Posted by ESPN.com's Matt Mosley
As far as NFL offseasons go, I'm pretty sure Jason Campbell could've done better. He'd only started at quarterback for 2 1/2 seasons, but the Redskins' brass had seen enough.
First, owner Daniel Snyder fell head over heels for Jay Cutler, who was successfully whining his way out of Denver. He and executive vice president Vinny Cerrato did little to hide their affection for the rocket-armed Cutler, while head coach Jim Zorn was left in the awkward position of trying to console Campbell.
When the Skins lost out on Cutler to the Bears, Campbell was invited to a closed-door session with Snyder, Cerrato and Zorn. They supposedly cleared the air, but it wasn't long before Snyder and Cerrato developed another crush -- USC quarterback Mark Sanchez. Campbell learned about both situations the old-fashioned way -- on local television.
Though he didn't like it, he'd made peace with the Cutler scenario because at least the guy was a Pro Bowl quarterback. The thought of being replaced by a rookie was much more galling to him. And he couldn't figure out why the Redskins chose to wine and dine Sanchez in such a public way.
"It was like they were putting it out there in public that I was not a good quarterback," Campbell told ESPN.com on Wednesday. "I had my friends and family calling to ask what was going on, and I was like, 'I have no earthly idea.'"
Though he was stung by the Skins' pursuit of another quarterback, Campbell never missed a workout. He continued to show up at Redskins Park because he thought he owed that to his teammates. It served as quite a contrast to the "he said, he said" flap that had gone on between Cutler and new Broncos coach Josh McDaniels.
"No matter what people were saying, I was still a Washington Redskin," Campbell said. "I couldn't afford to let something distract me from what I knew would be a big season for me. No matter if it was here or somewhere else, I had to be ready. I just couldn't let all that stuff bring me down."
When the offseason program ended, Campbell took a trip to the Bahamas and St. Kitts to get away from all the drama. But a lot of his inspiration for this season came from a fishing trip he took to Brett Favre's farm in Hattiesburg, Miss. Campbell grew up a few miles down the road and has had access to Favre's ponds (bass and perch) for a couple of years. Campbell and his father had been fishing for a couple of hours one day in late June when Favre showed up for a visit.
Campbell said he didn't ask Favre a single question about his much-publicized comeback attempt because he "figured he could use a break from that." Instead, Campbell listened as Favre gave him some encouraging advice on how to handle his situation with the Redskins.
"Brett told me he knew how hard it was to change systems all the time," said Campbell, who has already been in three different systems in Washington. "He said it was important to play my game and not to forget what it was that got me to this point."
Campbell said Favre talked to him that day for more than an hour. He talked about his struggles in Green Bay early in his career and said that it took five seasons for him to feel completely comfortable in the Packers' system.
"He told me that every coach and every coordinator is different and that they wanted to teach you the game their way," Campbell said. "He told me to forget about all the stuff swirling around and go play my game."
Campbell said the Redskins' pursuit of a replacement had "tested his manhood," but the conversation with Favre helped him focus on the '09 season. If Campbell can lead his team to the playoffs in the final year of his contract, there's a chance he could receive a lucrative extension. If not, he could be a hot commodity in free agency.
Ironically, Campbell now finds himself wanting to reach out to the quarterbacks Favre is leap-frogging in Minnesota. Campbell and Tarvaris Jackson share the same agent (Joel Segal) and have always been supportive of each other. Campbell's planning to call him in the next few days.
"Tarvaris is still early in his career and Sage is in the middle," Campbell said. "I think both of them can turn what seems like a negative into a positive. I'm going to tell Tarvaris to keep his head up and recognize the opportunity he'll have to pick Brett's brain this season."
Sounds like pretty good advice all the way around.