Who is John Beck? That’s the big question of the Washington Redskins preseason.
The simple answer is that Beck is a 30-year-old quarterback who was picked in the second round of the 2007 National Football League (NFL) draft after he played at Brigham Young University. He was with the Miami Dolphins and the Baltimore Ravens from 2007 to 2009 before being traded to the Redskins last season.
Beck didn’t play in any Redskins games, and he didn’t play much for his other NFL teams. He appeared in only five games for the Dolphins in 2007.
Beck is a big story because he might become the Redskins starting quarterback. He is competing with Rex Grossman, who started three games for the Redskins last season, for the job. Even though Beck does not have much NFL experience, Washington’s head coach, Mike Shanahan, says he knows Beck “can play in this league.”
Shanahan might be right. Beck looked pretty good in the Redskins’ 16-3 preseason win over the Indianapolis Colts, although he threw mostly short passes. Beck will get another chance to show what he can do tonight against the Ravens.
Still, I’m not so sure. Few professional athletes who have not played much before age 30 suddenly become stars, or even starters, after they reach that age.
Pro sports are not like kids sports. In kids sports, you might have one day to try out for a team. The team might practice only once or twice a week. Moms and dads often coach the teams, so coaches might miss a kid who is a good player.
That’s why I tell kids not to get discouraged if they don’t make an under-10 travel soccer team or if they sit on the bench in Little League. Coaches make mistakes, and a lot can change between 8 and 16 years old!
But pro players are older and are watched very closely. The Redskins, for example, have 21 coaches. They film practices. Usually, if someone is a good player, pro coaches figure that out quickly. So it’s a bad sign that Beck has not played much until now.
Still, some quarterbacks are late bloomers. Kurt Warner, for example, was not drafted out of college and got cut from his first NFL team. Warner worked in a grocery store and played in the Arena Football League for three seasons. When he got his chance to play in in the NFL in 1999 at age 28, he led the St. Louis Rams to a Super Bowl victory. Warner went on to become a four-time Pro Bowler who led the Arizona Cardinals to another Super Bowl in 2009.
The Redskins would love John Beck to be another Kurt Warner. If he is, that would answer the team’s question of who will play quarterback.
Fred Bowen is the author of 17 sports books for kids, including his latest, “Quarterback Season.”