Matt Leinart

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Posted by pompos 03/25/2009 @ 20:09

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Fantasy rankings, from Bizarro World - ESPN
Matt Leinart slipped all the way to 10th in the 2006 NFL draft. He won't last that long in your 2009 fantasy draft. Coming off a season in which Leinart delivered the Arizona Cardinals their first Super Bowl title -- keyed by a perfectly accurate...
Garcia getting antsy? - San Francisco Chronicle
Just ask Matt Leinart about Kurt Warner, or Vince Young about Kerry Collins. Everyone knew Garcia would have a hard time accepting a backup seat to another quarterback, much less an unproven player like Russell. Don't think the coaching staff minds...
Storylines that don't involve you-know-who - FOXSports.com
Matt Leinart/Vince Young/Kellen Clemens/Tarvaris Jackson: If the 2004 quarterback class is one of the best ones we've seen in decades, the 2006 one could be the most disappointing. With the exception of Jay Cutler, quarterbacks Vince Young,...
How Long Will Matt Leinart be Content to Ride the Bench? - Bleacher Report
Can celebrity back-up quarterback Matt Leinart continue to be satisfied watching from the sidelines? Will the departure of Edgerrin James be tougher to replace than originally thought? Can the Ohio State rookie, Chris "Beanie" Wells, progress fast...
A Look At Each NFL Team's QB Situation, Brett Favre of Course Included - FanIQ
With Warner likely to retire within the next year or two, can Matt Leinart buckle down and show he can lead this team into the future? It hasn't looked overly promising now, but Leinart will have some very nice offensive weapons at his disposal if and...
Andy Reid: Anquan Boldin isn't really available - Yahoo! Sports
The Patriots aren't going to call and offer them Tom Brady(notes) in exchange for Matt Leinart(notes), either, in case they were wondering. I suspect that the Cardinals know this, but they go through with the charade anyway, just so they can turn to...
Chat with Mark Schlabach - ESPN
Troy (Montrose, CA): Do you think Aaron Corp is the next Matt Leinart and Mitch Mustain is the next Matt Cassel? I see a lot of similarities. Corp is a tall, redshirt sophomore with a subpar arm playing his first season as a starter in an odd year...
UWIRE: Freshman competes for starting QB job at USC - OSU - The Lantern
Where Barkley "went on from" was Mater Dei High School in Santa Ana, a California high school football powerhouse that also produced former USC quarterbacks Matt Leinart and Todd Marinovich, who transferred after his sophomore season....
NFL Draft Prediction - Boldin, Leinart to Skins - East Coast Bias
Here is my fearless, incorrect, prediction: The Redskins will trade Jason Campbell and a pick for Anquan Boldin and Matt Leinart. But, you say, the cap hit would be tremendous! Snyder has already made it clear with his signing of Haynesworth and...
The USC/OC Connection: Corp Now Starting QB - NBC Los Angeles
There was Matt Leinart (Mater Dei), Mark Sanchez (Mission Viejo) and now Aaron Corp (Villa Park) will get the keys to possibly the best offense in the nation. No pressure though. "We have to name a starter for the spring game and Corp is in the lead at...

Matt Leinart

Matt Leinart's Heisman Trophy

Matthew Stephen Leinart (born May 11, 1983 in Santa Ana, California) is an American football quarterback for the Arizona Cardinals of the National Football League. He played college football at Southern California, leading them to an AP national championship in 2003, a BCS national championship in 2004, and an appearance in the BCS National Championship game in 2005. Leinart earlier played quarterback at Mater Dei High School. In 2004, his junior year at USC, he won the Heisman Trophy. He also won the inaugural Manning Award for college quarterbacks in the same season.

Leinart was born in Santa Ana, California. He was born with strabismus (“crossed eyed”), as his left eye was not aligned correctly with his right. He underwent surgery when he was three years old and was fitted with special glasses to correct the problem, but the eyewear combined with Leinart's already-overweight frame to make him an easy target for ridicule at the hands of other children. “I used to get made fun of for being cross-eyed. It's just a terrible thing because kids are so cruel to the fat kid, to the kid with the glasses. So I turned to sports,” he would later say.

Leinart attended Mater Dei High School and was a student and a letterman in football. As a junior, he led his team to a California Interscholastic Federation Division I co-championship, and was named the Sierra League's Offensive Most Valuable Player. Wearing the same number 7 he does today with the Cardinals, he was chosen as the Gatorade California high school football player of the year.

As one of the nation's top college football recruits, Leinart committed to USC under coach Paul Hackett, noting that a major factor was offensive coordinator Hue Jackson. However, after Hackett and most of his staff were fired in 2000, Leinart considered other programs such as Georgia Tech and Arizona State and visited Oklahoma before USC eventually hired Pete Carroll.

Leinart redshirted his first year (2001). As a redshirt freshman the next year, he was a backup to future Heisman Trophy winner and current Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Carson Palmer, who was in his senior season at USC (one which would conclude with Palmer's Heisman victory). While Leinart appeared in a few plays during his freshman year, he threw no passes.

In his 2003 sophomore season, Leinart beat out Matt Cassel, a redshirt junior who backed up Palmer in 2002, and Purdue transfer Brandon Hance for the starting job at quarterback. Going into the season, Carroll and his coaching staff selected Leinart not because he had set himself significantly ahead of the pack in practice, but because they needed a starting quarterback. When the coaching staff told Leinart he would be the starter, he replied, "You're never going to regret this." There was some thought in the press that Leinart would merely hold the starting position until highly-touted true freshman John David Booty, who had bypassed his senior year in high school to attend USC, could learn the offense.

His first career pass was a touchdown against Auburn. Leinart would win the first three games of his career before the then-No. 3 Trojans suffered a 34–31 triple-overtime defeat at California on September 27 that dropped the Trojans to No. 10.

Leinart and the Trojans bounced back the next week against Arizona State. Leinart injured his knee in the second quarter and was not expected to play again that day, but he returned to the game and finished 12-of-23 for 289 yards in a 37–17 victory.

Leinart and the Trojans won their final eight games and finished the regular season 11–1 and ranked No. 1 in the AP and coaches' polls. However, USC was left out of the BCS championship game after finishing third in the BCS behind Oklahoma and LSU. The Trojans went to the Rose Bowl and played University of Michigan. Leinart was named the Rose Bowl MVP after he went 23-of-34 for 327 yards, throwing three touchdowns and catching a touchdown of his own. The Trojans finished No. 1 in the AP Poll, winning the AP national championship.

In 13 starts, Leinart was 255 for 402 for 3,556 yards and 38 TDs with 9 INTs. He finished sixth in the Heisman voting.

The Trojans started Leinart's junior season (2004) with victories in their first three games. On September 25, the Trojans played Stanford University. After Stanford took a 28–17 halftime lead, Leinart sparked the offense with a 51-yard pass to Steve Smith and scored on a one-yard sneak to cut the Cardinal lead to four points. Leinart and the Trojans were able to take the lead on a LenDale White touchdown rush and hold on for the victory, 31–28. Leinart completed 24 of 30 passes.

He finished the final regular season game against UCLA, but was held without a touchdown pass for the first time in 25 starts. Nonetheless, Leinart was invited to New York for the Heisman ceremony, along with teammate Reggie Bush, Oklahoma's freshman sensation Adrian Peterson, incumbent Jason White, and Utah's Alex Smith. In what many had considered one of the more competitive Heisman races, Leinart became the sixth USC player to claim the Heisman Trophy.

In 2004, USC went wire-to-wire at No. 1 in the polls and earned a bid to the BCS title game at the Orange Bowl against Oklahoma, which was also 12–0. A dream matchup on paper (including White vs. Leinart, which was to be the first time two Heisman winners would play against each other), the Orange Bowl turned out to be a rout, as Leinart threw for five touchdown passes on 18-for-35 passing and 332 yards to lead the Trojans to a 55–19 victory. Leinart received Orange Bowl MVP honors and the Trojans claimed their first BCS national championship and second straight No. 1 finish in the AP, extending their winning streak to 22 games.

Aside from a home game against Fresno State, the 2005 Trojans remained relatively unchallenged for the rest of the season, running their record to another 12–0 regular season and 34 wins in a row.

Leinart and the Trojans completed a perfect 12–0 regular season, during which Leinart threw for a career-high 400 yards against Notre Dame. After an incomplete pass and a sack led to a fourth-and-nine situation with 1:36 left--at the Trojans' own 26-yard line, Leinart called an audible fade route at the line of scrimmage and threw deep against the Irish's man-to-man coverage, where Dwayne Jarrett caught the ball and raced to the Irish' 13-yard line, a 61-yard gain. Leinart moved the ball to the goal line as time dwindled and scored on a QB sneak that gave the Trojans a 34–31 lead with three seconds to go, giving the Trojans their 28th straight victory and one of the most memorable and dramatic finishes in the history of the USC-Notre Dame rivalry.

Leinart, who was having arguably a better season than in 2004, was again invited to New York for the Heisman ceremony along with teammate Reggie Bush and Texas quarterback Vince Young. As a former Heisman winner, Leinart cast his first-place vote for Bush and ended up third in the voting behind Bush and runner-up Young.

