When I began my NFL career in 1961, I was a freak. The reason was simple: I played quarterback and I ran. There were no designed runs in our playbook, but I would scramble out of the pocket when a play broke down -- nowadays, that likely would be called "extending the play." When I ran forward for yardage, it was never the design of the play, but just something that happened when nothing else worked. It was not a skill set that was embraced. Plenty of people mocked it, and the rest wrote it off. So at a time when a quarterback running was crazy and extending the play with scrambling was just unheard of, I led all quarterbacks in rushing seven of my first eight years in the league. I was in the top five each of my first 10 years. But the others on those lists were not runners -- because nobody ran! John Unitas was among the leaders in multiple years! Bart Starr, John Brodie and others -- none was a mobile guy. As the game has evolved over the past 50 years, we have seen a lot of guys play quarterback who could run. Roger Staubach. Randall Cunningham. Steve Young. Mike Vick. And every time we get someone like that, the experts rush out to proclaim that this is the wave of the future. But in each instance, it turned out that we yet again had just one or two gifted athletes who defied convention. The revolution never happened.
'In 1961, I was a freak.' Today, running quarterbacks embraced
St. Paul Pioneer Press | Jan 16