NFL Network's Kimberly Jones relayed the story on NFL GameDay Morning on Sunday:
"Jon Kitna was the starting quarterback. He threw an interception that was the receivers fault," Jones said. "Offensive coordinator Mike Martz told McCown: 'Get your gloves.' He benched the receiver, and Josh McCown played out of the slot in the entire second half. He told me he had a blast. He had a couple catches. He said a third was nullified by a pass interference call that he still disputes ... McCown says today he's very much looking forward to playing quarterback against Bill Belichick and the Patriots."
There is so much to love from this story.
- Every Detroit Lions fan nods in memory of McCown lining up at receiver during the infancy of Rod Marinelli's tenure. In hindsight, the moment McCown took position in the slot we should have seen that 0-16 season coming two years later.
- According to a play-by-play of the game, the only Kitna interception thrown before McCown entered the game was to veteran Corey Bradford. Kitna threw two more interceptions that day. It's unsure who Martz blamed those on.
- I get much joy picturing a gruff Martz grumbling 'get your gloves' to McCown, whose eyes widen with simultaneous fear and excitement, like a puppy taking his first car ride.
- Of course McCown disputes the OPI call. If you're going to play receiver, you must play it all the way. Channeling your inner receiver means you've never committed offensive pass interference, ever. It also means you look for a defensive pass interference flag anytime an incomplete pass lands near you. By the way, for the record, McCown's two catches went for 15 yards total, an 8-yarder and a 7-yarder (the OPI would have gone for 10 yards.)
- We're going to need a slot-comp for McCown. Suggestions encouraged in the comments. Don't be lazy and pick Wes Welker.
- This McCown receiver story is the perfect tangent to the quarterback's journeyman career. He threw zero passes but caught two in his only year with a terrible Detroit team. True story.
McCown has played in Arizona, Detroit, Oakland, Carolina, Chicago, Tampa Bay, Cleveland and now New York. It's a career has been all over the map and included a lot of games lost. But McCown has been a steady performer this year, helping guide the surprisingly upstart Jets to 3-2 entering Sunday's tilt versus the Pats. Whatever comes of the rest of the QBs career, he'll always have those two catches to tell his grandchildren about.