The Trojans advanced to the Rose Bowl to face Vince Young and No. 2 Texas in the BCS title game. The title game was considered another "dream matchup." Leinart himself had a great game, going 29-of-40 for a touchdown and 365 yards, but was overshadowed by Young, who piled up 467 yards of total offense and rushed for three touchdowns, including a score with 19 seconds remaining and two-point conversion to put the Longhorns ahead, 41–38. The Trojans lost for the first time in 35 games, and Leinart for just the second time in his 39 career starts.

After graduation, Leinart's #11 jersey was retired at USC.

Leinart finished his college career with 807 completions on 1,245 attempts (64.8% completion percentage) for 10,693 yards and 99 touchdowns with just 23 interceptions. He is USC's all-time leader in career touchdown passes and completion percentage, and is second at USC behind Palmer in completions and yardage. He averaged nearly 8.6 yards per attempt, and averaged only one interception every 54 attempts. He was 37–2 as a starter.

Leinart was considered one of the top prospects in the 2006 NFL Draft class. Standing 6'5" (1.96 m) and weighing 225 pounds (100 kg) and a left-handed thrower, he was considered the prototypical size for a NFL quarterback.

Leinart was selected tenth overall in the 2006 Draft by the Arizona Cardinals.

Leinart was involved in a prolonged holdout with the Cardinals on August 8, 2006. He became the last first round draft pick without a contract in place. However, on August 14, Leinart agreed to a six-year, $51 million contract, becoming the very last member of the draft to sign a contract, and not before Cardinal Coach Dennis Green said that he had lost his patience. Despite signing late, Leinart played in the second quarter of the exhibition game against the New England Patriots on August 19.

During the fourth week of the NFL season, unofficial sources projected that Leinart would take over as the starting quarterback, due to an abysmal performance by Kurt Warner in the previous game. During the week, coach Green held a conference and specifically stated that Warner would still start that week's game.

In a November 26 game, he set an NFL rookie record with 405 passing yards. His quarterback rating was 74.0. He suffered a sprained left shoulder (throwing arm) in a week 16 win over the San Francisco 49ers. In 11 starts, Leinart threw for 2,547 yards and 11 touchdowns. He finished the season with a 4–7 record.

Leinart opened the 2007 season on Monday Night Football against the San Francisco 49ers as the starting quarterback. After some poor plays, he began alternating with Warner. On October 10, 2007, Leinart suffered a fractured left collarbone after being sacked by St. Louis Rams linebacker Will Witherspoon. Three days later, he was placed on injured reserve, ending his season.

In Leinart's second season with Arizona, he started 5 games and completed 53.6% of his passes (60/112) and threw for 647 yards, 5.8 yards per attempt, 2 touchdowns, and 4 interceptions. His passer rating was 61.9. He averaged 129 yards and 0.4 touchdowns per start. Kurt Warner was named the starting quarterback for the Cardinals for the 2008–09 season.

Leinart played in four games in 2008, with an 80.2 quarterback rating and one touchdown pass.

Leinart's son, Cole Cameron Leinart, was born on October 24, 2006 in California. Cole's mother is USC women's basketball player Brynn Cameron. Leinart broke up with Cameron before the baby was born. Though they had a dispute over child support early on, they have since settled their differences and Leinart now has a regular schedule for seeing his son.

Matt Leinart made an appearance on the May 1, 2006 episode of Punk'd, featuring Ashton Kutcher as the host. He also has appeared in several commercials on television, most notably for ABC's hit-sitcom Desperate Housewives. He also appeared in Nike's "Football is Everything" commercial as the backup quarterback on the sidelines holding a clipboard. He also starred in an NFL Sunday Ticket commercial with the Manning family (Peyton and Eli are surprised that father Archie is helping him with his throwing, only to have Archie say that "he always wanted a lefty"). In 2007, he appeared in the NFL Shop commercial with Steven Jackson and Adam Vinatieri where he threw an Arizona Cardinals throw blanket to a fan who made a diving catch. Most recently, Leinart appeared in a commercial for ESPN the Magazine. He appeared in seven episodes of Rome is Burning in 2006-07, Jimmy Kimmel Live after winning BCS title game (2005), and the 2008 film The House Bunny.

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Vince Young

Vince Young scores a touchdown in the 2005 Big 12 Championship Game.

Vincent Paul Young, Jr. (born May 18, 1983 in Houston, Texas), commonly Vince Young, or "VY", is an American football quarterback for the Tennessee Titans of the National Football League. Young was the third overall draft pick in the 2006 NFL Draft. He played college football at The University of Texas. In his rookie season, Young was named the NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year and earned a roster spot on the AFC Pro Bowl team.

As a junior in college, Young finished second behind Reggie Bush in the voting for the Heisman Trophy, but did win the prestigous Davey O'Brien Award which is given annually to the best collegiate quarterback in the nation. Following the Heisman voting, Young led his team to a BCS National Championship against the defending BCS national champion, University of Southern California, in the 2006 Rose Bowl. The game was called one of the most-anticipated games in the history of college football. In 2006, ESPN named Young as the 10th best college football player of all time. Texas retired Young's jersey on August 30, 2008.

Young grew up in a tough neighborhood in Houston, Texas where he was primarily raised by his mother and his grandmother. His father, Vincent Young Sr., missed much of Vince's college career due to a 2003 burglary conviction and prison sentence. Young credits his mother and grandmother for keeping him away from the street gangs. At the age of 7, Young was struck by a vehicle while riding his bicycle at the corner of Tidewater and Buxley, streets in his Houston neighborhood. The accident nearly killed him, leaving him hospitalized for months after the bicycle's handle bar went into his stomach. Today, he credits this event for making him into a "tougher" individual. Vince Young wears the number 10 to show love and respect for his mother, Felicia Young, whose birthday is June 10th.

Young was coached by Ray Seals at Madison High School in Houston, Texas where he started at quarterback (QB) for three years and compiled 12,987 yards of total offense during his career. During his senior season he led his Madison Marlins to a 61-58 victory in the 5A Regionals over the previously undefeated Galena Park North Shore Mustangs, accounting for more than 400 yards of total offense while passing for three touchdowns and rushing for two more before a crowd of 45,000 in the Houston Astrodome. After beating Missouri City Hightower 56-22 in the state quarterfinals, Houston Madison faced Austin Westlake in the state semi-finals. Although Young completed 18-of-30 passes for 400 yards and five TDs and rushed for 92 yards (on 18 carries) and a TD, Houston Madison lost 42-48.

He was also a varsity athlete in numerous other sports. In basketball he played as a guard/forward and averaged more than 25 points per game over his career. This allowed him to be a four-year letterman and two-time all-district performer. In track and field he was a three-year letterman and member of two district champion 400-meter relay squads. In baseball he played for two seasons, spending time as both an outfielder and pitcher. He also made the all-state team in football and in track.

Young chose to sign with Texas in 2002 for its winning tradition and football prominence there. He was part of a Texas recruiting class, which contained future NFL players Rodrique Wright, Justin Blalock, Brian Robison, Kasey Studdard, Lyle Sendlein, David Thomas, Selvin Young, and Aaron Ross. This class has been cited as one of the strongest college recruiting classes ever. Young redshirted his freshman year; this allowed him to learn the playbook and develop his skills before being asked to play in a game situation.

As a redshirt freshman during the 2003 season, Young was initially 2nd on the depth chart behind Chance Mock. However, Mock was benched halfway through the season (in the game against Oklahoma) in favor of Young. After that game, Young and Mock alternated playing time, with Young's running ability complementing Mock's drop-back passing.

As a redshirt sophomore in the 2004 season, Young started every game and led the Longhorns to an 11-1 season record (losing only to rival Oklahoma), a top 5 final ranking, and the school's first-ever appearance and victory in the Rose Bowl, in which they defeated the University of Michigan. He began to earn his reputation as a dual-threat quarterback by passing for 1,849  and rushing for 1,189 yards. The Texas coaches helped facilitate this performance by changing the team offensive scheme from the more traditional I-formation to a Shotgun formation with 3 wide receivers. This change gave the offense more options in terms of play selection, and consequently made it more difficult to defend against.

Before his junior season, Young appeared on the cover of Dave Campbell's Texas Football alongside Texas A&M quarterback Reggie McNeal.

In his All-America 2005 season, Young led the Longhorns to an 11-0 regular season record. The Longhorns held a #2 ranking in the preseason, and held that ranking through the season except for one week when they were ranked #1 in the Bowl Championship Series.. Texas then won the Big 12 championship game and still held their #2 BCS ranking, which earned them a berth in the National Championship Rose Bowl game against the USC Trojans. Before the game, the USC Trojans were being discussed on ESPN and other media outlets as possibly the greatest college football team of all time. Riding a 34 game winning streak, including the previous National Championship, USC featured two Heisman Trophy winners in the backfield, including quarterback Matt Leinart (2004 Heisman winner) and running back Reggie Bush (2005 Heisman winner) who was widely discussed as being possibly the best running back in the history of college football.

In the Rose Bowl, Vince Young put on one of the most dominating individual performances in college football history, accounting for 467 yards of total offense (200 rushing, 267 passing) and three rushing touchdowns (including a 9 yard TD scramble with 19 seconds left) to lead the Longhorns to a thrilling 41-38 victory. This performance led to him winning Rose Bowl MVP honors for the second consecutive season. After the game, former USC and NFL safety Ronnie Lott said "Vince Young is the greatest quarterback to ever play college football." Trojans coach Pete Carroll said "that was the best I've seen by one guy." Young finished the season with 3,036 yards passing and 1,050 yards rushing earning him the Davey O'Brien Award.

