“He Turned a Stinky Sandwich Into An Ice Cream Cone”

It’s hard to find anyone who has become more successful talking about something that they were mediocre at as Trent Dilfer. If you haven’t seen Dilfer analyzing and often criticizing NFL quarterbacks then you must have avoided ESPN programming for the last two years. Dilfer’s rise to national notoriety has largely come on his ability to critique quarterback play for ESPN on shows such as NFL Live, Sportscenter, and Monday Night Football. It hasn’t stopped for Dilfer there though. He currently runs the famous “Elite 11” high school quarterback camp started by Bob Johnson. He’s even created his own quarterback rating system called Total QBR. “The Total Quarterback Rating is a statistical measure that incorporates the contexts and details of those throws and what they mean for wins. It’s built from the team level down to the quarterback, where we understand first what each play means to the team, then give credit to the quarterback for what happened on that play based on what he contributed.” Since 2008, has there been a bigger rising star?

At first glance, Dilfer had an accomplished career as a quarterback. He was the starting quarterback for two-and-a-half years at Fresno State. He led the nation his junior season in pass efficiency and won the Sammy Baugh Trophy for the top collegiate passer. He held the NCAA record for most pass attempts with out an interception (271) for 15 years. After declaring early for the draft, he was selected sixth overall by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 1994. He spent 13 years in the league before retiring in 2007 with a Pro Bowl selection in 1997 and a Super Bowl winning quarterback in 2000. Dilfer is able to take his seat at the elusive Super Bowl winning quarterback table. He has more Super Bowls then Dan Fouts, Warren Moon, Fran Tarkenton, and Dan Marino combined. Not bad for a quarterback who threw more interceptions than touchdowns in his career.

When looking more closely at Dilfer’s career, you see statistics that don’t match credentials. In Dilfer’s Pro Bowl year, he threw for 2,555 yards with 21 touchdowns and 11 interceptions.  The 21 touchdowns were a career high. His Super Bowl winning season with the Baltimore Ravens began with him on the bench. Tony Banks led the Ravens to a 5-1 start before the team hit a mid-season swoon. Difler would start the final 8 games in which the Ravens went 7-1. Dilfer finished the year with 12 touchdowns and 11 interceptions. His Super Bowl performance, 12 completions for 153 yards and a touchdown. This is why most people don’t know who started for at quarterback for the Ravens that year. I don’t know when the term “game manager” was born, but that game may have been it.

Difler’s final career numbers: 1,759-3,172, 113 TDs/ 129 INTs, and 20,518 yards. His final quarterback rating: 70.2. David Carr’s current career quarterback rating: 74.9. Complete mediocrity.

The ability to be a successful commentator seems to have little, if any, correlation to how good you actually were. For every Steve Young and Dan Mariano working in the media, there are dozens of the Jesse Palmers filing your TV screens. The saturation and fans need for “in-depth” analysis has created a platform for former players to build a second career. As long as you sniffed the NFL and don’t sound like Rocky Balboa when in-front of a camera, there’s probably a job for you.  Whether this is a reflection of the audience’s standards or of the employer, I’m not sure anyone knows.But the next time you hear Trent Dilfer criticizing Joe Flacco, Jay Cutler or Tony Romo for a poor game, just remember this number: 70.2.

“He turned a stinky sandwich into an ice cream cone” has become the catch phrase of Trent Difler. I’m not quite sure any person has had a catch phrase that relates so well to themselves.




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