Being a UAB graduate, I’m a fan of UAB sports — no matter how hard that is at times.
I’m also a fan of “UAB Blazers” on Facebook, and multiple times in the past week or so I’ve gotten updates from this fan page with newly uploaded photos of former quarterback Joe Webb during his time with the Blazers along with this intro: “The NFL’s Minnesota Vikings are discovering what UAB fans have known for years now: Joe Webb is a heckuva good quarterback! Check out these awesome action shots of the former UAB star!”
To see what an athlete Webb is, check out this video of him on YouTube from during his training for pro day and the NFL combine:
The Vikings were one game away from the Super Bowl last year, and had an established trio of quarterbacks unlikely to be going anywhere in Brett Favre, Tavaris Jackson and Sage Rosenfels. And no matter how little people think of Jackson and Rosenfels, they do seem firmly entrenched in Minnesota.
Heck, Minnesota even seemed prepared to go into last season with one of them as the starting QB … until Favre decided to join the Vikings right before the season began. The rest, as they say, is history. Favre had one of his best seasons ever, but ended with another crushing OT playoff loss with his last pass of the year being picked off.
Sure, he was going to need surgery during the offseason and he’s now 40, but after two false starts with retirement no one really predicted aloud that he wouldn’t be coming back for a 20th season this fall. And dragging it out kept Favre firmly planted in the public consciousness, where it almost seems he needs to be.
Now ESPN has been reporting all morning that he is finally hanging them up, that the third time is the charm. His ankle hasn’t healed as quickly or as well as he would have hoped, and supposedly he’s texted his teammates that he’s done.
So is this good news for Webb, a sixth-round draft pick who was the Conference USA Offensive Player of the Year in 2009 and became the first player in NCAA history to pass for 2,000 yards and rush for 1,000 yards in back-to-back seasons? Maybe. But UAB has a pretty dreadful history with its players in the pros, and we’re talking about a player who was just moved back to QB after working out at wide receiver.
The program has only been around since 1996 at the Football Bowl Subdivision level, with just 13 former Blazers reaching the pro ranks. Only two are currently active: Jets linebacker Bryan Thomas and Falcons star wideout Roddy White. The latter is in fact one of only two UAB offensive players to reach the NFL, the other being forgotten running back Carl Fair who spent three games on the Browns’ roster in 2001.
The good news for Webb is that neither Jackson nor Rosenfels is such a player as to automatically eliminate him from the QB discussion. Even if Webb has an outstanding camp though, his lack of experience on a team trying to keep winning right now would likely make him the No. 3 man, though one source says he could beat out Rosenfels. Jackson did go 8-4 as the Vikes’ starter in 2007.
Also a possible scenario is Minnesota signing someone else’s castoff before the season begins, relegating Webb to the practice squad or worse. Teams with deep playoff aspirations often love another veteran backup around, just in case.
Webb’s future is anything but certain, but if it is true that Favre is stepping aside at long last — and it’ll be tough to believe until December rolls around and he still hasn’t suited up — it could keep him around a little longer.