In 9th grade I played football for my school. I was 5’11”, 140 pounds and I’d never played organized football before in my life. Being that I was tall, thin and was afraid of a lot of contact, I signed up for WR and DB. You can’t even imagine the surprise and overwhelming fear when I was told I’d be an offensive lineman, but that’s a whole different story.
During one practice our coach had us go around and complement other players on the team. I forget what was said about me but what still sticks out in my mind is what was said about our backup quarterback – the backup quarterback is the most important position on the team.
I admit that it was a bit of a stretch to consider the backup quarterback the most important position on the team, but give us a break – we were 9th graders. Here in Philly the backup quarterback isn’t the most important position on the team, but over the past 20 years it’s shown to be the most popular.
And now I present to you, exclusively for Spikeadelphia.com (editor’s note: that’s not the name of this site), my Top 10 Eagles Backup QBs That Eagles Fans Loved More Than The Starters.
#10 – Mike McMahon
In 2004 the Eagles went to the Super Bowl. TO played on one leg, FredEx thanked God for his hands, Jevon Kearse was a Freak and Donovan McNabb threw up (Hank Fraley said so). The following offseason the Eagles signed one player, Mike McMahon. Mike McMahon was not very good at all, but the fans loved him because he wasn’t Donovan McNabb. Following McNabb’s season ending injury Week 10 vs the Cowboys, McMahon went 2-5 with a 55.2 QB rating. He also wore a glove on his non-throwing hand.
#9 – Ty Detmer
The more clean shaven of the Detmer brothers, Ty was signed prior to the 1996 season to backup Rodney Peete. When Peete went down with a knee injury Detmer stepped in and won the next 4 games. Anytime a backup QB wins their first 4 games, throws for over 300 yards in a game, shuts out the New York Giants and beats the Cowboys for the team’s first victory in 5 years there is no way you can go back to a starter, no matter what he did before getting hurt.
In the middle of the 2002 season, Donovan McNabb went down (after he finished the game against Arizona) with a broken ankle and Koy Detmer (we’ll get to him) dislocated his elbow, 3rd stringer AJ Feeley was handed the reigns. Feeley started the final 5 games, won 4 of them and did his part to assure the team of a first round bye. McNabb was healthy enough to start the playoff games so Feeley was back to the bench. After a 2003 season without a single snap taken, Feeley was traded to the Miami Dolphins for a second round pick. Typically, that would be a great trade, but the Eagles used that pick on Reggie Brown.
#7 – Vince Young
Vince Young led the Texas Longhorns over the Reggie Bush Cheaters in the 2005 National Championship game. He was then drafted by the Titans, made the Pro Bowl a few times, threatened to quit football after getting benched, was outplayed by 55 year old Kerry Collins and called the Eagles a ‘dream team.’ The only reason he’s on this list is because I’m sure that there are still some people in Philadelphia that don’t like Michael Vick (I think because he’s left-handed) and want to see VY on the field.
Remember golden-boy-beat-the-Cowboys-savior Ty Detmer? Yea, the next season he apparently forgot how to win games and was benched mid-season for Bobby Hoying. Although Hoying only led the team to a 2-3-1 record, one of those wins was a 44-42 win over Boomer Esiason and the Bengals. Hoying threw for over 300 yards and 4 TDs in the game. He was hyped as the next big thing all offseason, but then quickly brought back to Earth when he threw for 1 TD and 9 INTs the next season before being benched for good.
#5 – Kevin Kolb
Before Trent Cole and Jason Babin killed animals with their bare hands, there was Kevin Kolb. He’s from Texas and one of his hobbies is killing wild boars with a small knife. In 2009, while subbing for McNabb, Kolb threw for over 700 yards in his first two games. He was back on the bench when McNabb was healthy again but the fans were 100% in his corner. You know the rest of the story here: McNabb was traded, Kolb was named starter, Kolb got hurt, Vick ran around and won football games, Vick got hurt, Vick got healthy, Kolb got traded to Arizona. Eagles fans loved him. They loved him because he threw for a ton of yards against sub-par defenses. They loved him because he said the right things. But mainly they loved him because he wasn’t Donovan.
No stats on this one. Philly didn’t love Koy for his stats. They loved Koy because he drove a beat up car, grew a pretty awful looking beard and did this dance [I was going to insert the video of Detmer’s famous ‘pulling it out and slapping it’ dance but somehow it doesn’t exist on the internet – PLEASE HELP!].
For the 80th time in 4 years there were rumors this past offseason that the Eagles should sign Brett Favre. Why? Andy Reid is familiar with Favre from their days in Green Bay. Favre won’t actually retire till he’s dead. Favre loves money and crying. Favre knows the west coast offense. Ed Werder needed something to talk about and TO was unavailable. And lastly, Eagles fans are crazily obsessed with their backup quarterbacks. No, he never actually wore an Eagles uniform or signed a contract with the team. But yes, I still rank him 3rd on this list.
#2 – Michael Vick
He could run. He could throw. Reid liked him enough to run trick plays with him once a series. Tony Dungy said he was rehabilitated. But most importantly, he didn’t age in football years while he was in prison so he was, like, 25 years old or something and the Eagles got him for cheap!
#1 – Jeff Garcia
This was a clear #1 for me. I’ve never seen anything like the way Eagles fans treated Jeff Garcia. Even when Vick got hurt this past Sunday I heard fans saying that they should sign Garcia (ok that was me, but still… they should. He’s great). Garcia took over for McNabb in 200theyeartheylosttotheSaints but wasn’t re-signed in the following offseason when they drafted Kevin Kolb and picked up AJ Feeley again. The method for becoming a legend in Philly is to win a lot of games after the starter gets hurt, leave in the offseason and then make sure that the team loses a bunch of games the next year. I don’t believe we’ve ever fully recovered from not keeping Jeff Garcia as our starting quarterback, and we never will.
Chris Johnson is the Promotions Director for 94WIP and co-host of What’s The Word on Phillies 24/7. You can follow him on twitter @chrisjohnsonjr.