Washington Redskins quarterback Jason Campbell is a high character player and a real class act. I have been extremely impressed with his demeanor and attitude over the course of his career with the Redskins, often in less that ideal circumstances. Last night, in what was an embarrassing and unprofessional performance by his teammates in a 45-12 loss to the New York Giants, Jason Campbell was one of the few players to show up for the game.
After getting pounded and pounded and pounded in the first half because his offensive line couldn’t block anyone, Jason Campbell went out of the game with an injury. Jim Zorn was going to pull him out of the game in the second half because of the beating he was taking. But with the season long over for all practical purposes, in a hopeless situation on the scoreboard, injured, and while his teammates on offense quit, especially the offensive line, he insisted on playing in the second half. All he had to look forward to was more of the same, a beating. But he came out to play anyway. And for that my admiration for Campbell soared for being the kind of football player with the heart and character that we can all look up to and respect.
Now don’t get me wrong. I do not think Campbell is a great quarterback or will ever be an elite quarterback in the NFL. His defenders will point out that he is in a different offensive system every year. And that his offensive line has been porous. And the Redskins have had numerous coaching changes over his five year career. That’s all true and certainly has stunted his development. And maybe I’m wrong. Maybe in a different situation he would be an elite quarterback in the NFL today. But that’s not the point of this article and it does not matter to me whether or not he’s a great quarterback. The thing that I highly respect and admire in Jason Campbell is his class and character.
I’ve long been impressed by Campbell’s character. Let’s just take a look at what happened to him in the offseason. The Redskins were publically courting Denver and Jay Cutler trying to get a trade to replace Campbell. Then they tried to move up in the draft to get Mark Sanchez of the University of Southern California who is now with the Jets. Obviously this had to hurt Campbell given all the time and effort he has given the Redskins with little in return. Instead of whining and moaning and calling out management and the coaches, Campbell simply said he couldn’t control these things and just had to work hard to keep getting better and help the team.
Contrast that with the whiney Jay Cutler who got bent out of shape when the Denver Broncos fired Mike Shanahan and contemplated trading him for Matt Cassel. He created a huge rift with new head coach Josh McDaniels and the organization, eventually leading to Cutler being traded to the Chicago Bears, where is has had a miserable season and is an interception machine.
You also never hear Jason Campbell call out his teammates for poor play. This year his offensive line has been horrible. Granted, injuries have had a lot to do with that, but you never hear Campbell complain about them. Nor do you hear him complain about his receivers, who have been a disappointment, with the exception of Santa Moss who is continually plagued by hamstring injuries. Nor have I hard Campbell complain about his coaches. HE just goes out and plays the best he can and keeps the dirty laundry in house.
Contrast that with one of the biggest jerks in the NFL, the Redskins own Clinton Portis (running back). On more than one occasion he has called out his offensive line when he plays poorly and needs someone to blame it on. This year he tried to get fullback Mike Sellers benched and had a confrontation with him. He blamed Joe Gibbs for leaving him in a preseason game where he hurt his shoulder tackling on an interception. The prima donna got into a tussle with Jim Zorn last year when he pulled himself out of game without bothering to inform the coaches of it. He whines when he doesn’t get the ball enough. Great teammate, right? Of course he was a malcontent in Denver too. I have zero respect for Portis.
And then we come to last night. In a hopeless situation, taking a beating, on a team that doesn’t want him, a lame duck coach, and new management, he comes out in the second half and does his best.
That’s what I call a class act.