Not all quarterbacks in the NFL are destined for greatness. Some have a few good years starting, then retire and enter civilian life. Others spend the ends of their careers as backup quarterbacks or playing in the Indoor Football League. And what about when the shoulder pads finally come off? Not every former player ends up as an analyst on ESPN like Matt Hasselbeck.
Joey Harrington Got Into The Non-Profit Business
After an uneventful six-year NFL career with the Detroit Lions, Dolphins, Falcons, and Saints, Joey Harrington turned his attention to helping struggling students. While working as an analyst for FOX Sports, Harrington founded the Harrington Family Foundation with the goal of alleviating college costs in Oregon.
Why Oregon? It’s where Harrington played college football, going 25-3 in his career and nearly winning the Heisman Trophy. The Lions were so impressed they drafted him second overall in 2002. When his college skills didn’t translate to the NFL they traded him for a fifth-round draft pick from the Dolphins.
Byron Leftwich Stayed In The NFL As A Quarterback Coach
If you watched the Arizona Cardinals in 2017, then you know exactly what happened to Byron Leftwich after taking his cleats off. Starting out as a quarterback coach intern in 2016, Leftwich was given the full-time coaching gig in 2017. He has his work cut out for him now with rookie quarterback Josh Rosen under center in the desert in 2018.
During his playing days, Leftwich was frustratingly inconsistent and injury prone. He’d look elite one week, then like a draft bust the next. After four years in Jacksonville, the team released him in favor of another quarterback on this list: David Garrard.
Jeff George Reappears On TV As A Guest Analyst Sometimes
Since retiring from the NFL, Jeff George has stayed fairly quiet. Every now and then he’ll make an appearance on television, but for the most part, he lets the spotlight fall on Jeff George Jr. The young George currently plays quarterback at the University of Michigan and sports a mullet similar to his fathers.
While playing for Indianapolis, fans were split on how they felt about Jeff George. He had incredible arm talent, which they loved. He also had a terrible attitude, which they hated. Everyone always agreed how glorious his mullet was, though!
Brady Quinn Runs A Non-Profit While Working Full Time As An Analyst
This one shouldn’t be surprising. If you watch FOX Sports on Saturdays or Sundays then you know Brady Quinn works as a full-time College Football and NFL analyst for the network. He also runs the 3rd and Goal Foundation, an operation dedicated to helping veterans find housing.
Drafted by the Cleveland Browns in 2007, Quinn ended his career with 12 touchdowns and 17 interceptions. It would have been fair to call him on a bust after setting 36 Fighting Irish records for Notre Dame. Now with a successful post-NFL career, it’s impossible to call him a bust.
David Garrard Owns Several Retro Fitness Gyms
David Garrard has become a very successful gym owner in recent years. Leaving the NFL and investing in several Retro Fitness locations has paid dividends for the former Jaguars quarterback. He also works tirelessly to bring awareness to Crohn’s disease, an affliction he has battled his whole life.
Garrard, if you remember, took over as the starter in Jacksonville after Byron Leftwich was released. He was an instant success and was voted to the Pro Bowl in 2009. Unfortunately, his body couldn’t handle the rigors of the NFL and he was officially given his release papers with the drafting of Blaine Gabbert in 2011.
Jason Campbell Is An Avid Golfer
Jason Campbell may have taken the idea of retirement too seriously. He replaced his helmet and pads with a golf cart and clubs in 2013. Living in Atlanta, Campbell has found a cozy life since taking a beating for the Redskins. He hasn’t fully left football behind, though, and coaches the quarterbacks for a local high school.
Washington drafted Jason Campbell with the 25th overall pick in 2005. Like those before him, he showed flashes of brilliance before flaming out. The Redskins traded him to Oakland in 2010 where injuries derailed a promising fresh start.
Kyle Orton Literally Disappeared
When Kyle Orton retired from the NFL he literally disappeared. He packed his bags and told teammates he had a meeting to attend. He never came back. Since then, a clean-shaven family man who kind of looks like Orton has shown up on social media looking happy with how things turned out.
Orton played in the NFL for ten years and served as the starting quarterback for the Chicago Bears, Denver Broncos, KC Chiefs, and Buffalo Bills. He finished his career with 18,037 yards, 101 touchdowns, and 69 interceptions.
Jake Locker Is Finally Happy As A Family Man
Jake Locker lives the simple life these days. Settling down with his wife and kids on a farm in Washington, the former Titans’ starter is happier than ever tending to his crops. He also enjoys hunting his dinner instead of running away from fans hunting him down for an autograph.
Of all the quarterbacks on this list, Jake Locker might have had the most potential. Drafted eighth overall by Tennessee in 2011, Locker was electric on the field. The problem was he couldn’t stay there. Over four seasons, he started a total of 23 out of 64 games because of injury problems.
Josh Freeman Turned Down The CFL
We’re not sure if Josh Freeman ever officially retired from the NFL, but we know the end of his career was so bad no team will take a chance on him today. Oddly enough, when it looked like his playing days were over, Freeman was offered a two-year contract to play in Canada.
He declined the offer, and no one has heard from him since. The starting job in Tampa Bay belongs to Jameis Winston now, and it won’t take him long to pass Freeman as the franchise leader in touchdowns.
Daunte Culpepper Got Into The Restaurant Business
Few quarterbacks on this list fought as hard to stay in the NFL as Daunte Culpepper did. When no one would sign him, he attempted a comeback with the Sacramento Mountain Lions of the UFL. When the comeback failed he switched careers completely and entered the restaurant industry.
So far, Culpepper’s story doesn’t have a happy ending. His restaurant in Florida was forced to close down recently. He also was forced to sell one of his mansions in the process. Culpepper has fallen far since leading the NFL in passing touchdowns in 2000.
