Jared Allen picked up another honor Wednesday when Sporting News named him its NFL Defensive Player…
Weeden looking to answer the doubters
He's done the baseball thing, riding around from one minor-league town to another trying to make it to "the bigs" as a pitcher. When that didn't work, he went back to try his hand – quite successfully – at college football as the quarterback at Oklahoma State. Next up: the NFL.
Weeden knows that fans and scouts have questions about the wisdom of drafting a 28-year-old rookie, but he is trying to spin those perceptions as quickly as he does a football.
"It's way more of a positive than a negative. My body is extremely fresh. The maturity level, that's huge. In the NFL, you're going to have some success; you're going to have some failures. I've dealt with that," he said. "I've already played a professional sport and had to deal with failure. We all know baseball is the biggest game of failure there is. To deal with that, I think that helps me along the way. There are a lot of things (to tell NFL scouts). I've got about 40 different reasons. Those are just a few."
A 2002 second-round draft choice of the New York Yankees, Weeden spent time with them, the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Kansas City Royals toiling in the minor leagues, an experience he said was somewhat similar to "Bull Durham" but with nicer buses. In the minors, he saw successes and failures as a pitcher.
"Ian Stewart hit a ball in Asheville, Carolina, that is still going. He hit a bomb off me," Weeden said. "He was one of the guys I couldn't get out. There's always guys where you just throw a fastball right here (up at the chin) and they turn and hit it 500 feet. It's stupid, but I couldn't get him out."
He faced plenty of other power hitters that are now making their millions in the majors, but Weeden said he knew he was going to be released and it was time to throw his life a changeup in 2007, when he made the move to Oklahoma State.
His five years in baseball and eventual return to football have him trying to overcome the perception that he might be too old to be entering the NFL as a rookie, especially a rookie at quarterback, a position that can take time to learn at the professional level. But Weeden has an answer for that as well. He basically points to the longevity of his position and several successful players that didn't get their starting shot right out of college.
"Aaron Rodgers got his break when he was 25, 26 years old and won a Super Bowl at whatever he is. There's a lot of guys that have won Super Bowls. Kurt Warner is a prime example. He was 29 or 30 and might be a Hall of Famer," Weeden said. "Everybody says the window for the NFL is 3½ years. I don't plan on playing that short of a time. I have at least 10, if not maybe 12 or 14. That's a long time to play in the NFL. I know it's going to be there."
He'll certainly have a chance after the career he put together at Oklahoma State. He holds school records for consecutive games (24) with a touchdown pass, passing yards in a game (502) and season (4,727), passes completed in a game (47) and season (408), single-game completion percentage (85.7), touchdown passes in a season (37) and career completions (766), attempts (1,102), passing yards (9,260) and touchdown passes (75).
Still, there is something that bothers him: the perception that his success was the product of a "system," as if that's a negative connotation.
"You've got to be a thrower. This league, for the most part, is a quarterback-driven, throwing league," he said. "This is one of my biggest pet peeves, I guess. Everybody talks about our style of offense being a system. I'm not sure what that is. You look at the tape. We don't run screens. We suck at screens. We're a bad screening team, but we threw digs, we threw posts, we threw in routes, we threw curls. We threw everything that I did (in Senior Bowl practices). I think making the throws is not an issue. I think I proved that I can make all the throws on Saturdays."
He's been proving that again this week at the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Ala., where he has been arguably the best quarterback on either the North or South squads.
There are plenty of questions surrounding Weeden this week – his age, his experience with baseball, how to view his success at Oklahoma State – but he continues to answer some of those questions with humor and appears prepared with an audible for every doubt presented. If he's as quick with the correct response at the NFL level, maybe he does have a dozen good years in him.
Tim Yotter is the publisher of Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this topic on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Viking Update web site or magazine, click here.
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