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BYU players in the NFL: John Beck is NOT a “loser” - A fan’s take
When I attended BYU in the late 1990s the singer Beck was at his musical apex. "Loser" had peaked in 1994 and the phrase, "Gettin' crazy with the cheese whiz," was still a popular phrase in Provo. In 1996 Beck released his Grammy-winning album, Odelay. That same year I cheered the Steve Sarkisian-led Cougars from the student section as the team finished 14-1 including a Cotton Bowl victory over Kansas State and a #5 national ranking. 1996 was a great year for both Beck as a musician and for me as a BYU football fan.
Fast forward fifteen years. Beck and BYU football are once again in the news but this time the Beck in question has nothing to do with postmodern alternative rock music and witty lyrics. This time the news is centered around former BYU quarterback John Beck who is battling Rex Grossman for the starting quarterback position for the Washington Redskins. John Beck has attempted just 107 passes during his four year NFL career, but Washington head coach Mike Shanahan has liked what he has seen from John Beck in training camp and in the pre-season and could very well name him as the team's starting quarterback.
Using lyrics from four of Beck's best songs - "Where It's At", "Lost Cause", "Loser", and "Devil's Haircut" - here are the reasons why Shanahan should give John Beck the opportunity to start for the Redskins this year.
Where It's At
"Bottles and can just clap your hands. Just clap your hands."
Success seems to follow John Beck, leaving his fans clapping their hands. Before beginning his BYU career, John Beck led Mountain View (Mesa, AZ) High School to a 25-2 record after starting as a junior and senior, culminating with a state championship.
As a senior at BYU in 2006 John Beck led the team to an 11-2 record, a Mountain West Conference championship, and a #16 BCS ranking. The 2006 season included "Just clap your hands" moments like a 38-8 win against Oregon in the Las Vegas Bowl and the legendary thirteen-second scramble before finding Jonny Harline in the end zone with time expired to beat the Utah Utes in Salt Lake City. John Beck has left BYU fans like me with some of our best memories in recent history and he could very well do the same for the Washington Redskins if given the opportunity.
"I'm a driver, I'm a winner. Things are gonna change, I can feel it."
If there is any team in the NFL that needs a change, it's the Washington Redskins. The once prominent franchise has only made the playoffs three times since 1993 and has posted an anemic 32-48 (.400) record over the last five seasons. The Redskins need to take a risk at the quarterback position to see if they can turn things around in 2011. Trotting out Rex Grossman and his predictable, ineffective career 54% completion percentage offers little upside for a stagnant franchise. To illustrate Rex's poor performance, 45 quarterbacks have attempted Grossman's career total of 1,104 pass attempts since he was drafted in 2003. Of those 45 quarterbacks, Grossman has the second-worst completion percentage, trailing only the immortal Derek Anderson.
If changes for the better are going to happen in Washington, it will not happen with Rex Grossman overthrowing Santana Moss and Chris Cooley. It is time to give John Beck the opportunity to bring some of his BYU magic to the NFL. Beck will deliver. I can feel it.
"Something's wrong 'cause my mind is fading. And everywhere I look there's a dead end waiting."
So why hasn't John Beck played in more than five games in his four-year NFL career? Some of it has to do with the dead ends that were awaiting him with the teams he has played for. After John Beck started four games as a rookie in 2007, the 1-15 Miami Dolphins fired both their head coach Cam Cameron and offensive coordinator Dom Capers. During Beck's second season in 2008 the Dolphins signed veteran quarterback Chad Pennington who started all 16 games and played well in leading Miami to an 11-5 record. With Pennington in place, John Beck was released by the Dolphins following the 2008 season and was signed as a backup by the Baltimore Ravens.
The dead end waiting for John Beck in Baltimore was starting quarterback and future of the franchise, Joe Flacco, who started all 32 games during John Beck's 2009 and 2010 seasons in Baltimore. But before thinking John Beck's career has no upside because of his limited playing time to begin his career, remember that Aaron Rodgers completed a total of 35 passes during his first three seasons in the NFL. Matt Schaub started just twice during his first three years. Phillip Rivers and Tony Romo largely carried clipboards during their first two NFL seasons. Sometimes a quarterback just needs the right opportunities with the right organization to have the dead ends removed, and Washington looks like the place where Beck will finally have the opportunity to play.
"There's a place where you are going, you ain't never been before. No one left to watch your back now, no one standing at your door."
If John Beck does win the starting gig with the Redskins the pressure to perform and ultimately win games will make him feel like no one is watching his back. The media scrutiny will be intense. Washington coach Mike Shanahan will have an immediate replacement in Rex Grossman waiting in the wings if Beck plays and struggles.
But John Beck is far from being a "lost cause", and if given the opportunity to start he could shine this year in Washington.
Andrew Sweat is a graduate of Brigham Young University.
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