Blue Mountain State was a sitcom that premiered on Spike TV in 2010 and ran for three seasons. To put it simply, the show was absurd (take a look at the opening. Now imagine what an actual episode would entail). The series followed a fictional college football team, the Blue Mountain State Mountain Goats, focusing primarily on the benefits of being a college athlete. Alex Moran, one of the main characters of the show, lived the ideal college life. His education was paid for, he partied every day, had relations with what seemed like every girl on campus, and got away with pretty much anything he wanted to because of his status as a member of the football team.
However, Moran was not the star of the team or even a starter; in fact, he was the second-string quarterback who spent his Saturdays carrying a clipboard on the sidelines. Moran loved it though. Due to the fact that he wasn’t playing, there was no pressure to perform and he focus on things more important to him, like boozing, smoking dope, and getting laid. He simply coasted along for the first few seasons of the show, enjoying college to the fullest and milking every perk of being an athlete without putting in the work of being an athlete. Moran made it well known that he had no intention of every changing his backup situation (he ended up becoming the starter eventually, but that was a forced hand once the show didn’t get canceled after the first two seasons). To sum it up, Moran made the second-string quarterback look like the greatest position on a football team (perhaps Mitchell Trubisky was on to something at North Carolina, where he sat on the bench for the first three years he was on campus)
As a college student during the airing of this show (All three seasons are now on Netflix), I was always a little thrown off by Moran’s desire to stay a backup. Why wouldn’t he want to start? Didn’t he want to be in the NFL? Wouldn’t being the starter make everything even better? I always read about quarterback battles in training camps, but always assumed that both quarterbacks battling for the starting spot wanted to win. However, Moran made me question this. He got all of the benefits that a starter got, but didn’t have any pressure on his shoulders. He didn’t really have to worry about losing his job or about being hungover for a game. Is it possible that some quarterbacks in the past have intentionally tanked in order to stay a backup? A better question; would you blame them?
Chicago Bears second-string quarterback Chase Daniel has made $28.3 million dollars over the course of his 10-year career as a lifetime backup. He has thrown 115 career passes (37 of those came just last Thursday) and started three career games. That breaks down to $9.4 million per game and $24,600 per throw. Now, let’s take a look at someone who has started most of their career, like Tom Brady. Brady has made $217 million over the course of his career, throwing 9,176 career passes over 261 starts. That breaks down to $831,000 per game and $23,600 per throw.
Although Daniel will make nowhere near the amount of money Brady has over the course of his career, he has been paid at a higher rate when it comes to his on-field production. Over the course of his career, Brady has had to play eleven games, over half a season, just to make the amount of money Daniel has made by playing one. Basically, Daniel has been paid handsomely to have the best seat in the house every Sunday. Sure, he puts in the time during practice and in the film room, but when it comes down to it, he has made most of his money being no more than a quarterback coach who has to go out on the field every three years or so. That is a good gig and it is far better when you really think about it.
As a backup, Daniel doesn’t have to worry about future medical problems like most NFL starters do. He doesn’t get touched in practice and has only been sacked 11 times in his entire career (for reference, Detroit Lions starting quarterback Matt Stafford, who came into the league the same year Daniel did, was sacked 10 times in one game this season). Daniel is making NFL money without taking the risk that his colleagues at every other position (outside of kickers and punters) take every Sunday when they take the field. Players are walking away earlier and earlier due to the fear of developing CTE later in life, but that worry, which I am sure plagues the minds of more NFL players than we think, probably doesn’t cross his mind. It is kind of like being a police officer in downtown Chicago as opposed to a police office in Naperville. They both have the same job, but a Chicago police office puts their life in significant danger every single day while a Naperville police officer is busy writing speeding tickets and breaking up high school parties.
To take it farther, let’s look at you. I want you to add two or three zeros to your current salary. Now imagine that in order to make this new salary with the extra zeros, all you had to do was perform the most high-pressure part of your job (like giving a presentation if you are in sales, putting out a fire if you are a firefighter, performing surgery if you are a surgeon, sticking your head into the lion’s mouth if you are a lion tamer, etc) once every three years. Sign me up for that life. As a backup, Daniel has little to no pressure at his office (office being football field). He has been asked to perform in meaningful situations once every 1000 days or so and even then, the expectations are low. No fans really expect too much from a backup quarterback. Unlike a kicker, who doesn’t play often, but when he does, often decides the outcomes of games, the pressure on a backup quarterback is nothing compared to that of his co-workers.
Honestly, being a backup quarterback is like being a lifeguard. A lifeguard is important (as a backup quarterback is), but only is forced to jump in the water about once or twice a summer. They are hired to fulfill the requirements of their job when absolutely necessary, but for the most part, they just sit in the sun and tan all summer. Daniel is Chicago’s own lifeguard and last Thursday, he did his job and then some.
Although Daniel is set to start again this Sunday, his play last week has already guaranteed him a lifetime job as a backup. He will go on and collect millions of dollars for the next six to ten seasons even though this Sunday’s game against the New York Giants could possibly being his last career start. It doesn’t really matter what happens Sunday; Daniel has better job security than Mike Krzyzewski. He has proved he is worth a roster spot and should enjoy another decade full of film study and paychecks that rival most corporate CEOs. But does he have the best job in the world? It definitely doesn’t suck.