Jump to content

Ken Dorsey's "Baby"


KJC
 Share

Recommended Posts

49ER DORSEY'S RIDE NO GREAT CATCH

By Daniel Brown, Mercury News

 

Ken Dorsey loves his car. He calls it "my baby" and uses the feminine pronoun when discussing her many attributes. When Dorsey shows off his car, he does so with barely contained pride, prowling around the four doors and running his fingers lovingly along the hood.

 

Asked what other types of cars he likes, Dorsey drops his voice to a near whisper and explains that he can't answer such a question while standing too close to Baby. "She gets a little temperamental," he said. The last time Dorsey expressed his admiration for another automobile, he returned to find Baby's battery dead.

 

ADVERTISEMENT

 

But when Dorsey, 23, arrives each day at 49ers training camp, where he is a groin pull away from assuming the No. 1 quarterback job, he is forbidden from taking his car into the players' lot. Baby sleeps on the street.

 

That is because by NFL standards, Dorsey's car is an astonishing piece of rubbish. The man who might hold the keys to the 49ers' future drives a 1996 Honda Accord with faulty air conditioning, faded silver paint, busted power locks, a broken antenna and a dent so cavernous that his girlfriend asked whether an elephant stepped on Baby.

 

Dorsey's car is such a travesty that his teammates ban him from parking it next to their own, fearing what might happen if the battered Accord mingled, if only for a few hours, among their Escalades and Mercedes.

 

So, after a recent workout, Dorsey headed out to the sidewalk like a front-office intern. As he pulled away in his car, the potential heir to Joe Montana honked twice, as if to demonstrate yet another astounding feature of his '96 Honda Accord.

 

"I love my car. I mean, it starts up perfectly," Dorsey said after explaining why the radio sometimes fizzles out. "It's just a matter of being proud to own it. It's literally the first significant thing I ever bought and owned. Before that, I think the biggest thing I ever purchased in my life were golf balls.

 

"It's something I can point to and say, `That's mine.' "

 

He smiled.

 

"Some guys just do it up a little nicer," he said.

 

The shabby treatment Baby gets at 49ers headquarters is no different than at home, where Dorsey likes to torment his girlfriend, Jordan Sims, by asking which car they should take when they head out. His? Or her Lexus? "He loves to ask that question," she said. "It drives me crazy. He doesn't seem to like my car; it's too fancy for him."

 

Dorsey's affection for his automobile is a trait common among athletes, and while it is unfair to judge a man solely by the metal he steers, cars, like uniform numbers, are part of a player's identity. Kevan Barlow, the confident, headstrong running back, drives a Hummer mammoth enough to wipe out a defensive line. Terrell Owens, the neon light receiver traded to the Philadelphia Eagles, used to drive up in a flashy Volkswagen bug with his No. 81 displayed in roughly 81 places. Scott Gragg, the lunch-pail offensive lineman, has a plain pickup truck.

 

So that Dorsey drives, with apologies to Baby, a junker, reveals something about what drives him. It is a metaphor on four wheels. Those close to Dorsey say the car reflects his modesty, a down-to-earth persona that, despite two top-five finishes in Heisman Trophy voting, remains in accord with the Accord. "It wouldn't matter if Ken was making millions," starting quarterback Tim Rattay said. "Money wouldn't change him."

 

But Dorsey's almost eccentric loyalty to his Honda reveals more than humility. It exposes his fear: Dorsey isn't about to splurge on a new car when there is no assurance those NFL paychecks will keep coming. Dorsey, who has yet to take a regular-season snap, enters his second pro season No. 2 on the depth chart behind Rattay. There is a chance to move higher. Unlike in previous 49ers seasons, the line that distinguishes quarterback from understudy is almost too fuzzy to see. Rattay has just three career starts and is easing his way back into action after May surgery on a torn left groin.

