Matt Leinart, supreme stud of the USC campus, and eternal back-up of the Arizona Cardinals, was released by Arizona on Saturday. Not a shocker, as far as I’m concerned. Leinart never seemed to sit well with Cardinals head coach Ken Whisenhunt. “I think that in the end we both agreed this was probably the best thing for him, to have a fresh start” said Whisenhunt. Leinart’s history with the Cardinals has been a rocky one, to say the least. His social life was often scrutinized more than his contributions to the NFL. Beer bongs, playmates, parties, and a pregnancy were headlines instead of wins, touchdowns, and playoffs. But to be fair to Leinart, several other NFL athletes have had over-publicized social lives only to excel on the football field. So why don’t we look at Leinart’s career statistics in Arizona to see if the Cardinals were justified in releasing him.
Matt Leinart was selected 10th overall in the 2006 NFL draft. At the time, this was considered a steal. After a contract holdout, Leinart became the starter for the Cardinals over veteran Kurt Warner. He ended the 2006 season with 2,547 yards and 11 touchdowns., but had a 4-7 record as the starter. In 2007, Leinart’s season was cut short due to a broken collarbone. He only started in 5 games, throwing for 647 yards, 2 touchdowns, and 4 interceptions. His career numbers are nothing to write home about – 3893 yards, 14 touchdowns, 20 interceptions, 29 sacks. For being in the league 4 years, these numbers are mediocre, for a QB drafted at the front end of the 1st round. Steve Clarkson, who is considered a “private quarterback guru and friend” to Matt Leinart, said “when you enter the league with a certain perception, people will continue to believe that perception no matter what you do…its unfortunate.” Or more simply put, “perception is reality”.
So where does Matt Leinart go to next? The most media-tantalizing location would be Seattle, where Leinart would team up with rookie head coach Pete Carroll. But before you USC fans quiver with anticipation, the Seahawks say they see no need for Leinart. Another rumor was that the NY Giants may consider Leinart to be a back-up behind Eli Manning. This rumor was quickly extinguished when the Giants picked up Sage Rosenfels from the Vikings. What option is he left with? I vote on a reality tv show. Wasn’t it the fourth season that Leinart was the Bachelor? Oh wait, nevermind. That was Bob Guiney.