Sunday, December 28, 2008

The Ballad of Sorgi

Never underestimate the importance of a surprise. It's especially good when you've been down a path before, and yet you still manage to find yourself surprised by something you've seen dozens of times before.

Example: I always, always forget about the bunting that appears around baseball stadia for the playoffs. And I always smile when I see evidence of that little tradition of postseason ball.

Another example: I've seen "You Only Move Twice," the second episode of the eighth season of The Simpsons, at least a handful of times, and yet I always forget about the classic Hammock District exchange. And because I don't regularly think of that gag, it cracks me up every time I see the episode.

The final, most pertinent example: Jim Sorgi.

Sorgi is, by a conservative estimate, one of the fifty best people in the whole world at quarterbacking. He was successful as an amateur at Wisconsin, and he's been serviceable in his limited professional playing time, all with the Colts. But the guy hardly ever plays. He has attempted a pass in a grand total of ten games in his five seasons in the NFL. In three of those contests he has attempted three passes or fewer. Now that Matt Cassel has earned himself a long-term, multi-dozen-million dollar contract after his play this season, Sorgi is by far the most prominent example of a backup quarterback who never plays in games that matter. That's what happens when you serve as the understudy for a dude named Peyton Manning, who has started all 16 annual regular season games every season he's been in the league.

So it's something special when Sorgi gets a chance to play. Four out of the last five years, Sorgi has managed to garner plenty of playing time in the closing week or weeks of the season because the Colts had already secured their playoff position. Even this year, the Colts were locked into the 5th seed entering week 17, and Sorgi saw his first action of the season.

Sorgi's only been with the team since 2004, but it seems like he's been there forever, only appearing when the games either are already decided or inconsequential. Sorgi's very existence is one of those little annual surprises that I could foresee if I thought about it hard enough. But I never do, and--poof!--there he is, almost every year, playing in the closing week of the season.

YouTube, sadly, has almost no evidence of Sorgi, except for the one video which I will embed in this very blog.

The video cracks me up for three reasons:
  1. It's titled "Jim Sorgi Highlights 2008," yet it only depicts events from an exhibition game against the Redskins. It's as if anonymous YouTube uploader ffootball93 knew that the highlights of Sorgi's 2008 season would come in the preseason. Ffootball93 was wrong because Sorgi had a pretty good day yesterday in a game that officially counted, but his guess wasn't too far off.
  2. The video opens with Sorgi warming up. I, for the life of me, thought the entire video consisted of Sorgi warming up, which would then be followed by him standing on the sideline, watching Manning, y'know, play football. It didn't turn out that way, but someone should probably pull together just such a video.
  3. One of the highlights of Sorgi's 2008--not even his 2008 football season, according to the title; his entire 2008--is the time he got sacked by two Redskins, at the ~40 second mark.
It didn't have to be this way, Sorgi. You could have been drafted by the Bengals, let's say, where you would have received regular playing time because Carson Palmer missed all but four games this season. But this is your fate, and you've bravely embraced it. There's not one of us out here who wouldn't gladly trade places with you. Just make sure that you prepare yourself for the Bernard Pollard scenario. And, also, please update your journal. I, at least, want to know what it's like to be in your scenario.

Here's to you, Sorgi, for being the most prominently inconsequential professional football player of my generation.

1 comment:

Carl the Big Fool said...

Good post. Backup or no, he's got one more Super Bowl ring than the rest of us ordinary schmoes, so I'd say it's been a good career for him thus far.