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John Beck Talks About His Time In Miami

Posted by Matt Terl on May 17, 2011 – 12:44 pm

John Beck‘s appearance on Sirius XM Radio with Adam Schein and Rich Gannon has already spawned blog posts from WaPo’s Dan Steinberg, CSNWashington’s Rich Tandler, and non-CSNWashington Rich Tandler. That’s a lot of words (or, as Ted Leonsis would say, “pixels”). Fortunately, Beck talked for more than fifteen minutes, so there’s still more content left to mine.

Also, yes, this picture is very similar to the one I used in my last John Beck post, albeit from eighteen weeks later, all of which seems to have gone into mullet growth. I apologize for the repetition, but we are getting closer and closer to the day that I run out of John Beck Redskins photos entirely.

There are currently two quarterbacks on the Redskins roster: John Beck and Donovan McNabb. By sheer coincidence, the younger — Beck — made his pro debut as a rookie with the Dolphins against the veteran McNabb, leading the Eagles. It was November 18, 2007, a cold day at Lincoln Financial Field.

One of the quarterbacks put up the dreadful line of 3-for-11 for 34 yards and 2 interceptions before leaving the game with an ankle injury. The other one was John Beck.

Beck didn’t have a great game — 9-of-22 for 109 yards — but didn’t turn the ball over. He also didn’t lead his team to a win. (A.J. Feeley came off the bench for the Eagles and rallied them to victory, prompting a whole new round of speculation that McNabb might be traded out of Philly. What a ridiculous thought! Ha ha ha!) In fact, Beck wouldn’t lead the Dolphins to a single win in that disastrous 1-15 season, meaning that he has never quarterbacked a pro team to a victory.

So it’s understandable that people hearing that Beck may be given the chance to compete for a starting position in D.C. are a little bit skeptical, given the way his tenure in Miami went.

By even further coincidence, an ex-Redskins quarterback who hadn’t seen much success until later in his career was in the booth calling that Dolphins/Eagles tilt: Rich Gannon. Who, by even FURTHER staggering coincidence, had the occasion to interview Beck on Sirius Radio, and who brought up those rough days in Miami.

“You look at your career,” Gannon says, “Think about what you’ve been through. You go to a football team that was right in the midst of so much turmoil and transition — they fire the coach. You’re there in Miami two years, you go to Baltimore, you’re there a year, you go to Washington … I mean, it’s been a crazy four years for you already. What have you learned, and what would you have done differently if you could go back to 2007 and start all over?”
Everyone who has written about this interview has mentioned how confident Beck comes across, and how much he — at least — SOUNDS like someone who could be a starting NFL quarterback. Far be it from me to disagree. But this answer, and the other ones about Miami, are what impressed me most. It can be difficult to talk about times when things went horribly wrong, but Beck handles it as well as anyone could. He takes responsibility, acknowledges both his own mistakes AND the lousy situation, and explains what’s different for him now.

Which brings us back around to the answer to Gannon’s question.

“Well, it’s tricky,” Beck starts. “Because if I [was] gonna be in the situation I was at right now, I wouldn’t wanna change anything. Because I feel like this is where I’m supposed to be. I feel like the opportunity I have to play for Coach Shanahan, to play for the Washington Redskins right now, 2011 season, is the best opportunity I could ask for, regardless of what happened in my past.”

Sure, it sounds like Beck’s ducking the question, but he’s far from done. “Y’know, sometimes life just goes that way,” Beck continues. “Did I get my opportunity on a sinking ship? Yes, obviously. Did I make mistakes when I went out there? Yes. Did I play like a rookie? Yeah, I had my fair share of mistakes.

“But I learned a lot from it. I feel like there’s things that I learned, because of the situation I was in, that — had I not been in a tough situation, I might not have learned those things. So I feel blessed for the opportunity I had to be in a tough situation, because if you want to be great at the tough situations, you have to know how to play in ’em and you have to be comfortable in ’em. So I actually yearn for the next opportunity when a tough situation comes up in a game, because I feel like, Okay, I’ve been there when the crap’s hitting the fan. Did it suck back then? Yes. But I’ve spent the last three years preparing myself mentally and physically so that when it comes up again — if it does — I’m ready.”

I mean, I’m not saying that this totally sets my mind at east about the idea of an untested quarterback potentially starting for the Redskins, but it really reframes his Miami experience in the best possible light.

Beck was asked about the 2007 Dolphins a couple more times, and each time he gave a different — but equally impressive — answer.

Here’s how he handled being asked how that team would up being quite so disastrous: “You know what? I’m not even gonna answer that question because that is so far behind me, I don’t even think about it anymore. There was a time years ago where I wondered the same thing: what in the heck was that? That was a disaster. But at this time in my life I have no rearview mirrors. I do not look behind me. All I look forward to is what’s happening with the Washington Redskins. That’s all I care about.”

Adam Schein asked Beck how his time in Miami motivates him, and the answer revealed something else about the quarterback: he prepares. Even for an interview, he’s prepared. He knows who he’s talking to, what they do — and what they’ve done.

“I think the guy sitting next to you probably knows what type of motivation this feels like,” Beck says, referring to Gannon. “‘Cause I watched the guy — when I was a kid, I watched the Oakland Raiders, I watched somebody go in there, be an NFL MVP, take his team to the Super Bowl, have Pro Bowl years … and I know that that didn’t happen until he was 34 years old. So I would imagine that Rich knows the exact feeling that I’m in. And I also remember reading an article about how he went into the Raiders locker room, picked up the remote controls for the video game system and picked up the pool table balls, put ’em in his locker, locked it up, and told everybody, ‘If we wanna win football games, this crap has to end.'”

In case you’re curious, Beck is spot on: Rich Gannon’s first 3,000+ yard season came in 1999, when he was 34 years old. The story about the pool balls? You can read that one in the SI Vault. Whatever else he is, Beck is a guy who knows his stuff.

If you’re skeptical of Beck, this probably doesn’t convince you. All the interviews in the world probably wouldn’t convince you. And Beck completely understands that as well.

“To be successful in the NFL, it doesn’t matter what you do in your interviews or what you do on the practice field,” Beck says. “It’s about what you do in games, and that’s what I’m chomping at the bit for. I can’t wait to get out on the field. I can’t wait to perform.”

And that, naturally, led him back around to another reflection on his Miami days, in the rearview mirror he claims not to have.
“Yes, it has been tough,” Beck tells Gannon and Schein.”I’ve had the weirdest road ever. When I got to the Dolphins, they sat me down and said, ‘Okay, you know what, you’re not gonna be the guy this year, this offseason’s gonna be your big time to grow, you’re gonna watch Trent Green’ and then all of a sudden, bam, I’m on the field? Nothing every went down the way it was supposed to, but I’ve great lessons in my life because of that. You have to be able to be successful in situations where, if things don’t happen the way they’re supposed to go, you just make it happen the way that you believe.

“So for me,” Beck continues, “I don’t ask any fans to believe in me right now. How could I, you know? If you try to see what I’ve done in my career, I’ve stood on the sidelines and watched people and I went out as a rookie and played like a rookie. That’s it.”

Now he’s just hoping he can get on the field, and give the fans a reason to believe from there.

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