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John David Booty (what’s in a name?)

Posted by Jason Lisk on June 13, 2008

Many of the posts here at the blog contain some serious analysis. This, unfortunately, will not be one of them. I should also add that the opinions and bad jokes contained herein do not necessarily reflect the views of or its parent corporation, Sports Reference, LLC.

Today, I am going to discuss John David Booty. But I'm not going to focus on his measurables, such as the size of Booty. Nor am I going to pontificate on his intangibles, like pocket presence, ability to maintain mechanics under pressure, or release, to assess how frequently Booty will be hit, smacked or sacked in the NFL. And I'm certainly not going to address his ability to wiggle or shake (or lack thereof). No, I'm going to explore the question "what is in a quarterback's name?" Or in Mr. Booty's case, two names.

The two named individual has a long and storied tradition, from former Presidents to children's fairy tale writers to professional bowlers. The music industry, particularly the Country and Western wing, is a popular destination for the person sporting two names. Such singers have given us timeless classics like "Up Against the Wall, Redneck Mother", "Achy Breaky Heart", and "Just a Gigolo." Acting is another field where two- named persons figure prominently. Tommy Lee Jones, Billy Bob Thornton, and Edward James Olmos. Police Chief Carlin from Fletch. Lando Calrissian and the voice of Darth Vader. The original Rusty, Farmer Ted, the Brain, and Gary. Doogie Howser. Stringfellow Hawke. Okay, so maybe not all Oscar-worthy performances, but certainly they had an impact on my youth.

What then, of the two named quarterback? When the Vikings selected John David Booty in the fifth round of the 2008 draft, they revived the lineage of the two named quarterback, which had been dormant since Billy Joe Hobert last turned in his unread playbook for good following the 2001 season. Okay, so maybe it's not so long and storied.

The first guy drafted with two names in NFL history was Billy Guy Anderson, drafted in 1965, and who had played briefly with the Houston Oilers in 1967, but never accumulated any passing statistics. Next came Ronnie Lee South, from the University of Arkansas, who was drafted by New Orleans in 1968. Ronnie Lee managed to get in a few games as a rookie, completing 37% of his passes for a 22.8 QB Rating. He was a dual threat as well, punting 14 times for a 27.6 yard average per punt. The highlight of Ronnie Lee's career came on November 10, 1968, when he threw his only career touchdown against the Cleveland Browns, late in the fourth quarter with his team trailing by 25.

Following the Ronnie Lee experience, the league went over a decade before the next two named quarterback star. In 1983, the Baltimore Colts drafted Jim Bob Taylor in the 11th round, as insurance in case some guy named John Elway refused to sign. Jim Bob managed to get in a game the next season, completing both of his passes. Unfortunately, one of them was to the wrong team, and Jim Bob retired with an impressive 10.0 yards per career attempt, but a not so impressive 50% career interception rate.

The golden era of the two name quarterback arrived five years later, when Billy Joe Tolliver was drafted by the Chargers in 1989, and Peter Tom Willis was selected by the Bears the next season. Together, they combined for over 12,000 career passing yards, fifty games started, and zero pro bowl appearances.

Billy Joe's career peaked in his second season, when he started 14 games and threw for 2,574 passing yards. After that season, Billy Joe Tolliver hung around as long as the league would let him, and he never minded standing on the sidelines in the rain. He started a few games here and there over the next three seasons in Atlanta, managing to throw for a little over 6 yards per attempt in the run-n-shoot offense. The highlight of his career was a hail mary that beat the San Fransisco 49ers in 1991, ultimately getting the Falcons into the playoffs ahead of the 10-6 49ers. His performances for the Falcons impressed the organization so much that they jettisoned some young punk named Brett Favre to the Green Bay Packers before the 1992 season.

Tolliver then reappeared as one of the replacements for Warren Moon in Houston in 1994, where he joined with Bucky Richardson and Cody Carlson to lead the Oilers to a 2-14 record. He re-emerged as a backup in Atlanta in 1997, and also threw one pass for Kansas City that season, a completion for negative eight yards. He closed out his career for Mike Ditka in 1998 and 1999, starting 11 games over two seasons, and retired with 10,760 career passing yards, and the title of best two named quarterback ever.

