clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Seattle Seahawks: Matt Flynn and Other "Late Start" Quarterbacks

The picture we have of Matt Flynn in training camp.
The picture we have of Matt Flynn in training camp.

Yesterday, Matt Flynn celebrated his 27th birthdeaux. His father, who I can only picture as a lawyer known as "The Rajin' Cajun," might have said this:

"Now I membah when yah jus tree year old. I put yah on mah back an I axed ya, 'Boy, what ya'll wanna be when you's all grown up?' and do yah membah what yah had tol' me, boy?"

"A football player, father."

"Now dat dare is right. Yah done tol' me that you's wanted to play that foosball. Now here's we sit, roun' dis table witch yah aunties and yah uncles and yah beautiful bride, twenny-sem'n years after you's was bohn, boy. Finally a chance for dis here boy to be a stahtin' quar'back in da national foosball league. And we's is all so proud of you boy."

"Thank you, everybody."

And that is how Matt Flynn probably celebrated his 27th birthday in a small gathering with his family. Of course, that's probably not since he's trying to win this starting quarterback job and all. Not very many quarterbacks have gotten their start in the NFL at 27. Flynn has four years of experience as a backup and two starts, but he's basically getting his first real chance to start. His first real chance to make a name for himself every Sunday.

Most quarterbacks get their first chance before 25, or at least right around there. Not all of course, but most. Flynn as a 7th round choice that was backing up arguably the league's best quarterback did not get that shot for four years but he probably learned some valuable lessons that has carried him to this point. Today I'm just going to list a few other quarterbacks that also got a late start. Not for comparison's sake, but for June 21st sake.

It's just a list. Anyone that says that this is me saying nice things or bad things about Matt Flynn is hereby deemed: a dick. None of this past history has anything to do with the future of Flynn, it's just noting a few guys that also got late starts so we can reflect on some NFL history and such. What? You hate history? You probably hate foosball too, heathen.

So let's get to it.

Kurt Warner (1998-2009, first year as starter at age 28)

What am I going to do now? Recite to you the career of Kurt Warner? I guess I should have thought further ahead! Warner's first technical year in the league was 1998, but he was 4-of-11 that season. It was 1999 at the age of 28 that he became a starter for the first time, won a Super Bowl, an MVP, broke records, etc.

No, Warner did not have much of a history in the NFL before 1999, but he was playing consistently. He played for the Iowa Barnstormers for three years in the Arena Football League and is considered one of the greatest players in the history of the league. His success in the AFL got him a contract with the Rams, who shipped him to Europe where he led NFL Europe in yards and touchdowns, getting the starting gig over another future Super Bowl quarterback: Jake Delhomme.

Warner might have been 28 when he had his first NFL season as starter, but he was playing consistently for four years and was one of the most prolific passers in non-NFL professional football history. Then he went to a team with no less than four Hall of Famers in their prime surrounding him. It was just a great situation for Warner and he knew that when the timing would come, it would come. Patience paid off.

Matt Schaub (2004-Present, first year as starter at age 26)

Like Flynn, Schaub also had made two career starts before moving to a new NFL team to be a starter. In his second start for the Falcons, Schaub was 18-of-34 for 298 yards, 3 TD/0 INT in a three-point loss to the Patriots. Later in the season he would make a relief appearance and go 9-for-13 for 110 yards, 1 TD/0 INT in a blowout loss to the Panthers. Schaub had shown enough potential in pre-season and relief of Michael Vick that the Texans traded two second round picks and swapped first rounders to acquire him and then gave him a 6-year/$48 million deal.

Makes the contract to get Flynn and the fact that no trades had to be done look even sweeter for Seattle.

At 6'5", 241, Schaub is more "prototypical" as a quarterback, which might have enticed teams like the Texans more for a player like him rather than the 6'2" Flynn, but plenty of quarterbacks (including Aaron Rodgers) excel at Flynn's size. It's not a big deal, I only bring it up because I can see why a team might go harder after Schaub than teams went after Flynn. Plus I think teams have learned to be more cautious with these "backup projects."

Though of course, Schaub has been excellent during his time with the Texans, with his main fault simply being injuries that have kept him from reaching that next level and the Texans reaching the playoffs consistently during his five years.

Warren Moon (1984-2000, first year as starter at age 28)

Had he been white or had he given in to switching to another position, Moon probably would have gone straight from the University of Washington to the NFL, but times were different back then. Before he could change the leagues perception of black quarterbacks, Moon had to go to the CFL for six years, where he dominated and led Edmonton to five straight Grey Cup victories. During the only season in which he didn't win the championship, Moon was named MVP ("Most Outstanding Player" for the CFL) in 1983.

The Oilers signed him up and despite early struggles adapting to the different league rules and field sizes, Moon eventually went onto a Hall of Fame career. Seahawks fans got to witness Moon's first career playoff victory in 1987 (An Oilers 23-20 OT win over Seattle) and then later as a Pro Bowl quarterback in 1997 for the Hawks at the age of 41.

