MONDAY, JANUARY 20TH, 2020
Each of these quarterbacks has made headlines during his career. With their level of talent, one might expect them to have been heavily scouted and drafted early out of college. However, these players have illuminated the underdog story amongst quarterbacks in the National Football League (NFL), where many household names have faced more adversity and criticism than most would expect.

Tom Brady

Coming out of Westlake High School in Georgia, Newton was a five-star recruit, the number two dual-threat quarterback in the nation and 28th player overall. He received a multitude of offers from top Division One colleges before committing to the University of Florida in 2008.

In his freshman year, Newton was the second-string quarterback behind future Major League Baseball (MLB) legend Tim Tebow. That year, he completed five of 10 passes for 40 yards and ran for 103 yards on 16 attempts. Unfortunately, in his sophomore year, Newton’s season was cut short after he was arrested for stealing a laptop from another Florida student, and faced burglary, larceny and obstruction of justice charges.

In 2009 Newton transferred to Blinn College in Brenham, Texas. As part of the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA), this was a large step down from his last team. Despite the poor reputation of the league, Newton’s 28,333 yards and 22 touchdowns were enough to earn him offers to transfer to other top schools. This time, he chose to play with the Auburn Tigers.

Newton started his new career as quarterback and quickly made a strong impression, scoring five offensive touchdowns and accounting for 350 total offensive yards. He continued to carry his team in a dominant fashion, finishing the regular season at 12-0 and becoming the first player in the Southeastern Conference (SEC) to throw for 2,000 yards and run for 1,000 yards in one season. The team bypassed the conference championship after scoring seven touchdowns against South Carolina — six of which were made by Newton — and advanced to the school’s first national championship. The biggest game of his life concluded Newton’s year perfectly, winning on a last second field goal to beat the Oregon Ducks 22-19. With such an incredible performance, Newton was awarded with the SEC Player of the Year award, associated press (AP) Player of the Year award and the prestigious Heisman Trophy.

Three days after winning the national championship, Newton announced he would be entering the 2011 draft and was selected by the Carolina Panthers with the first overall pick. Despite a rocky first year finishing at 6-10, Newton and the Panthers would prove to make a great combination. By the end of the 2015 season, he was named the league’s Most Valuable Player (MVP), and led the team to a 15-1 season and the Super Bowl. This year, he is regarded as one of the most dangerous quarterback in the NFL, and will likely lead the Panthers into his fourth Pro Bowl.

Bart Starr

People may know Starr as the Green Bay Packers’ legendary quarterback who your dad still tells you about. However, it took much longer than one might expect for his talent to be noticed. Even in high school, Starr was only elected the starting quarterback in high school after the starter broke his leg. For the remainder of his junior year, he led his team to an undefeated season, and was named an All-American in his senior year.

By the next year, he had committed to the University of Alabama, but received little playing time. Fortunately, Starr worked hard enough throughout the year to earn the starting quarterback position the next year. Starr led Alabama to a modest record of 6-2-3, and threw for 870 yards and eight touchdowns. For the next few years, the team would struggle and adjust to a new head coach, and in his junior year, Starr suffered a back injury that would leave him unable to play through his senior year.

Luckily for Starr, he was well acquainted with Alabama’s basketball coach, who recommended Starr to the personnel director for the Green Bay Packers. After further evaluation, the Packers believed Starr could potentially be a successful NFL quarterback. With the 200th pick in the 17th round of the 1956 NFL draft, the Packers officially drafted Starr.

He would start slowly, beginning as a backup during his first year, and splitting the play time with another player for the next two years. In 1959, the Packers hired renowned head coach Vince Lombardi, who favored Starr as the starting quarterback. The relationship between the two was immediately successful, as Starr led the Packers to the National Football Conference (NFC) championship that year, which they unfortunately lost. However, the next two years made history when the Packers won two consecutive national championships, both against the New York Giants. Four years later, Starr was named the NFL’s most valuable player by the Associated Press (AP), the Newspaper Enterprise Association and United Press International.

In 1967, coach Vince Lombardi announced it would be his final season. In their final time working together, Starr brought the Packers back to the Super Bowl to beat the Oakland Raiders 33-14. Starr retired from playing four years later, but still retains the second highest quarterback rating to date.

