The NFL Draft is littered with more cases “what if”, “what went wrong”, and “what happened than you can even imagine. For every Peyton Manning, there is a Ryan Leaf. For every LaDainian Tomlinson, there is a Curtis Enis.
So it’s only fitting that the 1993 NFL Draft featured two “can’t miss” quarterbacks at the top of the draft. Washington State’s Drew Bledsoe, the prototype with the huge arm, wound up having a pretty good career. The “can’t miss” who missed? Second overall selection Rick Mirer.
Mirer made his name playing under Lou Holtz at Notre Dame from 1989-1992, amassing a record of 29-7-1 as a starter. He would lead the set a then-Notre Dame record for passing touchdowns in a season with 18 during the 1991 season, leading the team to a win over Florida in the Sugar Bowl. He would account for more points (other than kickers) than any other player in Notre Dame history.
Hyped as the next Joe Montana entering the 1993 NFL Draft, he left Notre Dame as the all-time leader in career touchdowns (41) and second all-time in total offense, completions, and passing yards.
After Bledsoe was selected first by the New England Patriots, the Seattle Seahawks took Mirer with the second pick, ahead of names like Willie Roaf, Robert Smith, Michael Strahan, and John Lynch.
During his rookie season, he set NFL rookie records for attempts, completions (274), and yards (2,833), becoming just the third rookie quarterback since 1970 to start all of his team’s games. In addition to that, he finished second in offensive rookie of the year voting to former Notre Dame teammate Jerome Bettis.
It was only downhill from there for Mirer. He would never match his yardage totals and would only throw for 10 touchdowns or more twice more in his career. His low point came in 1995 when he threw 20 interceptions; just three fewer than he’d thrown in his entire Notre Dame career.
The Seahawks, realizing that Mirer would probably never become what they’d hoped for, finally traded Mirer to the Chicago Bears in February of 1997 along with a 4th round pick for Chicago’s first round pick.
Chicago signed him to a new three-year deal but Mirer would only see seven games, starting three, during the 1997 season.
Requesting his release before 1998, he signed with Green Bay but never played a snap, backing up iron man Brett Favre. He would bounce around the league over the next few years, marked by stops with the Jets, 49ers, Raiders, and Lions. After not seeing playing time with the Lions in 2004, he decided to call it a career.
So just what happened? How did the Golden Dome Glory Boy turn into such a bust? Many attributed it to a perceived lack of football intelligence and his inability to throw to his left. Not being able to throw to one side of the field is probably a pretty big problem, especially when you’re the second pick in the draft.
Mirer has kept busy since his playing days ended. In 2008, he was inducted into the Indiana Football Hall of Fame. In addition, he continues to run a foundation he started in 1998 called the Mirer Family Foundation. His donations help kids receive scholarships to attend Notre Dame and has sent 18 students so far, including 2010′s valedictorian.
Mirer on the foundation:
“From way back when, even before attending Notre Dame, I’ve always felt that if you were in a position to help, you should. The NFL gives us a lot of connections to charities such as the United Way, and the Boys and Girls Clubs; they set a great example for us to give back when we are at a point to give back.”
He’s stayed in football, coaching the Torrey Pines Pop Warner team, but he’s found a new passion: wine-making. Pairing with Rob Lawson, the duo started Mirror Wines out of St.Helena, CA. He had developed an affinity for wine during his playing days in the bay area and continues to develop his business while spending time with his wife Stephanie and three kids.
While many former draftees, anointed as the Next One, have littered the trail and provided cautionary tales, Rick Mirer can say that he’s done alright for himself. Sure, he didn’t end up being the next Joe Montana but a 12-year NFL career and finding a second career, a life after football, is a victory in itself.
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