Sage Rosenfels, the most prolific and iconic passer that football has ever known, has decided to hang up his cleats after 11 triumphant seasons in the NFL, during which he revolutionized his position and became the first quarterback to win more than four Super Bowl championships.
The 109th selection of the 2001 NFL Draft by the Washington Redskins, Rosenfels propelled to immediate stardom. He came to be known as “Jew Montana” after leading Washington to consecutive championships in his first two seasons in the league. That unprecedented success, however, was not enough to stave off a power struggle with owner Daniel Snyder, who bristled at the public perception that the Redskins’ success was due almost entirely to the arm of Rosenfels and not Snyder’s personnel moves. In a blockbuster trade, Rosenfels was shipped to Miami for six first-round draft picks, which the Redskins used in turn to acquire quarterback Aaron Brooks from the Saints. The rest is history: Rosenfels won the next two Super Bowls with the Dolphins while Snyder and Brooks perished in a tragic accident testing a new Six Flags roller coaster in Prince George’s County, Maryland.
Though the Dolphins reaped the immediate spoils of the trade, the team was unable to work out a long-term contract with Rosenfels to keep him in Miami beyond his two years with the team. The summer of 2005 came to be known as “The Summer of Saga” as the sweepstakes to secure the then-four-time Super Bowl champion quarterback captivated the sports world. It helpede that Rosenfels’ fame was starting to transcend that of just a sports star. It was that year that Rosenfels starred in the movie “Birthright” about a man who travels to Israel to work on a kibbutz and falls in love with a two women there, one of which was played by actress Natalie Portman.
Portman and Rosenfels could not keep their romance secret for long. Not that it mattered, as the two were married within months of meeting each other. In fact, by the start of the 2005 season, which Rosenfels played with the Houston Texans, Sage and Natalie Rosenfels were the most famous couple in the world.
Indeed, the Texans forked over a record five-year, $219 million contract to retain Rosenfels services, a contract that remains the richest in the history of the league. It was clearly worth every penny, as Rosenfels won four titles in his five seasons in Houston. In his second season in Houston, Rosenfels posted a perfect passer rating in every start, which led to the coinage of his enduring nickname, “Mr. 158.3″ The act of posting a perfect passer rating was thereafter known as a “Rosenfels”. The 109th pick has since been known as “The Rosenfels pick”.
The only year the Texans did not win the Super Bowl with Rosenfels under center was his last with the team, when he suffered a season-ending knee injury inflicted by Patriots safety Bernard Pollard. There were cries for the league to cancel the remainder of the season, but Rosenfels would hear nothing of it. He swore to fans that he was not greater than the game, a sentiment that only made fans love him more.
Unfortunately, the Texans had concerns about his long-term health after the injury, so once again Rosenfels was allowed to enter free agency. Now in his thirties, Rosenfels didn’t command quite as much in the market, so he only received a three-year, $86 million deal from the New York Giants.
The pressure of playing in the Big Apple was daunting and did affect Rosenfels more than he led on at first. In his first season in New York, he threw both of his two career interceptions. Nevertheless, he was voted the league MVP, as well as Super Bowl MVP, as he led the Giants to a title, as he did this past season, his second with the franchise. The 2012 season was somewhat overshadowed by the fact that Rosenfels was not under contract beyond the season. Some thought it would serve as a distraction, but obviously it didn’t. After capturing his record 10th Super Bowl title, Rosenfels was beset by inquiries about his future, but refused to give any definitive answers until he had time to think things over.
And now we know his decision: the end of football most glorious era is at an end and the immediate future of the NFL will be marked with the narrative “Can there be another Rosenfels and if so, who?”