Commentary

Eason isn't eager to relive his day in the spotlight

Tony Eason would rather not discuss his day as the only Super Bowl starting quarterback to fail to complete a single pass, writes Rudy Klancnik.

Originally Published: January 23, 2008
By Rudy Klancnik | Special to ESPN.com

Tony EasonMalcolm Emmons/US PresswirePatriots QB Tony Eason had a miserable start against the Bears and was eventually replaced.

Their Shot At Glory

Of the first 41 Super Bowls, 51 different quarterbacks have started. Some, like Joe Montana, Terry Bradshaw and Tom Brady, are legends. But whatever happened to some of the lesser-known starters? Take a look:

• Tony Eason (SB XX)
• Vince Ferragamo (SB XIV)
• Jeff Hostetler (SB XXV)
• Stan Humphries (SB XXIX)
• Craig Morton (SB V, SB XII)
• Jim Plunkett (SB XV, SB XVIII)
• Mark Rypien (SB XXVI)

Take a look at ESPN.com's rankings of every performance by a Super Bowl quarterback. You'll quickly understand why the person who answered Tony Eason's home phone last week said only this when asked to speak with the former New England Patriots starter about his Super Bowl experience.

"Tony doesn't like to speak with anyone in the media, especially this time of year."

A call to a member of the University of Illinois sports information department to ask what Eason, a former Illini, is doing today drew a similar response.

"That's a good question. We have no idea. He did come back for a game not too long ago, but that's about all we've heard from him."

Don't blame Eason for not making himself available to the media in January -- not to mention the other 11 months.

Back in January 1986, Eason had the unfortunate task of going up against the Chicago Bears' fabled "46" defense in Super Bowl XX. It wasn't a pretty sight -- Eason became the only Super Bowl starting quarterback not to complete a single pass, misfiring on all six attempts (while being sacked three times and fumbling once) before he was replaced by Steve Grogan in the second quarter of the 46-10 loss in New Orleans.

Eason In The Super Bowl

In ESPN.com's rankings of the 82 performances by starting quarterbacks in the first 41 Super Bowls, Tony Eason's performance for the New England Patriots in Super Bowl XX ranks 82nd. Here are his stats:

Super Bowl XX

Comp. Att. Yards TD INT
0 6 0 0 0

• All Super Bowl QB performances

Certainly, Eason shouldn't shoulder the entire blame for the loss. The Bears made lots of quarterbacks look bad that season.

But as the 15th selection of the fabled quarterback class of 1983, Eason was expected to lead his team in big games like this. The results, of course, were supposed to be different.

Credit Eason for bouncing back from that dismal day. Three games into the next season, Eason threw for a then-team record 414 yards (albeit in a loss to Seattle). He eventually quarterbacked the Patriots to an 11-5 record and the AFC East title.

But nobody remembers that. They only remember Super Bowl XX. That explains his reluctance to relive that day.

Still, not everybody has a negative image of Eason. At least he can count on his family.

His brother, Bo Eason, also a former NFL player, is starring in a one-man off-Broadway production that he wrote. The play is autobiographical. Called "Runt of the Litter," Bo's play focuses on the life of a young man who always was trying to compete against his bigger and better older brother.

"If you talk to my brother, he would tell the story completely differently, because it was from his point of view," Bo recently told Newsday. "The first time [Tony] saw it, he said, 'I didn't know you thought of me like that.'"

According to Bo, Tony has seen multiple showings of his brother's play and tells Bo that he's very excited about the results.

Good to know Tony is talking to someone.

Rudy Klancnik is a freelance writer based in Texas.