Thinking About Jim Plunkett Tonight

Quote of the Day  

Dan Patrick: What are you playing for now?

Kurt Warner: I’m playing because I still love the game. And I’m really playing for another chance at a championship.

Editor’s Note–This exchange was from an interview on Dan Patrick’s excellent radio show from October of this year.

The clear inference in the question quoted above was that Kurt Warner will never play for a winner again. TB doesn’t fault DP for the inference as I and most everyone agreed with it at the time. I thought Warner’s answer was total BS, considering he was with the Cardinals and was only playing because the highly touted youngster the Cardinals drafted as their future leader was a bust. His run to one of the unlikeliest Super Bowl berths ever concluded tonight. He is quarterback of the NFC champion Arizona Cardinals. Though not a perfect analogy, his victory sent TB’s thoughts scurrying back to the Golden Age of Sports.

In 1980 Jim Plunkett was the backup quarterback of the Oakland Raiders behind Dan Pastorini. In 1978, Plunkett attempted precisely zero passes in the NFL. In 1979 he threw the pill fifteen times. He didn’t get to play in 1980 until week five when Pastorini broke his leg. Once hailed as one of the greatest pro prospects at quarterback to ever come out of the college game, his career never lived up to those expectations. But in 1980, after being written off by the sporting world, he got one last chance. And he found the touch that had eluded him since leaving Stanford. 

The Raiders were 2-3 when Plunkett became the starter. They went 9-2 from there out to claim the AFC wild card, then won 3 road playoff games in a row before smashing the Philadelphia Eagles 27-10 in Super Bowl XV. What stands out in TB’s ten year old kid memory of that season is Plunkett throwing the bomb. It seemed like he had nothing to lose so he aired it out like we kids wanted to see more than anybody else. And those bombs kept landing in Cliff Branch’s hands. I’ll also never forget Plunkett’s awful facemask, two bars close together and way down by the chin.

Naturally, Plunkett was eventually benched by the Raiders and written off as an old timer playing out the string for a paycheck. But in 1983, they called him back from the bench. And he found the magic again, leading the Raiders to a Super Bowl XVIII victory over the loathsome Washington Redskins.

The analogy to Kurt Warner isn’t perfect, mainly because Warner rose from obscurity to become the prolific quarterback of the St. Louis Rams “greatest show on turf” team that won Super Bowl XXXIV in 1999, whereas Plunkett was the golden boy when he entered the league. But by 2003, Warner was pretty much written off as a has been and to some a flash in the pan, or a system quarterback. He was benched in 2004 by the New York Giants in favor of rookie Eli Manning. His signing by the Cardinals in 2005 was noticed only by observers amazed at the Cardinals’ persistence in making non-sensical personnel decisions. After joining the Cardinals, he was benched for phenom Josh McCown, then later for phenom Matt Leinhart.  This year, he beat out presumptive starter Leinhart in the preseason, told Dan Patrick he still wanted to win championships and thought his Cardinals could be dangerous, and eventually won that championship. And I hope he wins another Super Bowl.

I bet Plunkett wouldn’t mind seeing that either. Especially if Warner debuted a tribute to the Plunkett facemask.

Enjoy the video–sorry about the commercial. Nothing from the NFL is free.


About travellinbaen

I'm a 40 year old lawyer living in Ridgeland, Mississippi. I'm several years and a couple hundred miles removed from most of my old running buddies so I started the blog to provide an outlet for many of the observations and ideas that used to be the subjects of our late night/happy hour/halftime conversations and arguments.
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22 Responses to Thinking About Jim Plunkett Tonight

  1. Anonymous says:

    Warner HOF? SB win, 2 MVP, 30,000 yds, 200 tds, 90+ rating (assuming he plays next year)better stats than Aikman and I’m sure others, takes the freakin Cardinals to the SB……I will vote him in

  2. He probably deserves it. BTW, whoever votes “write-in” in the poll, write in your choice down here in the comments.

  3. coachteajay says:

    Ken Anderson, Dan Fouts

  4. larry says:

    I made the comment last night that the NFC Championship game probably got him the HOF. Before last night I do not think he makes it.

    I was pulling for him up to now, but the Steelers were my team back in the Golden Age.

  5. face says:

    Dan Fouts

  6. Madd Dawg says:

    Vince Ferragamo

  7. I saw that one coming MD. I’m waiting on the Ole Miss homers to chime in. I was gonna leave Archie off the list, in favor of Bert Jones or Snake Stabler or Bob Griese, but I was feeling charitable last night.

  8. larry says:

    John Fourcade

  9. Zeek says:

    Warner probably deserves it, I’d vote for him. Archie definitely deserves it. Name me another player who won the NFL MVP , by throwing for like 3,700 yds. passing, 30-something TD’s on a 3-13 team. You never hear about that.
    Fouts, Stabler, and Griese would get my vote also, esp. Fouts.

  10. bwbuzz says:

    just thought i would throw some leftovers in, Pat Haden, Brain Sipe, Steve Grogan, Jim Zorn, Gary Danielson, Joe Ferguson, Steve Bartkowski, Ron Jaworski, Jim Hart etc. etc.

  11. BR says:

    Craig Morton

  12. zero votes for Archie is astounding. I like it. Et tu Zeek?

    Man, those are some good names. I can only add Doug Williams, Danny White, and Vince Evans

  13. Stone says:

    No Saint deserves to be on a Golden Age list. I love Archie. However, fate placed him with the most God awful franchise the world has ever known. One by one the other God awful franchises break through. Tampa Bay Bucs, now the Cardinals, the freaking Rays in baseball (really?). Each time it happens, it further cements the saints as the worst ever.

    I voted for Staubach. I now hate the Cowboys but that team was cool. Ed to tall Jones, Tony Dorsett, Drew Pearson, etc. Danny White was the punter/backup QB.

    Archie got screwed. However, he has two super bowl MVP sons that play QB. Having a son of my own, I am certain he loves that more than winning any himself.

  14. larry says:

    I think Dan Fouts is in the HOF

  15. Zeek says:

    TB,have you gone mental? Look above, I would never betray Archie.(blastphemous)

    None of the players listed above(that aren’t in HOF) were as good as Archie.Period.

  16. I was just going by the votes in the poll. Staubach leads with 4, Archie is in last with 0. You didn’t vote for him as your favorite right?

  17. RockStarRambler says:

    Archie now has one vote – mine.

  18. Zeek says:

    Of course, if there is a vote, Archie gets mine,sorry.

  19. JessieLou says:

    First let me say I HATE NFL football. I watched it more when I was growing up and had my own Miami Dolphins jersey which I wore proudly to Beach Elementary. My vote goes to Bob Griese.

    Archie was great, no question, but he really gets the last laugh with his legacy of Peyton and Eli.

  20. quail09 says:

    “El Plunko”, as my little brother referred to him, had the second worst face mask…..Billy Kilmer had a single bar mask that was fastened on at a wierd angle….any votes for him?

  21. smilyj says:

    bob griese, man.

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