Early in his collegiate career, Vince Young had been criticized as "great rusher...average passer", and his unconventional throwing motion had been criticized as being "side-arm" as opposed to the conventional "over the top" throwing motion typically used by college quarterbacks. However, by the 2005 season most of the criticism had faded, and he developed into a consistent and precise passer. Young concluded the 2005 regular season as the #1 rated passer in the nation. Including the Big 12 Championship game and the Rose Bowl, he finished as the #3 rated passer in the nation, with a quarterback rating of 163.9.

Young reached a win/loss record as a starter of 30–2, ranking him #1 of all UT quarterbacks by number of wins. His .938 winning percentage as a starting quarterback ranks sixth best in Division I history. Young’s career passing completion percentage is the best in UT history, 60.8%. During his career at Texas (2003-05), Young passed for 6,040 yards (No. 5 in UT history) and 44 TDs (No. 4 in UT history) while rushing for 3,127 yards (No. 1 on UT’s all-time QB rushing list/No. 7 on UT’s all-time list) and 37 TDs (No. 5 on UT’s all-time rushing TDs list/Tied for No. 1 among QBs). He was also #10 on ESPN/IBM's list of the greatest college football players ever. In 2007, ESPN compiled a list of the top 100 plays in college football history; Vince Young's game-winning touchdown in the 2006 Rose Bowl ranked number 5.

The University of Texas retired Young's jersey number 10 in the 2008 season-opening football game on August 30, 2008.

Throughout the 2005 season Young had indicated that he planned to return to the University of Texas for his senior year in 2006. The day after Texas won the BCS National Championship, Young accepted an invitation to appear on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno. When Leno asked Young whether he would stay for his senior year of college or declare for the 2006 NFL Draft, Young replied that he would discuss the matter with his pastor, his family, and coach Mack Brown. On January 8, 2006, Young announced he would enter the NFL draft, where he was expected to be drafted early in the first round. Even after his Rose Bowl performance, some observers said he may have difficulty in the NFL because of his unorthodox sidearm throwing motion and the different style of play in the NFL. After Drew Brees signed as a free agent with the New Orleans Saints, Young was predicted by most experts to be the third overall pick in the draft belonging to the Tennessee Titans, where he would reunite with his close friend and mentor Steve McNair, but McNair was soon traded to the Baltimore Ravens. With the second overall pick, the Saints (now with Brees) were now likely to pass on drafting a high-rated quarterback, and Young was no longer thought to be a consensus top five pick. Some had speculated that he would not even be picked in the top ten.

A controversy regarding the Wonderlic, a standardized test given to all recruits, was thought also to have been problematic for Young. On February 25, 2006, during the NFL Combine, it was erroneously reported that Vince scored a six, out of a possible fifty points, on his Wonderlic Test. The test is designed to measure cognitive ability, which could indicate a player's ability to learn a complex NFL playbook. The Wonderlic corporation has resisted equating a score with a given I.Q. Charlie Wonderlic Jr., president of Wonderlic Inc., says, "A score of 10 is literacy, that's about all we can say." Some observers believed this score would lower Young's draft selection and faulted his agent, Major Adams, for not preparing Young ahead of time with practice tests.

The NFL draft was held on April 29-30, 2006. The Tennessee Titans drafted Vince Young with their first round pick (3rd choice overall), confirming the predictions of many draft experts. He was the first quarterback taken in the draft, with the Titans choosing him instead of Matt Leinart. The Titans general manager, Floyd Reese, said Young's upside was the deciding factor in his being chosen. Reese said, “Last night at 11:35, I was on my knees praying ... he will rewrite the position. This guy physically is such a combination of arms and legs. People want to make him out to be a Michael Vick. He's not that. He's different.” He started his NFL career on August 12, 2006 in a preseason matchup against a Reggie Bush led New Orleans Saints.

On July 27, 2006, Young agreed to terms on his initial contract with the Titans. Terms of the deal were reported to include five years with a sixth year team option and as much as US$58 million overall including $25.7 million in guaranteed money. As a quarterback, Young was able to reach a deal similar to that signed by the draft's #1 overall pick, Texans defensive end Mario Williams.

On August 12, 2006, Vince Young made his preseason debut, and on September 17, he threw for his first career touchdown against the San Diego Chargers. Young made his first career start versus the Dallas Cowboys on October 1, 2006 completing 14 of 29 passes for 155 yards, one touchdown, and two interceptions. He achieved his first NFL victory (against the Washington Redskins, 25-22) on October 15, 2006.

On Sunday November 26, 2006 Vince Young led his first NFL fourth-quarter comeback, against the New York Giants. With the Giants leading 21-0, the tide suddenly changed after New York quarterback Eli Manning threw an interception to Pacman Jones. Young subsequently led a scoring drive, throwing a touchdown pass to ex-Longhorn teammate Bo Scaife. After the Titans forced a three-and-out, Young ran an option play for a touchdown on the next drive. Another successful stop led to Young throwing his second touchdown of the quarter. After another Eli Manning interception to Pacman Jones, this time with only 30 seconds left in the game, Young calmly led his team down the field for Rob Bironas' game-winning field goal; the final score was 24-21 over the Giants. It is statistically the best performance of Vince Young's NFL career: he went 24/35 for 249 yards and two touchdowns, with a 107.9 passer rating. He also rushed 10 times for 69 yards and a touchdown.

A week later, Young led another come-from-behind victory over the Indianapolis Colts who, prior to the game, held a 10-1 record. Rob Bironas iced the game with a 60-yard field goal. The 14-point comeback marked the first time in NFL history that a rookie quarterback led two 14+ point comebacks in the same season. The following week, Young capped off a Houston homecoming by running for a 39-yard game-winning touchdown in overtime to defeat the Texans by a score of 26-20.

On Sunday December 24, 2006, Vince Young led yet another come-from-behind victory over the Buffalo Bills who, along with the Titans, had a 7-7 record and were competing for an AFC wild card playoff spot. This time the comeback was from 9 points down after Rian Lindell kicked a 24-yard field goal at the end of the 3rd quarter to make the score 29-20 in favor of the Bills. Young then led the Titans on a 9-play, 62-yard drive that spanned 4:16 and ended with a 29-yard touchdown pass to Brandon Jones to make the score 27-29. After a three and out by the Buffalo Bills, Young again led his team on a 7:15, 14-play scoring drive that culminated in a 30-yard field goal by Rob Bironas, putting the Titans on top 30-29. Bironas' kick would prove to be the winning points. Young ended the day going 13-of-20 for 183 yards, two touchdowns, and no interceptions, with a rating of 127.7. He also rushed 8 times for 61 yards and 1 touchdown.

Young holds the NFL record for rushing yards by a rookie quarterback with 552, breaking the old record of 408 yards set by Bobby Douglass in 1969. He won the Associated Press NFL Offensive Rookie of The Year honors at the conclusion of the 2006 NFL campaign, becoming only the third quarterback to win the award, along with Dennis Shaw and Ben Roethlisberger. On Saturday February 3, Vince Young was named to the 2007 Pro Bowl to replace Philip Rivers whose foot injury kept him out of what would have been his first pro bowl appearance. Young would throw one interception in limited play time in the Pro Bowl.

Of the rookie QB class of 2006, Vince Young has the best record as a starter, surpassing the only other three starting rookie QB's: Matt Leinart, Jay Cutler, and Bruce Gradkowski. During the 2006 season, Vince Young led the Tennessee Titans to eight wins including six straight wins where he posted an 8-5 record as a starter. Of the wins, four of them were fourth quarter comebacks, including three straight fourth quarter comebacks. His passer rating was 66.7, which ranked 30th of 31 qualified quarterbacks in the NFL that season. Only Tampa Bay quarterback Bruce Gradkowski had a lower rating of 65.9.

Vince Young has also appeared on the cover of Sports Illustrated six times: once in the 2005 College Football season preview issue, on a December issue prior to the Big 12 Championship game versus Colorado, on the weekly edition after the 2006 Rose Bowl and also the Commemorative edition following the 2006 Rose Bowl, once for the 2006 NFL Draft preview issue, and most recently after his Titans won 4 straight games in the 2006 NFL season. Young's performance in his rookie season earned him the honor of being the cover athlete for the video game Madden NFL 08.

In 2006, Merril Hoge gained notoriety for acting as a vocal critic of Vince Young. Hoge's criticism began before the 2006 NFL draft, in which Young was drafted third overall by the Tennessee Titans, and continued throughout the season even as Young took command of a losing team, bringing the Titans within a game of an unlikely playoff berth. For his efforts, Vince Young was named the 2006 Rookie of the Year, far and away the favorite of the voters. Despite these achievements, Hoge continues to maintain that Young does not have the talent or skills to play in the NFL.

In an article published by NFL.com Young was quoted as saying he thought about retiring from professional football after his first season stating "I really thought long and hard about it. There was so much going on with my family. It was crazy being an NFL quarterback. It wasn't fun anymore. All of the fun was out of it. All of the excitement was gone. All I was doing was worrying about things." However, Young would later recant this stating he never considered quiting football and his remarks were blown out of proportion.

