Steelers, Stewart was able to maintain a good fan following because of his exciting play. While he was nothing more than an average arm talent all things considered, his scrambling ability was elite and he effectively served as Pittsburgh’s quarterback during the late-90s. Stewart may be considered a disappointment for a 2nd-round pick, but he was at least identifiable and could break a highlight reel play.
Following the conclusion of his playing career in 2005, Stewart has done plenty of NFL analysis for various outlets, and has hosted his own talk radio show. He had long hinted at a potential return to the NFL, but it never did end up coming to fruition, and he has been effectively retired since 2005.
13. Chad Pennington
The Jets thought they had a franchise quarterback in Pennington, and for a while it looked like he truly was going to be one of the ascending talents in the game. Despite numerous productive seasons, he never did fully achieve that level of success that would put him in the league’s top tier at the position. Has serviceable to be sure, but most had expected more out of a 1st-round pick, namely the Jets by the time his run had concluded.
Pennington currently lives in Kentucky with his wife and three children, and has remained out of the NFL scope for some time now. He currently works as a stock contractor for Professional Bull Riders, and has his own stable. It’s one of the more unique post-NFL careers that can be observed right now.
12. Daunte Culpepper
Culpepper was one of the more interesting NFL quarterbacks of his generation, and it looked like he was due to break out to an elite player around 2004 or so. He did put up one of the better seasons we’ve ever seen from a quarterback during that season, however. The Vikings were sure that he was going to be the long-term answer, but a bevy of debilitating injuries put a halt on his career progress. He would never be the same when playing in Miami, Oakland or Detroit.
Today, Culpepper seems to be coming to grips with the fact that his football career is over. He spent his final year of football activity playing in the UFL in 2011, and in 2013 he suffered a foreclosure on his house in Florida. One of the most promising quarterbacks of his generation seems to be struggling to acclimate to his post-NFL life.
11. Jeff Garcia
One of the most interesting career trajectories the NFL has ever seen, Garcia started out in the CFL during the mid-90s, only to ascend to a starting job in the NFL a short time later with the 49ers. Even though he would leave San Francisco, he remained a starter for the Browns and Eagles, carving out a nice career for himself after initially appearing to be a fringe NFL player. After a year in the UFL in 2010, Garcia retired from being an active player.
Since then, he’s been getting into coaching on a variety of levels, including a return to the CFL for a short time. He spent a year on the Rams’ staff in 2015 as an offensive assistant, and has expressed interest in being a coach for quarterbacks specifically, and has worked with numerous NFL players at the position such as Tyrod Taylor and Mark Sanchez.
10. Kerry Collins
Collins was one of the most anticipated quarterback draft picks of all-time, and was taken with the 5th-overall selection by the Panthers in 1995. Issues with alcohol signaled an early departure from Carolina, but Collins was able to latch on as a starter with the Giants, Raiders and Titans at later times, and carved out of a successful career for himself that sees him in the top-20 all-time in total passing yards in the NFL.
Following his retirement in 2011, Collins has had aspirations to be a songwriter, and has had numerous songs of his recorded by a variety of country artists. He owns a farm in Tennessee and a ranch in North Carolina. For the most part, he seems to be enjoying time off after an NFL career that spanned a total of 16 years.
9. Joey Harrington
Coming out of Oregon in 2002, Harrington was the third player selected in the NFL Draft, and was considered to be the future franchise quarterback for the Lions upon his arrival. Due to the Steve Mariucci coaching shift, or poor personnel around him, Harrington was never able to catch on entirely, and he was gone within five years of making him NFL debut. A few short stints with other teams gave way to a retirement in 2008.
In the years since, Harrington has been involved with a ton of charity work, and has shifted his career to broadcasting, and is currently a college football analyst in particular. Overall, he’s been more successful in his broadcasting career than he ever was in his NFL life as an active player.
8. Trent Green
Actually one of the more underrated quarterbacks of his generation, Green overcame being a low-round draft pick and a stint in the CFL, to have a very good career overall by the end of it. He provided the Chiefs with a consistent option at the position, and was at the helm for some of the better recent seasons in that franchise’s history. An often overlooked player, because he was overshadowed by some of the all-time greats in the Y2K Era.
Like many others, Green went into the field of broadcasting, and currently is an analyst for CBS. He’s also received several humanitarian awards. Overall, it’s been a successful career on and off the field for Green, with all of his work holding up nicely.
