By T. Rees Shapiro
Tuesday, February 9, 2010; D03
During Sean Glennon's career, the former Virginia Tech quarterback experienced the elation that comes with being the MVP of the 2007 ACC championship game, and the embarrassment of sitting on the bench throughout his final college game at the 2008 Orange Bowl.
The intense scrutiny Glennon faced during his five years in Blacksburg, Va., constantly played on his emotions. Whether it was smack talk on fan Web sites or to his e-mail account after a bad interception, or praise and high-fives after a winning touchdown pass, reaction from the Hokies' devoted football fans often left Glennon's psyche in tatters.
Even now, as he focuses on his new life as a first-year mortgage consulting and loan officer with Home Savings and Trust Mortgage in Fairfax, Glennon's critics continue to taunt him. The ugly anonymous calls to his cellphone prove it.
"People call me say they hate me and then hang up," Glennon said.
Now that Glennon, 24, has graduated and spent the last six months in the business world, he had every reason to believe his critics might finally turn their attention elsewhere. But recently, Glennon learned he has been the subject of a number of defamatory chain e-mails. One of them, obtained by The Washington Post, includes vituperative comments aimed at smearing Glennon's reputation in the business world:
"I'm going to start writing his phone number on bathroom walls," one e-mailer wrote. "Oh, how the mighty have fallen," read another.
The viral messages arose from an e-mail Glennon wrote to his friends and former teachers at Westfield High School, where he led the team to the 2003 AAA state championship his senior year and earned first-team All-Met honors.
After graduating from Virginia Tech, Glennon signed with the Minnesota Vikings as an undrafted free agent but was released last July when it became apparent veteran quarterback Brett Favre would be coming out of retirement.
Glennon was devastated by being cut and out of work. Like many recent college graduates, he spent the rest of the summer networking in the Washington area in order to find a satisfying job that also allowed him enough free time to prepare for a possible second chance at his dream career in the NFL.
In August, he was hired by Gary McInturff, president and majority owner of Home Savings and Trust Mortgage, who was impressed with Glennon's positive outlook and his degree in finance and marketing.
To build his list of business contacts, Glennon reached out to the Westfield community, letting people know he was back in the area and newly employed.
"It feels a little strange to be writing to you like this, and to be hanging up my cleats for a suit and tie, but I'm taking on this new challenge with enthusiasm," Glennon wrote. "Let me know if there is any way I can help, and again, thanks so much for your support over the years. My time at Westfield meant so much to me."
At the end of the e-mail, Glennon included his information -- his e-mail address, and his office and personal cellphone numbers -- in case someone wanted to contact him for advice about refinancing their home.
Glennon has no idea how it happened, but it didn't take long for his contact information to go viral. As a result, scores of anonymous comments blazed a digital trail of vitriol directed at the former Virginia Tech quarterback.
"He finally found a business where turnover is a good thing," one e-mail read. And another: "I hate him. He thinks he deserves to be in the NFL-NEVER GOING TO HAPPEN."
Throughout his career, Glennon endured similar rants from many of the Hokies' fans. As a quarterback, he could be brilliant in the pocket, heaving 70-yard touchdown passes and going games at a time without an interception. But he was inconsistent.
He was benched his senior year and replaced by then sophomore Tyrod Taylor, a quarterback from Hampton, Va., whose fleet feet and elusiveness often drew comparisons to former Virginia Tech star Michael Vick.
"Sean had a very unfortunate career," Virginia Tech quarterbacks coach Mike O'Cain said. "I will respect Sean for as long as I live for the way he handled it. It was hard, and to be honest, it wasn't fair."
Glennon's benching only brought out the worst from some hyper-critical fans.
"I've learned that in life people want to drag down anyone who's on top, and they kick you when you're down, too," Glennon said. "But I developed a thicker skin, became mentally tough, and those things are going to help me down the road and definitely in the NFL."
Glennon still believes he can play professional football, and his agent, C. Lamont Smith, is trying to get him on a training camp roster. So far, Glennon said there has been some interest, and he's hoping something may happen now that the Super Bowl is over.
"I love the game, and I love football too much to give it up," said Glennon, who simply wants a chance to prove he has the skills to play in the NFL.
"There are players in the NFL with a lot less ability than he has that are playing as backup guys," O'Cain said. "Sean throws the ball well enough, and most importantly he has the mental capability and understands the game."
McInturff offered a similar assessment for Glennon's future in business. He said Glennon quickly picked up the nuances of his new position, and if he decides to pursue an NFL career, McInturff said he would wish him well and that his job would still be there if football does not work out.
As for Glennon's digital detractors, at least one says he's sorry.
Alan K. Day II, a salesman who works in Washington for a plumbing and building products supply company, was a commenter in the forwarded chain e-mail. In the e-mail he wrote, he received the message from a colleague whose wife works at Westfield High School. Day had some particularly negative comments for Glennon, but in an interview he said they were written in fun, fueled only by his passion for Virginia Tech football.
"I haven't actually met [Glennon] before," said Day, a 2004 Virginia Tech graduate. "Would you tell him I'm sorry? I only meant it as a joke."
Glennon has his doubts about the critics that attack him personally, whom he calls "knuckleheads."
"It's the cowards that hide behind a mask," Glennon said. "I take the good news with the bad for sure. If my business grows just five or 10 clients in the future because of this e-mail then it's worth the five or 10 people who called pranking me."