He could have been a first round pick had he been white, but Moon had to take a longer path to get respect in the NFL as a quarterback. It's not really a story that you can compare to many other athletes today.

Trent Green (1997-2008, first year as starter at age 28)

His path was highly unusual, even for a list of guys that didn't start their starting careers in the NFL until later in their 20s. Green was the 222nd overall pick by the Chargers out of Indiana. He spent a year buried on the depth chart and then went to the CFL to play for the BC Lions, but even the BC Lions had cut him.

Most of these guys excel in lesser leagues and then get a chance in the NFL, but Green could not even do well in the Canadian Football League. However, the Redskins gave him a chance and he spent three years as a backup before getting his shot to start in 1998. Norv Turner (and quarterbacks coach Mike Martz) decided to stick with Green despite the fact that the Redskins lost their first six games with the unknown starter.

During those six losses, Green was 102-for-185, 1,352 yards, 7 TD and 7 INT with 7.31 Y/A. They were interested to see what this guy could do if really given a chance. I have to admire their persistence. Over his next nine starts, Green was 176-for-324 (54.3%) for 2,089 yards, 16 TD, 4 INT and 6.45 Y/A. The yards per attempt were down but he was throwing more touchdowns, less interceptions, and the team went 6-3.

Which was cool for about a minute in Washington until Dan Snyder came aboard and decided not to pay Green as much as the Rams were willing to pay him. He signed a bigger contract with St. Louis ($17.5 million compared to the Skins $12 million offer) and was going to be a starter for the "Greatest Show on Turf."

Except that he got hurt in the preseason in 1999, Warner was named starter, and they won a Super Bowl. One can't help but wonder, "What if?" If Green hadn't gotten hurt, would the story of Warner ever become true? It's even fascinating that BOTH of these players managed to make this list. In 2000, Warner missed five starts and Green threw for 2,063 yards, 16 TD and 5 INT. Yeah, Green probably would have balled too in 1999 if he hadn't gotten hurt.

Instead he was traded to Kansas City with a 5th round pick (Became Derrick Blaylock) for a 1st round pick (Became Damione Lewis.) One more reason with why I am always fine with the Rams trading for picks, because they were so bad at drafting in the 2000s.

Green had a fairly successful run for the Chiefs, but the team was 0-2 in the playoffs.

Random tidbit that I came across during research: A pre-draft hypothesis that if the Dolphins acquired Green before the 2007 draft, then Miami would cut Daunte Culpepper, who would sign with the Raiders and then Oakland would draft Calvin Johnson instead of JaMarcus Russell. Well, the Dolphins DID trade for Trent Green and they DID cut Culpepper and he DID sign with the Raiders. But they still took Russell over Johnson and now the rest is history. Silly Raiders.

Tony Romo (2004-present, first year as starter at age 26)

I've talked a lot about Romo on this site for some reason. He went to a small school, spent several years as a backup in the system, then finally was named starter and has been very good in the NFL, despite how not very good he is in the postseason and December.

Jeff Garcia (1999-2011, first year as starter at age 29)

Garcia went to a really small school (Gavilan College) and then a small school (San Jose State) and wasn't ideal size for a quarterback so he also started his career in the CFL. (Do I have to say this? I don't mean that San Jose State is like a 2,000 person college. I mean "small" in terms of college football, where you're comparing San Jose State to a major division-I program.) He backed up Doug Flutie, another guy that should be on this list, and then took over as starter when Flutie signed as a free agent with the Toronto Argonauts.

Garcia spent three years as a successful starter for the Calgary Stampeders and got a backup job for the San Francisco 49ers. After Steve Young hurt his noggin for the 54th and final time, Garcia became the starter but the team went from a 3-1 start to a 4-12 finish. And yes, they still had Jerry Rice and Terrell Owens. However, the next season Garcia completed 63.3% of his passes for 31 touchdowns and 10 interceptions.

In 2001, he become one of nine quarterbacks to ever throw for 30+ touchdowns in consecutive seasons. But success dwindled after that and Garcia bounced from the Browns to the Lions to the Eagles and the Bucs. He probably also has to hold some record for consecutive seasons in which you have a start for a different team every year. He even played in the UFL for the Omaha Nighthawks at the age of 40. I'll give him credit for never giving up and also collecting that paycheck if someone is willing to give it to you.

That's the end of this list today. I know I said "Doug Flutie belongs on this" but this list is long enough. It doesn't even prove anything about anything in relation to the Seahawks! Actually looking at Flutie's player page he made starts from age 24-27, which I know nothing about. He still belongs on it since he was out of the NFL for ten years before his return in Buffalo when he really became a starter.

There, Flutie is now on the list.

Hope I helped waste some of your time at work today you lazy fool.