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A Funny Thing Happened on the way to the Heisman

January 14, 2005

The 49ers have just finished one of the worst seasons in franchise history thereby earning the #1 overall pick in the upcoming draft, and everyone knows the player they covet most is the Heisman Trophy winning QB from USC that just led his team to a national championship, Matt Leinart.  But then Leinart surprises everyone by announcing he's returning for his Senior year.  Now faced with choosing between Alex Smith, Aaron Rodgers, and Braylon Edwards, the 49ers will eventually go with Smith and give rise to the popular internet hobby of Smith bashing and defending.

December 11, 2005

Once again Leinart is a finalist for the Heisman Trophy, but unlike last time he doesn't win.  Instead the award goes to his do everything teammate Reggie BushVince Young comes in second just ahead of Leinart, forshadowing a trend that will continue for some time.  But he's still happy because the real reason he went back was to win another championship, and USC is looking right on pace to accomplish that.

January 4, 2006

The Rose Bowl has just ended and college football fans were just treated to one of the greatest games ever played.  Vince Young by almost seer force of will has managed to lead his Texans to a 41-38 upset victory over USC.  Leinart unable to believe they lost tells a reporter after the game, "I still believe we're the better team.", which is right up there with blaming the loss on the refs.

April 29, 2006

It's NFL draft day and while Leinart isn't considered the top pick anymore, he still figures to go near the top.  The Texans choose Mario Williams which surprises no one since news had leaked out that they already had a deal in place.  The Saints also surprise no one when they decide to take the human highlight real, Reggie Bush.  With the Titans deciding who to pick the cameras keep panning to Leinart.  No doubt he's counting on his old coach to come through for him.  Norm Chow was his offensive coordinator at USC and now he has the same job with the Titans.  It seemed like the perfect match, but once again Vince Young comes out on top when the Titans chose him over Leinart.  The fall down the boards has officially begun.  Team after team decide they have more pressing needs than QB until finally the Cardinals stop the fall at number 10.  In the end staying for his Senior year cost Leinart $10 million in guaranteed money which only his agent feels bad about.

More of Leinart's fall from grace after the jump.

August 23, 2008

It's week 3 of the preseason and the Cardinals are taking on the Raiders.  Leinart has already finished 2 seasons in the NFL, having started in 16 games, and suffered 2 season ending injuries, a sprained shoulder and a broken collarbone, both on his throwing arm.  He's in an open battle for the starting QB role with Kurt Warner, but 3 quick interceptions later the competition is over.  Warner is named the starter and over the next two years Leinart is limited to mop-up duty and 1 start.  At least he's still popular with the tabloids who love to cover his wild hot tub parties and $15,000 a month child support battle, an amount that baby mama Brynn Cameron says is only half of what she needs to raise their child.  Who knew Huggies were so expensive?

August 23, 2010

Once again Leinart is facing his old nemesis, Vince Young, and once again Young comes out on top.  The Titans easily handle the Cardinals in a preseason game and not only are the Cardinals held scoreless with Leinart in the game, they can't even get a first down.  The offense looks so horrible under Leinart that just a few days later coach Whisenhunt announces that Derek Anderson will take over as the starting QB.  Apparently he has the lofty expectations that his starting QB should be able to get a first down or two.  Disgruntled Cardinal fans meanwhile have begun to call him "Captain Checkdown".

So what does the future hold for Leinart?  Hard to say, but the Cardinals do find themselves in an awkward situation.  It's one thing to be demoted for a possible future Hall of Famer, but it's quite another to lose your job to a guy that was kicked out of Cleveland.  And would his teammates ever have any confidence in him to get the job done if he were to find himself starting again?  To compound the problem the Cardinals have two rookie QB's, Max Hall and John Skelton, that they're really high on.  Plus, they've had this weird practice of signing players to contracts that pay way too much for their final year.  Leinart is scheduled to make $7.4 million next year as well as a $5.5 million roster bonus.  Can they really justify paying a backup QB over $12 million for one season?  All of this adds up to the very real possibility that Leinart's days in Arizona might be over.  Don't be surprised if the Cardinals trade him for anything they can get.  How much do you think they're now regretting not getting into the Donovan McNabb sweapsteaks?