Will John Beck be the next rags-to-riches quarterback story in the NFL? (John McDonnell/The Washington Post)

Joe Montana arrived at greatness from the third round of the draft. Tom Brady got there from the sixth round. Kurt Warner, the greatest story ever told, came from a grocery store.

Now after four anonymous years as a journeyman NFL quarterback, John Beck is about to get his moment in the sun as he tries become the next great story in the NFL. Every year, it seems, a quarterback comes from seemingly nowhere and has a better year than anyone thought possible.

Those for whom Cinderella’s slipper actually fits are a very rare breed. Heck, Derek Anderson had that kind of year for the Cleveland Browns in 2008, and even Doug Flutie tried with some success to bring some college magic to the NFL. But in the end, Cinderella is a fairy tale, almost impossible to believe.

So does John Beck have the magic in him to create something like history? John Beck thinks he does. Kyle Shanahan, Redskins offensive coordinator, claims that he thinks so too.

“I’ve been doing this for a few years. I know people that can play,” Mike Shanahan told Dan Graziano of ESPN. “He’s an excellent athlete. He’s got a quick release. He can anticipate throws. He’s a natural leader. Extremely intelligent. So I don’t even worry about what people say. I know John Beck can play in this league. Why hasn’t he played? Why hasn’t he had a chance? I really don’t care what the different thought processes are, but I know John can play in this league. He hasn’t had a chance.”

Well now he gets his chance on a team that has stripped its defense and has one of the shakiest offensive lines in the NFL. So how about that Cinderella story, huh?

In fact, Shanahan does know about people who can play. I am guessing he may have seen a couple of Stanford tapes featuring Andrew Luck in the past year or so. As a guy who once coached John Elway and had the golden-armed but nickel-brained Jay Cutler as his quarterback, Shanahan has to be salivating thinking about getting to coach the beginning of soon-to-be Stanford graduate Andrew Luck’s career.

The reason why it is such fun for a knucklehead like me to write about the Redskins is because the team is so much like the government — dysfunctional and losing. But just like the next election, the Redskins seem to always be counting on the next draft, the next big free agent. “Someone else can save us” is the working theory.

There does not appear to be an Andrew Luck out there waiting to save the government. But as the for the Redskins, counting on Beck to bring Luck seems as good of a strategy as any they’ve tried recently.


Brian Tarcy at briantarcy.com is the co-author of "The Complete Idiot's Guide to Football" with Joe Theismann, and the creator of the NFL humor site Whatzgonnahappen.com