High School Football

Point-Counterpoint: Pennington’s Return

Former Marshall quarterback Chad Pennington has been in the NFL for a decade and has suffered multiple injuries. Should he mend his bruises and take another shot at the league? Dave Wilson and Ben Kercheval discuss.

Ben: Can you believe it, Dave? It’s been over a decade since Chad Pennington was drafted out of Marshall by the New York Jets. I know you spoke with Chad a couple of weeks ago and there’s some question as to whether he’ll make another run at the league after tearing his ACL during an off-the-field basketball game.

Personally, despite the injury, I think Pennington can still play and there is always a place on a NFL roster for a guy like him. He’s smart, experienced and tough. At this point, no one will be asking Pennington, 34, to shoulder the load that comes with being a starting quarterback in the NFL – at least not for more than a season. That’s a reasonable comeback.

Dave: I don’t doubt that Pennington can still play.  But who is in the market for quarterback who has had to deal with the numerous injuries that he has?  At this point in his career he would be backup and would make a great mentor for a guy like Andy Dalton at Cincinnati, but could the team count on him to stay healthy if they need to put him in the game?  He only lasted one play in Miami last year before his shoulder popped out. 

Ben: Look, if a team is willing to throw down millions of dollars on Cam Newton one year after drafting Jimmy Clausen *cough*Carolina*cough*, then a team should be willing to take a risk on a veteran QB for a year or two, even with the injuries.

But, to answer your question, the Baltimore Ravens might be losing Marc Bulger – another West Virginia guy, a part of that 2000 draft class – to the Arizona Cardinals, so Joe Flacco would need a capable backup. Heck, Arizona may grab Pennington if things don’t work out with Bulger. Cincinnati, as you mentioned, and Washington both have needs at quarterback.

Those are places where Pennington could either be a solid backup, or help the transition for a new quarterback.

Dave: Doesn’t Washington already have a quarterback in his mid-30’s that’s on the backside of his career? 

After 11 years in the League, Pennington is financially secure.  He’s not a guy who has been throwing away money, or making it "rain" during a night on the town.  I would think the idea of not putting his body through training camp and actually being able to wake up and get out of bed on Monday mornings is appealing. 

His degree is in journalism and he would make an excellent analyst.  He’s also mentioned a desire to get into coaching.  Both seem like better options as opposed punishing his body on a weekly basis.

Ben: You make a valid point about the punishment a NFL quarterback takes. But I think you’re looking at the wrong thing here: it’s not about the money for Pennington. It’s about the desire to compete. That’s what gets you out of bed on a Monday morning after Terrell Suggs jacks you up for a pair of sacks the day before. And Pennington obviously still has that. Otherwise, he wouldn’t have even mentioned a comeback.

You and I can agree that Pennington is a smart guy, a realistic guy. He knows his window in the NFL is closing. If he wants to play, I say do it now and put that broadcast career on hold for a few years. It’ll be there when he’s done.

The NFL won’t, especially if there’s a league lockout this season.

Dave:  When a guy tells me he’s going to take his time and carefully consider his options, it indicates to me that drive to get out of bed every day and to go through the punishment is starting to fade.  This is just my opinion, but I think Chad has reached a point in his life where he would like to be home on the weekends. He would like to have a large Blizzard at Dairy Queen and not worry about making weight.  He would like to play a pick-up basketball game and not worry about violating a clause in his contract. 

Not to mention he is a family guy.  He told me whatever decision he makes will be made with his family in mind because they have sacrificed so much over the past decade.  Sounds to me like a guy that is ready to try something new.

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