 

That means more early action for Dorsey, providing a chance to show how close he is to starting, or, conversely, to unveil the reasons teams passed on him 240 times in the 2003 draft.

 

"To be perfectly honest, the reason I didn't buy a new car was job security. You just never know," Dorsey said. "I try to make sure to hang on to every penny. I make sure not to keep the money in my checking account. I have it all in investments."

 

After the 49ers selected Dorsey in the seventh and final round, they gave the quarterback a $30,000 signing bonus. (Left tackle Kwame Harris, the team's first-round pick that year, got a $3.6 million signing bonus).

 

Dorsey had no choice but to use his bonus money pragmatically, paying off the insurance he had taken out while at the University of Miami, a policy he secured in case he suffered an injury that prevented him from turning pro. He made $225,000 last season, which allowed him to make the final payment on Baby.

 

Dorsey will make $305,000 this season, but the Honda, with a Blue Book value of about $4,300, is no closer to trade-in time. "There is some strange pride he takes in still owning it," said his brother, Adam, 26.

 

It was Adam who first delivered Baby in 2000, helping with his parents to pick her out of a used-car lot in Dublin before driving her to Miami. Ken, who was a sophomore, got the Honda sight unseen. He notes that the used Accord never raised suspicions with the NCAA that a booster bought it for him.

 

During his cross-country ride, Adam became the first to discover the Honda's many quirks, a list of flaws that could fuel a mechanic's second home. And now Adam, like others who have been in the car, tries to ensure that Dorsey has divulged Baby's full medical history.

 

"Did he tell you about the driver's seat?" Adam asked. He has not. It turns out that a quarter is wedged in the rail that allows the seat to slide back and forth and adjust to the driver's height. "He probably took it to someone who said it would be a few hundred bucks to fix so he said forget it," Adam said.

 

The seat works fine for Dorsey, who is 6-foot-4. But if Sims, who is 5-6, drives the car, "I have to sit on my boots, my backpack, my purse -- anything that's in the car so my feet can get to the pedals."

 

Sims, the niece of vice presidential candidate John Edwards, met Dorsey when she was a center midfielder for the Hurricanes soccer team. They started dating in the summer of 2001, which is to say that the car has seniority, and it's clear by her tone that the Honda's 84,488 miles have delivered some wear and tear.

 

"Did he tell you about the coin jar?" Sims asked. He has not. It turns out that Dorsey keeps a glass jar in his car for storing coins, or at least the ones that don't slip into the rail and jam the driver's seat.

 

Sims said that Dorsey has promised to take her on vacation when the jar fills up, a vow that prompts her to wonder what kind of romantic trip springs from a container of clattering nickels and dimes.

 

Did he tell you about the muffler? He has not. While in college, Dorsey smacked the bottom of his car against a speed bump, damaging his muffler. When he rode around town after that, the Accord's engine roared like a Harley. This prompted a rarity: Dorsey paid to have the car fixed, if only because of the imposition it placed on his Coral Gables neighbors.

 

Such is the nature of what drives Dorsey to dust the cobwebs from his wallet. He opens it only for others. His girlfriend and brother say he annually goes all out on Christmas gifts.

 

"He'll get whatever anybody might want and he'll go out of his way to make it meaningful," Sims said.

 

But no one can get him to spend on himself. He arrives for 49ers games wearing jeans, a sweater from Target and hand-me-down shoes. He ignores the nightlife available to a young NFL quarterback. Dorsey spends most of his time at his Santa Clara apartment, just a few out patterns away from the 49ers practice field, playing video games or studying his playbook.

 

"He's an old man trapped in a 21-year-old's body," Adam said.

 

Dorsey will occasionally spring loose to visit his parents in the East Bay, but such a treacherous journey requires borrowing his girlfriend's Lexus. He's not sure Baby is up to the trip.

