Few have gotten fucked by the football gods quite like Dennis Dixon. After beating #4 Arizona State in week nine of the 2007 season, the undefeated Oregon Ducks jumped to #2 nationally and Dixon had thrusted himself into a front-running position for the magical stiff-arm trophy. Only USC had come within a touchdown of a dominant Duck team who was on the inside track to the MNC game with three remaining snoozers against Arizona, UCLA and Oregon State. There had been cause for concern after an awkward collision in the ASU game and it all came crashing down during a non-contact play on that fateful Thursday night in Tucson. Dixon tore his ACL and the Ducks lost the rest of their regular season games to the WIldcats, Bruins, and Beavers. They fell from within 60 minutes of the crystal football and landed all the way down in the Sun Bowl in El Paso.
Let's be clear- I'm no Duck fan, in fact I've been watching them run up the score on my alma mater for six straight lopsided seasons. While frustrating, watching Dennis Dixon operate the zone-read offense was was like watching Wayne Gretzky skate for the Oilers: a graceful gazelle amidst a sea of violent, lumbering rhinoceroses. Only the truest of haters- the Silky Johnston level guys that hate the Yankees, Tiger Woods, and LeBron James- couldn't enjoy Dennis Dixon under center in his college days.
Dixon still got drafted on his amazing potential and athleticism, but it was the run-heavy Steelers led by Ben Roethlisberger- a relatively young, Super Bowl winning franchise quarterback entrenched as a starter. Despite a professionally gloomy placement, Dixon saw limited playing time last year due to injury but now that Big Ben can't keep his pee-pee to himself the gods are beginning to give back.
Roethlisberger's six-game suspension could be the window Dixon needs to establish himself as a legitimate NFL starting quarterback, an escape hatch out of the talented yet perpetual backup club formerly headed by Aaron Rodgers. He'll be given an opportunity afforded to few- an NFL audition with little possibility of a quick hook. Even if he isn't able to survive Roethlisberger's return in week seven, he'll at least have received the chance to establish himself as a desirable candidate for a trade or free agent signing to a team that operates an offense better suited to his talent.
So ball on, baller. Go get all tom Brady on 'em and don't look back.