ASU Web Devil - Plummer Perspective

JC_AZ

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Plummer shouldn't be stranger at ASU

Former quarterback was treated unjustly as a pro

by Christopher Drexel
published on Wednesday, March 21, 2007


Jake Plummer retired earlier this month with a plethora of memories from his football career.

Unfortunately, at age 32, the former ASU, Arizona Cardinals and Denver Broncos quarterback still had many memories he still could have made.

But Plummer isn't like most players. He didn't need to hang on to the game when he didn't enjoy it anymore. Much like his buddy Pat Tillman, Plummer is capable of enjoying things other than football. And he was ready to begin the next chapter.

That was quite clear by the $5 million he could have made next season whether or not he started for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers - the team he was traded to just before retiring.

No doubt Plummer had grown weary of all the things that go into being an NFL quarterback, particularly off the field.

There was likely never a player that began his career so beloved and ended it so henpecked.

In Denver, Plummer will likely be most remembered for three incidents that have defined his time there: flipping off a fan in the stands that was insulting him; yelling at a Denver gossip columnist who inferred his girlfriend was a gold digger just because Plummer was a football player and his girlfriend a cheerleader; and backing into a motorist's bumper after Plummer claimed he was being tailgated.

Those aren't incidents to be proud of. But I saw various players taunting fans at every Cardinals game I went to this season. I don't know many guys that wouldn't defend their girlfriend's honor. And I have witnessed more road rage incidents in my life more times than I can count.

But they were all national stories with Plummer, who just seemed like the guy people loved to hate.

Yes, athletes should be held to a higher standard, but these three mistakes were replayed over and over again. And none were of any serious consequence. You can't tell me the same negative publicity would have been replayed for John Elway, the Denver Deity.

Never mind Plummer has his own charity foundation that raises hundreds of thousands of dollars. Never mind he was a spokesman for the United Way. Never mind he is a nice, approachable guy in public - I've heard first-hand accounts.

On the field, Plummer's most remembered play in Denver was throwing an interception with his left hand. Oh, how he was made fun of for that.

Never mind he was one of winningest quarterbacks in the NFL the last four years. Never mind Plummer's stats through his 10 years were almost identical to Elway's first 10 years in the league. And never mind Denver's season tanked the second it inserted Jay Cutler, the man drafted to replace Plummer, into the starting lineup.

Plummer's time in Denver was doomed from the beginning because no one wanted to give him a chance. The truth is, the Broncos couldn't have won any more games with any other quarterback than they did with Plummer.

With the Cardinals, Plummer's career started off with kinder treatment. After an outstanding career as a Sun Devil, local fans were eager for him to become Arizona's starter as a rookie in 1997.

But it doesn't take much to realize that ASU fans are not one in the same with Cardinals fans. And the Sun Devils are certainly not the same team as the Cardinals, a doomed franchise that will never be a winner no matter what they do or anyone says.

No quarterback has helped the Cardinals to a 10-win season since the team moved to Arizona more than two decades ago. And there have been many signal callers who have tried.

But Plummer came closer than anyone. He led the Cardinals to their only winning season and their only playoff victory since playing in Arizona in 1998.

Fact is, Plummer is the most successful Cardinals quarterback the team has ever had in the desert. But he was ridden out of town after the 2002 season when he didn't take the Cardinals back to the playoffs. But of course, Jeff Blake, Josh McCown, Kurt Warner and Matt Leinart didn't either.

One of Plummer's last straws in Arizona came when he was asked if he cared if the home fans booed him. Plummer replied, "I could give a rat's ass" - meaning he didn't care if he was booed.

But Plummer's comments were portrayed as if he said he couldn't "give a rat's ass about the fans." That couldn't be further from the truth.

The one place where Plummer is given his due, where his talent and personality were always truly appreciated was here at ASU.

As a Sun Devil, Plummer gave fans a season they will never forget as a senior in 1996. It wasn't just that he led ASU to an undefeated regular season and a trip to the Rose Bowl, but it was the way he did it.

He led an improbable upset over defending national champ Nebraska. He brought ASU back from a 14-point deficit to beat USC in double overtime. He threw for a touchdown, ran for a touchdown and caught a touchdown in the late stages of a nail-biter against UCLA. And his snake-like touchdown scramble in the waning seconds of the Rose Bowl should have won ASU a national championship if not for an ensuing defensive collapse.

Since leaving ASU, Plummer has shown plenty of interest in his alma mater.

He's sported ASU caps at Broncos press conferences. He's called former ASU coach Dirk Koetter to congratulate the team in big wins in recent years. He gave his opinion on who ASU's athletic director should have been. And he was instrumental in honoring Tillman's life after the former ASU linebacker was killed as an Army Ranger serving in Afghanistan.

With that said, here's hoping Plummer won't be a hermit in his retirement. He should leave what was unjust about his NFL career in the past, but he should be no stranger at ASU.

Personally, I'd like to see him in Tempe on a regular basis, cheering on ASU at Sun Devil Stadium and having a role in the Athletic Department.

Here, the Snake will always be welcome.
 

RugbyMuffin

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by Christopher Drexel = Tango?


My goodness. Talk about some serious man love.
 

Covert Rain

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When did it become official he retired? I didn't read anything about him filing the paperwork. The last report I had seen is that he was using it as leverage. Either I missed it or this article is premature.
 

Gee!

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I read this yesterday, well, at least tried.. I got thru half of it before I gave up.. Sounded like some dude trying to get a date with Jake.. :barf:
 

kerouac9

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Jake is more likely to be remembered for his porn moustache than backing into a motorist.

Also, the author has been witness to "more road rage incidents in my life more times than I can count"? Seriously?

Finally, can anyone vouch for this: "But I saw various players taunting fans at every Cardinals game I went to this season." Opposing teams I at least understand, but did Cardinal players ever taunt their own fans? I understand that Phoenix has bad fans, but the product that was on the field last season certainly deserved to be booed.
 

abomb

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I read this yesterday, well, at least tried.. I got thru half of it before I gave up.. Sounded like some dude trying to get a date with Jake.. :barf:

Your dead!

Sincerely,

Christopher Drexel
 

MaoTosiFanClub

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Translation: Because Jake played well over a decade ago, we'll choose to ignore the fact that he can't handle limelight and the criticism that inevitably comes along with it and blame others for the personality and talent flaws that prevented him from becoming a great QB.

Sorry to Jake and his merry band of apologists, but not every athlete needs to be coddled to succeed.
 
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