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SBN AZ Classic: Comparing Matt Leinart To Al Gore In 2000

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This was a commentary I wrote in Aug 2010 in the middle of the preseason when the Matt Leinart/Derek Anderson QB thing was going on. In hindsight, it was pretty accurate. I wish it had not been. Note that the political commentary is not to criticize or support neither Bush nor Gore, just to compare what happened.

One of our own here at SB Nation Arizona has said that we should keep politics out of sports, but there are times when the politics of sports mirror the politics of the world.

Take Matt Leinart, for example. His plight is quite similar to a politician we all once knew -- the 2000 version of Al Gore.

Gore was second fiddle to a very popular and successful (in many Americans' eyes) president in Bill Clinton, who had served two presidential terms. Leinart backed up Kurt Warner, probably the Cardinals' most popular and definitely the most successful quarterback in the history of the franchise. Warner had led the Cardinals to two division titles and a conference title.

Clinton and Warner both retired; Warner by choice, Clinton because of the Constitution. Both Gore and Leinart were poised to take the reigns as leaders of their situation. For Gore, the electoral process was supposed to be easy, almost a formality. For Leinart, after sitting in the shadow and tutelage of a possible Hall of Famer, he was supposed to take over and show everyone why he was so highly touted coming out of USC, where he lost a total of two games in his career.

Unfortunately for both, there were some unfortunate turns of events. In Gore's case, an awkward but hard-working guy named George came on to the scene and gained momentum. Gore stayed the course, working hard, but never doing anything flashy. People said he was boring. He was set on not screwing things up. After all, it was his election to lose.

In Leinart's case, he became boring. He had been the party animal and was called "Hollywood" by many. He worked hard to stay out of that scene and lost his edge. Along the way to what should have been his becoming the starter, Derek Anderson comes along. Much like Gore, Leinart became boring, but as a quarterback. He became a guy who didn't take big risks, just trying to hold the fort until the regular season when he would take over as starting quarterback. Anderson was a big risk, big reward guy who could kill you as quickly as he could get you going.

On election night, Gore was prematurely named the winner of the election. Early in the offseason and even into the preseason, Leinart was named the starter. That was also premature. The voting tides turned in Florida much like the quarterback situation did for Leinart before Saturday's preseason game against the Chicago Bears.

Bush was named the winner in the 2000 election and Anderson was placed in the starting role against the Bears. Neither Gore nor Leinart were willing to concede. Gore battled in court for every vote he could in the state of Florida, believing wholeheartedly that he was truly the presidential winner. Leinart fought back in his performance against Chicago and stated that he hadn't lost the job.

Both had to leave the decision to someone else. Gore waited for the court's decision, while Leinart waited on Ken Whisenhunt's choice.

History tells us that the presidential decision dragged on. The quarterback situation for the Arizona Cardinals currently is doing the same.

Gore lost in the end, disappeared from politics, got fat, and grew a beard. Political parties are not kind to losing candidates who were expected to win. He later came back and made a name for himself on screen (his documentary "An Inconvenient Truth") and then for winning the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize.

Unfortunately for Leinart, if this continues as it did in 2000 for Al Gore, we know how this is going to end. Anderson will be the starter and Matt will soon disappear from the NFL. No other team will want to touch him. After all, he couldn't beat out a guy who couldn't beat out Brady Quinn, who might not beat out Tim Tebow, who many don't think will be any good as a quarterback.

If that happens, Leinart may very well grow a beard and get fat, but there is a silver lining, just as there was with Gore. He will find success and fame on screen--as a TV personality for ESPN breaking down college football with other NFL quarterback flame-outs like Jesse Palmer, Brock Huard, and Andre Ware.

Of course, there is the other thing to consider. Gore lost, George W. Bush became president, then terrorists blew things up in our country, we started a war, the real estate market crashed, the economy took a dive, and unemployment skyrocketed. If Anderson wins the job, what would that mean would happen here?

On second thought, maybe it would be better after all if Leinart becomes the starter.

After having the 2010 season play out and having Anderson in fact be the starter, the Cardinals season did, in fact, mirror in many ways the less than favorable things that happened after the year 2000.