 

His reluctance to push it too far also hinges on his desire to make the car last. Sims said Dorsey already dreams of bequeathing Baby to the children he might someday have. "He'll say, `My kids aren't getting a new car. They're getting the Honda.' "

 

Contact Daniel Brown at dbrown@mercurynews.com

Link to comment
Share on other sites


I hate him because he's got no arm definition and that dude is nothing without that super-freak talent he had on his teams. Even his first years when UM was still hurting from probation he had Santana Moss and Edgerrin James.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Dorsey was awesome under pressure, but yeah, when it comes to pure QB talent, he doesn't have it. He has no arm strength, can't scramble that well at all. Come to think of it, he's kind of like Danny Wuerffel. Good college QB, but not fit for the NFL.

 

Maybe Dorsey will surprise, but I doubt it.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Guest marlins02

I hate him because he's got no arm definition and that dude is nothing without that super-freak talent he had on his teams. Even his first years when UM was still hurting from probation he had Santana Moss and Edgerrin James.

507380[/snapback]

 

how can you hate dorsey? he's one of the most mdest athletes out there and the man has a huge heart when he's out on the field. yeah we had all that talent during his years here but we dont win a title without him at QB and i firmly believe that.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Dorsey was awesome under pressure, but yeah, when it comes to pure QB talent, he doesn't have it. He has no arm strength, can't scramble that well at all. Come to think of it, he's kind of like Danny Wuerffel. Good college QB, but not fit for the NFL.

 

Maybe Dorsey will surprise, but I doubt it.

507384[/snapback]

Arm strength hasn't stopped him before. I dunno about you, but Ken Dorsey is one of the smartest players of the game and he can do it.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Arm strength didn't stop a lot of college QBs, but they sure never made it in the NFL. Remember, Danny Wuerffel was a better college QB than Peyton Manning. Arm strength is crucial in the NFL.

507451[/snapback]

It is but it isn't as neccesary as you believe. Besides, Ken has had a year to improve it under the 49ers. I think he'll be fine.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

When did arm strength become a pre-requisite for being a college QB? I guess if you plan on beaming the ball in between linebackers for that 10 yard gain, or chucking a 75 yard bomb....but in actuality, so much more depends on making decisions. Making decisions is not simply going down the checklist of who to throw to. It's knowing defenses, where to throw in certain defenses, adjusting, and making sure your receivers are adjusting.

 

About 75% of pass plays change at the line of scrimmage...and probably about 10% are because of audibles. The rest are simply the receivers reading the coverage, the running backs reading the coverage, and the QB reading the coverage. It's called conversions...there is no "audible" signal given....it's almost part of the playbook.

 

Dorsey was incredible at reading defenses, and being comfortable in the pocket. Any Joe Shmoe can have a cannon and ball out in flag football...but when you are having 2 DEs, 2 DTs, and anywhere from 1-4 players blitzing, things get complicated.

 

Brock Berlin has got buttloads of talent and has just as much talent around him, yet Dorsey led the team to better things.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

When did arm strength become a pre-requisite for being a college QB? I guess if you plan on beaming the ball in between linebackers for that 10 yard gain, or chucking a 75 yard bomb....but in actuality, so much more depends on making decisions. Making decisions is not simply going down the checklist of who to throw to. It's knowing defenses, where to throw in certain defenses, adjusting, and making sure your receivers are adjusting.507576[/snapback]

 

Arm strength isn't important at the college level. That is why Dorsey and Wuerffel were so good in college. But once Danny got to the NFL and started throwing lame ducks, the opposing secondaries feasted on it.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

i hated dorsey his first year as a starter. he really had his head stuck up his ass for his second start vs. washington.

 

lucky for the semenholes, the BCS decided to go against both human polls and send their puny asses off to get slaughtered at the national title game. and that is why we now have the "quality wins" component of the BCS today...

Link to comment
Share on other sites

This thread is quite old. Please consider starting a new thread rather than reviving this one.

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Restore formatting

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

 Share



×
×
  • Create New...