Giger: “Moxie: The Story of Matt McGloin’s Improbable Rise to the NFL” would be a great football movie
Someone, somewhere should start writing a movie about Matt McGloin.
Call it “Moxie,” a word Penn State fans have always used to describe McGloin, and maybe have Michael Rapaport play McGloin. (Google Rapaport’s image if you don’t know the veteran actor and you’ll see he pulls off the look.)
When it comes to football movies, the McGloin story is far more improbable than the feel-good classic “Rudy.”
Rudy Ruettiger played only three plays in a game for Notre Dame, as a token for his hard work. Big whoop.
McGloin has overcome huge odds every step of the way and, unlike Rudy, actually has been a good football player. He was a record-setting college quarterback at PSU, and Sunday he won his first NFL start for the Raiders.
McGloin threw three TDs in Oakland’s 28-23 win over the Texans, becoming the first undrafted rookie free agent to toss three scores in an NFL game since 1987.
It’s the stuff of legend.
That is by no means an exaggeration, to which Penn State fans who know the McGloin story oh so well can attest.
He was a zero-star recruit coming out of West Scranton High School. Nobody gave him a chance as he was not offered a single Division I scholarship.
He went to Penn State as a walk-on, where his own coaches with the Nittany Lions weren’t convinced that he was better than the awful Rob Bolden. When you look back on that ridiculous quarterback controversy now, it’s an absolute joke that Joe and Jay Paterno allowed it to linger for so long in 2010 and ’11.
Critics always said McGloin was too small. Didn’t have a strong enough arm. Didn’t fit the prototypical quarterback mold. Too cocky.
He didn’t care. Always fueled by desire, immense self confidence and a massive chip on his shoulder, he just kept working and kept proving everyone wrong.
Then McGloin won the lottery. It came in the form of Bill O’Brien.
The offense O’Brien installed last year at Penn State was exactly what McGloin needed to showcase his skills.
And McGloin was exactly the quarterback O’Brien needed to showcase himself as a head coach.
McGloin became O’Brien’s best offensive recruiting tool, going from a so-so junior season to a fantastic senior season in which he threw for a school-record 3,266 yards and 24 TDs with only five interceptions.
The candid McGloin was always a quote machine at PSU, but these were perhaps his most compelling comments:
“Coach O’Brien and Coach [Charlie] Fisher are doing a tremendous job with the quarterbacks,” he said in August of last year. “They’re just teaching us the right way how to play the game of football and the right way how to play quarterback.
“We’ve never had anything like that before here.”
O’Brien hit the jackpot with McGloin, who always had a high football IQ but needed someone to have confidence in him. The Paternos never did, so McGloin always had to look over his shoulder, and the fact that a player as bad as Bolden was still starting ahead of him midway through the 2011 season had to be infuriating for McGloin.
O’Brien helped take McGloin’s game to the next level, then the coach helped him get to the next level when he contacted NFL teams after the draft in April trying to sell them on the quarterback.
It took a dysfunctional organization like the Raiders to give him a shot, and he had to beat out two guys (Matt Flynn and fourth-round draft pick Tyler Wilson) just to become the backup to below-average starter Terrelle Pryor. Then it took Pryor getting injured for a chance to play.
If you were watching all of this in a movie, it would seem unbelievable, simply because so many improbable things that McGloin needed to have happen did indeed happen for him to get his shot to start in the NFL.
When he finally got it, he looked great. Just watch his beautifully thrown 26-yard TD pass down the middle in the third quarter that gave the Raiders the lead for good.
We don’t yet know how the McGloin movie will end. Maybe Sunday was the best he’ll ever play, or maybe he’ll continue to start and enjoy a long, successful NFL career.
Whatever the case, the McGloin story is already remarkable, and anything that happens from here on out should no longer be a surprise.
Follow Giger on Twitter @CoryGiger.