Football Terms – Football Reserves
In professional football, the backup is the player who stands ready to come into the game if the starter is injured or otherwise can’t continue. While almost all positions have a backup player available, the quarterback position is the one most associated with the term.
Over the years, numerous quarterback injuries have allowed backups to enter the game and carve out their own careers. Often, impatient fans of a team will be quick to call for the backup when the starter struggles (sometimes going so far as to chant the backup’s name during games).
The following are some of the most well-known backup situations in the history of the NFL:
- In 2001, Drew Bledsoe was knocked out of a game against the New York Jets (suffering a collapsed lung in the process). Tom Brady, a fifth-round draft selection, took over for the Patriots and led them to the playoffs. When Bledsoe was healthy again, the team elected to keep Brady as the starter, and he responded by leading them to a Super Bowl win. Since then, Brady has won several Super Bowls and is considered one of the greatest to ever play the game.
- Earl Morrall led two teams to the Super Bowl while serving as a backup – the 1972 Miami Dolphins and the 1969 Baltimore Colts.
- Backup Frank Reich took over for an injured Jim Kelly in the playoffs and led the Buffalo Bills to the greatest comeback in NFL history. Trailing 35-3 in the third quarter, the Bills rallied to defeat the Houston Oilers by an overtime score of 41-38.