Nathan Rourke just has to look at the improbable rise of San Francisco 49ers quarterback Brock Purdy to suggest that there could be better days ahead, not to mention multi-million-dollar contracts and professional sports glory.
One year ago at this time, Purdy was still “Mr. Irrelevant.” That’s the ignominious moniker given to the player chosen dead last in the National Football League draft, because it’s almost impossible for someone that lightly regarded to advance as far as earning a roster spot, let alone a starting position.
Purdy, however, has catapulted into NFL brilliance, quarterbacking the best team in the league (5-0 at last glance) to strong Super Bowl contention and attracting whispers that he’s the leader in the Most Valuable Player race.
The former Iowa State quarterback was chosen No. 262, and last, in the 2022 draft and was given a courtesy look by the 49ers. But when starter Jimmy Garoppolo got injured and No. 3 overall pick in 2021, Trey Lance, didn’t pan out, the 49ers in desperation turned to Purdy.
And in 13 games in which he has started and finished, Purdy is 13-0. He still has his skeptics (The Ringer’s Steven Ruiz ranked him 24th out of 35 quarterbacks and is getting roasted across NFL circles for that ranking), but the 49er players are believers.
“I think he’s going to continue to grow,” 49ers tackle Trent Williams told The Athletic.
“What we’re seeing now is not where he’s going to be. He’s going to be better than that. He’s going to continue to get better every week. Our job is just to keep him upright so he can continue to develop.”
Rourke, meanwhile, sits and waits on the practice roster of the Jacksonville Jaguars. After burning up the Canadian Football League with B.C. Lions last year, the Victoria-born Rourke sought fame and fortune south of the border.
He signed with the Jags, but sits at No. 3 on the team’s depth chart, behind Trevor Lawrence and backup C.J. Beathard.
Rourke had a couple of special moments in pre-season play, but Jags’ coach Doug Pederson said he chose to keep Breathard as the No. 2 man ahead of Rourke because of his experience, although limited, in the league.
Lawrence calls Rourke “the great Canadian” and lauded his pre-season performance.
“He’s had some great plays, and that’s what you got to do,” Lawrence said on Jags Wire, the team’s website. “The guy is looking to stick in the league and get a spot.”
The NFL has a history of underdogs succeeding. Purdy is this year’s example. The player picked No. 199 in the 2000 NFL draft, Tom Brady — you may have heard of him — had a pretty good career. Rourke’s time may yet come.
• Found on Facebook: Former heavyweight boxing champion Mike Tyson on his future: “I might fade into Bolivian.”
• Super 70s Sports, on a retired Arizona Cardinal receiver: “How good was Larry Fitzgerald? Let’s put it this way: He retired after 17 NFL seasons with 10 more career tackles (39) than dropped passes (29). Think about that for a minute.”
• Two comments on the passing of Bears’ legend Dick Butkus: From Mike Bianchi of the Orlando Sentinel: “I always thought Dick Butkus was too tough to die.” And from NFL Films producer Steve Sabol: “He was like Moby Dick in a goldfish bowl.”
• RJ Currie of sportsdeke.com: “I’m not saying watching the NY Giants has become hard to stomach. I’m suggesting if you must see them play, try taking Pepto-Abysmal.”
• Mark Lazerus of the Athletic, on Connor Bedard playing in the NHL at age 18: “What is he going to do on an off-night in Las Vegas this month? Go to the M and M’s store?”
• Headline at the Canadian parody website, The Beaverton: “NHL fan singing national anthem, honouring soldier with standing ovation thinks Pride Nights are too political.”
• Janice Hough of leftcoastsportsbabe.com., after the 104-win Atlanta Braves, 101-win Baltimore Orioles and 100-win LA. Dodgers all were knocked out in divisional playoffs: “Who knew that the kiss of death in the MLB 2023 postseason would turn out to be winning 100 games in the season?”
• Mike Bianchi of the Orlando Sentinel, after Colorado blew a 29-0 half-time lead and lost 46-43 to Stanford: “Wow, I can’t believe Stanford came back to beat Colorado last night. Looks like Coach Prime might need to change his name to Eion — No ‘D’.”
• RJ Currie of sportsdeke.com: “It’s the first day of another NHL hockey season. You know: the one where TSN claims the Toronto Maple Leafs are the favourite to win the next Stanley Cup.”
• Headline at fark.com: “Turns out Bill Belichick and Sean Payton aren’t very good coaches without Hall of Fame QBs”
• One more from fark.com: “Jonathan Taylor says his new contract is a win for running backs, and by running backs, he means himself.” Care to comment? Email email@example.com
by Bruce Penton