I hope everybody (and that includes you, lurking journalists) is able to take a moment to look away from who's not QB for the Patriots this week, and contemplate the amazing human-interest story of the man who is. Matt Cassel was the proverbial golden boy. Growing up in Southern California, he was an all-sports standout. As a Little Leaguer he helped lead his town to the Little League World Series. As a high school student, he made headlines and all-star lists as the star of the football and baseball teams, leading both to city titles. He was intensely recruited as a college quarterback, and chose the ultimate SoCal golden boy dream: quarterback for USC. He had the world by a string. As it happened, though, he wasn't the only golden boy who committed to USC. After a redshirt year, he spent his freshman and sophomore seasons on the bench as the #2 QB behind Heisman winner Carson Palmer. No shame in that. Junior year the team would be his...except it wasn't. Heading into the season, young Matt Leinart narrowly beat out Cassel for the starting job. Leinart became King of L.A., Cassel became invisible. Facing two more seasons on the bench, he had a tough decision: stick it out, or transfer to a lower-division school where he could finally play football again? Cassel stuck with USC, and even agreed to play some tight end to get onto the field. He may have still been one of the top QB prospects on the country, but who would know? He entered the 2005 draft as a football player who didn't play football, a QB who hadn't started a game since high school. Yet against all odds, Cassel was drafted. The Patriots took a flyer in the 7th round, intrigued by his potential. A major draft website flayed the Patriots for the pick, calling it an "arrogant" move by Scott Pioli, a selection of a worthless player just to make the exec look smarter than everyone else. Here at PatsFans.com, the phrase "wasted pick" seemed like Cassel's middle name. But darned if the kid didn't make the roster. He worked hard, studied hard, and soon found himself in a familiar position: backup to a superstar. A season passed, then two, then three. Cassel began this season as a dedicated professional football player who hadn't seen meaningful time on the field in nine years. Think about that. How can that possibly feel? In 2008 he had a weak preseason, and many fans and journalists predicted he'd be cut. But again, he stuck it out. And then it happened. First game of the year, the reigning NFL MVP goes down. This Sunday Matt Cassel, the most patient football player in America, gets his first start of the 21st century. Leading the defending conference champions, opposite Brett f'in Favre. How's that for a story to root for? And p.s....Matt Leinart's warming the bench in Arizona on Sunday.