By George Bremer
The Herald Bulletin
ANDERSON, Ind. —
Brady Quinn’s best performance of the season didn’t come on the football field.
On the day after linebacker Jovan Belcher’s murder-suicide that ended at the team’s facility, and having just led the Kansas City Chiefs to their second victory of the season, the quarterback used his post-game press conference to deliver a thoughtful and eloquent examination of the role of social media in our everyday lives.
It wasn’t about grandstanding or politics.
It was just a teammate asking questions from the heart about what he might have been able to do to prevent a tragedy.
“We live in a society of social networks and Twitter pages and Facebook,” Quinn said following a 27-21 win against the Carolina Panthers on Dec. 2. “That’s fine and stuff, but, you know, we have contact with our work associates, our family, our friends, and it seems like half the time we’re more preoccupied with our phone and other things going on instead of the actual relationships we have in front of us.”
He urged people to make real connections with others in their life. To mean it when they ask somebody how they’re doing, and to take the time to listen and learn what’s really going on in their friends’ and family members’ lives.
That speech, and the entire way he dealt with leading his teammates just 24 hours after Belcher’s acts, will be Quinn’s legacy in Kansas City.
A real-life challenge like that puts the difficulties of playing a kid’s game for a living in perspective.
The Chiefs are playing out the string in a disappointing 2-12 season. They’ve lost two straight after the emotional win against the Panthers, and they haven’t scored in their past seven quarters as they prepare to host the Indianapolis Colts (9-5) on Sunday.
Quinn replaced Matt Cassel as Kansas City’s starter on Oct. 14, and he’s won just one of his six starts since. He missed three weeks after suffering a concussion during his second start, and he’s done little to enhance his value as a free agent after the season.
But the former Notre Dame star is far from wallowing in self-pity.
“It’s always a blessing to be able to play quarterback in this league,” he said during a conference call at the Colts’ training facility this week. “Regardless of the outside circumstances, I’m always going to take a positive attitude and try to affect the guys around me. We have to try to do the best we can to try and win some games.”
It’s been a far better year for Quinn’s alma mater.
The Fighting Irish will play Alabama in the BCS National Championship Game on Jan. 7. Quinn hailed Notre Dame’s appearance as a triumph for true student-athletes and said he never had a doubt the school could return to its place among college football’s elite.
The only honor the Chiefs are in the running for, meanwhile, is the No. 1 pick in April’s NFL draft.
The visiting Colts can clinch a playoff berth with a win Sunday, but Quinn said Kansas City won’t be motivated by an attempt to ruin Indianapolis’ celebration.
“We don’t look at things that way,” he said. “I think we’ve got a big challenge on our hands, looking at their defense and what they bring to the table. We’ve got a ton of things to improve on.”
Among them, gaining more yards on first and second down to avoid the third-and-long situations that have added to the Chiefs’ struggles in the past two weeks.
Quinn said Kansas City also needs to play better in the red zone and protect the football. It also couldn’t hurt to get more production from the running game.
“We’ve got a gift, a guy like (running back) Jamaal Charles,” Quinn said, “so we’ve got to get the ball to him and get him some touches and let him do some special things.”
Charles gained just 10 yards on nine carries during last week’s 15-0 loss at the Oakland Raiders, but he’s rushed for 1,230 yards on 249 carries overall.
Quinn’s numbers are less impressive. He’s completed 59.7 percent of his passes for 930 yards with two touchdowns and six interceptions. But head coach Romeo Crennel said the quarterback has a steady hand at the helm.
“He does a good job of managing the game,” Crennel said. “He doesn’t turn the ball over, and those were some of the things that I was looking for when I made the change to try and help this team.”
No team has scored fewer points than the Chiefs this season, and they’ve managed 13 points or less in eight of their past 10 games.
But Quinn said Kansas City must keep marching forward.
“Obviously, the past couple of weeks we really haven’t accomplished any of the things we’ve been wanting to do on the offensive side of the ball,” he said. “We obviously didn’t get off to a fast start last week and really put ourselves in the hole running and passing the ball. So we’ve got plenty of stuff that we can work on and try to improve going into this week.”