x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 21 January 2018

Josh Freeman did not spend much time unemployed after leaving Tampa Bay, quickly being promoted to starter in Minnesota.

Josh Freeman was only briefly out of a job, quickly being promoted to starting quarterback for the Minnesota Vikings after parting ways with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.   Winslow Townson / Getty Images
Josh Freeman was only briefly out of a job, quickly being promoted to starting quarterback for the Minnesota Vikings after parting ways with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Winslow Townson / Getty Images

Was it only two weeks ago that Tampa Bay Buccaneers jettisoned Josh Freeman, a quarterback in decline who supposedly was late for team commitments, held in low esteem by teammates and unwanted by all other teams, who declined all trade offers for him?

This guy bounced back faster than a yo-yo hitting bottom and spinning into your grasp.

The Minnesota Vikings claimed Freeman, indoctrinated him into their system and fast-tracked him to starter, all within a week.

Oddly, Freeman explained his choice of the Vikings over other suitors by observing that they had an incumbent quarterback and he would not be rushed into duty.

“It’s an opportunity to pump the brakes,” he said upon arriving in Minnesota.

Then Minnesota stomped on the accelerator, demoting Christian Ponder in favour of Matt Cassel for the latest game, then hurrying Freeman past both of them into the line-up.

“I like the things he’s done in his career, along with what he’s done here with our football team,” Vikings coach Leslie Frazier said. “I think now is the time.”

Freeman’s reputation seemed ruined following his divorce from the Bucs, even though coach Greg Schiano took heat for his perceived role.

Schiano, a control freak even by his profession’s standards, could not abide Freeman’s occasional tardiness, which included the quarterback sleeping through a team photo session. He was absent for at least one meeting and was skipped over as captain for the first time since his rookie season.

Whether Schiano influenced the players’ vote could not be determined. The coach fined Freeman at least twice, once for speaking to the media without permission.

The tiff became downright nasty when someone disclosed evidence to a TV reporter that Freeman had entered the league’s substance-abuse programme.

He later attributed the involvement to having mistakenly taken the wrong prescription drug to treat an attention-deficit disorder and that he had passed every test for performance-boosting drugs administered by the NFL.

Such was the animus between player and his coach that Schiano was pressured to deny that he leaked the information, which is confidential.

When Freeman characterised the Vikings to USA Today as “quality human beings [who] do things the right way,” the contrast he was making with his former employers was unmistakable.

Freeman, who has yet to directly address his responsibility concerning the fallout, cannot hide lingering bitterness.

“Do I have a chip on my shoulder? Sure, I do,” he said.

“I think it’s more deeply rooted than just the past six months, 12 months.”

Freeman, who left Tampa after four-plus seasons as the franchise statistical leader in most passing categories, once was regarded as among the new wave of quarterbacks sweeping the league.

Though his membership has been revoked, he is benefiting from a peculiarity of sports: If you have talent, you always can count on getting a second chance.

sports@thenational.ae