Being a backup quarterback for a small-market NFL team is somewhat of a thankless job, albeit a thankless job that pays millions of dollars. You practice just as hard as your more talented counterparts, but the only time you get in a game is when the outcome is already decided or someone better than you gets injured. Nobody really cares what brand of hot dogs you prefer, shoes you wear, or who you’re dating. There’s a reason they call it “buried” on the depth chart.
(Mark Sanchez, beware - this could be your future!)
For Arizona Cardinals backup QB Matt Leinart, who signed $5 million worth of endorsement deals back in the days when people thought he might be good at football, that presents a problem. The former Next Big Thing is stuck in Phoenix carrying 75-year-old Kurt Warner’s jock, and it seems he’s finally realized that the way to get back in the spotlight is to toughen up and stop being a “pretty boy”. His new training regimen? Getting his ass kicked by mixed martial arts fighters.
Leinart has been training with FOX SPORTS’ Jay Glazer (a longtime proponent of MMA) in the finer points of MMA, which includes getting pummeled by professionals. According to PRO FOOTBALL TALK:
Glazer said that Leinart had the perception of being a “pretty boy,” and that Glazer’s goal was to make Leinart into a “killer.”
He said that Leinart is “more of a tough guy now,” as a result of being pushed beyond all mental and physical limits. Assisting Glazer were WEC lightweight champion Jamie Varner, UFC Ultimate Fighter reality show winner Ryan Bader, and UFC’s Jesse Forbes and C.B. Dolloway. (Yeah, we had to have Glazer spell all of those names for us.)
Glazer, who calls MMA “the greatest sport in the word,” said that Leinart’s new attitude came out at one point during the training, when Jamie Varner was giving Leinart a hard time verbally.
“Shut the f–k up, Varner,” Leinart barked.
That’s great and all; I mean, I sure as hell wouldn’t have the balls to yell at a professional MMA fighter. But it makes you wonder just what the hell Leinart has been doing the past few years, other than trying to ignite a Hollywood career. Yes, MMA fighters are some of the greatest athletes in the world, but this is hardly a ringing endorsement of his commitment to football.
Glazer will be posting the videos of Leinart’s training on FOXSPORTS.COM in the near future; if Leinart is spotted sporting tribal armband tattoos and an Affliction shirt, then we’ll know for sure that he has bought into the lessons of his MMA masters. Let’s just hope he doesn’t take the “killer” thing too far; things didn’t turn out so well for the last USC football star who tried that.