The former first-round draft pick signed a one-year contract with Chicago before the 2008 season and was told by the organization that he'd have a chance to win back his starting job. However, he was beaten out in Bourbonnais by Orton, meaning the odds of Grossman returning to the Windy City in 2009 are next to none. While he still believes he's good enough to be a franchise player in this league, he'll have to prove it with another team because he's run out of chances with the Bears.
The NFL is littered with passers that have resurrected themselves before being thrown on the scrap heap for good, including one of the QBs to be featured Sunday in Super Bowl XLIII: Arizona's Kurt Warner. Pittsburgh's Ben Roethlisberger has proven to be worthy of his selection in Round 1 and is on the cusp of his second Vince Lombardi trophy already, but Warner had a circuitous path to success to say the least. Even after transforming himself from an arena leaguer into a two-time MVP in St. Louis, Warner made it back to the top of the mountain again despite being benched three times in favor of younger options – Marc Bulger with the Rams, Eli Manning with the Giants, and Matt Leinart with the Cardinals.
Joe Theismann had to play three seasons in the Canadian Football League and was 33 years old before finally winning that elusive Super Bowl in Washington, so he understands Grossman's up-and-down performance with the Bears.
According to Theismann, there are many factors at play in Grossman ultimately failing in Chicago.
"It's his decisions," Theismann said Thursday at the Tampa Convention Center. "It's the players around him changing. The lack of a running game makes a world of difference, and the defense of the Bears really hasn't been what everybody has seen it be in the past."
Arguably the most scrutinized player in the history of the franchise, Grossman was subjected to a great deal of punishment in both the local and national press – and Theismann is convinced that had an effect on his performance, too.
"I think he also got beaten up a little bit," he said. "I know the media beat him up. Everybody beat him up. If you don't play well at quarterback, you're going to get beat up."
The NFL's Offensive Player of the Month in September of 2006, Grossman was making a case for league MVP and looked to be living up to his first-round potential. But then the wheels came off down the stretch, as many pundits thought the Bears made it to Super Bowl XLI in spite of him and not because of him. He was yanked in favor of veteran Brian Griese after just three games in '07, and then he carried a clipboard behind Orton for all but one contest this past season.
Every signal caller gets picked off from time to time, but it's the volume of INTs Grossman has thrown – and too many of them coming at crucial times in the game – that hurt his team badly.
"The biggest thing about Rex has been the amount of interceptions he's thrown and the type he's thrown," Theismann said. "If he gets that under raps, I think the kid can play anywhere."
Theismann made reference to the instant success both Matt Ryan and Joe Flacco experienced in Atlanta and Baltimore, respectively, as rookies since they weren't asked to do too much and took care of the football.
"If you don't give the other team a chance to take the ball away from you," he said, "you're going to be hard to beat in this league."
So what is the future for Grossman? It would be hard to imagine him getting a shot to be the No. 1 guy right away for any team, but with the likes of Ryan Fitzpatrick, Dan Orlovsky, and Seneca Wallace all starting for significant stretches in 2008, it's inevitable Grossman will get another chance at some point. With the frequency that quarterbacks go down in the NFL these days, his agent should field plenty of phone calls once free agency begins Feb. 27.
Many of the experts still believe Grossman has what it takes to succeed on Sunday regardless of his reputation, although he must learn from his past mistakes.
"Only if he makes better decisions," Theismann said. "He has to change his game a bit."
That being said, Theismann doesn't believe those changes are going to be made as a member of the Bears.
"He has to be out of Chicago," he said. "It's a no-win situation for him. There isn't anything he can do in the city of Chicago that will make a difference."
John Crist is the Publisher of Bear Report and a member of the Professional Football Writers of America. To read him every day, visit BearReport.com and become a Chicago Bears insider.
Is There a Future for Rex Grossman?
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