NFL Big Break Challenge: Mark Rypien

Geoff Burke-US PRESSWIRE

Washington Redskins legend Mark Rypien will be taking his game to Golf Channel in an upcoming Big Break series.

I was recently notified that Mark Rypien would be participating in a Golf Channel series where NFL legends are given an opportunity to compete for a shot in the game of golf. I very much enjoy the Big Break seasons over on Golf Channel. I love watching the challenges they come up with and the pressure it puts on people desperate for a chance to compete at the highest level.

Mark Rypien should have no problem relating to all those contestants that have preceded him on the Big Break reality series. After all, his road to NFL greatness was not a short one. As a sixth round draft pick n 1986, Rypien came into the league right in the middle of Joe Gibbs' amazing first run as coach of the Washington Redskins. He arrived just in time to see the Redskins win Super Bowl XXII--from the sidelines and buried deep on the roster.

In those days, it was not uncommon for teams to stash guys on the injured reserve as a way to hold onto their rights. I am pretty sure Joe Gibbs will go down as a guy who embraced that opportunity as much or perhaps even more than most. Rypien spent two seasons on the injured reserve, but with Doug Williams aging as well as the trade of Jay Schroeder to Oakland, he finally got his chance to show people what he could do on Sundays.

The running joke in Washington at the time was that Rypien couldn't hit his warmup toss partner from ten yards away. He threw ducks on the sidelines before games, but once the bullets were live, he showed the world why he is now considered one of the best deep ball passes in the history of the NFL. He made the Pro Bowl in his first full season as a starter, fittingly as an injury replacement.

Mark Rypien was at the helm of one of the greatest offenses in NFL history. Often included in top ten lists of the same name, the 1991 Redskins were an incredibly efficient and punishing offense. Leading them to a 14-2 record was Rypien, who had his best season that year: 3,564 yards and 28 touchdowns with 11 interceptions.

My memories of Rypien go back to the days when he would participate in preseason games and scrimmages (remember those against the Steelers?) and I would wonder why he wasn't a bigger factor in our plans. It would kill me each of those two seasons to see him designated for injured reserve.

I have no idea how Rypien will fare against his opponents in this Golf Channel series, but one thing is certain: nobody better sleep on #11. He has proven more than capable of taking advantage of every opportunity given to him.

I hope you will all join me in wishing Mark good luck, and check your listings to see when this show hits the air.

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