Derek Anderson had one of the most colorful careers of any NFL quarterback.
First, the Baltimore Ravens shunned him. He then had 3,787 passing yards and became a Pro Bowler in his first season as the Cleveland Browns’ starting signal caller in 2007.
The Dawg Pound suddenly criticized Anderson after a mediocre showing a season later.
He wasn’t much better during his short stint with the Arizona Cardinals when ESPN cameras captured him laughing during a blowout loss to the San Francisco 49ers.
Fortunately, Anderson’s career stabilized when he served as Cam Newton’s backup with the Carolina Panthers from 2011 to 2017.
Despite the occasional controversies Derek Anderson stirred, “The Moose From Scappoose” managed to play in the National Football League for fourteen seasons.
That’s a major accomplishment in itself.
Derek Matthew Anderson was born in Scappoose, OR on June 15, 1983.
Scappoose is a small town with a population of approximately 6,000. It’s 25 miles from Portland, OR.
Anderson attended Scappoose High School in his hometown.
He starred in basketball and football for the Scappoose Indians.
When Anderson was a sophomore in 1998, the Indians trailed the Ontario Tigers in a first-round playoff matchup, 21-7.
In the third quarter, Anderson scrambled out of the pocket to elude the Tigers’ pass rush. The next thing the opponents knew, Anderson converted on a 70-yard touchdown pass.
Indians coach Sean McNabb couldn’t believe what he just saw. He told MaxPreps.com’s Mitch Stephens in February 2016 that he had never seen anybody do that during his high school football coaching career.
Thanks to Anderson’s heroics, the Indians stunned the Tigers, 28-21.
With Anderson under center, the Indians won the state title in 2000. He also earned State Player of the Year honors on the hardwood and gridiron that year.
Before long, Derek Anderson earned the nickname “The Moose From Scappoose.”
His popularity soared to unprecedented heights – a local restaurant, Varsity Grill and Bar, even featured a ‘Derek Anderson Burger” on its menu.
It was a whopper burger that had everything on it, per McNabb.
Derek Anderson remained in-state and starred for the Oregon State Beavers in the next phase of his colorful gridiron journey.
College Days With The Oregon State Beavers
Derek Anderson attended Oregon State University from 2001 to 2004.
Anderson played behind Oregon State Beavers senior quarterback Jonathan Smith in his true freshman season in 2001.
The Beavers were a mediocre 5-6 in Anderson’s first season in Corvallis, OR.
They didn’t receive a bowl invite for the first time in head football coach Dennis Erickson’s three-year tenure.
Oregon State’s Jonathan Smith — talking fishing? — with Derek Anderson on the sideline all those years ago: pic.twitter.com/dd4dQqm3RN
— John Canzano (@johncanzanobft) January 26, 2021
After Smith graduated, Anderson took over as the Beavers’ starting signal-caller in the 2002 NCAA campaign.
Derek Anderson promptly blew up the stat sheets with three consecutive seasons of at least 3,313 passing yards.
Anderson’s coming-out party came in just his second start in the college football ranks.
He matched a school record with five touchdown passes in Oregon State’s 47-17 rout of the visiting UNLV Runnin’ Rebels on September 14, 2002.
Anderson racked up four of his touchdown passes in the first half. He sat out the entire fourth quarter in favor of backup quarterback Adam Rothenfluh.
The Beavers won eight games in 2002 and received an invite to the 2002 Insight Bowl (now known as the Guaranteed Rate Bowl).
Unfortunately, they lost to the 24th-ranked Pitt Panthers in blowout fashion, 38-13.
Erickson left Oregon State after the 2002 NCAA season and became the San Francisco 49ers’ head coach.
Mike Riley took over the head football coaching reins for the Beavers heading into Anderson’s junior season in 2003.
Anderson set a single-season program record with 4,058 passing yards that year. He also became just the fourth player in Pac-10 history to record at least 4,000 passing yards in a single season.
However, Anderson wasn’t accurate: he matched his 24 touchdowns with 24 interceptions.
It was a significant drop-off in terms of accuracy. Anderson had 25 touchdown passes and 13 interceptions the year before.
Nonetheless, Anderson led the 8-5 Beavers to a 55-14 romp over the New Mexico Lobos in the 2003 Las Vegas Bowl.
— Campus Sports (@CampusSportsNet) January 4, 2015
Anderson improved his mobility entering his senior campaign in Corvallis, OR.
Experts noticed Anderson became more adept at eluding the pass rush whenever the pocket collapsed.
Consequently, Derek Anderson became a more accurate passer: he had 29 touchdown passes and 17 interceptions as a senior in 2004.
Oregon State won seven games that year and blew out the struggling Notre Dame Fighting Irish in the 2004 Insight Bowl, 38-21.
Anderson went 28-of-45 for 358 passing yards, four touchdown passes, and zero interceptions on his way to securing 2004 Insight Bowl Offensive MVP honors.
It was a rousing way to end his four-year college football career with the Oregon State Beavers.
Derek Anderson then embarked on a colorful and sometimes controversial 14-year career in the National Football League.
