Reason for Hope?

Three of the four starting quarterbacks remaining in the playoffs didn't take the normal path to NFL success. While that would seem to give reason for hope that Rex Grossman can get his career on track in Chicago, each had to leave the city that brought them into the league to find it.

Denver Broncos/Jake Plummer – As a second round pick in the 1997 draft, Plummer quickly became the quarterback of the future for the Arizona Cardinals. He led them to the franchise to their only playoff appearance since the team moved to Phoenix in 1988. However, he had one season in Arizona that he had more touchdown passes than interceptions.

When he hit the free agent market in 2003 there were several teams willing to pay for his services. The Bears made a push for Plummer, but he chose Denver and Mike Shanahan. The Broncos have been to the playoffs all three years with Plummer under center. After first round knockouts the past two seasons, Denver is poised to go to the Super Bowl.

Carolina Panthers/Jake Delhomme – He entered the league as an undrafted free agent in 1997. He sat on the bench for five years with the New Orleans Saints and also spent time in NFL Europe. He hit the open market the same off-season as Plummer, but with much less fan fare. While his agent pushed for the Bears to sign him, Chicago opted for Kordell Stewart. GM Jerry Angelo then took Grossman with the 22nd pick in the draft.

Delhomme has started 47 of 48 games for the Panthers and was elected to his first Pro Bowl this season. More importantly, he's 5-1 in the postseason with 10 touchdowns to 2 interceptions.

Seattle Seahawks/Matt Hasselbeck – Going to Green Bay as a sixth round pick in 1998 seemed like a dead end job. Brett Favre had won three straight MVP of the league trophies and had started nearly 100 straight games. Hasselbeck spent his rookie season on the practice squad and toiled on the bench for two more seasons. The Packers traded him to Seattle in a deal that the saw two teams swap an assortment of draft picks.

Hasselbeck became the starter and under the tutelage of Mike Holgrem has progressed into a Pro Bowl quarterback. Postseason success had eluded him until this season. In a 2003 overtime playoff game, he made the mistake of telling the Lambeau Field crowd Seattle would take the ball and would win the game. On the drive, Al Harris picked off Hasselbeck for a game-winning interception return for a score.

In all three cases, each quarterback looked like their only trip to the Super Bowl would be by buying a ticket. Now all three quarterbacks stand one win away from a shot at the Lombardi Trophy.

Grossman has fought injuries his first three years in the league and has started just 7 regular season games over that span. He appears to have talent, but the question remains whether he'll be able to turn potential into production with the Bears or have to go elsewhere in search of success.


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