Former Notre Dame quarterback Jimmy Clausen and his so-called character issues, are truly just fabrications when you break them down. In the Draft evaluation process, scouts and NFL “cognoscenti” alike said he was immature and void of leadership skills.
One of the biggest quarterback busts of all time was Todd Marinovich, whose father prepared his son to be the perfect NFL quarterback. Training him every day since Todd was an embryo.
Later in life, Todd got away from his insanely domineering father, started smoking the good weed, partied like a frat boy, and let USC fix his tests and classes much more than they do for the average Trojan football player. He lost his work ethic when he hit the NFL, and was quickly out of football with absolutely nothing to show for it.
I’m not saying Jimmy Clausen ‘s upbringing was that extreme, but during his formative years in an upper class suburb in California, he spent a ton of time in his affluent home studying film and working on his mechanics, maybe at the expense of experiencing what all the “normal kids” do.
Kind of like J.D. McCoy from “Friday Night Lights.” (Again-don’t take this comparison 100% literally, I doubt Clausen’s Dad forced him to chase away the trim that he was attracting or hit him the night after he won a high school playoff game).
However, I do know #7 was considered a quarterback version of Mozart when he was being recruited- a child prodigy whose skills for the craft transcended any that ever came before him. And the rivals.com basically showed everyone their O-faces in the days preceding his national letter of intent signing. You remember the size of the McCoy mansion? Kind of like the Clausen family phat crib we all saw on NFL Draft night)
But if you’re spending all that time studying and refining your natural gifts, maybe your social skills will suffer?
Look at how McCoy couldn’t handle his liquor at a party in Dillon, Texas!
Recall how Marinovich couldn’t grasp the ideas of moderation and self-control? But only those who know Jimmy Clausen on a personal level can say for sure. And even if he is a little rough around the social edges it shouldn’t affect his ability to play.
The Rap Sheet
His first year on campus, Clausen was cited for transporting alcohol as a minor. In August 2008, pictures appeared on the web conveying his participation in an underage drinking game. Then came the figurative and literal black eye . Jimmy Clausen was sucker-punched outside a South Bend bar following another Notre Dame loss. We’re still not sure who started it, but it sounds like the event was very much like a famous scene in the legendary college football film “The Program.” Again, the film’s QB character, Joe Kane, is another person I’ve heard Jimmy Clausen compared to.
On one hand, if you’ve seen his beer olympics pictures- wouldn’t you just LOVE to punch him in the face if you saw that in real time?
On the other hand, let me borrow Team USA Hockey and the Blackhawks party line when Patrick Kane got in trouble for drunkenly beating up a cabbie this past summer:
“when we were all 19, or 20 years old we all did stupid stuff.”
I did. I even got sucker-punched in the head my sophomore year at the University of Illinois. I sort of had it coming, I was running my mouth, but the d-bag who hit me had NOTHING to do with the situation, so it was totally uncalled for. And I didn’t even realize I was bleeding until I got back to the dorms and my friends told me how my hair resembled Ginger Spice (hey, it was 1998 and my hair was dyed blonde, so the dried blood gave me red-head streaks and…never mind)
If I was at that party this weekend somehow, I would probably punch the 20-year-old version of myself in the head too. Point is, yes, Jimmy Clausen has come off like an arrogant douche a lot, but so did all of us at that age.
All 13 of his appearances came in 2010 when Clausen, a second round draft pick that year, completed 157 of 299 passes for 1,558 yards with three touchdowns, nine interceptions and a 58.4 passer rating. He spent last season on injured reserve after tearing the labrum in his right shoulder in the Panthers’ preseason finale. Jimmy Clausen was on the Carolina Panthers roster 2011-2013, but has not thrown a pass since 2010.
You can see why the Bears signed him to just a one year contract.
A lot of people want to paint the picture of the former ND signal caller as this type of tragically-wasting-one’s-physical-gifts-because-he’s-a-severe-head-case story. They conjure up images of a FrankenQB: the delusion of grandeur, over-ratedness, and petulance of Jay Cutler with the whining ability and insecure narcissism of Jeff George meets the self-destructive tendencies and general malfeasance of Marinovich.
And they’re just plain wrong!
And let’s put to death the idea of Jimmy Clausen as a bad teammate.
Golden Tate, Michael Floyd and Kyle Rudolph all spent the summer before the 2009 season at Clausen’s Cali home, working on routes and getting to know each other better for the fall. It wasn’t mandatory, and any of the three could have gotten out of it by just saying they didn’t want to spend a lot of time so long away from home. They didn’t. Nobody spends a summer working and hanging out with a guy they think is an arrogant prick.
Jimmy Clausen may come off a certain way, but no former teammates ever complained about him, not even anonymously.
Paul M. Banks owns The Sports Bank.net, an affiliate of Fox Sports. He’s also a frequent guest on talk radio stations across the world. Banks has been featured in hundreds of media outlets including NFL.com, Forbes, Bleacher Report, Deadspin, ESPN, the Washington Times, NBC and The History Channel. President Barack Obama follows him on Twitter (@paulmbanks)