Still idolizing George after all these years
OK, I lied. A year ago, I announced I was done writing about Jeff George, done campaigning for an NFL team to give one of football’s all-time great talents a shot at redemption.
Call me Brett Whitlock or Jason Favre or the Old Mudslinger.
Whatever, I changed my mind. It’s August. It’s humid in the Midwest. Schefter and Mort are touring training camps in a bus. Glazer is out of the gym, off the party circuit and glued to a cell phone working his sources.
It’s football season, and I’ve got that itch back.
Jeff George, his right arm, his tight spiral, his nonchalant seven-step dropback dance through my head at night.
If loving George under center is wrong, then I don’t want to be right.
Earlier this week, with the Brett Favre-Minnesota Vikings drama dragging on, George stated on a Minneapolis radio station that he would be more than happy to replace Favre on the Minnesota roster if the Old Gunslinger decided to retire.
Look, I’m a Favre fan. I hope he returns for one more season. I’m not bothered that his position on retirement seemed to change shortly after the Vikings leaked they were willing to add $7 million to his 2010 paycheck.
Favre is just one year younger than the 42-year-old George. Favre’s excellent play into his 40s proves my point — George isn’t too old to get it done.
I’m not crazy for believing my childhood friend can still be an effective NFL quarterback. He’s kept himself in great shape. He doesn’t have the health concerns that plague Favre. George will play for the NFL minimum. His ego has been checked.
Why not Jeff George? Mark Brunell can still find work in the league, but the greatest right arm in football history was blackballed because he had a personality conflict with a few coaches.
You’d think George had financed a dogfighting operation or been accused of sexual assault twice. Nope. He just clashed with a couple of coaches.
OK, maybe I’m leaving out a few details. Maybe I’m not painting a complete picture of his NFL career.
But don’t hate me. Don’t lose respect for my NFL knowledge. I’ll still spit the hardcore Truths about the NFL.
But the connection between me, Jeff George and football runs deep. Deeper than the high school state championship we won together at Indianapolis Warren Central in 1984.
I fell in love with football because of the George family. Jeff’s older brother, Dave, was my childhood hero. In the 1970s, Dave quarterbacked some very good Warren Central teams. He starred on the basketball team, too. And he dated all of the hottest Warren Central cheerleaders.
Dave George made this chubby black kid want to play quarterback at Warren Central High. I dreamed of throwing game-winning touchdown passes and making out with Janice Toth, the hottest cheerleader at my junior high, in the Pizza Hut parking lot after the game.
That dream faded the first time I laid eyes on Jeff George’s tight spiral. I knew I wouldn’t be playing quarterback on the east side of Indianapolis. And I realized I needed to develop a new game plan to get to first base with Janice Toth, Kathy Raftery or any of the Coryell sisters.
I walked my ass inside Pizza Hut and started eating, figuring I’d protect Jeff George’s blindside for glory. Sandra Bullock should’ve starred in a movie about my life, the real Blindside.
I digress. Jeff George on the football field makes me feel like a kid again. Giving up on his career is an admission that I’m old, too old to chase 30-year-olds who remind me of Janice Toth, too old to shoot craps with my boyz like we’re still in college, too old to crack jokes about porn stars and farting and Quicky Ricky Pitino’s sex life.
I can’t give up. I’m still in my prime. I’m sorry. Jeff George is still in his prime. I just saw him two weeks ago. I hosted the Jeff George Foundation’s annual fundraiser for breast cancer research. Jeff’s mom, Judy, is fighting the disease. She’s rallying and was able to attend the event.
A big part of the reason Jeff won’t give up on football is because of his mom. He believes it will provide her and his entire family joy, a reminder of a time when we all had less serious issues to consider.
Youth. We take it for granted when we have it. We spend our 40s trying to recapture it.
I’m not asking for all that much: a backup quarterback job for Jeff George, Janice Toth’s phone number or a 27-year-old who could pass for Janice Toth.