Carolina Panthers

Panthers QB Derek Anderson happy winning, with ‘good dudes,’ as a backup

Carolina Panthers quarterback Derek Anderson (3) says he is happier as a backup to Cam Newton (1) on a winning team with good teammates than he would be starting and making more money elsewhere.
Carolina Panthers quarterback Derek Anderson (3) says he is happier as a backup to Cam Newton (1) on a winning team with good teammates than he would be starting and making more money elsewhere. dtfoster@charlotteobserver.com

Panthers backup quarterback Derek Anderson is well aware he could be starting on some other NFL team and making more money than he is with Carolina.

But he has lived that life before. He did it in Cleveland and it didn’t end well. He did it with the Panthers’ upcoming opponent, the Arizona Cardinals, and it ended even more poorly.

“Ultimately when I talk to my family and my agent, it was about being in this situation,” Anderson said this week. “I wanted to have a chance to win a Super Bowl. At this point that’s the most important thing to me. Not money. I’d rather just be on a good team with good dudes and win games.”

A sixth-round pick out of Oregon State in 2006, Anderson played with the Browns for four years before signing a two-year, $7.25 million contract with the Cardinals in 2010. Hall of Fame quarterback Kurt Warner had retired, and Anderson was three years removed from a Pro Bowl season.

He doesn’t have many good memories from that time.

“It wasn’t ideal,” he said. “We just weren’t very good. We didn’t have tons of talent. A lot of different things happened throughout the course of the season. I’m happy to be gone.”

To put it simply, the Cardinals were putrid. They had no running game, Anderson didn’t play well and their only decent receiver was Larry Fitzgerald. The defense had some good pieces, but not enough.

Building to a tirade

Anderson began the 2010 season 2-2 as a starter, completing 51 percent of his passes for 644 yards, three touchdowns and five interceptions through the first four games. He would be benched, but his backup was worse.

So Anderson started another five games in the middle of the season and lost them all. None of them was more embarrassing than the 27-6 loss to San Francisco on Monday Night Football.

Anderson was seen in the late minutes of the game laughing with a teammate. He said his teammate told him something funny to keep his spirits high, but Anderson was asked further about it and he erupted into a well-known NFL press conference tirade.

“”You think I was laughing about something?” Anderson said angrily in the post-game news conference. “I take this serious! Real serious! I put my heart and soul into this every single week!”

Anderson said this week he’s moved well past it but knows that he hasn’t escaped it.

“It was unfortunate,” Anderson said. “Obviously I could have handled myself better. Leading into it I could have been given a little heads up about what was going to happen. I was not aware of it. It is what it is. I’ve moved on. I said how I really felt. For the guys who know me here, that’s kind of how I am. I kind of sounded stupid but it’s over with.”

In 2011 Anderson signed with Carolina to be the backup to Newton. He has signed three one-year deals, a two-year deal and this offseason signed a two-year extension to keep him in Carolina through 2017.

Anderson saw nearly no game action for his first three years before 2014, when he beat Tampa Bay twice while Cam Newton missed the games because of injuries.

Third-string quarterback and do-everything athlete Joe Webb met Anderson in 2014 when Newton was recovering from offseason ankle surgery. Anderson had to show Webb the ropes with Newton recovering.

“When I first walked through the door he welcomed me with open arms,” Webb said. “He taught me the offense. D.A. brought me up to speed and taught me everything. He still teaches me a lot.”

But after he got comfortable with Anderson, Webb teased him about the Arizona press conference.

Little to no rhythm

Teammates tease Anderson about his dancing, too. Anderson is a 6-foot-6 man with little to no rhythm, so when the Panthers warm up before practice he’s usually dancing (poorly) to the music.

Anderson loves to dance, though, and doesn’t care what you think about it. Plus, he gets his stretching in early as he’s one of the first to arrive to the field.

“He stretches a lot,” Webb said. “We’re in there lifting weights and he’s in there doing his band work.

“He’s already good to go. He comes in, get in the locker room before we even go out to practice and before we even get out there he’s goofing around.”

So Anderson, like the rest of the Panthers, is having fun and winning. That’s all he wanted.

“It’s hard being 6-10 and just continue pounding your head against the wall,” Anderson said. “Then you get around a bunch of good dudes and obviously a great leader like (Newton), that changes perspective. It’s not about the money. It’s about the situation and winning.”

Jonathan Jones: 704-358-5323, @jjones9

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