For the first exhibition game against the Washington Redskins on August 11, 2007, Titans Coach Jeff Fisher benched Young after he broke one of the team rules. Though Fisher declined to mention the rule Young broke, Young later hesitantly admitted that he left the team hotel the previous night in order to sleep at his home without informing Fisher. Young apologized for his behavior and was allowed to play for the next game.

During the Titans first game, a 13-10 win against the Jacksonville Jaguars, Young threw for 78 yards with 1 interception and ran for 22 yards, including a TD. In Week 2, the Titans lost 22-20 to the Indianapolis Colts at home. Vince threw for 164 yards and a TD and ran for 53 yards on 5 carries. During Week 3, the Titans played the New Orleans Saints in the first of their 2 appearances on Monday Night Football in the 2007 season. The Titans beat the Saints 31-14 behind Young’s 185 total yards (21 rushing, 164 passing) and 2 TDs with 1 interception. On Sunday October 7th, Vince Young and the Titans took to the field in Nashville as they took on the Atlanta Falcons. Despite a lackluster day, the Titans and Young would come away with the victory 20-13. Young was 20-33 with 153 yards and 3 INT's.

Young injured his quadricep during the first half of a matchup against Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Week 6. Young went to the dressing room clutching his leg, but returned after half-time and was shown warming up on the sidelines. However, he would not return to the game as a precautionary measure. The Titans would go on to lose the game 13-10.

Despite an upcoming divisional matchup against the Houston Texans Young missed the following weeks matchup after being listed as a gametime decision. This would be Young's first start missed due to injury. He would return the following week against the Oakland Raiders where he would complete 6 of 14 attempts for 42 yards in a 13-9 win. The following week against Carolina, Young would complete 14 of 23 attempts for 110 yards and 2 interceptions and add 25 rushing yards and a rushing touchdown in a 20-7 win.

In Week 10 Young completed 24 of 41 passes for 257 yards 1 TD and 2 INT's in 28-13 loss against the Jacksonville Jaguars. Young's 257 yards passing in the game would become a new career high passing his previous best of 249 yards in a 24-21 comeback win over the New York Giants in Week 12 of the 2005-2006 season. His 41 attempts would also be a new career high.

The following week Young eclipsed his previous mark for passing yards in a game by throwing for 305 yards with 1 TD and 2 INT's as well as rushing for 74 yards and 1 TD in a 34-20 loss against the Denver Broncos on Monday Night Football. His 379 combined yards would set a new career mark passing his previous best of 318 total yards in a 24-21 comeback win over the New York Giants in Week 12 of the 2005-2006 season. He would also equal his career high in attempts with 41.

In Week 13 Young had his best overall passing game of the season against the Houston Texans. Young ended the day by going 21 of 31 for 248 yards with 2 TD and 1 INT for a 99.9 QB Rating in a 28-20 win. Young also added 5 carries for 44 yards which brought his streak of 250+ combined yardage games to 4 straight.

In Week 15 Young posted his best QB Rating of the season by going 16 of 26 for 191 yards with 2 TD and 0 INT for a QB Rating of 109.6. He would also add 7 carries for 32 yards as the Titans overcame a 14-10 halftime lead by the Kansas City Chiefs to win the game 26-17 and keep their playoff hopes alive moving to 8-6 for the season.

In Week 16, Young completed 12 of 22 passes for 166 yards and 1 interception and added 1 rushing yard in a 10-6 win against the New York Jets. The win against the Jets combined with a loss by the Cleveland Browns earlier in the day put the Titans in position for the last play off spot in the AFC.

In Week 17 Vince Young and the Titans' playoff wishes came to life as they defeated the Indianapolis Colts 16-10 to clinch the 6th seed in the AFC Playoffs. Young would leave the game in the 3rd quarter after suffering what seemed to be a re-injury of his right quad which kept him out for a game earlier in the season. Backup quarterback Kerry Collins would enter in the game and lead the Titans to 2 field goals to break a 10-10 tie and seal the victory. Before the injury, Young posted some of his best numbers of the year by completing 14 of 18 passes for 157 yards with 0 TD, 0 INT, and posting a 103.0 QB Rating.

At the end of the regular season, Young finished with 2,459 passing yards with 9 touchdowns and 17 interceptions. Additionally, Young would finish with 395 rushing yards and 3 rushing touchdowns.

In Young's first playoff game, Young completed 16 of 29 passes for 138 yards, 1 interception and 12 rushing yards for a 53.5 passer rating.

In the first game against the Jacksonville Jaguars Young injured his knee and was expected to miss 2 to 3 weeks. On September 15th, Jeff Fisher made the decision to go with Kerry Collins and for Collins to remain the starter for the rest of the season. Young would be the back up quarterback.

As a result of his strong on-field performance and his ties to the Houston area, January 10, 2006 was proclaimed "Vince Young Day" in his hometown of Houston, Texas. He is dating his high school sweetheart; Candice Johnson, who also attended UT. Vince has been in a number of television commercials for Madden 2008, Reebok with Allen Iverson, a Vizio television commercial, and Campbell's Chunky Soup with his mother. He also appears in rapper Mike Jones's video, "My 64". Vince was also interviewed by 60 Minutes for an episode that was aired on September 30, 2007. Texas Senate passed resolution on Tuesday, February 20, 2007 to declare the day “Vince Young Day” throughout state.

Young re-enrolled at the University of Texas for the 2008 spring semester to finish his degree. Titans camp begins in March; UT's semester is over in early May. He will leave UT by the spring to return to the Titans. He plans to return and graduate by the end of the spring 2009 semester.

On September 9, 2008, a distraught Vince Young left his home without his cell phone. The reasons given were that Young was upset over being booed by fans after throwing a second interception against the visiting Jacksonville Jaguars the previous day and the sprained medial collateral ligament in his left knee suffered four plays after head coach Jeff Fisher prodded him back into the game. Young postponed a doctor's examination till the following day. After speaking to members of Young's family, Fisher called Nashville police. After a four-hour search, they found Young, who agreed to meet with Fisher and police at the team's training facility.

Vince Young's agent, Major Adams, told ESPN reporter George Smith that he didn't know why the story has taken on a life of its own, and stated that the incident was "blown out of proportion" and called any perceived depression or emotional problems suffered by his client "unfounded". However, Young's therapist told Fisher that Young mentioned suicide several times before driving away from his home with a gun, which prompted the Tennessee Titans to call the police.

His mother, Felicia Young, however, has stated that her son is "hurting inside and out".

In December 2008, Young filed suit against former Major League baseball player Enos Cabell and two others for applying for a trademark to use his initials and "Invinceable" nickname to sell products without his permission in 2006. The suit claims that their use of Young's name has damaged endorsement deals for Young; he is asking the court to give him the exclusive rights to use the initials and nickname.

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Kurt Warner

Kurt Warner appearing in a Civitan International PSA.

Kurtis Eugene "Kurt" Warner (born June 22, 1971) is an American football quarterback who currently plays for the Arizona Cardinals of the National Football League. He was originally signed by the Green Bay Packers as an undrafted free agent in 1994. He played college football at Northern Iowa.

Born in Burlington, Iowa, Warner played football at Regis High School in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, and went on to the University of Northern Iowa. At UNI, Warner was third on the Panthers' depth chart until his senior year. When Warner was finally given the chance to start, he was named the Gateway Conference's Offensive Player of the Year.

After completing his college career, he attended the Green Bay Packers training camp in 1994, but was released before the regular season began. It was at this time that Warner famously stocked shelves at a Hy-Vee grocery store in Cedar Falls for $5.50 an hour. He also returned to Northern Iowa and worked as a graduate assistant coach with the football team, all the while still hoping to get a tryout with an NFL team. With no NFL teams willing to give him a chance, Warner turned to the Arena Football League in 1995 and signed with the Iowa Barnstormers. Warner was named to the AFL's All-Arena first team in both 1996 and 1997 as he led the Barnstormers to Arena Bowl appearances in both seasons. He was also named twelfth on a list of the twenty best Arena Football players of all time.

In 1998, Warner was signed by the St. Louis Rams and was allocated to NFL Europe's Amsterdam Admirals. Warner led NFL Europe in touchdowns and passing yards. His backup was Jake Delhomme, now the starting quarterback for the Carolina Panthers.

Returning from Europe, Warner was named the backup quarterback for the St. Louis Rams during the 1998 regular season and the 1999 preseason. When starting quarterback Trent Green was injured in a preseason game, Warner took over as the Rams' tentative starter. St. Louis coach Dick Vermeil was initially concerned with the team's situation at quarterback after Green's injury, but with the support of running back Marshall Faulk and wide receivers Isaac Bruce, Torry Holt, Az-Zahir Hakim, and Ricky Proehl, Warner put together one of the top seasons by a quarterback in NFL history, throwing for 4,353 yards with 41 touchdown passes and a completion rate of 65.1%. The Rams' high-powered offense was nicknamed "The Greatest Show on Turf" and registered the first in a string of three consecutive 500-point seasons, an NFL record.

Warner threw three touchdown passes in each of the first three NFL starts; he is the only NFL quarterback in history to accomplish that feat. Warner drew more attention in the Rams' fourth game of the season, a home game against the San Francisco 49ers (who had been NFC West division champions for 12 of the previous 13 seasons). The Rams had lost 17 of their previous 18 meetings with the 49ers, but Warner proceeded to throw three touchdown passes on the Rams' first three possessions of the game and four in the first half to propel the Rams to a 28–10 halftime lead on the way to a 42–20 victory. Warner finished the game with five touchdown passes, giving him 14 in four games and the Rams a 4–0 record.

