Case Keenum shares a similar journey with former NFL MVP Brian Sipe

From ESPN - December 7, 2017

Brian Sipe admittedly doesnt keep up with the NFL as much as he used to. Nowadays, the former NFL MVP quarterback gets his fix elsewhere, having spent six seasons (2009-14) as the quarterbacks coach at his alma mater, San Diego State University, and currently assists his son-in-law with high school coaching.

Hell catch a game here and there when his wife, Jeri, has the television glued to Fox or CBS on Sundays. Sipe has maintained a quiet life away from the NFL since his remarkable rise during the late 1970s.

Yet despite not being up to speed on the landscape of todays NFL, Sipe -- along with the rest of the world -- knows about Case Keenum's incredible season.

As the 2017 MVP race picks up more steam, Keenum is currently ranked fifth in ESPNs Week 14 poll, behind Tom Brady, Carson Wentz, Russell Wilson and Drew Brees. The award, decided by a panel of 50 sportswriters at the end of the regular season, heavily factors in statistical achievements. Though Keenum ranks 14th in passing yards, 16th in touchdown passes and 12th in yards per attempt, it would be difficult and unfair to not put the quarterback of a 10-2 team in the conversation.

The parallels between Sipe and Keenums paths from college to the NFL are similar, but no line is stronger than how they earned their jobs as starters.

Sipe was drafted in the 13th round (back when the NFL draft was 17 rounds) in 1972 by the Cleveland Browns, was a member of the team's taxi squad -- a precursor to today's practice squads -- for two seasons before being elevated to a backup for the next two years and finally earned his spot as a starter in the 1976 season. Keenum went undrafted out of Houston and bounced back and forth between the Texans and Rams for four seasons before signing with the Vikings in the offseason.

Keenum became an emergency starter in Week 2 after Sam Bradford injured his knee the previous game. Despite a brief respite when Bradford came back in Week 5, its been Keenums job in leading the Vikings to first place in the NFC.

"I can understand Case if he says he's battling for his job every week because that's how I competed."

Brian Sipe, 1980 MVP

Sipe got his spot when Mike Phipps went down with an injury in the Browns' 1976 season opener. Sipe led them to a 9-5 record, a six-game improvement from the disastrous season before. Phipps never got his job back and was eventually traded.

Sipe viewed his NFL career as an evolution of goals. Five seasons in, he had finally proven (to himself, at least) that he belonged.

That year, my goal moved from just getting the job to hanging on to the job, Sipe said. Thats not always an easy thing to do, but my objective was to prepare, play my best, grow as a quarterback and establish myself as a starter in the NFL. That was my highest aspiration.

He remained the Browns' starter for eight seasons and is still the all-time passing leader in franchise history with 27,713 yards and 154 touchdowns. His situation wasnt the easiest to weather given the doubt he sensed inside the organization.


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