Forever-a-Washingtonian Jason Campbell has been in the news several times this season, suggested as a possible solution for teams in need of a backup quarterback. It happened again this week, with reports that the Colts were attempting to lure Campbell out of his not-yet-official-retirement to play backup to Matt Hasselbeck while Andrew Luck recuperates from his kidney injury.
Campbell is still just 33 years old — at least a dozen older men have thrown passes in the NFL this season — and he has a background with Colts offensive coordinator Rob Chudzinski. So why isn’t this happening? Let Campbell explain.
“I talked to Coach Chudzinski, a guy I’ve got the utmost respect for,” Campbell said on ESPN 980 Thursday afternoon. “We were together in Cleveland, spent some time together, and we had some conversations about some things. But as of right now, I told him I’m kind of enjoying what I’m doing right now. And it’s kind of hard just to up and change what I’m doing. And I told him I appreciate the interest and everything … [but] I’m just kind of chilling right now.”
By doing what exactly?
“I’m trying to follow my university a little bit, trying to figure out what it is that I want to get into next as far as TV or radio,” Campbell told Kevin Sheehan and Thom Loverro. “And the most important thing for me is just spending some family time. You’re playing football for so many years — you’re always gone, you’re always on the road, doing different things, and you never get a chance to spend that time with your family. And you look up, and 10 years have went by. Your nephews aren’t 3 no more; they’re 13. Your parents have gotten older. So the older you get, you seem to realize how much time is valuable, especially spending that time with the ones that you love.”
That does sound potentially more rewarding as fighting off the Texans for the AFC South title while putting your kidneys at risk of laceration, I suppose. But it’s close.
Campbell, I should note, was promoting my friend Eric Shuster’s annual fundraising event for the foundation named after his mother; this year’s event will be held Dec. 14 at American Tap Room in Bethesda, with scheduled guests including Ryan Kerrigan, Shawn Springs, Colt McCoy, Tress Way and Kirk Cousins.
Now here’s something amazing: Campbell actually played more NFL seasons away from Washington (five) than in Washington (four). But he’ll likely be remembered as a Washington quarterback, having played through two memorable seasons with Joe Gibbs and two more with Jim Zorn. On the radio, he told great Zorn stories — including when the coach would bring his engraved bow and arrow to offensive team meetings — and spoke highly of his time here, saying “D.C. fans are diehard fans” and that he misses being in the local community the most. But he also talked about a certain level of regret.
“I watch all the games,” he said of the Skins. “You still always feel a part of it, even though you feel like it’s the best decision for you to move forward in life. But I still watch the games. I saw the whole thing between RGIII and Kirk Cousins. And I was like, playing quarterback in D.C., it can be a big-time job. You have to be a mentally strong person to deal with everything that’s thrown at you. You can’t get too high, you can’t get too low. Everyone’s going to tell you what you need to do or what you don’t need to do, but you have to stay true to who you are.
“The one thing they have gotten better at is not trying to go out and get too many big free agents,” he said. “I always thought that was a big mistake, because it hurts your team, having a chance to grow together. If you look at the teams that win constantly year in and year out they start drafting guys, and they start letting guys grow together and build together. And I think that’s important. Sometimes you’re going to go through a rough patch, but you’re always changing, you’re always starting back over from ground zero.
“And that’s the only thing I regret through my whole career is every time I took a step forward, I had to take another step backwards,” Campbell said. “Because I’d have to start over again with a new playbook, or I’d have to start over again learning chemistry with a new guy. You’re never just moving forward, you’re always constantly going through change. And that always hangs over your head: man, what if I had the opportunity to stay with one [coach] for a while.”