Warner's breakout season from a career in anonymity was so unexpected that Sports Illustrated featured him on their October 18 cover with the caption "Who IS this guy?" He was named the 1999 NFL MVP at the season's end.

In the NFL playoffs, Warner led the Rams to a Super Bowl XXXIV victory against the Tennessee Titans. He threw for two touchdowns and a Super Bowl-record 414 passing yards, including a 73-yard touchdown to Isaac Bruce when the game was tied with just over two minutes to play. Warner also set a Super Bowl record by attempting 45 passes without a single interception. For his performance, Warner was awarded the Super Bowl MVP, becoming the sixth player to win both the league MVP and Super Bowl MVP awards in the same year. The others are Bart Starr in 1966, Terry Bradshaw in 1978, Joe Montana in 1989, Emmitt Smith in 1993, and Steve Young in 1994.

Warner started the 2000 season well, racking up 300 or more passing yards in each of his first 6 games (tying Steve Young's record) and posting 19 touchdown passes in that stretch. Warner broke his hand and missed the middle of the 2000 campaign, but Trent Green filled in ably and the Warner/Green duo led the Rams to the highest team passing yard total in NFL history, with 5,232 net yards. Warner and Green's combined gross passing yard total was 5,492, which if held by just one player, would surpass the single-season record set by Dan Marino (5,084 yards). In contrast to his previous season, however, Warner's turnover ratio drastically increased in 2000, throwing an interception in 5.2% of his attempts (compare 2.6% in 1999). Due to a very poor defensive unit, the Rams were eliminated from the playoffs in the wild card round by the New Orleans Saints despite one of the most productive offensive years by an NFL team. Nine of the Rams' eleven defensive starters would be cut during the offseason, and Trent Green was traded to the Kansas City Chiefs.

Warner quickly returned to form in 2001. Although his season lagged behind his 1999 performance, he amassed a league-high 36 touchdown passes and 4,830 passing yards, a total third only to Dan Marino and Drew Brees all-time. Warner lacked the consistency he showed in 1999, however, throwing a career-high 22 interceptions despite completing a career-high 68.7% of his passes. Still, he led "The Greatest Show on Turf" to its third consecutive 6-0 start (becoming the first and only NFL team to do so), an NFL-best 14–2 record, and an appearance in Super Bowl XXXVI. Warner was also named the NFL MVP for the second time in three seasons, giving the Rams their third winner in as many years (running back Marshall Faulk won in 2000).

In Super Bowl XXXVI, Warner threw for 365 yards (the 3rd-highest total in Super Bowl history) and a passing touchdown along with a rushing touchdown, but he also tossed two interceptions which helped stake the heavy-underdog New England Patriots to a 2-touchdown lead. After falling behind to the Patriots 17-3, though, the Rams tied the game late in the fourth quarter on a 1-yard Warner touchdown run on a quarterback sneak and a 26-yard touchdown pass from Warner to Ricky Proehl. The game ended in a loss for Warner and the Rams, however, when Patriots kicker Adam Vinatieri booted a game-winning field goal as time expired, giving the Patriots the first of three Super Bowl wins in four years.

Still perhaps shell-shocked by the Super Bowl loss to New England, Warner began the 2002 season 0-3 as a starter, throwing seven interceptions against only one touchdown. In their fourth game against the Dallas Cowboys, Warner broke a finger on his throwing hand, and despite attempting to come back later in the season, his injury only allowed him to play two more games (both losses). In contrast to his 103.4 career passer rating entering the season, Warner posted a minuscule 67.4 rating in 2002. The following season, Warner was replaced as the Rams' starting quarterback for good after fumbling six times in the opener against the New York Giants. Warner's replacement as the Rams quarterback, Marc Bulger, would be named to two Pro Bowls and is currently third all-time in career completion percentage (trailing only Warner and Chad Pennington).

The Rams released Warner on June 1, 2004. Two days later, he signed a two-year deal with the New York Giants.

Warner started the 2004 season as the starting quarterback, winning five of his first seven games, but following several poor performances and a two-game losing streak, rookie quarterback Eli Manning was given the starting job. The Giants had a 5-4 win-loss record at the time of Warner's benching, finishing at 6-10 overall (going only 1-6 under Manning).

In early 2005, Warner signed a one-year, $4-million contract with the Arizona Cardinals, and was quickly named the starter by coach Dennis Green. Warner posted three relatively mediocre performances before injuring his groin and being replaced by former starter Josh McCown. McCown played in two games during Warner's injury, performing well enough that Green named McCown the starter for the remainder of the season.

After McCown struggled in two straight games, Green re-inserted Warner into the starting line-up. After playing fairly well in two consecutive losses (passing for a total of nearly 700 yards), Warner defeated his former team, the Rams, by a score of 38-28. He passed for 285 yards and three touchdowns while posting a quarterback rating of 115.9. Warner's season ended in Week 15 when he partially tore his MCL.

Warner signed a new three-year deal with the Cardinals on February 14, 2006. The deal has a base salary of $18 million and, with performance incentives, could be worth as much as $22 million.

In Week One of the 2006 NFL season, Warner won the NFC Offensive Player of the Week award, throwing for 301 yards and three touchdowns in a win over San Francisco. Two weeks later Warner passed the 20,000-yards passing milestone in his 76th game, one game more than record holder Dan Marino.

After three subpar games in Weeks 2–4, Warner was replaced at quarterback by rookie Matt Leinart in the fourth quarter of Week 4. Then-coach Dennis Green stated that Warner would be the backup quarterback for the remainder of the season. In Week 16, quarterback Matt Leinart went down with a shoulder injury against the 49ers, forcing Warner to see his first action since Week 4. Warner filled in nicely, as he was able to hang on for the Cardinals win. In Week 17 against the San Diego Chargers, Warner started again in place of the injured Leinart. Warner threw for 365 yards (which led the NFL for that week) and a touchdown, however the Chargers were able to hang on for a 27–20 win.

In the third game of the 2007 season against the Baltimore Ravens, Warner came off the bench to relieve an ineffective Matt Leinart during the 2nd and 4th quarters (the Ravens were leading 23-6 at the beginning of the 4th quarter). He led a furious comeback as he completed 15 passes out of 20 attempted for 258 yds and 2 TDs. This brought them to a tie game (23–23), but after a Ravens last second field goal, Arizona lost the game 26–23.

On September 30, 2007, during the week 4 game against the Pittsburgh Steelers, Warner relieved Matt Leinart following another ineffective start by Leinart. Warner finished with 14/21 for 132 yards with one touchdown pass and no interceptions. Leinert reentered the game in the 4th quarter, and led the Cardinals to their final touchdown. After Leinart was placed on IR Warner was named starter for the remainder of the 2007 season . Warner passed for a career-high 484 yards against the San Francisco 49ers in a 37–31 loss on November 25, but had a fumble in the end zone in overtime that was recovered by Tully Banta-Cain to lose the game. However, the following week showed an improvement for Warner and the Cardinals, as the above-mentioned victory over the Browns brought his team to 6–6 and kept them in the chase for the NFC Wild Card playoff spot.

Warner finished the 2007 season with 27 passing touchdowns, just one shy of the Cardinals franchise record. Warner's performance earned him a 1 million dollar bonus for the year, and he fell just short of attaining a 90.0+ passer rating, which would have given him an extra $500,000. Nonetheless, Warner's 3,417 passing yards, 27 touchdown passes, and 89.8 passer rating were all his best since the 2001 season.

Matt Leinart was named the Cardinals starter going in to the off-season for 2008, but Ken Whisenhunt stated that it would be very possible for Warner to be the starter before Week 1 of the 2008 NFL season. Indeed, Warner was named the starter on August 30, 2008. That season, Warner had 4,583 passing yards, 30 touchdowns and a completion percentage of almost 70%. Warner also received FedEx Air Player of the Week honors for his performance during weeks 9 and 11 of the season.

On December 7, 2008, Warner led the Cardinals to a 34–10 win over his former team, the St. Louis Rams, securing for the Cardinals the NFC West Division title and their first playoff berth since 1998. It was the Cardinals' first division title since 1975 and third of the post-merger era. As a result, the Cardinals would play only their second home playoff game ever, as they had never played a home playoff game in St. Louis despite winning two division titles. On December 16, 2008 Warner was named the starting quarterback for the NFC team in the 2009 Pro Bowl.

On January 3, 2009, Warner led the Cardinals in their defeat of the Atlanta Falcons 30–24 at home in the first round of the playoffs. During the game Warner went 19 for 32, a completion percentage of 59.4%, for 271 yards. He threw two touchdowns and one interception. This win represented the first time the Cardinals had won a post-season home game since the 1947 NFL Championship Game.

On January 10, 2009, Warner led the Cardinals in their 20-point defeat of the Carolina Panthers 33-13 in Charlotte, North Carolina in the second round of the playoffs. During the game Warner went 22 for 32, a completion percentage of 65.6%, for 220 yards. He threw 2 touchdowns and 1 interception. This win represented the first time the Cardinals won a game in the 2008-2009 National Football League season and post-season on the East Coast of the United States.

