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Published on 09/13/2008 at Sat Sep 13 08:12.
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Stefan Fatsis’s book “A Few Seconds of Panic” has revealed several interesting insights into the Broncos organization as they prepared and played in the 2006 season. The Denver Post has been promoting the book by printing sections of it in the paper. The current installment centers on Jake Plummer and his eventual benching.

The most significant issue that surfaces in the text is Mike Shanahan‘s number one pet peeve – missing off-season workouts. Jake Plummer only made 85% of his off-season workouts that year (the lowest on the team). For a team captain and leader of the offense to miss ANY of the workouts in Denver is nearly as bad for your career as lying to Coach Shanahan’s face. 85% is practically a slap in the face to the team and great players like Rod Smith.

In Plummer’s case, he not only gave up $200k in workout bonuses, he JUST didn’t seem to understand why this was important to Shanahan and the team. In Fatsis’s account of his post-benching conversation with Plummer, Jake says this:

“Yeah, I missed some workouts. And you know what?” Jake lowers his head to the table and talks directly into my tape recorder. “Mike Shanahan, you can kiss my [ass] for being pissed at that. You can quote that. I made 85% of my workouts and he’s still mad about it. He still brought that up. Give me a break. That’s the dumbest [damn] thing on earth…. Well, if that’s the reason (I was benched), then I’m glad I didn’t make those. Because I don’t want to be here every day in the off-season.”

Well, there you go folks…

I loved watching Plummer play. I liked his fit in Denver’s system, but blowing off the off-season workouts and posting the lowest participation on the team is completely unacceptable from your QB. The great players at that position are the first ones to arrive and the last ones to leave. And the fact that Plummer couldn’t understand that (and was even pissed about it) makes me now understand the cold shoulder Shanahan showed him during that season – specifically related to the not telling Plummer of his benching personally.

I’m sure will have a different spin on this issue, but I think this puts to rest the real reasons behind Plummer’s benching. I can see now that Shanahan could not allow another off-season of partial participation from his starting QB. From Plummer’s own statements, he simply didn’t want to be there every day, and that attitude can have a devastating effect on the morale of the young team Shanahan was building.

I still like Jake. I still respect his decision to walk away and live his life the way he wanted. But I now also understand Shanahan’s decision making that year.

  • jibbons

    This just reinforces the idea that Plummer was quitting from the moment the NFL wouldn’t let him wear Tilman’s number. I can empathize, if I were a teacher and my principal wanted me to spend the summer at school for a slight raise, I would probably tell them the same thing. However, the Broncos Program requires tremendous participation in order to elevate the skills and abilities of otherwise mediocre players. Plummer was clearly a mediocre QB by NFL standards.

  • TheNaturalMevs

    Wow, Plummer has really shown himself to be an ass. I guess he and Shanahan just didn’t get along at all.

  • GreasyQtip

    I loved the book, I couldn’t put it down. When i read this I was very surprised, looking back im glad the change was made, i wasnt even that mad when it happened. But the one thing that seriously stands out in that book is the supreme authority of Shannahan, some of the quotes from Sundquist and the ST coaches make it seem like other managment lives in a constant state of fear. And we all love Shannahan for his control and decisiveness when we are winning and rocking the playoffs. But the last 2 years we have not, this year looks great though and i think ill be happy with a dictatorship again, its better then having a coach with little control (Kiffin). I suggest this book to anyone who wants some insight into NFL training camp, and even more for Bronco fans who will recognize all the names and feel more connection to the”characters”.

  • Boisebroncoguy

    As a resident of Jake’s hometown (my son even goes to the same high school as Jake), I was thrilled when he went to my favorite team. For the most part, I thought he did well and he won a lot of games for us. Like the rest of us, I was bummed about the AFC title game, but, the whole team was bad that day. Having been a lifelong Bronco fan and knowing guys like Elway and Rod Smith never missed workouts, I can see why Jake was benched. With the money those guys make and the time they have off already, it’s hard to imagine not committing to the off season program. I’m sure any one of us would take it! I think the QB we have now has the talent and commitment to take Denver to back to the Super Bowl. Kudos to the Broncos for drafting Cutler and GO BRONCOS!!

  • Roy

    I didn’t realize Plummer was so dense. He didn’t want to be here in the offseason? Its you job. J-O-B. Pride and professionalism are the hallmarks of all great players, something he was very obviously lacking. Maybe his work ethic had something to do with his 4 turnovers during the AFC Championship game against the Steelers. Good riddance.

  • anon

    I think you need to take anything from Fatsis book with a huge grain of salt. He obviously had his favorites — Sundquist and Plummer among them — and twisted the narrative and selectively edited quotes and scenes to make those favorites look better. (While doing the opposite for those people he did not like, such as Cutler.)

    The book may be entertaining, but it’s hardly truthful.

  • kerry

    UMMM. jake who??? we had a guy names jake on this team? i forgot all about him the second number 6 stepped onto the field.

  • Kyle

    anon- You’re absolutely right. I loved this book, but I think he tainted the colors of the story a bit to support his guys.

    In the 2005 offseason, Jake had made all the workouts. He actually recorded his best workout percentage in his career. Coincidentally, he had the best year of his career both statistically and record-wise. You would think that would give a guy a clue.

    Jake’s a badass, no doubt about it, and just plain cool. I love Jake Plummer. But I had Super Bowl aspirations in 2006. You and your multimillion dollar contract had a responsibility to the fans, Jake. Looks like you flipped us off again.

