CANTON — What can one say about the Deshaun Watson saga†
Dan Fouts preferred not to say anything.
The Pro Football Hall of Fame quarterback did share some interesting thoughts on quarterbacks after serving as master of ceremonies at a special Hall of Fame event.
Fouts, who was a quarterback for the Chargers when their offense was all the rage, nicknamed “Air Coryell,” smiled when asked to name his favorite current QB.
It was said to Fouts that the the same question was recently asked to Coach Dick Vermeil, a member of the Hall of Fame’s Class of 2022. Without hesitation, Vermeil mentioned Cincinnati’s Joe Burrow.
“I’m staying with Justin Herbert,” Fouts said. Oregon Duck. Chargers.’
Burrow, the No. 1 pick of the 2020 draft, took the Bengals into the 2021 AFC Championship. Herbert started every 2021 game for a Chargers team that missed the playoffs after a 1-3 finish left them on 9 -8 had left.
Fouts played college ball in Oregon and then spent his 1973-87 NFL career with the Chargers. His choice of Herbert goes beyond nepotism.
“He’s got it all,” Fouts said. “The physical part is just as good as anyone. It’s the mental part of it. The makeup of the person.”
Herbert was a good pick, number 6 overall, but he was the third QB drafted in 2020 behind Burrow and Tua Tagovailoa.
Fouts is an example of how concept pecking order does not dictate career flow. He was the third QB drafted in 1973, at No. 64 overall, behind Bert Jones (No. 2), Gary Huff (No. 33), Ron Jaworski (No. 37), Gary Keithley (No. 45) and Joe Ferguson (No. 57).
Fouts is well acquainted with Brian Sipe, a famous Browns quarterback who fits that subject and his time. Sipe was the 12th quarterback drafted in 1973, ranked No. 330 overall.
In 1980, as field general for Cleveland’s “Cardiac Kids” Sipe was NFL MVP. In that season’s playoffs, Sipe drove the Browns within field goal range of what could have been a last-second win, sending Cleveland to the AFC Championship Game in San Diego, against Fouts and the Chargers.
Instead, the Raiders defeated the Browns when, on a frozen day that wasn’t conducive to kicks or passes, coach Sam Rutigliano chose to take one last shot at a touchdown. At a play, the Browns shouted: “Red Right 88,” Sipe threw an interception. It was the Raiders who battled the Chargers.
“I know Brian pretty well,” Fouts said. “He lived in San Diego. We played golf together. I admired him.
“He played for Don Coryell in San Diego State before I played for Don Coryell in the Chargers. Brian got into architecture, but he also did a lot of good things as a coach.
“We’ve played a lot against the Browns in my career. It was always a challenge, especially against Brian and that attack.”
Sipe’s fateful choice was for Ozzie Newsome, who was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1999. Fouts was elected in 1993.
Sipe extended Browns lead to 35-26 when he scored in a devious manner. Fouts threw 70 yards touchdown passes to Harrison Davis and 75 yards to Don Woods to take the Chargers to a 36-35 win.
“When you played against a guy like Brian or Elway or Marino, you had to score a lot,” Fouts said. “You had to keep attacking and attacking because that’s what they were going to do. Brian was such a great quarterback.”
Sipe’s last hurray with the Browns peaked early in the 1983 season. His 27-yard TD pass to Bobby Jones gave him a 21-10 lead. Fouts passed the Chargers back into the game. In overtime, Sipe’s 48-yard TD pass to Harry Holt gave the Browns a 30-24 win.
Fouts was in town to add an extra touch to the Hall of Fame’s Awards of Excellence lunch. He sits on the Hall’s advisory board. He is a Hall of Fame voter as part of a fairly recent adaptation in which the Hall has added players to a panel dominated by media members.
“He was so fast,” Fouts said. “You just held your breath. He was so fast and he was so gripping.’
As a track man, Branch set an NCAA record in the 100-meter dash in 1971.
“His speed on the football field was also pretty good,” said Fouts. “He had to play on that sod in Oakland. The grass was always wet.
“He had a way of beating everyone. You just never knew when it would be.”
The epic year for both Branch and Sipe was 1980. The playoff stunner against the Raiders left the Browns out in the cold. Oakland instead went to San Diego for the AFC final.
in the 1980 AFC final, Branch caught three passes for 78 yards and, as a constant threat, the Chargers defense disappointed.
The Chargers fell behind Oakland 28-7. She quickly collected fouls to within 28-24. The Raiders rallied to win 34-27 and then defeated Vermeil’s Eagles 27-10 in Super Bowl XV.
Before their playoff hopes froze in the Oakland game, Browns players enjoyed their chances of reaching the Super Bowl in an AFC title game in San Diego.
These years later, the Browns still haven’t been to a Super Bowl. Fouts knows the feeling. In his 15-year career, the 1980 AFC final against Oakland was as close as he came.
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On Twitter: @sdoerschukREP
This article originally appeared on The Repository: Hall of Fame QB Dan Fouts talks to Joe Burrow, Justin Herbert, Browns