Obscure Spotlight: Gus Frerotte

I remember Gus Frerotte as a quarterback who 1) saw a ton of playing time with his team down 40+ points in the fourth quarter, and 2) once slammed his helmetted head against a concrete wall on Sunday Night Football, straining his neck in the midst of celebrating a touchdown run. And with Charlie Batch injured for the Lions in 1999, Detroit called upon none other than the great Gus Frerotte to lead them in the playoffs against the Redskins–the very team that drafted him five seasons earlier. They lost, 27-13 and Frerotte completed just 21 of 47 passes, throwing two interceptions and posting a passer rating of just 52.0.

Frerotte, shown here after being passed over for the lead role in The Outsiders.

Frerotte’s the pride of the University of Tulsa, where he holds several major passing records. Surprisingly Tulsa’s not exactly pumping out NFL quarterbacks, so most of his records still stand. As a second-year quarterback for Washington, Frerotte became the starter. It was the Redskins for whom Gus would have his greatest success, and in 1997, made his first and only trip to the Pro Bowl.

Frerotte would see spot-starting action in 2000 with the Broncos, and made another starting appearance in 2005 when he beat out obscure athletes AJ Feeley and Jay Fiedler for the starting job in Miami. 2008 saw Gus Frerotte once again in the starting role, this time in Minnesota. He led the Vikes to an 8-3 record in 11 games before suffering a back injury and losing the starting job. After being cut by the Vikings a year later, Frerotte retired. His 74.2 career passer rating is right on par with how mediocre you’d imagine it would be, and it nicely compliments his 114 touchdowns to 106 interceptions.


I was surprised to find that Frerotte only started six games for the Lions, all during that ’99 campaign.  Maybe a Charlie Batch-led Lions team would have won a game or two in the playoffs. But I doubt it. Interestingly enough, the Lions haven’t been to the playoffs since. Perhaps it’s that Gus Frerotte was the key to their magical 8-8 playoff run in 1999. Or maybe he’s just another stop on the wonderfully, beautifully mediocre carousel of Lions starting quarterbacks.

2 thoughts on “Obscure Spotlight: Gus Frerotte

  1. I remember Frerotte for a couple of reasons. His time with The Skins overlapped the 7 and 1/2 years I spent up there, and he was a guy I’d call “serviceable”. One of my best buddies is also from Kittanning, though- and I also remember his cousin Mitch that played for The Bills and passed away in ’08 at the age of 43. A side story involves how my buddy and Mitch used to fight together in high school…

    • That’s really cool Dennis, thanks for reading. We’ll be updating the site daily, leave a comment anytime!

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