Who WERE these guys?
Perhaps Thursday night about midnight, Derek Anderson will leave Heinz Stadium and turn back into a pumpkin. Perhaps Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker Joey Porter will welcome Derek Anderson to the NFL by turning Anderson's next 33-yard run into a 7-yard loss. Perhaps the Browns won't score a touchdown while dropping their seventh straight game to the Steelers, wiping the smiles that the win over Kansas City provided right off our faces.
Or perhaps not.
What we're all hoping for is that Derek Anderson turns into the next Tom Brady or Tony Romo, the guy who no one ever heard of but everyone loved after a few weeks. Of course, if Derek Anderson were replacing Drew Bledsoe that might be easier to believe.
Since God is watching the Browns, there's a different list that Derek Anderson is likely to join -- the most irrelevent starting quarterback in the Browns/Steelers rivalry.
There's been some great starting quarterbacks in the 50-plus years of Cleveland vs. Pittsburgh, Hall of Famers like Otto Graham and Terry Bradshaw, legends like Bernie Kosar and, phenoms like Ben Roethlisberger, MVPs like Brian Sipe. And there have been some real dogs, guys whose mothers barely even remember that they started a Browns/Steelers game.
Is Derek Anderson the next folk hero? Or is he destined to be less than a footnote in Cleveland/Pittsburgh history, especially if Charlie Frye comes back quickly from what head coach Romeo Crennell is saying isn't a broken wrist? After all, here's a guy who before last Sunday against the Chiefs never threw a pass in the NFL in his life. What chance does he have against the Steeler defense, even if he only gets three days to prepare?
So prepare yourselves. With the way things go in Cleveland, Derek Anderson has a pretty good chance of joining this, the list of Most Irrelevent Starting Quarterbacks in Browns/Steelers History:
7.) TRENT DILFER
He's not irrelevent in the grand scheme of things -- after all, he did lead the Baltimore Ravens to a Super Bowl title -- but in Browns/Steelers history he barely merits a paragraph. Before riding off into the sunset after his one year with the Browns, Dilfer started one game against the Steelers. It was, of course, a loss, 34-21. Dilfer was just 17-of-34 for 253 yards with 1 touchdown and 1 interception. Sure, everyone's been throwing a fit because the Browns have gone without an experienced backup after shipping Dilfer to the San Francisco 49ers for Ken Dorsey. But guess what? Dilfer has yet to get into a game this year while "tutoring" Alex Smith to a 76.3 QB rating. That's barely ahead of Charlie's 72 rating.
Dilfer's forgettable start against the Steelers last year, his overall blah year with the Browns in 2005, and his lack of a resume post-Cleveland land him on this list.
6. JEFF GARCIA
The beginning of the end of the Butch Davis era came with the signing of Jeff Garcia. Garcia brought more Playboy storylines to Cleveland than wins. First, he began dating Playboy Playmate and Avon Lake native Carmella DeCesare. Then there was the catfight between Carmella and a former Garcia paramour. Then there was the Playboy interview where Terrell Owens insinuated that Garcia is gay. With all that, who even remembers that Garcia started two games against the Steelers in 2004? He went a combined 23-of-50 for 320 yards, 1 touchdown and 1 interception while suffering 7 sacks. The Browns lost both games of course, holding only one 3-0 lead. The Steelers led by double digits for the entire second half of both games.
Garcia started just one more game for the Browns after his second Steelers loss. Then, until the Philadelphia Eagles' Monday night win over the Carolina Panthers, Garcia had just won one game in eight tries as a starting quarterback since leaving Cleveland. It of course was AGAINST the Browns while Garcia was with the Detroit Lions in 2005.
5. TY DETMER
You wouldn't have known it, but Ty Detmer is finally out of football at the beginning of the 2006 season. You wouldn't have known it because not only is Ty Detmer the fifth most irrelevent starting quarterback in the Browns/Steelers rivalry, but also one of the most irrelevent NFL players of all time. He has 15 years of NFL experience but threw only 946 passes. That's just 63 per year! Derek Anderson made it a third of the way there in one half Sunday. Not only is Detmer one of the most irrelevent starting quarterbacks in the rivalry, his start was also one of the most ignominious. He started the Browns very first game in their return to the NFL in 1999, a 43-0 whitewashing by the Steelers. Detmer went 6-for-13 for 52 yards with 1 interception and 2 sacks.
Head coach Chris Palmer deemed Detmer so bad that despite the fact that the new Browns had never played a game, Detmer needed to be benched. Enter Tim Couch. Ty Detmer wasn't seen again until the final three games of the season, and barely at all after leaving Cleveland.
4. KENT GRAHAM
For some reason the Steelers thought Kent Graham would make a good quarterback in 2000, after the New York Giants and Arizona Cardinals already decided he wouldn't. And the Giants had decided it twice. But there was Graham under center for the Steelers in Week 3 of 2000, taking a sack inside the 10-yard line with his team out of timeouts and down by three points. The clock ran out before the Steelers could attempt a game-tying field goal, and the Browns had a 23-20 victory.
Graham is saved from a higher place on the irrelevency list by Kordell Stewart. Graham got another start against the Browns in Week 8, but was yanked after going 3-of-12 for 46 yards. Stewart finished the game, which Pittsburgh won 22-0. So even though Graham was pathetic in two starts, he actually gets credited for starting a victory. But he was totally irrelevent to the rest of the league after that second Browns game; he threw just 24 more passes for the rest of his career.
3. DOUG PEDERSON
And here's another reason Graham is saved from a higher spot on the irrelevancy list. Remember this guy? In the runaway train season of 2000, Doug Pederson actually played more games than any other Browns quarterback. He was predictably awful, throwing 2 touchdown passes and 8 interceptions.
But while here, he put up a forgettable performance. And it just happened to be in the most irrelevent game in Browns/Steelers history -- that Week 8 game where Kent Graham saw his Steelers career shoot up in flames. Kent Graham vs. Doug Pederson? No one would even turn out to watch that in a high school game. But where Graham was bad, Pederson was worse. He was replaced by Spergon Wynn! In that 22-0 Steelers victory, Pederson went just 9-of-20 for 61 yards with 3 interceptions.
As soon as the season was over Pederson went back to carrying Brett Favre's clipboard, throwing just 54 irrelevent passes over his final four years.
2. CHUCK ORTMAN
Ortman played just one year for the Steelers and two in the NFL. He played 12 games in 1951, the second year of the Browns/Steelers rivalry. One of those games was against the Browns, a 28-0 loss. Ortman's irrelevent stats: 13-of-27 for 136 yards.
Ortman moved on to the Dallas Texans in 1952 and played just three more irrelevent games before fading into obscurity.
1. DON GAULT
Former nongreat Don Gault started a 1970 game for the Browns that goes down as one of the most irrelevent in the rivalry's history. The Browns won the game 15-7, but it had nothing to do with Gault. He etched his place in the record books by going 1-for-16, setting a record that still stands for most pass attempts in a game with just one completion. But while Gault is long forgotten, the game is remembered as Mike Phipps' first appearance for the Browns and Terry Bradshaw's first start in the storied rivalry.
There's a few other quarterbacks who just missed the list. There's Dr. Dave Mays, who went on to become a dentist. He led the Browns to victory in the famous 1976 game where Turkey Joe Jones dumped Terry Bradshaw on his head. But Mays didn't start that game; he replaced an injured Brian Sipe midway through. And you've got Cliff Stoudt who quarterbacked the Steelers in 1983, but they (A) made the playoffs and (B) split with the Browns.
And maybe, just maybe, after Thursday night, you'll have Derek Anderson. If God's making out the list, you should bet on it.