On January 18, 2009, Warner threw for 279 yards, 4 touchdowns and no interceptions against the Philadelphia Eagles to help lead the Cardinals to their first Super Bowl appearance in history. Warner is the second quarterback to make Super Bowl starts with two different teams. He joins Craig Morton (1970 Dallas Cowboys and 1977 Denver Broncos). He also became the third quarterback in NFL history to win a conference championship with two different teams (Cardinals and Rams), following Craig Morton and Earl Morrall.

In Warner's third career Super Bowl appearance, on February 1, 2009, the Cardinals lost Super Bowl XLIII 27–23 to the Pittsburgh Steelers. Warner now has a career 1–2 record as a starter in Super Bowls. Despite losing, Kurt Warner still managed to throw for 377 yards (the 2nd-highest total in Super Bowl history), completed 72% of his passes, and had a quarterback rating of 112.3. Warner has now recorded the three highest single-game passing yardage totals in the history of the Super Bowl.

Warner announced his desire to return to the Cardinals for the 2009 season. The Cardinals offered him a two-year contract worth around $20 million but Warner was looking for a contract that would pay him about $14 million a year and the two sides could not come to an agreement. On February 27, 2009 Warner became a free agent and went on to have talks with the San Francisco 49ers. The 49ers offered Warner a contract worth more than that offered by the Cardinals. On March 4, Warner re-signed with the Cardinals to a two-year deal worth $23 million total, $4 million for each of the next two years, with a $15 million signing bonus. Warner underwent arthroscopic hip surgery to repair a torn labrum on March 17, 2009, but is expected to return for organized team activities.

Kurt Warner was born to parents Gene and Sue Warner on June 22, 1971, and has a brother, Matt Warner. Warner's parents divorced when he was 6. His father, Gene Warner remarried a year later. Warner's stepmother, Mimi Post Warner, also had a son named Matt. The three boys formed a close relationship soon thereafter. He graduated in 1990 from Regis High School in Cedar Rapids, where he distinguished himself as a quarterback of the school's Class 3A football team.

During college, Warner met his future wife, the former Brenda Carney Meoni; they married on October 11, 1997. Brenda was a United States Marine Corps veteran and a divorcee with two children when she and Kurt wed. She had also recently lost her parents, Larry and Jenny Carney, when their Arkansas home was destroyed by a 1996 tornado. After Kurt was cut from the Packers' training camp in 1994, he got a job working the night shift as a stock boy at a local Hy-Vee grocery store, in addition to his work as an assistant-coach at Northern Iowa. Warner was still hoping to get an NFL tryout, but with that possibility appearing dim and the long hours at the Hy-Vee for minimum wage taking their toll, Warner began his Arena League career.

Warner officially adopted Brenda's two children, son Zachary and daughter Jesse, after their marriage. The Warners also have 5 children of their own: sons Elijah and Kade, daughter Jada, and twin girls Sierra Rose and Sienna Rae.

Both Kurt and his wife are active charismatic Christians.

Warner has also appeared in several public service announcements for Civitan International, promoting their volunteer efforts and their work with the developmentally disabled.

On October 24, 2006, he was featured in a political advertisement opposing a bill supporting embryonic stem cell research in Missouri. The advertisement was in response to a pro-embryonic research ad featuring Michael J. Fox. He appeared in the advertisement with James Caviezel, Patricia Heaton, Jeff Suppan, and Mike Sweeney. The advertisement aired during Game 4 of the 2006 World Series.

Warner has devoted time and money to his First Things First Foundation. The foundation has been involved with numerous projects for causes such as children's hospitals, people with developmental disabilities and assisting single parents. Warner's work both on and off the field resulted in him being awarded the NFL Walter Payton Man of the Year Award 2008.

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USC Trojans football

Matt Leinart's Heisman Trophy

The USC Trojans football program, established in 1888, is a member of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division I-A and the Pacific Ten Conference (Pac-10) under head coach Pete Carroll. The Trojans have been a football powerhouse throughout NCAA history, making claim to 11 national championships. In recent years, USC has consistently ranked in the top 5 of the final BCS and AP Polls. The football team is regarded as the centerpiece of an athletic program that has won more NCAA men's individual and men's team titles than any other university and is third in co-ed team titles, behind fellow Pac-10 schools UCLA and Stanford.

USC first fielded a football team in 1888, playing its first game on November 14 of that year against the Alliance Athletic Club, gaining a 16–0 victory. Frank Suffel and Henry H. Goddard were playing coaches for the first team which was put together by quarterback Arthur Carroll; who in turn volunteered to make the pants for the team and later became a tailor. USC faced its first collegiate opponent the following year in fall 1889, playing St. Vincent’s College to a 40–0 victory.

Before they were named Trojans in 1912, USC athletic teams were called the Methodists, as well as the Wesleyans. During the early years, limitations in travel and the scarcity of major football-playing colleges on the West Coast limited its rivalries to local Southern Californian colleges and universities. During this period USC played regular series against Occidental, Caltech, Whittier, Pomona and Loyola. The first USC team to play outside of Southern California went to Stanford University on November 4, 1905, where they were trampled 16–0 by the traditional West Coast powerhouse. While the teams would not meet again until 1918 (Stanford dropped football for rugby union during the intervening years), this was also USC's first game against a future Pac-10 conference opponent and the beginning of its oldest rivalry. During this period USC also played its first games against other future Pac-10 rivals, including Oregon State (1914), California (1915), Oregon (1915) and Arizona (1916).

After several decades of competition, USC first achieved national prominence under head coach "Gloomy" Gus Henderson in the early 1920s. Success continued under coach Howard Jones from 1925 to 1940, when the Trojans were just one of a few nationally dominant teams. It was during this era that the team achieved renown as the "Thundering Herd", earning its first four national titles.

USC achieved intermittent success in the years following Jones' tenure. Jeff Cravath, who coached from 1942-1950, won the Rose Bowl in 1943 and 1945. Jess Hill, who coached from 1951 to 1956, won the Rose Bowl in 1953.

The program entered a new golden age upon the arrival of head coach John McKay (1960-1975). During this period the Trojans produced two Heisman Trophy winners (Mike Garrett and O.J. Simpson) and won four national championships (1962, 1967, 1972 and 1974). McKay's influence continued even after he departed for the NFL when an assistant coach, John Robinson (1976-1982), took over as head coach. Under Robinson, USC won another national championship in 1978 (shared with Alabama; ironically, USC defeated Alabama, 24–14, that same season) and two more players won the Heisman Trophy (Charles White and Marcus Allen).

On September 12, 1970, USC opened the season visiting the University of Alabama under legendary coach Paul "Bear" Bryant and became the first fully integrated team to play in the state of Alabama. The game, scheduled by Bryant, resulted in a dominating 42-21 win by the Trojans. More importantly, all six touchdowns scored by USC team were by African-American players, two by USC running back Sam "Bam" Cunningham, against an all-white Crimson Tide team. The game hastened the racial integration of football at Alabama and in the South.

In the 1980s, USC football did not realize a national championship, though it continued to experience relative success, with top-20 AP rankings and PAC-10 Conference Championships. Under head coaches Ted Tollner (1983–1986) and Larry Smith (1987–1992), each winning the Rose Bowl once, USC was recognized among the nation's top-ten teams three times. However, some alumni had grown accustomed to the programs' stature as a perennial national championship contender. In 1993, Robinson was named head coach a second time, leading the Trojans to a victory in the 1996 Rose Bowl over Northwestern.

However, the winless streaks of 13 years (1983–1995, including the 1993 17–17 tie) to intersectional rival Notre Dame and 8 years (1991–1998) to crosstown rival UCLA were unacceptable to many USC supporters. In 1998, head coach Paul Hackett took over the team, but posted an even more disappointing 19–18 record in three seasons. By 2000, some observers surmised that USC football's days of national dominance were fading; the football team's record of 37–35 from 1996 to 2001 was their second-worst over any five-year span in history (only the mark of 29–29–2 from 1956–1961 was worse), and the period marked the first and only time USC had been out of the final top 20 teams for four straight years.

In 2001, athletic director Mike Garrett released Hackett and hired Pete Carroll, a former NFL head coach. Carroll went 6–6 in his first year, losing to Utah in the Las Vegas Bowl, 10–6.

USC opened 3–2 in 2002, suffering losses to Kansas State and Washington State. However, the Trojans went on to win the rest of their games, completing the regular season 11–2 on the strength of senior quarterback Carson Palmer's breakout performance. After struggling for most of his collegiate career, Palmer excelled in the West Coast offense installed by new offensive coordinator Norm Chow. In fact, Palmer's performance, particularly in the season-ending rivalry games against Notre Dame and UCLA, impressed so many pundits that he went on to win the Heisman Trophy, carrying every region of voting and becoming the first USC quarterback to be so honored. Despite tying for the Pacific-10 Conference title (with Washington State), having the highest BCS "strength of schedule" rating, and fielding the nation's top defense led by safety Troy Polamalu, USC finished the season ranked No. 5 in the BCS rankings. Facing off against BCS No. 3 Iowa in the Orange Bowl, USC defeated the Hawkeyes 38–17.

In 2003, highly touted but unproven redshirt sophomore Matt Leinart took over for Palmer at quarterback. Although his first pass went for a touchdown in a win over Auburn, the Trojans suffered an early season triple-overtime loss to conference rival California in Berkeley. Nevertheless, Carroll guided the team to wins in their remaining games and they completed the regular season 11–1. Before the postseason, both the coaches' poll and the AP Poll ranked USC number #1, but the BCS - which also gave consideration to computer rankings - ranked Oklahoma first, another one-loss team but one that had lost its own Big 12 Conference title game 35–7, with USC ranked third.

