Quarterback is a glamour position in the NFL and only 32 starting QB gigs are ever available at any time. The players who stand behind center come from all different kinds of schools. Some are drafted highly, some aren’t drafted at all. But anyone who spends a fair amount of time there becomes memorable.
Once the new season rolls around and players retire, though, it can be easy to forget about them. Or to think about what they might be doing after football. Below is a list of former prominent QB’s and an update on what life is like for them now.
Tommy Maddox had a strange NFL career that was chock full of perseverance. While he was a former 1st Round Pick, Maddox ended up in both the Arena Football League and the XFL before making it back to the NFL.
He was rewarded with the 2002 NFL Comeback Player of the Year Award for his crazy journey. Since his departure from the NFL, Maddox has dabbled in both professional golf as well as High School coaching.
Despite a star-studded career at the University of Colorado, teams didn’t know if they could rely on Kordell Stewart to be a full-time quarterback. So he became Slash, doing a bit of everything to help the Steelers win.
Eventually, he got the full-time starter nod and was a tremendous player for Pittsburgh, winning the AFC Offensive Player of the Year Award in 2001. He’s remained in the spotlight since his playing career and was married to Real Housewives of Atlanta star, Porsha Williams.
Not too many star football players hail from Canada. Toronto-born Jesse Palmer was an exception to his rule and he began his career with Steve Spurrier at the University of Florida where he split time with Doug Johnson and Rex Grossman.
Despite playing part-time in college, Palmer showed enough to be drafted into the NFL and play for 5 seasons. He followed his playing career with an appearance on ABC’s The Bachelor and is now a well respected football commentator.
Oftentimes, Coaches and General Managers will prioritize tools over production when selecting their quarterback of the future. Kyle Boller, selected by the Ravens in 2003, was dripping with tools. The quarterback not only had elite arm strength, but he also blazed a 4.6 40.
He didn’t quite cut it as the starter for the Ravens, though, and was eventually replaced by Joe Flacco. After a stint with the Raiders, he retired. He’s done ok post-career, however, as he is now married to former Miss California Carrie Prejean.
Christian Ponder was a hotly recruited high school QB who chose to attend Florida State. After a successful year run with the Seminoles, he was drafted 11th overall by the Minnesota Vikings in the 2010 Draft.
He started in Minnesota for two and a half years and was a middle of the pack quarterback in the league. He lost his job in year 3, then bounced around as a backup for the next few years. During his playing days, Ponder married ESPN’s Samantha Steele and the couple lives in New York and Arizona with their children.
Jake “The Snake” Plummer had a storied career at Arizona State University. He was drafted by the Arizona Cardinals in the 2nd Round, he became a star level quarterback. He later moved on to Denver and made the 2005 Pro Bowl.
Consistent with his quirky ways, Plummer retired earlier than expected at the age of 33 in 2007. The end of his athletic career wasn’t really the end, though. Today, Plummer is an active professional handball player and made it to the Iowa 2008 state championship.
Drafted 1st overall in 1993, Drew Bledsoe was meant to lead the Patriots to the promised land. He came close, leading the team to a Superbowl in 1997, but a bad injury opened the door for Tom Brady and the rest was history.
Bledsoe then moved on to the Dallas Cowboys but was eventually replaced there by Tony Romo. The Washington native now works as a winemaker in Walla Walla, Washington. His successful Doubleback Vineyards produced a top 100 wine in Wine Spectator Magazine.
Few quarterback prospects have ever “looked the part” more than Brady Quinn did. Not only did he have the pedigree, Quinn often lit it up as a member of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish. The Browns selected him in the 1st Round of the 2007 NFL Draft.
It wasn’t meant to be for Quinn in the pros, though. He bounced around from team to team never quite establishing himself as a starter. The former QB has put his telegenic looks to good use and now works as an analyst for Fox Sports and is married to US gymnastics legend Alicia Sacramone.
There was a wave of college quarterbacks in 1990’s college football that had first tried their hand at professional baseball. The best of those quarterbacks might have been Florida State’s Chris Weinke who won the Heisman Trophy in the year 2000.
Weinke was drafted at 25 years-old by the Carolina Panthers and was an early starter. He never quite made his mark with the team and was out of the league by 2007. The former ballplayer now works as a quarterbacks coach at the University of Tennessee.
When football fans think about the greatest individual performances of all-time, perhaps none top the effort that Vince Young put for in the 2006 Rose Bowl. On the strength of that performance, Young was drafted 3rd overall in the 2007 NFL Draft.
For one season, at least, everything worked out perfectly and Young was the 2006 Rookie of the Year. Injuries and personal issues proved to be his undoing in the league, though, and he was out by 2011. Young has fought demons since then with two DUI’s and a Chapter 11 bankruptcy since his playing days.
After putting up jaw-dropping numbers at Marshall University over his four-year career, Byron Leftwich was drafted 7th overall by Jacksonville in the 2003 draft. He soon took over at the quarterback for the Jaguars in his rookie season.
