In the rich football history of the great state of Alabama, there have been a total six (6) quarterbacks who appeared in at least one NFL game that have hailed from Mobile. Alabama’s ‘Port City’ and surrounding areas has long been considered to be a hotbed for football talent, within a state that is saturated with pigskin-playing hopefuls and die-hard, rabid fans.
Metropolitan Mobile, which is comprised of Mobile County and Baldwin County, is rivaled only by neighboring Florida, Texas and California for elite football talent. The climate and ambiance of the area is absolutely perfect for cultivating gridiron superstars.
The first quarterback of record from the Port City area was Eddie McEvoy of tiny Spring Hill College. McEvoy, microcosmic of his alma mater, was known more for his brains than brawn and athletic ability. He played a grand total of one NFL game in the 1926 season.
McEvoy’s signal-calling successors enjoyed more notoriety. Scott Hunter, a former Crimson Tide wishbone field general, enjoyed eight (8) seasons in the NFL, primarily with the Green Bay Packers. Hunter played for Bart Starr during his moderately successful tenure as head coach during the post-Lombardi era.
Years later, Dameyune Craig, the ex-Auburn quarterback/playmaker, played sparsely for the Carolina Panthers and Washington Redskins. Most of his success came while he was the starter for Coach Terry Bowden on ‘The Plains’ of Auburn.
Clearly, the most celebrated and prolific quarterback to hail from this region is Kenny Stabler. Stabler, the former Crimson Tide and Oakland Raiders signal-caller, was the MVP of Super Bowl VII. He was the most prolific passer in Raiders’ history, throwing for 19,078 yards and 150 TDs.
Stabler was also known for his off-field antics. He told NFL Films president Steve Sabol in an interview that “I’ve been known to study a few game plans by the light of a jukebox!”
Now, there are two Mobile area natives attempting to rally their way back to the NFL, in order to take their respective places among the league’s elite quarterbacks.
JaMarcus Russell, the highly touted passer from LSU, earned the right to be the number one overall draft choice in the 2007 NFL draft, following a stellar collegiate career. Russell threw for 6,625 yards and 52 TDs while he was with the Purple and Gold. After being anointed as the Oakland Raiders’ ‘savior,’ Russell managed to blunder his way out of the league. Following him was the reputation of having a poor work ethic, inept leadership qualities, and a knack for overindulging in extracurricular activities. When Russell was tossed out of professional football, he was grossly out of shape and overweight. Rumors contagiously spread throughout the NFL that Russell tipped the scales at a walloping 300-plus pounds. This weight was excessive, even with Russell’s imposing 6’6” frame.
Rumors abound that Russell has lost weight and is fiercely working out.
In a recent interview, NFL Network analyst and former All-SEC University of Tennessee safety Charles Davis offered his thoughts on Russell’s chances for a NFL comeback. “I think that his (Russell’s) chances are good to sign on with a team, especially if he continues to drop the (excessive) weight and get in shape,” he began. “The NFL is always looking for people who can play. Eventually, if he continues to get back into shape, and if that big arm comes back, some team will take a chance on him and give him the opportunity to play again.”
When asked if he knew of any teams that are specifically interested in Russell, Davis stated that he didn’t know which teams have an interest in the former LSU signal-caller. “I don’t have any inside intelligence about which teams have an interest in him,” Davis revealed. “But I’ll give you a formula for the type of team that I think would sign him,” he continued. “I think the team that signs him is secure in who they are, not a team that needs the (Russell’s) help (at quarterback), but one that would look for the help. That team won’t expect him to be ready to play right away. The team that takes him will have an established quarterback. This will allow Russell time to show that he has the work ethic and overall desire to be an NFL quarterback.”
Patrick White, the University of West Virginia speedster, gained national attention by amassing video game-like rushing yardage in tandem with running back Steve Slaton. White, whose physique is significantly less imposing than Russell’s, was also highly touted coming out of college. White passed for 6,049 yards and 56 TDs, and rushed for an additional 4,480 yards and 47 TDs while at West Virginia. Concurrent with White’s draft class, the spread offense infiltrated the NFL. White’s skill set was a perfect match for this new pro-style spread offense.
White signed a deal with the Washington Redskins on April 10, 2013. The terms of the contract were undisclosed.
Davis also commented on White’s potential for a successful NFL comeback. “When you have a ‘mobile’ quarterback, and the offense has designed running plays for the quarterback, it doesn’t hurt to have the same type of quarterback as a back-up,” Davis rationalized. “If you don’t have another mobile quarterback, the offense changes drastically. Then the defense no longer has to game plan for that dimension of the offense.”
Davis also addressed White’s apparent shortcoming. “Pat White has to prove that he can beat teams with his arm,” he stated. “He’s a hard-working kid, and I’m sure he’ll work very hard to improve on that aspect of his game.”
White, who sustained a concussion near the end of his first NFL stint, also has to shed durability issues.
Both Russell and White are fortunate to have a second chance to play football at the highest level. If they can both maximize this opportunity, the NFL will gain two gifted athletes who have the potential to join the ranks of the league’s elite quarterbacks.
If these young men are successful in their football endeavors, they will undoubtedly make the state of Alabama and Metropolitan Mobile proud!