In the 2003 BCS National Championship Game, The Sugar Bowl , BCS #2 Louisiana State defeated BCS #1 Oklahoma 21–14. Meanwhile, BCS #3 USC defeated BCS #4 Michigan 28–14 in the Rose Bowl. USC finished the season ranked #1 in the AP poll and was awarded the AP National Championship; LSU, however, won the BCS National Championship title for that year, prompting a split national title between LSU and USC. In the wake of the controversy, corporate sponsors emerged who were willing to organize an LSU-USC game to settle the matter; nevertheless, the NCAA refused to permit the matchup.

In 2004, USC was picked preseason #1 by the Associated Press, thanks to the return of Leinart as well as sophomore running backs LenDale White and Reggie Bush. The defense—led by All-American defensive tackles Shaun Cody and Mike Patterson, as well as All-American linebackers Lofa Tatupu and Matt Grootegoed—was considered to be among the finest in the nation. Key questions included the offensive line, with few returning starters, and the receiving corps, which had lost previous year's senior Keary Colbert and the breakout star of 2003, Mike Williams. Williams had tried to enter the NFL draft a year early during the Maurice Clarett trial, only to be rebuffed by the NFL and subsequently denied eligibility by the NCAA.

Despite close calls against Stanford and California, the Trojans finished the regular season undefeated and headed for the 2004 BCS Championship Game at the Orange Bowl. USC was the second team in NCAA football history to have gone wire-to-wire (ranked first place from preseason to postseason since the AP began releasing preseason rankings); the first was Florida State in 1999 (three other schools went wire-to-wire before the existence of preseason polls - Notre Dame in 1943, Army in 1945 and USC in 1972). Quarterback Leinart won the Heisman Trophy, with running back Bush placing fifth in the vote tally. The Trojans' opponent in the Orange Bowl, Oklahoma, were themselves undefeated and captained by sixth-year quarterback Jason White, who had won the Heisman in 2003; the game marked the first time in NCAA history that two players who had already won the Heisman played against each other. Most analysts expected the game to be close—as USC matched its speed and defense against the Oklahoma running game and skilled offensive line—but the reality proved to be far different. USC scored 38 points by halftime, and won by the score of 55–19. USC won the BCS and AP national championships, despite both Auburn and Utah finishing their seasons and post-seasons undefeated.

The 2005 regular season witnessed a resuscitation of the rivalry with Notre Dame, after a last second play in which senior quarterback Matt Leinart scored the winning touchdown with help from a controversial push from behind by running back Reggie Bush, nicknamed the "Bush Push". The year climaxed with a 66–19 USC defeat of cross-town rival UCLA. Running back Reggie Bush finished his stellar year by winning the Heisman Trophy, while Leinart finished third in the Heisman voting. Several other players also earned accolades, being named All-Americans (AP, Football Coaches, Football Writers, Walter Camp, ESPN.com, SI.com, CBS Sportsline.com, Rivals.com, Collegefootballnews.com). These include QB Matt Leinart, RB Reggie Bush, RB LenDale White, S Darnell Bing, OT Taitusi Lutui, OT Sam Baker, WR Dwayne Jarrett, C Ryan Kalil, OG Fred Matua, and DE Lawrence Jackson. Additionally, OL Winston Justice did well enough to forgo his senior year and enter the NFL draft. The regular season ended with two clear cut contenders facing off in the Rose Bowl to decide the national championship. Both USC and Texas were 12–0 entering the game, with USC the slight favorite. USC lost to Texas 41–38.

For the 2006 football season, USC tried to rebuild its strength following the loss of offensive stalwarts Leinart, Bush, and White, defensive leader Bing, and offensive linemen Matua, Justice, and Lutui. The Trojans developed their offense using unproven QB John David Booty and returning star receivers Dwayne Jarrett and Steve Smith along with second-year wide-out Patrick Turner. Mark Sanchez, the highly-touted recruit from the class of 2005 (Mission Viejo High School, CA) was widely viewed as a dark horse to win the starting job from Booty, although Booty was named the starter at the end of fall training camp. The starting tailback position was initially a battle between returning players Chauncey Washington and Desmond Reed (both recovering from injuries) and heralded recruits Stafon Johnson (Dorsey High School in Los Angeles), C.J. Gable, Allen Bradford and Emmanuel Moody.

USC had many experienced players as well, including linebacker Dallas Sartz and wide receiver Chris McFoy, who had already graduated with their bachelor's degrees and were pursuing master's degrees. Fullback Brandon Hancock would have been part of that group as well until an injury ended his collegiate career. Additionally, fifth year (redshirt) senior linebacker Oscar Lua, running back Ryan Powdrell and offensive lineman Kyle Williams were expected to either start or play frequently in 2006.

The 2006 Trojans came out strong, easily defending their top-10 status throughout the year. However, USC began to display marked inconsistencies, as their margins of victory began to slip. The first setback proved to be a 31–33 loss to unranked Oregon State, in which the Beavers were able to repeatedly capitalize on several Trojan turnovers. Surprisingly, though USC dropped initially in the polls, they worked their way back up to the No. 3 spot by the final week of the season. After defeating both Notre Dame and Cal, the Trojans were considered to be a virtual lock for the National Championship Game against Ohio State. However, USC was shocked in the final game of the season, losing to crosstown rival UCLA 13–9. This eliminated the Trojans from championship contention and opened the door for Florida to become Ohio State's opponent.

On January 6, 2007, 6 days after the 2007 Rose Bowl Game, USC kicker Mario Danelo was found dead at the bottom of the White Point Cliff near Point Fermin Lighthouse in San Pedro, California.

In July 2007, ESPN.com named USC its #1 team of the decade for the period between 1996 and 2006, citing the Trojans' renaissance and dominance under Coach Carroll.

The 2007 Trojans were the presumptive #1 pick before the season. However they lost two games, including a major upset to 41-point underdog Stanford, and they did not get into the National Championship game. However, the Trojans did win their sixth conference championship and defeated Illinois in the 2008 Rose Bowl Game.

During Pete Carroll's seven years as head coach, USC has lost only one game by more than seven points, that being a 27–16 loss at Notre Dame in his first season. The 21st century has also seen the rise of USC football's popularity in the Los Angeles market: without any stadium expansions, USC has broken its average home attendance record four times in a row: reaching 77,804 in 2003, 85,229 in 2004, 90,812 in 2005 and over 91,416 with one game to go in 2006 (the capacity of the Coliseum is 92,000). As of 2007, USC is one of only five of the 119 Football Bowl Subdivision (formerly Division I-A) teams to have never played a Football Championship Subdivision (formerly Division I-AA) team since the division was made in 1978.

Coach McKay's play calling emphasized and refined the run, taking full advantage of his quality backs-a trend followed by his former offensive coordinator and immediate successor, John Robinson. Carroll has had success and Heisman winners, both at Quarterback and Running Back.

A recent tradition has a selected linebacker wearing the number 55. The number cannot be taken but is assigned by the head coach. Pete Carroll has, at times, refrained from assigning the number if he does not think any player is worthy. The player wearing #55 is typically regarded as the anchor of the defense.

Notable players who have worn #55 for USC include Junior Seau, Willie McGinest, Markus Steele, and Chris Claiborne; Seau, McGinest and Claiborne were all top-10 picks in the NFL Draft.. Senior Keith Rivers is the most recent #55 to be selected in the top ten. The Cincinnati Bengals made him the ninth overall selection in the 2008 draft.

In the first 30 years of USC football, the school maintained rivalries with local Southern California schools like Occidental and Pomona, but these ended by the 1920s as USC grew into a national caliber team.

A "Perfect Day" (a phrase created by the school's football announcer Peter Arbogast) to any USC fan is a USC win coupled with losses by Notre Dame and UCLA. The last regular season "Perfect Day" occurred on November 8, 2008, when USC beat California, UCLA lost to Oregon State, and Notre Dame lost to Boston College.

USC plays the University of Notre Dame each year for the Jeweled Shillelagh. A majority of Trojan alumni and fans consider the Notre Dame Fighting Irish to be USC’s greatest gridiron rival. The intersectional game has featured more national championship teams, Heisman trophy winners, All-Americans, and future NFL hall-of-famers than any other collegiate match-up. The two schools have kept the annual game on their schedules since 1926 (except 1942–44 because of World War II travel restrictions) despite the fact that it enjoys neither the possibility of acquiring regional “bragging rights” nor the import of intra-league play that drive most rivalries. Notre Dame leads the series 42 wins to 33 wins. The game is often referred to as the greatest intersectional rivalry in college football.

USC's rivalry with UCLA is unique in that they are the only two Division I-A programs in a major BCS conference that share a major city. Both are within L.A. city limits, approximately 10 miles (16 km) apart. Until 1983 the two schools also shared the same stadium: The Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.

The crosstown rivals play each year for city bragging rights and the Victory Bell; and often for the right to go to the Rose Bowl. The UCLA rivalry tends to draw the focus of student supporters since many USC students have friends or family members attending "that other school" (of course, many UCLA students refer to their USC friends in the same way) and many Southern California families are evenly divided between Trojan Cardinal and Bruin Blue.