7. Vinny Testaverde
A former 1st-overall pick, there was a time when Testaverde was supposed to be the next great Hall Of Fame-caliber quarterback. Needless to say, that didn’t happen, but he had a respectable NFL career all the same, playing for seven different teams along the way. At his best, Testaverde was one of the game’s upper-tier quarterbacks, but the consistency often wasn’t there to put him in a truly elite class.
He retired after the 2007 season, and has remained around the game, coaching quarterbacks at a high school in Florida, where his family resides. It’s been an overall good road for Testaverde, despite coming up short in some people’s eyes as a first overall draft pick.
6. Quincy Carter
Carter was supposed to be the replacement for Troy Aikman, but the Cowboys weren’t able to sufficiently develop him into a franchise player. A few years in Dallas gave way to a failed stint with the Jets, and from there Carter bounced around to various peripheral leagues, attempting to keep playing the game of football any way he could.
In addition to all of the different stops he’s made during his professional career, Carter has also found time to be an independent youth football coach in Georgia, where he grew up. Most recently, he played for the Corpus Christi Fury of the American Indoor Football League, and then stopped in 2016. There’s no telling if Carter has plans to keep playing into his 40s, but he seems at least well enough to give it a shot.
5. Byron Leftwich
While there were times that Leftwich was extremely fun to watch, he never developed into a consistently good NFL quarterback. There were times he would show flashes of brilliance, and others were moments of disaster. The Jaguars did all they could with the former 7th-overall pick, but Leftwich just didn’t have what it took, ultimately. He’d stick around the league in a depth role until 2012, when he retired.
He’s recently caught on with the Cardinals, and become their quarterbacks coach after serving as a coaching intern for one season in 2016. Leftwich could have a future in this role around the NFL, so it’s interesting to see what he might do with a quarterback the Cardinals potentially take in the 2018 draft, given that Carson Palmer is on his last legs as an active player. Time will tell if there’s a future in the NFL for Leftwich as a coach.
4. Jake Plummer
One of the more interesting character studies as far as NFL quarterbacks go, Plummer wasn’t as flashy or noticeable as many other players around the league. The Cardinals tried to develop him into a franchise quarterback, but his play never quite ascended to the level they wanted; though at his best, he was very good.
Currently, Plummer works as a PAC-12 analyst for the network of the same conference. He began in 2013. He’s also been prevalent in the world of handball, and has entered tournaments for the niche sport since his retirement.
3. Jeff George
Another former first overall pick, and another player who just was never able to crack the elite level of NFL quarterbacks. George had an interesting career to say the least, as he was the starter for numerous franchises. His attitude was questionable at times, which sometimes led to his removal from a roster, but he was always able to latch on somewhere else. Though he last appeared in a regular season game in 2001, he’s been on an NFL roster as late as 2006.
George has mostly been adamant in the past decade that he could still play in the NFL if he still wanted to. Despite the fact that he had already been signed by several teams since 2001 but couldn’t earn the starting job, he claims that his workout regimen and training habits make him a viable NFL player. The jury is out on that one, but you can’t knock the dedication.
2. Jake Delhomme
One of the true underdog success stories in the history of the league, Delhomme was able to work his way up from an undrafted rookie for the Saints, to the franchise quarterback for the Panthers in a matter of five years. While his statistics were never world-beating, he was consistent enough to make Carolina a viable contender, and made a Super Bowl with them in 2004, which they would ultimately lose to the Patriots.
Delhomme currently serves as the Chairman Of The Board for Mid South Bank, following a stint on their Board Of Directors. It’s a successful post-NFL career for Delhomme, who clearly isn’t content to rest on his laurels. Additionally, he’s also been a spokesman for the Bojangles fast food restaurant, and has been involved in many commercials for the company over the years.
1. Rich Gannon
The perseverance for Gannon paid off big-time, as he was able to revitalize his career in Oakland after many years as a spot-starter for the Chiefs, Redskins and Vikings. It seemed as though Gannon never would be able to be under center for a winning team until he finally got to the Raiders in 1999. It was a career second-wind for Gannon, and he ended up winning an NFL MVP and taking Oakland to the Super Bowl in 2003. Simply one of the greatest comeback stories in the history of the league.
Gannon has worked as an NFL game analyst for CBS since 2005, just after his retirement, and has also done broadcast work on satellite radio as well. It’s a suitable position for somebody with as much NFL experience as he has had, along with all of the trials and tribulations.
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