Leftwich had an ultimately disappointing run as a starting quarterback and ended his career in 2012. Since then, the quarterback has been working his way up as a coach. The former Marshall QB is now the Offensive Coordinator for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
When Joey Harrington was drafted by the Lions in the 2002 Draft, he was expected to walk right into NFL stardom. He had everything needed to be a success; experience, smarts, and a strong arm.
It never really quite worked out for Harrington in Detroit as the team was coached poorly and was severely lacking in talent. The QB bounced around the next few years to the Dolphins and Falcons. He now works as an analyst for a TV station in Portland, Oregon.
The second cousin of fellow quarterback Michael Vick, Aaron Brooks went on to play for his home state Virginia Cavaliers. He was selected in the 4th Round by the Green Bay Packers and was expected to be a nice backup.
He quickly broke out of that projection upon joining the New Orleans Saints and was later inducted into the Saints Hall of Fame. Brooks now works as a real estate developer in the James City County Virginia area.
The big question of the 1994 NFL Draft: Who would be the better quarterback, Heath Shuler or Trent Dilfer. Dilfer, though never a star, won that battle pretty handily. Shuler, who starred at the University of Tennessee was played in the NFL for 4 seasons.
The former Volunteer was a total bust for the Washington Redskins throwing 15 touchdown passes against 33 interceptions. Shuler’s career after football has been much more successful as he spent 6 years representing North Carolina’s 11th District in the US House of Representatives.
Rodney Peete had a very successful college career at Southern Cal winning the Johnny Unitas Award and finishing 2nd in Heisman voting. He was originally selected in the 1989 Draft by the Detroit Lions. Unlike many 6th round picks, he carved out a 15-year career.
His best year came in 1990 when he tossed 13 TD’s and ran in another 6 in only 9 games. Following his career, Peete became a broadcaster. He married actress Holly Robinson and is a prominent advocate for those with Autism.
Jay Fiedler, who played his college football at Dartmouth, was able to make it to the NFL despite going undrafted in the draft. After bouncing around the league for a few years, he became the Miami Dolphins successor to the legendary Dan Marino.
The intelligent and capable Fiedler thrived in the role, leading the Dolphins to 3 straight 10 win seasons. He has done many different things following his career including playing professional volleyball, owning a CBA basketball team and training college quarterbacks.
In 2003, Marc Bulger received the unenviable task of taking over at quarterback for the St. Louis Rams following the legendary run of Kurt Warner. He was up for the task at the Rams went 12-4 and Bulger made the Pro Bowl.
Injuries, though, would bedevil the quarterback in the coming years and the rest of his career. He retired shortly after going to camp with the Baltimore Ravens in 2010. Bulger has taken up competitive curling and now competes on a team with former NFL star Jared Allen.
If you were to mold the world’s perfect athlete, it might come out something like Jake Locker. The two-sport star played outfield in the Los Angeles Angels minor league system and was drafted by the Tennessee Titans with the 8th pick of the 2011 draft.
Locker’s football career was derailed by a team with little talent and frequent injuries. He was retired by 2014, saying he lacked the desire to play football anymore. He now lives in his hometown of Ferndale, Washington and co-owns a fitness center.
Tim Couch electrified the college sports world by putting up huge numbers at the University of Kentucky. He was selected number 1 overall by the expansion Cleveland Browns in the 1999 draft.
Couch was able to have some success in Cleveland including a playoff appearance during the 2002 season. Injuries and a lack of team talent disrupted his career, though. Couch has worked as a broadcaster for many years since and has recently been calling games for the Browns.
Not much was expected of Billy Volek. Following his college career at Fresno State, the QB was signed by the Tennessee Titans as a free agent in 2000. While he made the team as a backup, he was stuck behind the durable Steve McNair.
But eventually, Volek got his shot and for 10 weeks and lit up the NFL. In 2004, he became only the 3rd QB to throw for 400 yards in consecutive games and won plenty of team fantasy football championships. Volek is now a High School coach at Maranatha Christian in California.
JaMarcus Russell had such high expectations on him heading into the quarterback position in Oakland. The LSU product was mobile and had a perfect size, he just lacked the work ethic. He soon found his way out of the league thanks to a myriad of problems.
The Raiders passed on drafting Marshawn Lynch, Darrelle Revis, and Adrian Peterson for Russell. Since retiring, he’s tried multiple comebacks, but none of his attempts worked. A waste of potential at its finest.
The former Jaguars quarterback, David Garrard, didn’t have as much bad luck as JaMarcus Russell during his playing days. He actually was a bright spot for the Jaguars during a low point. The team might not have enjoyed much postseason success, but he did enjoy a 39-37 overall record.
Gerrard would make stops with the Jets and Dolphins before retiring in 2013. Since leaving the sport, Gerrard’s attention shifted to fighting Crohn’s disease. He suffers from it and helps brings awareness to the topic.
Kyle Orton might’ve never been a player that teams clamored over, but he was a pretty decent backup for his whole career. Orton has a respectable all-time record of 42-40 as a starter, where his best stint came with the Chicago Bears.