Stanford is USC's oldest rival, in a series that dates to 1905. In the early years of football on the West Coast, the power sat in the Bay Area with the Stanford-Cal rivalry and USC rose to challenge the two established programs. During the early and mid-20th century Stanford football occasionally enjoyed periods of great regional success on the gridiron. USC and Stanford, being two major private universities on the west coast naturally drew the ire of one another. In recent history, however, Stanford has not maintained their earlier success and the rivalry has faded to many USC fans; although many Stanford fans retain a hatred for SC.

Like Stanford, the University of California, Berkeley also had an early rivalry with USC, with Cal fans maintaining a one-sided hatred for USC for many years after USC fans started to focus more on the nearby campus of UCLA. However, after USC’s triple overtime loss to California in 2003, some began to suggest that a new budding rivalry between the Trojans and the Golden Bears was taking shape within the Pac-10. A close 2004 game between the two teams furthered feelings of a rivalry. Talk diminished with USC's lopsided victory in Berkeley in 2005; however, the importance of the 2006 USC-Cal game, which decided the Pac-10's BCS berth, rekindled rivalry talk. Cal's marketing of the USC-Cal game suggests the game has reached rivalry status. In 2007, incoming students were given free tickets to Cal home games with the exception of Tennessee and USC.

A phrase commonly used by Trojan fans to greet one another or show support for the team, which is borrowed from the fight song of the same name (i.e., "Fight On for ol' S.C./Our men Fight On to Victory..." The two finger "V" salute for Victory is often given in accompaniment.

The Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum is one of the largest stadiums in the U.S. USC has played football in the Coliseum ever since the grand stadium was built in 1923. In fact, the Trojans played in the first varsity football game ever held there (beating Pomona College 23–7 on October 6, 1923). The Coliseum was the site of the 1932 Summer Olympics and hosted the opening and closing ceremonies and track events of the 1984 Olympic Games. Over the years, the Coliseum has been home to many sports teams besides the Trojans, including UCLA football, the NFL's Los Angeles Rams and Raiders, the Los Angeles Chargers in 1960 of the AFL, and Los Angeles Dodgers baseball, including the 1959 World Series. The Coliseum has hosted various other events, from concerts and speeches to track meets and motorcycle races. The Coliseum has a present full-capacity of 92,000 seats (almost all are chair-back seats). The Coliseum is located on 17 acres (69,000 m2) in Exposition Park, which also houses museums, gardens and the Los Angeles Sports Arena .

The University of Southern California football team practices on campus at Howard Jones Field, which was expanded in the fall of 1998 to include Brian Kennedy Field. In early 1999, Goux's Gate - named after the popular long-time assistant coach Marv Goux - was erected at the entrance to the practice fields.

USC holds 11 national titles, although two are contested. The NCAA has a list of polls, computer systems and others that are often used to attempt to determine National Champions. Because there is no playoff there are often disputes over who really has won the National Championship. Some years there are undisputed champions (where one school is ranked number one in all the polls), other years there are consensus champions (when one school clearly has been ranked number one in most of the polls) and some years there are split or shared championships (where two or more schools are ranked number one in major polls) Two of the championships - 1928 and 1939 - have been challenged by some sports historians. In both cases USC bases its claim on winning the Dickinson System, a formula devised by a University of Illinois professor which awarded the only championship trophy between 1926 and 1940. In both these years, Dickinson was the only poll or system to rank the Trojans number one. USC's stance, however, is in keeping with that of most other schools which won the Dickinson title; only Notre Dame, which won the Dickinson crown in 1938, does not claim a major national title for that year. Since at least 1969, USC had not listed 1939 as a national championship year; but in 2004, USC once again began recognizing the 1939 team as national champions after it determined that it qualified.

USC teams have also been selected as national champions in six other years (1929, 1933, 1976, 1979, 2002, 2008) by various nationally published ratings systems or voters. These ratings systems are not generally viewed as part of process of selecting the national championship. USC does not claim to have won titles in any of these years.

The Trojans have suffered only three losing seasons since 1961 and have captured 37 Pac-10 titles. This gives them the 4th most conference championships of any NCAA school, and twice as many as any other Pac-10 member team.

The Trojans have played in 47 bowl games–-placing them fourth nationally–-while winning 31 of these appearances. USC is tied with Alabama for the most bowl wins at 31. USC's 33 Rose Bowl appearances and 24 victories are the most of any school in a single bowl.

Individual players have won numerous accolades with 7 Heisman Trophy winners, 34 College Football Hall of Fame inductees, and 151 All-Americans. USC's first All-American was offensive guard Brice Taylor in 1925, who notably excelled despite missing his left hand and was one of USC's first African-American players.

The Heisman Trophy is the most prestigious award in college football. Seven USC players have won the award, which is tied for the most with Ohio State and Notre Dame. All of their jersey numbers have been retired by USC; they are also the only players USC has given that honor to.

USC has had more 1st Round NFL Draft picks (71) than any other team. 162 Trojans have been selected to the NFL Pro Bowl, a Trojan has played in all but two Super Bowls.

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John David Booty

Booty (#10) leading a drive against the Stanford Cardinal.

Booty prepped at the Evangel Christian Academy in Shreveport, Louisiana but left a year early after his father (who was the team's quarterback coach) left the staff, having already earned enough credits to graduate. Despite leaving after his junior year, Booty's final passing stats were 8,474 yards on 555 of 864 attempts (64.2%) with 88 touchdowns and 26 interceptions. Booty succeeded his brother, former Louisiana State University quarterback Josh Booty, and former Miami quarterback Brock Berlin. In 2001 and 2002 he led Evangel Christian Academy to state-championship game victories held at the Louisiana Superdome in New Orleans.

Booty is believed to be the first player ever to leave high school a whole year early to play college football. He headlined a class that was considered the best that season, and included other NFL-bound recruits such as Reggie Bush, LenDale White, Steve Smith and Sam Baker.

Although he entered USC as a highly regarded quarterback prospect, Booty spent his first three years at USC as the back-up to eventual Heisman Trophy winner Matt Leinart, who had replaced former Heisman winner Carson Palmer. When he arrived at USC, the competition for the starting quarterback in the 2003 season had not seen any particular player separating themselves from the pack, so when Matt Leinart was eventually chosen as the starter there was some question as to whether he would merely hold the starting position until Booty could learn the offense. Booty earned the spot as the No. 2 quarterback as a freshman, but had to redshirt his second season after suffering an elbow injury in August 2004. When Leinart opted to stay for his final year at USC, there were questions as to whether Booty would transfer to a different school. He opted to remain at USC. Booty had back surgery to repair a bulging disc in his spine at the end of March 2006, but fully recovered and earned the starting spot for the 2006 season.

Booty entered the 2006 season as a redshirt junior.

In the 2006 season, Booty was ranked the 10th best quarterback in college football and the #1 quarterback in the PAC-10 by Rivals.com.

He started all of the games for the USC Trojans at quarterback in 2006 and was named to the rivals.com and Pacific 10 conference coaches 2006 All Pac-10 team First Team.

Booty led the Trojans to a victory over Michigan in the 2007 Rose Bowl, throwing for 391 yards and four touchdowns.

Booty chose to return for the 2007 season, foregoing the NFL Draft. Rivals.com named him one of the top-10 quarterbacks going into the 2007 season,, Sports Illustrated as one of the "Top 20 Players Heading Into 2007", and he was considered a front-runner for the 2007 Heisman Trophy.

Booty was a 2007 preseason All-American for Athlon, The Sporting News, and Blue Ribbon and was on the 2007 Maxwell Award and Manning Award watch list. In the summer before the season, he worked out with Indianapolis Colts quarterback Peyton Manning.

On October 6, Booty suffered a broken finger in his throwing hand during a 24-23 loss to Stanford. He sat out the following three games before returning as the starting quarterback against Oregon State on November 3.

On his return, the Trojans finished the season 5-0 and outscored opponents, 165-68, culminating in a victory in the 2008 Rose Bowl, an unprecedented sixth straight Pac-10 title and making the Trojans the first college football team to achieve six straight 11-win seasons. In leading the Trojans to a 49-17 Rose Bowl victory over the Fighting Illini, Booty set a Rose Bowl record with seven career touchdowns (in the 2007 and 2008 games) and was chosen as the Offensive MVP.

Booty ended his career at USC with a 9-0 record against top-25 teams.

Booty broke with convention and stated on a national television broadcast, more than a week before the NFL draft, that he hoped to be selected by the Minnesota Vikings. He was drafted by the Vikings in the fifth round (137th overall) of the 2008 NFL Draft. Booty made the team after a pre-season battle for the third spot on the depth chart with Brooks Bollinger. He has yet to take a snap for the Vikings but was listed as the second string QB during the Vikings week 15 meeting with the Arizona Cardinals after starter Gus Frerotte went down with a lower back injury, forcing usual back up Tarvaris Jackson to take the start against the Cardinals.

Booty is the younger brother of former Cleveland Browns and Oakland Raiders quarterback Josh Booty (who threw for 3,951 yards and 24 touchdowns during two years with LSU's football team) and former LSU wide receiver Abram Booty (who caught 117 passes for 1,768 yards during three years at LSU). Josh also played baseball for the Florida Marlins. He is from the same hometown as Terry Bradshaw, Tommy Maddox and Art Carmody. Booty was roommates with then-USC center Ryan Kalil during the 2006 season.

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Source : Wikipedia