Dan Orlovsky spent a whole decade as an NFL quarterback. He only threw 15 touchdown passes from 2005-15 with the Lions, Texans, Colts, and Buccaneers, along with 13 interceptions while being sacked 29 times. But the man made a good living, knows the game inside and out, and now talks football on ESPN.
Yes, his best known play in the NFL is running out of the back of the end zone for a safety. Yes, the Lions lost that game to the Vikings by two points, the closest game of their 0-16 season in 2008. But that doesn’t mean that it was all on Orlovsky, nor that he should be singled out for ridicule over it.
For one thing, it was 3rd-and-10 from the Lions’ own 1-yard line. How did that situation happen? Well, the Lions recovered an Adrian Peterson fumble just short of the end zone, and then Rod Marinelli decided, you know what, this quarterback making his first NFL start, we should have him throw two straight passes. One of the two was dropped, bringing up the third down.
So, what does Marinelli do? Run the ball to at least give his punter some space to work with? Nope! He puts Orlovsky in the shotgun for a third straight pass play.
On that play, somehow, tight end Casey Fitzsimmons winds up one-on-one with Vikings defensive end Jared Allen, the previous season’s league leader in sacks and tackles for loss. Fitzsimmons has no help whatsoever in trying to block one of the best pass rushers in the game, and instantly after the ball is snapped, he’s in the backfield chasing Orlovsky.
Seriously, the ball is snapped with 21 seconds on the clock, and by the time it ticks to 20, Allen has a clear path to Orlovsky. When the clock hits 19, Allen has closed in enough that there’s no escape for Orlovsky. The quarterback has three options. One is to just get rid of the ball, and since nobody has had any time to get open, that’s going to either be an intentional grounding penalty for a safety, or a pick six. Another option is to try to scramble forward from the back of the end zone, which will undoubtedly result in a safety. Finally, there’s what Orlovsky did, which is run like hell so that the 6-6, 270-pound monster wearing No. 69 doesn’t absolutely destroy you. That option takes Orlovsky out of the back of the end zone for a safety — the result of the play was always going to be that, it’s just that he looked real dumb doing it.
This is what happens when you’re the inexperienced quarterback on a team bad enough to go 0-16 — and it should also be noted that Orlovsky led the Lions to a 10-2 lead in that game before the Vikings rallied in the second half.
Fast forward 12 years to the group chat between Orlovsky, Ryan Clark, and Domonique Foxworth that Foxworth tweeted out on Wednesday. And note the first thing Orlovsky says: “I grew up on Wonder Bread, mayonnaise, and American cheese sandwiches.”
What follows is Orlovsky not knowing what Lawry’s seasoned salt is, saying “na man” when shown a canister of it, and proclaiming “I don’t wanna puke” when shown a can of Tony Chachere’s creole seasoning.
“So putting seasoning on your food will make you puke? I am crying,” Clark texted.
“That creole stuff for sure,” Orlovsky replied.
The insinuation here is that Orlovsky has had food with actual seasoning before, and it doesn’t agree with him. He’s a 37-year-old man who’s lived all over the country, so presumably he’s had a chance to sample some foods with flavor. Okay, maybe not so much in Indianapolis and Detroit, but Houston and Tampa for sure offer plenty of options for palate exploration.
Orlovsky tweeted a picture of his spice rack, featuring nothing but salt and pepper. And that’s okay! It’s his kitchen, the food he’s going to eat, and his choice. The internet spends a lot of time trying to make people feel bad about how they eat their food, and it’s ludicrous. If you want to put ketchup on your hot dog, go ahead, and don’t let the entire city of Chicago shame you for it. Ketchup exists. Hot dogs exist. Many people enjoy the two together, and those who don’t… don’t have to have ketchup on their hot dogs.
Do mayonnaise-and-American cheese on white bread sandwiches sound gross? Well, yes, but you don’t have to eat them. Orlovsky grew up on them. That leads to him not appreciating more complex foods, perhaps, but that doesn’t mean that he needs to be mocked for it, or that he’s somehow at fault for having the tastes he has.
Sometimes you’re on an 0-16 team, put in the shotgun on 3rd-and-10 from your own 1, and they put a tight end on one of football’s top pass rushers. It’s not a big failing on your part if you then decide, like Orlovsky, to just step out of the end zone because the creole seasoning is going to do to your innards what Jared Allen would have done to Orlovsky’s outards in 2008.