Brady Quinn on the future: His, his foundation's, Brandon Wimbush's and DeShone Kizer's

Eric Hansen
South Bend Tribune

On Monday night, Brady Quinn was all about the future. Other people’s futures.

Not that he doesn’t wrestle with where his own is headed, at times.

“It’s something that my wife and I probably have a conversation about every year,” said the 33-year-old former Notre Dame quarterback and current college football/NFL analyst for FOX Sports, CBS Sports and SiriusXM radio.

“It’s something I talk to NFL coaches and college coaches about probably every year. There’s always the desire of trying to get closer to the game, trying to get more involved in a more impactful way.”

Coaching or working in an NFL front office are among the options ND’s career record holder, in just about every passing category imaginable, considers intriguing.

“It’s something I go back and forth with all the time, but broadcasting has been good to me,” Quinn said. “Maybe one day, I’ll be calling Notre Dame games.”

Then came a pause and a sigh.

“If NBC ever comes around from hiring guys from all of Notre Dame’s rivals — BC guys, USC guys,” Quinn continued.

“It’s funny. Just to be blunt, NBC and I have had conversations. It’s hard for Sam Flood (NBC and NBC Sports Network executive producer and president) to get over having an alum (as an analyst).

“I think he’s worried about being biased and essentially becoming ‘the Notre Dame Network,’ because I am an alum.”

In the first 27 years of the Notre Dame football contract with NBC, none of the 10 analysts employed by NBC have a Notre Dame degree, including the current one — former Boston College QB Doug Flutie.

“My rebuttal to (Flood) is: I called five USC games,” Quinn said. ‘You don’t think I don’t have to be down the middle against a team I grew up hating and was a rival of? It goes both ways.’

“’As much as you think I’m for Notre Dame, I also have to call games for FOX that are with teams we went up against — USC, Stanford, etc.’

“It’s kind of backwards as far as their thinking in it. My aim is just to call the game the way I see it. It’s not to favor one team as opposed to the other. It’s about being great at what I’m trying to do.”

Greatness hasn’t eluded Quinn when it comes to his passion away from football. and Monday night the Kelly Cares Foundation honored Quinn and his 3rd & Goal Foundation (3rdandgoalfoundation.org) at the Irish Eyes Gala in New York.

The gala was a celebration of the 10th anniversary of the foundation started by Notre Dame head football coach Brian Kelly and wife Paqui, and the more than $4.2 million raised to support medical research, educational programming, health initiatives and community outreach.

More than 400 people attended the event held at The Pierre Hotel in Manhattan, with Regis Philbin, Justin Tuck, Mark Bavaro, Romeo Okwara and DeShone Kizer among the big names with ND ties.

Also honored by Kelly Cares Monday night were David Robinson, with the Leadership in Education Award, and the family of the late Ara Parseghian, with the Leadership in Health Award.

Quinn was honored with the Leadership in Community Award for his charity that provides financial support to returning soldiers, and aids in construction efforts to make their homes handicap-accessible when necessary.

“Honestly, at a young age, I kind of thought in the back of my mind that if things didn’t work out from an athletic perspective, that I may find myself entering into the military in some capacity,” Quinn said.

“So sort of off of that, my dad served as a Marine in Vietnam. His father served in the Army. Football did work out for me, but I always had this burning desire for civic duty, I wanted to give back, follow in their footsteps, and this, I guess, became the next closest thing.”

In addition to helping military veterans who face homelessness and/or require home modifications to help make their dwellings more accessible, the 3rd & Goal Foundation has branched out into a financial literacy program for vets in South Bend, and the Warrior Scholar program that assists vets with academic skills and life skills to help them accomplish their educational goals.

The latest 3rd & Goal initiative is awarding a scholarship each year for a veteran to go to Notre Dame.

“The one thing we pride ourselves on,” Quinn said, “is that we don’t have an office. We don’t pay anyone a salary. Everyone’s who involved is pretty much on a volunteer basis. We want people to realize that every dollar that they’re donating is going to these projects.”

After the gala, Quinn and wife Alicia were off to Ireland for a vacation.

“We’re expecting our second child at the beginning of July, so this was kind of our last chance to get away,” said Quinn, whose daughter, Sloan, is 21 months old.

Before he got away, Quinn shared his thoughts on some football-related topics:

l On Ole Miss transfer QB Shea Patterson, who will likely start for Michigan against the Irish in the Sept. 1 season opener for both teams:

“I saw him play at Ole Miss,” Quinn said. “He was probably the most talented passer in the SEC, maybe the most talented quarterback overall.

“He’s going to give Michigan an infusion of a guy who just has natural passing ability and skills. I’m not sure they’ve had someone like that since (Michigan coach Jim) Harbaugh’s been there. So it’s going to be a huge lift to that team and that program.”

l On former Notre Dame QB DeShone Kizer being traded from the Cleveland Browns to Green Bay this offseason:

“Besides going to Notre Dame, it’s the best thing that ever happened to him,” Quinn said. “I mean he’s going to learn from one of the best ever to do it, in Aaron Rodgers. He’s with an organization right now that’s going to be patient with him.

“They wouldn’t have made the trade unless they saw value. and look, he could very well end up being the guy who replaces Rodgers down the road, whenever Aaron wants to hang it up. But that’s real.

“He’s a young quarterback who has a ton of ability. I think if he can just continue to work on his skills, become more consistent, see the game how Aaron sees it, I feel like the sky’s the limit for DeShone.

“I just think he needed a more stable organization, and one that really invests into its players. and Green Bay is just that.”

l On current Irish quarterback Brandon Wimbush and the prospect of him being a significantly improved quarterback in 2018:

“Any quarterback in their first year, they’re going to go through a lot of teaching lessons,” Quinn said. “I think that was the case with me, and I think that was the case with him.

“You can be in a program for as long as you want, but if you’re not out there playing — actively in games playing, learning those lessons — it’s really hard to get a sense of how you’re going to respond, how you’re going to react.

“That’s what football is. Football is a game of responding — responding to adversity a lot of times. Responding to success too, because that’s not always easy.

“You saw some inconsistencies in him. and somewhere along the way he lost some confidence in his ability. Because he’s got all the tools. He’s a great athlete. He’s got a live arm. When he aligns himself with where he wants to throw, he knows where he’s going with the football.

“A big key for him is growing mentally and maturing in that way where he can consistently come back from a missed pass here or a bad play there, because those happen. Be a little more mentally tough in that regard.

“Same goes when he was sharing time with Ian Book. That’s not easy to deal with, because now you feel like, ‘Sure people on the outside might be questioning me, but now my own coaches might be.’ So that’s tough to deal with mentally.

“If he could string together a solid game or two or three, you’d start to see that growth. That does wonders for a quarterback’s confidence. Think about it, being the quarterback at Notre Dame is a lot about that.

“It’s hard not to hear the whispers and hear what people are saying and the doubt that people are casting upon you.”

Brady Quinn speaks during The Kelly Cares Foundation’s Irish Eyes Gala on Monday night in New York.