Peter Tom Willis saw limited action in each of his first four seasons in the league, all with the Bears. He displayed a tremendous pocket presence and an uncanny ability to complete passes to the other team, throwing 15 interceptions in only 183 career attempts. Nevertheless, he managed to throw for 1,261 career passing yards, which may not sound impressive to fans of most teams, but qualifies him as the third-most prolific passer in Chicago Bears history..

The league was still a-buzz about the phenomenon that was Billy Joe Tolliver in 1993, so when the chance came to add another Billy Joe, the Raiders bit, adding Billy Joe Hobert. He sat for two seasons before getting action with the Raiders in 1995 and 1996. He is perhaps most known for his admission of failing to read the playbook, after he came into a game for Buffalo in 1997, which led to his immediate release. He latched on with Mike Ditka's New Orleans Saints that season. In 1998 and 1999, Ditka employed the "Billy Joe" strategy, using both Tolliver and Hobert at the quarterback position. Much like in Ghostbusters, where crossing the streams had potentially dangerous ramifications, the crossing of the Billy Joes in the starting lineup was fraught with danger. The league somehow avoided complete destruction, but the Saints paid the price, going 3-13 in 1999 when both Billy Joes started seven games. Hobert went on to stand on the Colts sideline behind Peyton Manning for two seasons before retiring, probably the safest place to be for someone who did not want to read a playbook.

And now we have John David Booty. If he wants to set his sights on the lofty goal of being the greatest two name quarterback of all time, he needs to only start for two seasons, bounce around the league as a backup, and hope that Mike Ditka comes out of retirement to coach again.

But what of Yelberton Abraham Tittle, you say, better known as Y.A.? Fair enough, as two initials are just another variation on going by both your first and middle name. Tittle was a Hall of Famer, but I pity the fools that have drafted quarterbacks who go by their initials in search of the next Y.A. Most of these guys couldn't start for Bayside High School. Do you know who the second most prolific quarterback to go by his initials is?

Cover your eyes, Bills fans. It's J.P. Losman. We've had both a J.T. (O'Sullivan) and a T.J. (Rubley). You can throw in some not so good times with J.J. Jones and A.J. Feeley. Houston was high on believing that B.J. Symons could be a professional quarterback. M.C. Anderson and D.J. Shockley failed to make sweet music.

If you want to expand the name thing out a bit, you also probably want to avoid the passer who has the catchy nickname or unusual name, too. It may get you noticed right after the draft, but it rarely leads to on the field glory. There have been far too few Babes and Boomers, and far too many Busters or Busty's. Youth, and draft picks, are definitely wasted on the Young. When it comes to the NFL, Cotton is definitely not King. In fact, there are no Kings among quarterback royalty. Most of these quarterbacks with unusual names prove to have pop gun arms instead of Browning rifles. If you want your quarterback to avoid the Turk, better to stick with a common first name. Eagle and Rabbit, meet Hunter. On the waiver wire.

Stop the groans--I'll admit this post is rapidly going downhill and has crossed the line into Corny (but certainly not Koy). Though some might think this a case of me of being Stoney, I'm just being Onree. Just consider yourself lucky I decided not to go with a Dieter Brock monkey-touching reference, or launch into a lengthy tangent on Orcs and Hobbits with Rohan Davey. A fungus joke at the expense of Spergon Wynn might have been just a little too obscure. In the "I couldn't make this up if I tried" department, there were actually two players drafted in the 1950's with the last name of Ford who were nicknamed "Model T", neither of whom amazingly ever threw a pass in the NFL. I couldn't even come up with any bad references for Boley Dancewicz and Manch Wheeler, a couple of my favorite names discovered while thoroughly researching for this piece drinking Shiner Bock.

Getting back on point (assuming there was one in the first place), if you want sweet music, Billy Joe or Ronnie Lee might just be your guy. If you want sweet passes and a QB rating above 70, look elsewhere. Draft a Buddy, Bubby or Bucky and you're likely looking at a journeyman. Me, I'll stick with the Toms, Joes, and Johns.

Well, unless its a John David of course.

This entry was posted on Friday, June 13th, 2008 at 4:28 am and is filed under Totally Useless. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.