When he was a junior at Wisconsin, Browns five-time Pro Bowl left tackle Joe Thomas remembers draft analysts projecting Brady Quinn as the No. 1 pick if he left Notre Dame a year early.
But Quinn stayed with the Irish and ended up falling to No. 22 a year later. After trading first- and second-round selections to the Dallas Cowboys to get Quinn, then-Browns General Manager Phil Savage was so enthused by the Thomas-Quinn duo that he proclaimed, “This is probably going to go down as the day the fortune of the Browns turn.”
Now Quinn is with his third NFL team and has started only 16 games, four this season for the Kansas City Chiefs and his former Browns coach Romeo Crennel. Coming off the best performance of his career, which earned him his first AFC Offensive Player of the Week honor, Quinn will make his first start against his former team since he was traded in March, 2010 when the Chiefs visit the Browns today.
“It was a shame that he never fully got his opportunity to show that he could be the starter,” Thomas said Wednesday. “[When] you’re a first-round pick, you’d expect you’d at least get one or two good years to prove yourself. When there are changes in the front office and changes in the coaching staff, all bets are off. You can go from being the man to not being in somebody’s plans really fast.”
Quinn went 3-9 for the Browns in 2008-09, winning an infamous training camp battle with Derek Anderson in his final season before getting yanked at halftime of Game 3. Signed by the Chiefs in March to back up Matt Cassel, Quinn is now 4-12 as a starter.
Quinn rooted for the Browns growing up in Dublin, Ohio, which made it more difficult when it didn’t work out.
“I felt very blessed and I was thankful for the opportunity,” Quinn said Wednesday in a conference call. “I loved the guys on the team. The fans were amazing. I had such a wonderful time. That’s why when I got the call that I was being traded, I was just kind of shocked. But that’s part of life, right? You’re going to get thrown curve balls and you’ve got to adjust and move on to the next thing.”
Quinn wouldn’t say if he agreed with his training camp and hotel roommate Thomas that he didn’t get a fair shot.
“That’s not for me to decide because, in the end, it doesn’t matter,” he said. “You wish you would have a little more stability. There are  guys who I was with three years ago on that team. It’s just a tough scenario when you’ve got so many moving parts and everything’s constantly changing.”
Crennel wouldn’t say if he believes Quinn, 28, can still be an elite NFL quarterback. University of Kansas coach Charlie Weis, who Crennel worked alongside with three NFL teams and coached Quinn at Notre Dame, thinks so.
“Charlie still feels that way,” Crennel said. “Charlie knows exactly what his strong points are and was able to get the most out of him and that’s what we’re trying to do as well.”
Browns defensive end Frostee Rucker said that’s what happened Sunday, one day after linebacker Jovan Belcher killed his girlfriend and committed suicide, when the Chiefs defeated the Carolina Panthers 27-21.
Quinn completed 19-of-23 passes for 201 yards and two touchdowns with no interceptions for a 132.1 passer rating. His 82.6 completion percentage was the highest in franchise history. He became the first Chiefs quarterback to be named player of the week since Damon Huard in 2006.
Rucker was impressed with Quinn’s poise.
“He was really confident,” Rucker said. “They gave him a game plan he could work with. The guy’s been in the league long enough and he’s just getting his turn to play. I’m happy for the success he got, especially the emotions they had going into it.”
Although he wants to become a regular starter, Quinn doesn’t dwell on his rough road, even when he was watching Tim Tebow in Denver.
“It was my first time being part of a team that got a win in the playoffs,” Quinn said. “It’s an electric feeling. Hopefully, the ultimate is eventually to go to a Super Bowl.”
Marla Ridenour can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Read the her blog at http://www.ohio.com/marla. Follow her on Twitter at www.twitter.com/MRidenourABJ and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/sports.abj.