In the 2004 season, Matt Leinart was the biggest name in college football. He helped USC win the BCS National Championship and garnered the Heisman as well as the Manning Award for being the best quarterback in the country.
When the Arizona Cardinals drafted Leinart in 2006 for a multi-million dollar deal, expectations were through the 193-foot roof of University of Phoenix Stadium. That’s a pretty steep drop and Leinart fell all the way to the turf. He never performed well enough to earn, or keep, the starting position, especially during Kurt Warner’s magical tenure. When his lack-luster performance cost him the top job again this year, he began to grumble publicly. Within days of his complaints he was released from the team.
Now Leinart, who likely has a nice nest-egg stored away, has signed a one year deal with the Houston Texans. While $630,000 is nothing to sneeze at, it’s far less than the $2.5 million base he was contracted to receive if he’d remained (even on the bench) with the Cardinals.
Most of us have found ourselves in a disappointing situation. Perhaps we haven’t performed well or our circumstances have let us down. When this happens we have to decide how to respond. Griping is one option, but it isn’t likely to accomplish anything positive and it tinges the perception of our character.
We don’t know what went on in Matt Leinart’s mind or between him and the Cardinals organization. Maybe it was clear to him that if he remained he’d get more income but wouldn’t be afforded the opportunity to improve his skills, build his stats or increase his popularity as a third or fourth stringer. Maybe there were behind-the-scenes talks that lead to his release and his disgruntled comments weren’t a factor.
Sometimes our circumstances force us to move on. Often a fresh start in a new location with different people will be a catalyst to improve our attitude and hopefully performance. Fresh wind can be a great encouragement when we feel stuck. It’s hard to take a leap out of a comfortable spot, even when it isn’t ideal and doesn’t hold much promise of a future. But there are times when taking a risk to try something new may be just what we needed to reach our full potential.
I think Matt Leinart was stuck and now he’s free to start over. He’s still only a second or third back-up quarterback, but expectations are low so exceeding them will be much easier. I hope he finds his rhythm and has great success.
Any thoughts on Leinart’s plight or your own experience with getting unstuck from an ill-fitting position?