Matt Leinart was arguably the best quarterback to ever suit up for USC. He won a Heisman, threw a bunch of touchdown passes, and won consecutive national championships. In turn, his #11 jersey is prominently displayed in the Heritage Hall lobby, and unlike his backfield mate Reggie Bush, it hasn't been removed from the vicinity yet.
But in what is largely old news, Leinart isn't a particularly good NFL quarterback. He's slow footed, has a weak arm, and seemingly lacks the "it" factor that made him a perennial all-american while at USC. Despite being drafted 10th overall by the Arizona Cardinals in 2006, he has essentially served as the clipboard holder for Kurt Warner for the past four years, while also prompting one of the greatest post-game rants in NFL history.
Nonetheless, he's still Matt Leinart, and in all likelihood, he probably should be able to beat Derek Anderson in a quarterback competition. But, it's apparently more challenging than you think, as he was relegated to the backup role for the team's third preseason game last Saturday. Accordingly, Leinart blamed the coach.
Arizona Cardinals quarterback Matt Leinart exercised some diplomacy last week when talking about being demoted to backing up Derek Anderson. On Monday, however, Leinart didn't hold back, saying he must have lost his job for reasons other than performance.
"I feel like I've outplayed the competition, training camp, preseason," he said. "I think my plays speaks about that. For me, this goes beyond the football field.
"The philosophy is you want the best 11 guys to play. I feel like I've proved that with my performance. I don't really know what else I could possibly do, so it probably goes beyond football. For me, I just really want an explanation and I haven't been given one."
But Leinart acknowledged he had not asked coach Ken Whisenhunt for an explanation.
"No, it is what it is," Leinart said. "Like I said, I think I've done enough. I need to get better, like I said last week. But I don't know if there have been equal opportunities. Obviously, I haven't played as much as I'd like."
Grow up, Matt. Buckle your chinstrap, play hard, and stop venting to the media. In the long run, you'll be better off for it.