Tim Couch Became An Armchair Analyst For The SEC
Tim Couch’s career has come a long way since was taken first overall by the upstart Cleveland Browns in 1999. He fizzled out in the NFL after four years, unable to carry the weight of Cleveland on his shoulders. Since then he has found a comfortable niche as an analyst for the SEC.
If you’re interested in hearing what Couch has to say, make sure to tune in to FOX Sports South’s show SEC Gridiron Live every week. If you need even more Tim Couch in your life, he also joined the Browns color commentary team in 2018.
Marc Bulger Became A Farmer
Marc Bulger looks nothing like the St. Louis Rams starting quarterback he used to be. These days he’s making an honest living as a farmer in Southeast Missouri. He also started the Marc Bulger Foundation, a non-profit he uses to give money to organizations that help veterans and children.
Before living the simple life, Bulger was a pro-bowl quarterback who stole the starting job in St. Louis from Kurt Warner. He might be the only quarterback on this list who forced a future Hall of Famer out of town; Warner, remember, ended his career as the starter in Arizona.
Rex Grossman Runs A Medical Staffing Company
Now that Rex Grossman is no longer slinging the ball down the football field his career has taken a complete left turn. In 2009, he and his wife founded Florida Medical Staffing, a company that helps traveling nurses find employment in Florida.
As a high round draft pick by the Chicago Bears, his NFL career did not work out. You can argue that he was the starting quarterback for Chicago in a Super Bowl, but the defense carried that team. He eventually lost the starting job to Kyle Orton, too.
Jeff Garcia Is Desperate To Become A Coach
Jeff Garcia misses his days in the NFL. He retired in 2011 but can’t stay away and is currently working his way into the coaching world. So far no teams have hired Garcia as more than a consultant, but several quarterbacks, including Tyrod Taylor, have worked with him to improve their mechanics.
Breaking out with the 49ers in 2000, Garcia looked to continue the tradition started by Joe Montana and Steve Young. The tradition ended in 2003 when the team let Garcia sign with Cleveland in free agency after missing the playoffs.
Christian Ponder Is Busy Raising His Kids
Okay, we can’t confirm if Christian Ponder has become a stay at home dad in retirement, but we think he’d a be a pretty cool one. After Ponder retired he married ESPN personality, Samantha Steele. The couple have two kids together and Ponder has stayed out of the public eye while raising them.
Drafted in 2011 by the Vikings, Ponder’s disastrous tenure with the team was marred by poor play and horrific injuries. Minnesota released him after a few seasons and he suited up for the 49ers and Raiders as a backup before giving up the gridiron for good.
David Carr Turned His Career Around With NFL Network
Few quarterbacks failed to live up to expectations like David Carr. He was supposed to catapult the Houston Texans into Super Bowl contenders. Instead, he was sacked a record number of times and ended up drifting from team to team failing to be more than a “camp arm” by the end of his career.
Finally, after years of trying, David Carr has found a home. He works as an analyst for the NFL Network, helping breakdown Sunday games with other former players and debate moderators.
John Kitna Is Working His Way Up The Coaching Totem Pole
You don’t last in the NFL for 14 seasons without having talent. Jon Kitna might be the best backup quarterback of all-time. He was a gunslinger without fear. If he threw an interception on one drive, he’d come back on the next one and throw a touchdown.
His life after the NFL hasn’t been filled with the same ups and downs, but it has been interesting. Kitna moved to Washington and began coaching at the high school level. After four successful years, he moved into college coaching. One day he might just end up back in the NFL if he’s not careful!
Chad Pennington Is Giving Back To High Schools
Chad Pennington settled back into high school after going from college to the NFL. It might sound backward, but Pennington is right where he wants to be. In 2018 he joined the Sayre School in Kentucky to help restart their dormant football program.
Like a few before him, Chad Pennington could have been an elite quarterback. When he was healthy he was great, leading the Jets and Dolphins to the playoffs years apart. When he was recovering from surgery, which he usually was, the best he could be was an extra voice in his successor’s ear.
Vinny Testaverde Enjoys Life Away From The Crowd
After retiring from a 21-year NFL career, Vinny Testaverde is enjoying life outside of the limelight. He has dipped his feet into high school coaching, but mostly enjoys a quiet life free from crowd noise. We don’t blame him after looking back at his career.
Testaverde was drafted by the Buccaneers in 1987 with sky-high expectations. Over his decades-long career, he bounced around to seven teams, finding his most success with the Jets from 1998 to 2003. He even led the Jets to the 1998 AFC Championship Game, losing the Super Bowl winning Denver Broncos.
Rick Mirer Found A New Passion In Wine Country
The name Rick Mirer might not shoot to the top of your NFL quarterback list but he did manage to play in the NFL for 10 years from 1993-2003, with his longest stretching lasting four years with the Seattle Seahawks.
While playing with the San Francisco 49ers, Mirer realized he really enjoyed the wine business and became the head of the Mirror Wine Company in St. Helena, California. The winery is located just 66 miles from his former football team, allowing him to still enjoy the game he played for a large part of his life.
Rodney Peete Has Been Helping Those In Need
Rodney Peete had a respectable NFL career with a handful of teams included the Detroit Lions, Dallas Cowboys, Philadelphia Eagles, Washington Redskins, Oakland Raiders, and Carolina Panthers. When he finished his NFL career with a 45-42 winning record, he set off with his wife, actress Holly Robinson, to do some good in the world.
He is now the President of HollyRod Entertainment and co-founder of the HollyRod Foundation, an organization that helps people with autism and Parkinson’s disease.