The Talk of Fame Network loves to bring its listeners both the history of the game and the unique stories others so often miss. Josh McNown is one of those stories, and he drops by this week to talk about living a far different pro football dream than the one he imagined as a kid growing up in Texas.
McNown was a third-round draft pick of the Arizona Cardinals in 2002, a young quarterback with a future. What he didn’t expect was he’d become a record-breaking quarterback ... and not for the reasons he dreamed of.
McNown, one of pro football’s nice guys, is the most traveled quarterback in NFL history, having played for eight teams in 16 NFL seasons. He also went to training camp with two other teams and in the prime of his career spent a year with the Hartford Colonials of the United Football League to resurrect himself.
So why’d he do it?
“I never said, ‘I hope to go between eight and 10 teams,' ’’ McCown tells the Talk of Fame Network on this week's broadcast. “That’s never the first interview you do as a rookie.
"But sometimes you walk a different path. I tried to embrace that. It comes with some heartache. Some hard moments for sure. But the love of the game carried me. I had a coach tell me once, 'Never let familiarity ruin your joy.' I like to think I had more days like that than I didn’t.’’
Last year McCown served as a mentor to Jets’ quarterback Sam Darnold and proved once again he is a competent professional, a total team player and a more-than-adequate passer when given the chance.
This year he remains without a team and intends to spend the fall watching his two sons playing high-school football under the Friday Night lights. He admits he knows better than any quarterback in history that you never know when the phone could ring.
But if this is the end, he had his moments.
One of the best was as the first NFL quarterback to win a regular-season game on foreign soil when he literally had to cross a moat at Azteca Stadium in Mexico City to reach the playing field and lead the 49ers to victory in front of over 100,000 fans in 2005.
“You walk over a bridge to get to the field, (and) you know you’re not in Kansas anymore,’’ McCown recalled.
He also recalled the joys of passing a football at high altitude.
“I appreciated it,’’ McCown said. “That ball flies. For a guy like me, who has an arm that’s average-to-just-above-average, I lobbied for a franchise there! I’m sure I’d end up there.’’
It is that kind of self-deprecating good humor that has characterized Josh McCown’s 16-year career --- one that had highlights like the Mexico City game when he threw for 385 yards and two touchdowns to the time he passed for four touchdowns against his boyhood team, the Dallas Cowboys, on a Monday Night in 2013.
“When you only have one it has to be satisfying,’’ McCown said. “The first helmet my brother and I ever put on was a Cowboys' helmet (as a kid growing up in Texas). If I had more four-touchdown games it would still be a special one.’’
That is exactly what Josh McCown was in pro football. A special one whose boyhood dream of playing pro football may not have gone exactly the way he once hoped. Nevertheless, it went for 16 years in which he never lost the joy he felt the first time he picked up a football and threw it to his Dad.
As to why he wore No. 12 for six NFL teams but changed to number 13 in Cleveland and number 15 last year with the Jets ... or what it was like last season to mentor a quarterback barely a year older than his oldest child … tune into the Talk of Fame Network on your local SB Nation Radio station or by subscribing to our free podcast.
You can also find it at iTunes, Apple podcasts, TuneIn app or by going to our website, talkoffamenetwork.com.
In addition to hearing from the most traveled quarterback in NFL history you’ll also hear from the retired executive director of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, Joe Horrigan, about his 42 years in Canton and what its plans are for a special class to celebrate the league’s upcoming 100th anniversary.
Long-time Houston Chronicle football columnist and Hall-of-Fame voter John McClain also stops by to talk about the Texans’ off-the-field battle with the New England Patriots over the services of Nick Caserio. Caserio is no player, but he’s the man Houston head coach Bill O’Brien wants as Houston’s next general manager.
McClain recalls the Texans’ tortured efforts to beat the Patriots on the field and their new effort to get the best of them off the field.
You can hear all that and a lot more every week on the Talk of Fame Network.