November 19, 2010
One week ago, the most pressing issue for stay-at-home dad Brian St. Pierre(notes) might have been making sure there were enough diapers around the house for his 18-month-old son. On Sunday, the 30-year-old journeyman quarterback will have a bigger problem to contend with: Ray Lewis(notes) and the Baltimore Ravens defense.
St. Pierre will start this weekend for the Carolina Panthers, just five days after being promoted from the practice squad, which he was signed to late last week. His presence was needed after the team's starter, Matt Moore(notes), suffered a season-ending shoulder injury last week against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and because rookie backup Jimmy Clausen(notes) continues to recover from a concussion. Another rookie, Tony Pike(notes), finished the last game, but coach John Fox opted to sign St. Pierre to run the offense instead.
In his eight NFL seasons, the former Boston College quarterback has thrown just five passes and had never risen above the role of emergency starter in stints with Pittsburgh, Arizona and Baltimore. He opted not to take a UFL contract in the offseason, preferring not to move his son to Omaha. Now he'll be expected to come in, run an offense with which he's unfamiliar and play against one of the league's most ferocious defenses, just days after he was doing spot television work and playing Mr. Mom. Oh, and St. Pierre will have to do all this without Carolina's top three running backs, No. 3 receiver and a handful of offensive lineman.
How unexpected was St. Pierre's ascension to starter? When Panthers coach John Fox announced him as a starter, the Panthers press corps was so stunned that it led to Tweets like this (from Darin Gantt of the Rock Hill Herald): "St. Pierre to start. That is not a joke. This move is impossible to justify."
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It's certainly a strange move, given that St. Pierre has been out of football since January (when he practiced with the Arizona Cardinals), while Pike has been with the Panthers since training camp. Throw in the fact that John Fox is almost assured to be fired at the end of the season and this move reeks of a coach intent on taking down the sinking ship as quickly as possible.
Fox insists that he's made a move like this before, when he brought 43-year-old Vinny Testaverde(notes) out of retirement in 2007 under similar circumstances. But, as St. Pierre himself notes, that was Vinny Testaverde, he of the 40,000 passing yards and 208 NFL starts, not a guy who has 12 passing yards in his entire career.
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Testaverde won that game and went on to start five more games for Carolina that year. St. Pierre would take a similar scenario. If it doesn't work out, though, there's a toddler in Boston who probably wouldn't mind too much.
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