Time To Shine
Quinn did things in high school that normal kids don't do. On one beautiful Sunday afternoon in May, Coach Crabtree stepped outside his office, peeked through the bleachers of the stadium, and saw Quinn and one of his wide receivers working on pass routes. He was a sophomore in high school and he was all business.
"At a young age, I realized that the quickest way for me to gain an advantage over people was to outwork them," states Quinn, who started lifting weights seriously in eighth grade.
"I used to feel like I was never doing enough, that if I wasn't putting in extra work, I wasn't getting an edge over someone else. Now that I'm in the NFL, I train smarter. But I will say this: That kind of work ethic early on is really where you start to build mental toughness."
Quinn was a senior in high school when he met Doug Owens. The accomplished boxing coach, who has worked with a number of world contenders including James "Buster" Douglas, approached Quinn about teaching him how to handle himself in the ring to help him better handle himself in the pocket. These days, the two still work together as often as they can at Owens' personal-training and boxing gym in Worthington, Ohio, a suburb of Columbus.
You might be surprised how much boxing crosses over to quarterbacking. For one thing, the footwork is similar. If a fighter moves too much to avoid a punch, he might run right into another. Same with a quarterback: Overreact to a 280-pound bull-rushing defensive lineman and you might step right into the path of a lightning-fast 260-pound defensive end.
Chaos - that's what boxing simulates for the quarterback. If you can learn to block a flurry of punches thrown at you, maybe you can fend off a blitzing safety with a stiff arm right after dodging an angry linebacker. If you can avoid overreacting in the chaos, you'll have a better chance of getting off a throw or landing a good punch. Knee-jerk reactions will get you killed in the pocket, just as they will in the ring.
Quinn hasn't yet had that "catapulting" moment in the NFL. His first start against Denver last year could've been it, but then the finger broke. Chances are, his work ethic has already impressed Coach Mangini, which bodes well for him getting another opportunity very soon.
"On every level, he just keeps getting better and better," Williams says. "You have a lot of guys who are talented and gifted but don't like to work. Brady has every single tool and every intangible quality you can think of - he's big, he's strong, he's athletic, he's in great shape and he's very smart. Now it's up to him to just go out there and do what he does best."
For the rest of our story on Brady Quinn pick up the October issue of M&F on newsstands now.