Pro Football Career
The Baltimore Ravens made Derek Anderson the 213th overall selection of the 2005 NFL Draft. They drafted him in the sixth round.
Anderson never played a single down for the Ravens. They eventually waived him in Week 3 of the 2005 NFL campaign.
The Cleveland Browns claimed Anderson off waivers on September 21, 2005.
Anderson officially became part of the never-ending quarterback carousel in Northeast Ohio.
The Browns had five different starting quarterbacks from 2002 to 2006: Tim Couch, Kelly Holcomb, Jeff Garcia, Trent Dilfer, and Charlie Frye.
It was a trend that continued until the Browns drafted Heisman Trophy-winning Oklahoma Sooners quarterback Baker Mayfield in 2018.
Coincidentally, that was Derek Anderson’s final year in the National Football League.
Derek Anderson encountered stiff competition as the most famous native of Scappoose, OR in 2007.
Anderson became the Browns’ starting quarterback in his third year in the NFL in 2007.
Prior to earning the starting job, Anderson had suited up in just five games in his pro football career.
Anderson took over for Charlie Frye in a Week 2 game against the Browns’ in-state rivals, the Cincinnati Bengals.
The Dawg Pound booed Anderson to no end after he threw five consecutive incompletions.
The home crowd wanted Browns head coach Romeo Crennel to play rookie signal-caller Brady Quinn instead.
Crennel stuck with Anderson, who went 20-of-38 the rest of the way for 328 yards in Cleveland’s rousing 51-45 victory over Cincinnati.
Anderson went 9-5 as a starter in the 2007 NFL season. He also had a gaudy 3,787 passing yards.
Better yet, he had more touchdown passes than legendary Green Bay Packers quarterback Brett Favre, 29-28.
Anderson was so good, he earned his only career Pro Bowl appearance in 2007.
Back then, he had a reputation for keeping things loose in the Cleveland locker room.
“If you’re going to name a Disney character after him,” Browns wide receiver Joe Jurevicius told ESPN’s Greg Garber. “It’s definitely Goofy.”
For his part, Crennel called the casual-dressing, flip-flop-wearing Anderson a “hippie,” per Garber.
With Anderson under center, the Browns won ten games in 2007 – a six-game turnaround from the previous season.
Surprisingly, Cleveland still missed the postseason for the fifth consecutive year.
The turning point of the Browns’ season came in a Week 15 rematch with the Bengals.
Anderson inexplicably threw two interceptions on consecutive possessions before halftime of Cleveland’s 19-14 loss.
The defeat cost the Browns a spot in the postseason and the NFC North division title.
— Cleveland Browns Guys (@CleveBrownsGuys) August 21, 2020
When Anderson suited up for the Carolina Panthers nine years later, he conceded to ESPN’s Tony Grossi it was one of the worst games of his pro football career.
Despite the heartbreaking loss, Derek Anderson signed a three-year, $24 million contract extension with the Browns in February 2008.
Even Crennel, offensive coordinator Rob Chudzinski, and general manager Phil Savage earned contract extensions that year.
Regrettably, things began to unravel for Anderson and the Browns afterward.
Anderson remained the starter but saw his production decline considerably in 2008.
He had just 1,615 passing yards, nine touchdown passes, and eight interceptions in ten games for Cleveland.
Consequently, the Browns won just four games and failed to contend for the postseason yet again.
Cleveland hired former New York Jets head coach Eric Mangini to right the ship the following season.
When the Browns got off to a sub-par 3-4 start in 2009, new team president Mike Holmgren released Anderson.
Derek Anderson quickly fell out of favor with the Dawg Pound.
He described the Browns’ fan base as “ruthless.” He also penned a scathing email saying they don’t deserve a winner,” per Grossi.
Anderson also claimed nobody stood by him after he signed his lucrative contract extension with Cleveland.
He also slammed the media for vouching for Browns backup quarterback Brady Quinn whenever he played bad.
When Derek Anderson’s tenure with the Cleveland Browns officially ended, he felt distraught.
According to AZCentral.com’s Kent Somers, Anderson’s life on and off the gridiron took a turn for the worst.
He revealed to Grossi in 2016 that his divorce coincided with his infamous exult from Cleveland.
“The last year I was there, I was going through a divorce,” Anderson told ESPN. “I was depressed. I wasn’t in a good spot.”
It got so bad for Anderson that he seriously considered retiring from the NFL in 2010.
Anderson eventually ditched the thought and signed a two-year, $7.25 million contract with the Arizona Cardinals.
The Cardinals promised Anderson he could compete with Matt Leinart for the starting quarterback position.
To Leinart’s dismay, Arizona head coach Ken Whisenhunt eventually awarded the starting job to Anderson.
Anderson, who entered his sixth pro football season, felt he wasn’t ready for the responsibility, per Somers.
With Anderson under center, the Cardinals took a major step backward in the 2010 NFL season.
Arizona won just five games and missed the postseason for the first time in three years.
Anderson completed just 51.7 percent of his passes. He had seven touchdowns and 10 interceptions as the Cardinals’ starting quarterback.
Worse, he went just 2-7 in his nine starts in his lone season in Arizona.
