How much does Jaguars rookie Gardner Minshew love playing football? Enough that he’d try to intentionally injure himself in hopes of being allowed to play more of it.
Minshew, a sixth-round pick, has become something of a cult hero after taking over for the injured Nick Foles. His everyman appearance, laid-back demeanor and penchant for, uh, nearly nude calisthenics have endeared him to fans across the country. No story about Minshew is as unbelievable, though, as the one he told on the “Pardon My Take” podcast this week.
Minshew said that in his first year at East Carolina (his second season of college eligibility) he was suddenly vaulted from third on the depth chart to first. He expected, with two seniors above him in the pecking order, that he wouldn’t play at all that season, allowing him to redshirt and play three full seasons after the guys ahead of him graduated.
After James Summers was moved to running back and Philip Nelson was injured, Minshew found himself pressed into game action.
“I played about a half and then we get in for the next week and the starter is going to be back,” Minshew said. “So I’m like, dang man, I just played a half. I really wasted a year on playing a half of ball. I was pretty pissed so I started looking around and seeing what I could do, what my options were. The only thing I could do was to get a medical redshirt. But if I played in this next game then that would be off the table.
“I got an idea. I go home and I grab a bottle of Jack Daniel’s and I grab a hammer. I go back into my room and I take a pull of Jack Daniels, I put my hand down on the table and I—boom, boom, boom, one, two, three—hit the hell out of my hand. I’m sitting there shaking but I know it’s not broken. So I take another pull—one, two, three. Still nothing. I knew it wasn’t broken. So one more time, another pull, another three hits. That was all I could take. I couldn’t break my own hand.”
He kept the scheme to himself, telling his coaches he had slammed his hand in a car. The hand remained swollen for several weeks.
It’s a good thing Minshew didn’t succeed in breaking his hand, because by the end of the season he had overtaken Nelson for the starting job.
Minshew said the only other people he had told the story were his teammates at Washington State last year, asking them what they would do in order to play more football. “I’d do damn near anything,” he told them.