BY ADRIAN JARDING | Ball State Sports Link
The Thursday night game between the Raiders and 49ers is yet another example of why the NFL is such an amazing league. Very rarely in other leagues does a story like Nick Mullens’ occur: the undrafted free agent from Southern Miss has one of the best games statistically for a first start ever.
Here’s a statistic which might blow your mind: his passer rating of 151.9 was the highest for a first start in the modern era (1970-now) with at least 20 passing attempts. Still not impressed? How about him throwing three touchdowns for 262 yards. Steve Young and Joe Montana would have combined for only 116 yards and one touchdown in their first starts.
.@NickMullens gets a special call from fellow Southern Miss alumnus @BrettFavre!
And he isn't surprised by his first start at all👀#TNF pic.twitter.com/8VIrh3PtIr
— NFL Network (@nflnetwork) November 2, 2018
The game itself wasn’t interesting and the Raiders continue to spiral downwards, but the story wasn’t about the game. The story was about a man who before the game was not verified on Twitter, and by the end of it had a blue check mark to his name because of his story and incredible performance.
This is a story about making the most of your opportunity. So few get to be a starting quarterback in the NFL, and it’s even harder when you’re behind the hottest young quarterback and the main starter from the previous season. When both got hurt and you’re thrown into the starting gig, what are you going to do?
For the man who shattered all of Brett Favre’s records at Southern Miss, he worked his tail off night in and night out. The Fox crew did a wonderful job throughout the game humanizing him and giving details which very few would ever know. Erin Andrews mentioned at one point Mullens spent time after practice collecting balls to further his understanding of Head Coach Kyle Shanahan’s offense. He worked to make sure when he got his chance he didn’t blow it.
He was on the practice squad all of last season and at the beginning of this season. When Jimmy Garrappolo tore his ACL in week three, Mullens was called up to the main roster and sat behind C.J. Beathard. When Beathard was announced to have a wrist injury, Mullens’ moment had arrived on national TV.
It didn’t matter that the Raiders were 1-6 or the 49ers were 1-7 going into the game. The circumstances regarding the Raiders defense didn’t matter, they’re still professionals getting paid to play. It’s a result-driven league and Mullens delivered one of the greatest first performances ever.
The storyline got even better when he got emotional when Erin Andrews interviewed him after the game. Later on he got a call from Brett Favre on the NFL Network postgame show. It was hard to not get emotional listening to him talk each time.
Post game interview part 1 of 2 @NickMullens @SouthernMissFB #SMTTT pic.twitter.com/tHlLuZBLRG
— USMVoice (@USMVoice) November 2, 2018
In a sports world where feel good stories still rule, this was the ultimate story of the season thus far. It may only be for a week, but nevertheless it was certainly a night to remember. For Nick Mullens, I’ll certainly be rooting for him, and you should too.