He was signed two days ago, and if you somehow missed the news, well, consider yourself excused.
Because the New York Jets appear to be the thinking fan's pick to win Super Bowl XLV, and because the organization has spent this offseason adding seemingly every available impact player, it was easy for the acquisition of a 39-year-old backup quarterback like
And yet, as any fan of the
When football fans speak of Jets quarterbacks, all comparisons tend to begin and end with
But while Namath goes down as one of a large handful of greats at his position, an argument can be made (and, in this writer's opinion, should be made) that Pat Ryan is the best backup quarterback to ever play the game.
Does that mean most talented backup quarterback to ever play the game?
Greatest potential to one day become a star?
What made Ryan, the Jets' backup from 1978-89, so good was that, come day's end, he knew the exact specifics of his job -- and found himself thrilled to be doing it. "I felt like I could play," says Ryan, "and I was confident of my abilities. But for most of my time in New York
In 12 seasons with the Jets, Ryan, a career reserve at the University of Tennessee before being selected in the 11th round of the '78 Draft on the basis of his strong arm -- started 19 games. Eleven of those came in 1984, when O'Brien had to devote time to a legal issue (he and teammate
Indeed, O'Brien's caddy never complained about his role. Never. Neither, for that matter, will the classy Brunell. But if Jets fans were always comfortable with Ryan, now 55 and working as a home builder in Knoxville, they should feel less so with Brunell. To begin with, he is old -- 39 chronologically, 150 in NFL years. His mobility isn't what it once was, his arm not nearly as strong as the golden days in Jacksonville. "You need a backup to be able to lead the team for a prolonged stretch if the starter is hurt," says Ryan. "That's key."
Brunell is an excellent motivator, a wonderful confidant, a perfect player/coach for the green
What if Sanchez gets hurt in Week 3 or 4? Can the team still consider itself a Super Bowl contender with Brunell at the helm? Can he carry them through the tough ones?
Pat Ryan sure could.