Are you ready for Tuel Time, Buffalo Bills fans?
Bills head coach Doug Marrone delivered the sobering news Monday: Undrafted rookie Jeff Tuel will start for the team Week 1 against the New England Patriots if first-round pick E.J. Manuel's knee is not healthy by then.
The recently signed Matt Leinart — no stranger to backing up an undrafted quarterback — could be No. 2.
We know who Leinart is, all too well. But who the heck is Jeff Tuel? Here's a handy cheat sheet in case you want to look like you know what you're talking about come Week 1:1. Jeff Tuel did not have a Wikipedia page until Monday afternoon. As in less than an hour before this was posted. No joke. This might be the starting quarterback for the Buffalo Bills, ladies and gentlemen. Have you seen some of the ridiculous subjects that do have Wikipedia entries? There's one for "Fox Tossing"and another for "Socialist Hair," which is not a band name, mind you. And, in keeping with the spirit of this post, there's one for "Buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo," which apparently forms a grammatically correct sentence. Welcome to Wikipedia, Mr. Tuel.
2. Tuel is pronounced "TOOL," which is exactly why we led the story off with a cutesy pun involving Tim Allen. We're sure you won't hear too many more of those over the ensuing days and weeks.
3. Tuel went 4-22 in 26 college starts at Washington State. Sadly, such a record would put him among the winningest Bills quarterbacks in the past decade.
4. According to Tuel's WSU profile page, his uncle played baseball at Duke. That likely means his uncle is smart. And an annoying hoops fan.
5. Tuel has a Twitter account, and he has a respectable 6,000+ followers. That number is sure to go up this week, although no guarantees on what might happen to his follower total after the Patriots game. Among his most notable tweets in recent weeks (he's been busy with football, apparently):
Let me know how duck dynasty is tonight cause I'm extremely upset I can't see it #siyouaremyhero
— Jeff Tuel (@qb10jvt) August 15, 2013
6. The Patriots actually worked him out before the draft. And they passed on him, essentially, in favor of Tim Tebow. What in the world does that tell you?
7. Tuel joined Drew Bledsoe as the only other Cougar quarterback to start a game as a true freshman, starting five straight in 2009. But his college career got off track from there, as he broke a collarbone, re-broke it a year later, suffered an MCL sprain, had a bout with acute compartment syndrome and later suffered an ankle injury on top of that. So, you know, the Bills liked what they saw and thought he'd fit right in with their other quarterbacks.
8. On the surface, Tuel appears a bit ... bland. (He was a psychology major, for what it's worth.) But there's a fascinating little story about him wanting to petition the NCAA for a fifth year, with the NCAA apparently wanting him to blow the whistle on mistreatment under coach Paul Wulff's watch. Tuel chose against both and entered the NFL, where he was subsequently left off the Combine invite list. Looks like Tuel is getting the last laugh, for now.
9. His final college game might have been his best: A shocking upset of rival Washington in the Apple Cup, a game Tuel was barely healthy enough to start. “This was our bowl game,” he said at game's end. But his NFL career might be the start of something even more special — a chance to beat Tom Brady — in less than two weeks time. For now, the Bills are just glad they have this Tuel in their cabinet. (Yeah, we went there again.)