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Humphries Doesn’t Fit The Stereotype Qb

Bernie Lincicome Chicago Tribune

In a Super Bowl-related development, a local bar is holding a Stan Humphries look-alike contest. The beauty of this enterprise is that anyone can win, and maybe the San Diego quarterback himself could get to the semifinals.

I considered entering it myself, but I’ve been trying to hold my stomach in.

Humphries could be every police artist’s sketch, ambiguous enough to be anybody from Mr. Goodwrench to Deng Xiaopeng. In fact, Deng probably would have a better chance of winning the contest than Humphries because he would look vaguely familiar and he probably throws as tight a spiral.

“The first time I saw him,” said 49er linebacker Gary Plummer, then with San Diego, “I thought he was our new fullback.”

Most quarterbacks are all angles and good hair. Humphries looks like the guy who makes the doughnuts. And eats them as well.

He was let go by Washington to the Chargers for a third-round draft choice a few years back. Humphries would have been the composite Redskin quarterback, except he had Sonny Jurgensen’s belly and Billy Kilmer’s arm.

San Francisco quarterback Steve Young has had to answer questions all week about not being Joe Montana. Humphries has to explain why he isn’t the helpful hardware man.

“I’m not one of those guys they videotape to show kids how to play quarterback,” Humphries confessed.

This is not a bad thing. Humphries can be an inspiration to others. His being here instead of, oh, Dan Marino is like Roseanne beating out Julia Roberts for the lead in “Pretty Woman.”

Humphries is proof that the lottery is not always won by someone who doesn’t need the money.

If Humphries can take San Diego to the Super Bowl and Dan Fouts couldn’t, well, as Junior Seau likes to say, “Dreams are free.”

Certainly, Steve Walsh or Erik Kramer can look at Humphries and believe a Super Bowl is in the Bears’ future. Heretofore they would have to look back to David Woodley or Vince Ferragamo to find a Super Bowl quarterback they could feel superior to.

“Sometimes it doesn’t look pretty,” Humphries said.

He has been reading the Bears’ game plan.

Humphries’ reputation for toughness exceeds his reputation for polish. He has played with concussions and dislocations and so much unflattering padding that it is not always easy to tell where flesh ends and the foam begins.

And when he throws off the wrong foot or heaves the ball from awkward angles, he appears all that much more inept.

“I’ve gone to camps that teach quarterback mechanics,” Humphries said. “But that just doesn’t work for me. I can’t be a robot. I have to do what’s comfortable. I think sometimes you just have to be an athlete, so basically I just go out there and sling it.”

It is the nature of the occasion that Humphries has to defend oneself against the expectations of strangers. The biggest game suggests the biggest stars. Someone asked Humphries if, as a kid, he was always the last player chosen.

“I was the kid everyone wanted on their team,” he said.

And this is as publicly immodest as he gets. Humphries endures attention, but he does not encourage it.

“I always try to keep one of my daughters in my hand so I don’t have to sign so many autographs,” he said, implying there is a problem.

He does wear a diamond encrusted No. 12 around his neck in the fashion of Deion Sanders.

“A gift from my wife,” he explained, actually blushing.

Humphries has one Super Bowl ring, earned as a backup quarterback when the Redskins beat Buffalo. “In that one I spent the week being Jim Kelly,” he said. “In this one, I get to be myself.”

Some choice.

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