What was supposedly a funny moment during a timeout in a Monday Night Football game against the San Francisco 49ers became one of Anderson’s lowest moments in his gridiron career.
ESPN cameras zoomed in on Anderson and guard Deuce Lutui laughing while the 49ers were blowing out the Cardinals by 18 points on national television.
The joke apparently stemmed from a heckler behind the Arizona bench who had been on Anderson’s case with profane language to boot.
Lutui cracked a joke about the heckling which, in turn, made Anderson laugh.
ESPN analyst Jon Gruden criticized Anderson harshly for his actions. Fans also rode Anderson on Twitter, wondering what was so hilarious about getting blown out on national television.
Anderson denied cracking up on the sidelines during his postgame news conference.
Somers then told him ESPN cameras showed him laughing during a timeout.
Anderson’s temper suddenly flared.
“You think I was laughing about something?” Anderson snapped. “I take this (expletive) serious. Real serious. I put my heart and soul into this (expletive) every single week!”
A calmer Derek Anderson cleared the air with AZCentral.com six years after the incident.
He told Somers the heckler screamed obscenities at him every single week.
According to Anderson, Lutui brushed the heckler off and told him the Cardinals got his back.
For his part, Anderson just grinned. He described the whole incident to Somers as comical.
Despite the incident, Anderson still maintains a home in the Scottsdale, AZ area.
Things began looking up for Derek Anderson in 2011.
When Chudzinski became the Carolina Panthers offensive coordinator that year, he sent feelers to his former Browns quarterback to join him.
Chudzinski wanted Anderson to push and develop Panthers rookie quarterback Cam Newton, the first overall selection of the 2011 NFL Draft.
Anderson didn’t hesitate.
At that point in his NFL career, he wanted to surround himself with trustworthy people who could help improve his game.
Chudzinski and Co. fit the bill perfectly. Anderson went on to spend the next seven years of his pro football career with the Panthers as Newton’s backup.
Anderson held Newton, the 2015 NFL MVP, in high regard during their time together in Carolina.
Anderson told the John Canzano BFT Podcast in the fall of 2019 that Newton did things many NFL players didn’t.
Anderson testified to Newton’s incredible work ethic and desire to win. The latter regularly attended spin classes at 5 a.m. He hit the weights hard and attended team meetings afterward.
— DA (@DAnderson314) June 29, 2020
According to Grossi, Anderson toyed with the idea of returning to Cleveland when the Browns hired Chudzinski as their head coach in 2013.
However, the reunion by Lake Erie never materialized.
Anderson remained with the Panthers and experienced postseason football in four of the next five years.
Anderson told Grossi he brought over some of his friends from Cleveland to his first Panthers postseason game in 2013.
The winning experience had a profound effect on them. Prior to the 2013 NFL season, the Browns made their last playoff appearance eleven seasons earlier.
Anderson’s best year in Carolina came in 2014.
He had 701 passing yards and five touchdowns in six relief appearances for the Panthers.
Regrettably, Carolina regressed to a sub-par 7-8-1 campaign.
Miraculously, the Panthers made it to the NFC Divisional Round where they lost to Russell Wilson’s Seattle Seahawks, 31-17.
The Panthers significantly turned their fortunes around in 2015.
Carolina won a franchise-record fifteen games and made it to their second Super Bowl in team history.
Unfortunately, Anderson and Co. fell to Peyton Manning’s Denver Broncos in Super Bowl 50, 24-10.
Anderson’s personal life also improved after he signed with the Panthers in 2011.
He married again in 2013 and had two daughters in a span of three years.
During Anderson’s time at Carolina, he considered Cowbell, Del Frisco’s, Room 112, and Toast his favorite restaurants in the Charlotte, NC area.
Anderson signed with the Buffalo Bills in October 2018 to serve as rookie quarterback Josh Allen’s mentor and backup.
Anderson told WGR 550’s Sal Capaccio almost a year later he was impressed with Allen’s arm strength and accuracy. He said he had never seen many quarterbacks with Allen’s impressive repertoire.
Anderson inked a one-year contract extension with Buffalo on New Year’s Eve.
Well here we are. I was just a guy. But still it took a village to help me thru this journey. The teammates, coaches, staff, trainers, eq, friends and most importantly my wife and family. But it’s made me who I am today! So @Ravens @Browns @AZCardinals @Panthers @BuffaloBills .. pic.twitter.com/iDlNSPmg1v
— DA (@DAnderson314) May 13, 2019
He retired from the National Football League just a little over four months later.
In a statement CBS Sports’ Jared Dublin obtained from the Bills, general manager Bradon Beane said Anderson told him he wasn’t sure if he could suit up for the 2019 NFL season. He needed time to think about it.
Beane already had a feeling Anderson might hang up his cleats in the days leading up to the 2019 NFL Draft. Anderson made it official several weeks later.
Anderson admitted several factors – including a concussion he sustained in a Monday Night Football Game against the New England Patriots two weeks after the Bills signed him – it made him consider retirement.
“I had a blast the short time I was there, but my body, mentally, the concussion, I just couldn’t do it,” