bad sports, good sports

Bad sports, good sports: Matt McGloin is now an NFL starting quarterback. How did this happen?

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Matt McGloin started for the Oakland Raiders on Sunday. The Raiders won the game 28-23 over the Houston Texans. Why, you might be wondering, is this my lead story? If you knew the tale of Matt McGloin, you might appreciate how unlikely this was.

I have followed Matt McGloin for a number of years, as he played his college ball at Penn State, a team I follow very closely. He was not a scholarship player, but rather a walk-on, when he started his college career after leaving his hometown of Scranton. When he was a freshman, the Nittany Lions had a senior quarterback named Daryl Clark who led the team to a top ten ranking for the season. His backup was a highly recruited freshman named Kevin Newsome. The following year, Penn State signed not one but two top prep quarterbacks, Paul Jones and Rob Bolden. The chances of McGloin ever playing a meaningful snap at the school seemed extremely low. He was not particularly big, did not have an overly strong arm, and was not much of a runner. What he had was guts and drive, but those things don’t usually make up for a lack of all the other stuff. Despite that, McGloin forced his way into the competition for the starting quarterback job as a sophomore, fighting it out with Newsome and Bolden while Jones was redshirted. Bolden was named the starter, and he played most of the early games of the 2010 season, backed up by Newsome. After an injury to the backup, and a subsequent injury to Bolden during a game against Minnesota, McGloin played and played very well, leading the team to a win. The rest of that season involved a lot of back and forth between McGloin and Bolden, as the coaches could not seem to settle on a starter. The following season was much the same, with the fan base being divided over who should start. Over the following two seasons, Newsome, Jones, and Bolden would all transfer away from Penn State. Going into his senior season, McGloin was the unquestioned starter.

You would think that all of this adversity would have made McGloin a popular player, but just the opposite happened. Most fans, myself included, really did not like the guy. I never believed he was a capable quarterback, and was certain that it was a mistake for new head coach Bill O’Brien to hang his hat with the now-former walk-on (he earned a scholarship during his second year). I also never liked his attitude, as he seemed to be one of those extremely confident, in-your-face kind of guys despite, in my opinion, lacking the ability to back it up. Bill O’Brien did wonders with him, though, and he was fantastic during his final college year, leading the sanctioned Nittany Lions to an unexpected 8-4 record and being selected as the first-team All Big Ten quarterback. By season’s end, my opinion of him had changed quite a bit, as he had proven to be a very reliable player, a fiery leader, and a winner. Despite that, I assumed that his final game as a Lion would be the final time I would ever see him play football. His skill set did not translate to the NFL, where the requirements for the position are a lot different than what you see in college. McMoxie was not to be denied, however. After going undrafted, he wrote a letter to every NFL general manager, asking for a chance. He got several tryouts, and initially spent some time in the training camp of the Washington Redskins. That led to an invitation to try out for the Oakland Raiders, which he accepted. The Raiders had just signed Matt Flynn to a big free-agent deal, had second-year player Terrelle Pryor, an intriguing athlete playing quarterback, and had drafted Tyler Wilson out of North Carolina State in the fourth round of the draft. McGloin was signed for training camp, and was so impressive that the Raiders actually cut Wilson and kept McGloin as their third-string quarterback. Matt Flynn quickly flamed out and was released in early October. Pryor was named the starter and he had some decent, if uneven, games to start the season. McGloin played during mop up time during a blowout loss to the Philadelphia Eagles, and after Pryor got hurt the following week, was named the starter for this week’s Texans game.

I mentioned that the Raiders won the game. Was this because of or in spite of McGloin, though? Well, he threw for three touchdowns, no interceptions, and was given the game ball by his teammates. The Raiders had not won a game on the road since sometime last season, by the way, until this win. I read some things that suggested that he had played so well that it was not a slam dunk that Pryor would regain the starting job once healthy. Unbelievable. This kid, who I wanted nowhere near the field for the first few years of his college career, is now the starting quarterback for the Oakland Raiders and may remain so.

Good sports, continued:

2) NASCAR driver Jimmie Johnson won his sixth Cup championship on Sunday, beating Matt Kenseth to the title by 19 points. Johnson is only the third person to ever win six titles, and he is now only one shy of tying Richard Petty and Dale Earnhardt for the most all-time. The fact that Johnson won his six titles in a span of only eight seasons makes it even more amazing.

3) A few weeks ago, I mentioned the wonderfully-named Octavious McKoy, who had set Division III football record with 455 yards rushing. That didn’t last long. On Saturday, the record was broken by a player with an even odder name. Cartel Brooks ran for 465 yards for Heidelberg University. I am trying to figure out what would make someone name a kid “Cartel,” but I can’t come up with anything.

Bonus) On Sunday, I ran my second full marathon, completing the Philadelphia Marathon seven minutes faster than the time I ran at the Walt Disney World Marathon back in January. I am starting to wonder, though, if marathons should be shortened by a few miles. Those last 4-5 miles are just brutal. Anyway, it was a lot of fun.

Bad sports:

1) NASCAR driver Trevor Bayne, who won the Daytona 500 to start the 2012 Sprint Cup season, revealed this week that he has Multiple Sclerosis. He plans to continue driving.

2) Charles Youvella, a high school football player from Arizona, died on Monday after suffering a brain injury during a game last weekend.

3) Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston, a redshirt freshman who many feel is the current front-runner for the Heisman Trophy, had his name come up in conjunction with an investigation into a sexual assault complaint that was filed late last year. He has not been charged.

4) I have certainly never heard this one before. A scheduled football game between Virginia State an and Winston-Salem State was canceled on Saturday after a bunch of Virginia State players beat up the Winston-Salem State quarterback in a bathroom the night before the game.

5) Dario Franchitti’s career as a race car driver is over, as he was told by doctors that the injuries he suffered in a terrible wreck last month would make it too dangerous for him to compete again.

6) A motocross champ, Kurt Caselli, was killed in a crash during the Baja 1000 race on Friday. Caselli was leading the race at the time of his crash.

7) A football game between Lunenberg High School and Oakmont Regional High School, both near Boston, was canceled after a bunch of graffiti, racist in nature, was painted on the house of one of the kids who plays for Lunenberg.

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Alan Spoll is a software quality assurance director from the suburbs of Philadelphia where he lives with his wonderful wife and children. He has spent his entire life as a passionate fan of the Eagles, Phillies, Sixers, Flyers, and Penn State. Recent Phillies success aside, you will understand his natural negativity. Follow me on Twitter - @DocAlan02
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