  • DevilDogTodd

    Jake is a badass? Hmmm, you must have a weird definition for badass. Jake Plummer was a punk with Denver. Just a plain simple punk. Do any of you actually think Plummer was the answer over Jay Cutler. You are now starting to see what a REAL NFL QB is all about when you watch Cutler play.

    Jake Plummer didn’t really want to play football….if he did then why did he retire when he did?

  • Kyle

    Yes, Jake Plummer was a badass. That doesn’t make him a good or better quarterback either way.

    He walked away from $6 million to stay retired and give a big fat finger to the NFL and its fans. Then he gave $7 million back to stay retired. He didn’t give a crap about all the stuff around the game, just the game itself. That’s badass, and a punk, it just depends on how you look at it. I’ll always love Jake Plummer.

  • broncfanstuckinsd

    Looks like we all have a different opinion on badass. I dont see him as that. He is definately wound differently than most, for that I repsect him. However, he is a little baby. made only 85% of his offseason workouts after Denver drafted Cutler. When faced with a choice to Shiite of get off the pot he chose to get off the pot. He could have been to all the workouts and made the imprssion and statement that Shanny made the wrong choice. Now it proves Shanny did not. I want a QB, who is making millions BTW, to be dedicated to his craft and who wants to get better and be a leader and most importantly get to the Super Bowl. He seems satisfied with the AFC title game. Well I hope he is happy in ID. He never embraced being the QB in denver. He is aloof and doesnt like the spotlight, thats fine. But being a QB in Denver, whomever it is, is gonna be in the spotlight no matter what. Thats why I like Cutler he has embraced and doesnt wanna be the next Elway, he wants to be the first Cutler

  • Garrett Barnes

    Beautiful way of saying it broncfanstuckinsd I love Jay Cutler and while it hurt us these last two years making the transition it seems to be worth it.

  • BroncoFan18

    Ok, here’s the deal with Plummer. The fact is, the only thing that matters in the NFL is winning football games. You can talk all day about character, ethics, and responsibility, but unfortunately that’s not how the game works. Plummer has the best winning percentage of any Broncos quarterback (correct me if I’m wrong). Last time I checked, that’s the only thing that matters.

    I liked his personality and style. I think he really was a leader, despite what many people think. Even Rod Smith defended him and felt that he should be given a chance.

    The problem with Plummer is that he didn’t really fit well with what Shanny wanted to do. Cutler is much more of a multi-dimensional quarterback and can be utilized in many more ways than Plummer. That’s why Shanny made the change; we needed some explosiveness to our offense. Cutler gives us that, Plummer did not.

    As for the book, I think Kyle and anon have got it right. An author will take whatever quotes he gets and spin them in whatever way he wants. I haven’t read the book, so I can’t really say much more than that.

    It’s simple. Plummer had no spark. Cutler does. And soon, Cutler will take over the record for best winning percentage if what I’m seeing from him right now sticks.

  • Truman

    Ultimately, in any job, it comes down to being accountable. Can you deliver the goods? If a QB (like Favre) misses OTAs and preseasons, etc. but makes the plays, he gets a pass. Jake was a gamer but ultimately he came up short and the future was sitting right here under our noses.

  • stefan

    The author here. Thanks to all the commenters here, especially those who have read my book. Couple of things I’d quickly say:

    1. I didn’t “twist” or “spin” a single story or quotation in the book. “A Few Seconds of Panic” is a straighforward account of my experiences as a writer/kicker for a summer with an NFL team and what life is like in the NFL. Of course I wrote more about certain people who I spent time with or whom I found interesting; I couldn’t write equally of the 90 players who were in camp or the dozens of people in the front office. And of course I had closer relationships with certain of those people, whose stories wind up occupying more of the book than others. And of course I formed conclusions. That’s the nature not only of reporting and writing but of life.

    2. As for Jake, yes, I liked and respected the guy — and so did his teammates. You can form your own opinions about whether his missing a few offseason workouts affected his performance in 2006. It didn’t seem to matter at all when I was there; Jake actually had a great camp, and Shanny praised his performance during camp. And it helps to put the pressure and demands of the NFL in a broader context, which the full book does. This short excerpt requested by the Post doesn’t give the full portrait of Jake in the book.

    3. I didn’t “twist” the narrative or “selectively edit” anything to make anyone look better or worse. Cutler, actually, is barely in the book. As I’ve said before, I didn’t find him interesting as a subject — I wasn’t writing profiles of the major Broncos — and he wasn’t particularly interested in me. He wasn’t the only name player who fit into that category, and I didn’t have a problem with that at all.

    4. Finally, Broncos fans are the most heavily invested in a story like this because it’s about their team and their guys. That’s awesome. But bear in mind that I wasn’t writing a book about the 2006 Denver Broncos. I was writing a book about the NFL, about what it feels like to infiltrate this world and how the people who live inside it cope with the very real and very big pressures it creates.

    Thanks again to everyone who’s read the book and taken the time to comment.


  • David maroonwater

    In retro spect Shannahan must regret benching plummer. Plummer had the incredable ablity to come throw in the face of defeat. With his sprinting mobility and awareness to spread the field including with the west coast offense, it was something like the 90’s era of the Infamous Joe Montana & the 49ers of the 80’s. what could have been