January 21, 2011
Gus Frerotte wrapped up an NFL career marked equally by occasional starts and occasional injuries in 2008. The quarterback never fully established himself as a bona fide signal caller, in part because of the video punchline that now punctuates any mention of his career.
That YouTube punchline is the one you see above, where Frerotte celebrated a touchdown with a headbutt to an NFL stadium wall, a moment of madness that gave the quarterback a concussion, neck injury and -- eventually -- a pink-slip from the Washington Redskins. This after Frerotte was given the starting quarterback job ahead of first-round pick Heath Shuler because then-coach Norv Turner said Shuler -- who is now a U.S. Congressman -- wasn't smart enough to run an NFL offense. That move has to be a statement about congressional competence or Norv Turner competence. You decide which.>
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According to the St. Louis Dispatch, a St. Louis-area high school has now decided the time is right for Frerotte to become a leader of young men, hiring the retired quarterback as its new football coach. Frerotte isn't just being asked to follow a normal head coach at John Burroughs (Mo.) School, either; he's taking over for legendary leader Todd Small, who helped lead the school's football program for 23 years, the past six as head coach, before retiring last week. Burroughs won nine district titles and five state crowns during Small's years with the program.
To be fair, the appointment of Frerotte didn't come completely out of the blue. The former Redskins, Rams and Vikings signal caller has been the quarterbacks coach for Burroughs for two seasons, and the combination of his past professional credentials and his familiarity with the school and its football program made him a likely candidate to take over as soon as it became clear that Small was on the way out.
Still, Frerotte's professional accomplishments -- including a 1996 Pro Bowl appearance -- are often overshadowed by a spontaneous move that raised questions over whether the quarterback was capable of making his team's most important decisions. Those same concerns are likely to be resurrected for the start of Frerotte's tenure next fall, warranted or not.
Even if there are some questions about Frerotte's suitability to be a high school head coach, there's little question he'd be an ideal candidate to lead a concussion symposium. The renewed focus on helmet safety has opened the door for plenty of those, and who better to teach them than a man who once gave one to himself?
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Maybe he can include these pointers from the team's press conference after his concussion in a Redskins tie (yes, they tied) with the Giants, as relayed via The Washington Post's inimitable Tom Boswell.
"It was a stupid thing to do," said Frerotte. "I've butted heads with people many times."
But people aren't the same as walls.
"I've never thought to tell a guy not to hit his head against a wall," said tight-jawed coach Norv Turner. "We'll put that in our preseason coaching points next year."
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