Cam Newton

Coming out of Westlake High School in Georgia, Newton was a five-star recruit, the number two dual-threat quarterback in the nation and 28th player overall. He received a multitude of offers from top Division One colleges before committing to the University of Florida in 2008.

In his freshman year, Newton was the second-string quarterback behind future Major League Baseball (MLB) legend Tim Tebow. That year, he completed five of 10 passes for 40 yards and ran for 103 yards on 16 attempts. Unfortunately, in his sophomore year, Newton’s season was cut short after he was arrested for stealing a laptop from another Florida student, and faced burglary, larceny and obstruction of justice charges.

In 2009 Newton transferred to Blinn College in Brenham, Texas. As part of the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA), this was a large step down from his last team. Despite the poor reputation of the league, Newton’s 28,333 yards and 22 touchdowns were enough to earn him offers to transfer to other top schools. This time, he chose to play with the Auburn Tigers.

Newton started his new career as quarterback and quickly made a strong impression, scoring five offensive touchdowns and accounting for 350 total offensive yards. He continued to carry his team in a dominant fashion, finishing the regular season at 12-0 and becoming the first player in the Southeastern Conference (SEC) to throw for 2,000 yards and run for 1,000 yards in one season. The team bypassed the conference championship after scoring seven touchdowns against South Carolina — six of which were made by Newton — and advanced to the school’s first national championship. The biggest game of his life concluded Newton’s year perfectly, winning on a last second field goal to beat the Oregon Ducks 22-19. With such an incredible performance, Newton was awarded with the SEC Player of the Year award, associated press (AP) Player of the Year award and the prestigious Heisman Trophy.

Three days after winning the national championship, Newton announced he would be entering the 2011 draft and was selected by the Carolina Panthers with the first overall pick. Despite a rocky first year finishing at 6-10, Newton and the Panthers would prove to make a great combination. By the end of the 2015 season, he was named the league’s Most Valuable Player (MVP), and led the team to a 15-1 season and the Super Bowl. This year, he is regarded as one of the most dangerous quarterback in the NFL, and will likely lead the Panthers into his fourth Pro Bowl.

Kurt Warner

You may recognize Warner from his work as a sports analyst or from his extensive philanthropy work, but his success goes far beyond that. The journey to earn it was hard fought and full of failure.

Warner was born in Burlington, Iowa and played football for Regis High School. After that, he enrolled in the University of Northern Iowa, where he was ranked third on the team’s depth chart until his senior year.

Once he was finally given a chance at the starting role, he played exceptionally. His senior year performance warranted the awarding of the Gateway Conference Offensive Player of the Year Award.

After college, Warner entered the NFL draft but went undrafted. After this disappointment, he was invited to try out for the Green Bay Packers in 1994, but was released by the beginning of the regular season. Despite the drop, quarterback coach Steve Mariucci told Warner he had potential, but simply was not ready.

He would prove to be correct, but not before Warner went back to Cedar Rapids to work as a cashier at a grocery store, making $5.50 per hour. Yet he did not give up on his dream to play in the NFL, turning to the Arena Football League to get a fresh start. He excelled in the new league, and was named to AFL’s First-Team All-Arena in both 1996 and 1997.

In 1998, Warner was finally signed by the St. Louis Rams, but was allocated to NFL Europe’s Amsterdam Admirals. There, he lead the league in passing yards and touchdowns, and returned to the Unites States in the middle of the NFL season, where he sat at third-string.

The next year, Warner was promoted to second-string, and was given the chance to start when former free agent Trent Green was injured. When it was time for the regular season games to start, Warner was an instant success.

In his first four games, he led the Rams to four consecutive victories and threw for 14 touchdowns. At the end of the year, he was named the NFL’s MVP and led the Rams to their first playoff since 1989.

After his 12-year career, Warner has won two league MVP awards, two Super Bowl appearances (including one win), one Super Bowl MVP award, the three highest single-game passing yardage totals and the third highest career completion percentage in NFL history.

With a plethora of accomplishments despite the adversity he has faced, it is no surprise that Warner’s story is considered one of the greatest in football.

About The Author

Former Senior Staff Writer

Cole Hechtman is a senior at Palo Alto High School and the Sports Section Editor for The Campanile. Outside of school, he has participated in various journalistic fields, including broadcast and print journalism. In addition, he enjoys writing poetry and scrutinizing Webster's dictionaries.

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