Orton would hint at retirement many times before making it official in 2014. He didn’t make a big deal over it, as he simply gathered his locker room items, said goodbye to some teammates and left. He would then move to Baton Rouge with his wife where he mentors youth football players.
Don’t get things confused, Daunte Culpepper was a rare talent. Playing alongside Randy Moss, Culpepper and Moss set the league on fire together. Culpepper would have tremendous seasons as the starter for Minnesota, but once he left the Vikings, things fell apart.
He would go on to lose his last ten games as a starter before flaming out of the NFL. After leaving the league, he gave football one last chance by signing with Sacramento Mountain Lions of the UFL.
Known primarily for his time as the Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback, Josh Freeman had flashes of supreme talent early on his career. By 2012, Freeman became the man in Tampa playing with emerging running back Doug Martin.
Sadly, things wouldn’t go as planned early in 2013. Terrible performances got Freeman benched, allowing rookie Mike Glennon to take over. Freeman never regained his starting job and eventually became a journeyman. He eventually played for the FXFL, USFL, and the CFL.
The once-proud Washington Redskins aren’t who they used to be. Much of that has to do with the lack of prominent quarterbacks. Jason Campbell might not have been the worst, but he didn’t do much to make the franchise better.
After nine years in the NFL, Campbell retired in 2014 after playing for his fifth NFL team. After he left the league, he moved to Atlanta where he worked as a quarterback coach for a local high school.
Jeff Garcia was a pretty decent NFL starter. He made four Pro Bowls in his 12 seasons of playing and had a respectable 87.5 career passer rating. He even led Tampa Bay to the playoffs his final year of slinging the ball.
After sustaining an injury, Garcia was never the same and couldn’t play at his highest level anymore. He chose to stick around the league as he joined the United States Football League, and got hired as a consultant for the Canadian Football League.
The older brother of Derek Carr, David Carr came into the league with many eyes on him. The Texans drafted him in 2002 and hoped he would bring them much success. They weren’t prepared to protect him, so in his 76 career games, Carr got sacked 249 times! All that battering derailed him from becoming the man people thought he would become.
After bouncing around some teams, Carr wouldn’t find much luck and eventually called it quits. Thankfully, he found promise as an NFL broadcaster.
During his college days, Jared Lorenzen was a joy to watch. With his rocket arm and “different” quarterback body, he earned the nickname of Hefty Lefty. His NFL journey was completely different, as he only threw for 28 yards.
He didn’t get much run in the NFL, but he did find success in other leagues. After injuring his fibula in 2013, he officially called it quits and became a podcaster and public speaker. He launched “The Jared Lorenzen Project” in 2017, which discussed his battle with obesity.
Doug Flutie epitomized toughness. He didn’t have the ideal size of an NFL quarterback, but he made up for it with his intangibles. He won the Heisman in college, but wouldn’t get drafted until the 11th round of the 1985 draft. Instead of fighting for a backup role, he left for the USFL.
That league fell after two seasons and Flutie jumped to the CFL where he would dominate. He then returned to the NFL in 1998 and became a star. Flutie chose to retire in 2005 and now plays the drums in a band with his brother.
Before finding himself in a good position with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Brad Johnson was a journeyman. Johnson became the ultimate game manager under coach Jon Gruden and led the Bucs to a Super Bowl victory!
He didn’t have all the makings of an elite quarterback, but he still managed a 72-53 record as a starter while throwing for just under 30,000 career yards. He and his family live in Atlanta now, with his son playing quarterback for the LSU Tigers.
The best quarterback in Panthers history might be Cam Newton, but before him, there was Jake Delhomme. He held all the passing records Newton now calls his own. They both even led their teams to the Super Bowl.
After getting a lucrative deal, Delhomme became an average NFL quarterback ($20 million guaranteed can do that). Now that he’s done, Delhomme returned home to Breaux Bridge, Louisiana, where he races and breeds horses to pass time.
Rich Gannon was a late bloomer and one that the Oakland Raiders were so happy to receive. After bouncing around multiple teams, Gannon found himself on the Raiders roster with coach Jon Gruden, who transformed Gannon into an MVP.
After leading the Raiders to a Super Bowl in 2002, his final two years after that would be bad, playing only ten games in his final season. Gannon landed on his feet and accepted a broadcasting job with CBS Sports. He and his wife also became spokespeople for the Celiac Disease Foundation.
Jon Kitna might’ve gone undrafted in the 1996 draft, but he still would end up having a rock-solid career. He would stick around until 2013, playing backup to the likes of Warren Moon, Matthew Stafford, and Tony Romo.
After retiring, he went to his hometown Tacoma, Washington, and became a math teacher and the head football coach at Lincoln High School. After vastly improving that squad, he accepted an offer from a Dallas high school. He’s now the quarterbacks’ coach for the Cowboys.
Jeff George’s sensational career at Illinois allowed him to become the number one pick in the 1990 draft. The Colts secured the quarterback and made him the wealthiest rookie QB in league history at the time. He would go on to lose 35 of his 49 starts for Indianapolis.
After never living up to the hype of being number one, he retired in 2006. That’s when he started making media appearances for the NFL Network and local radio stations.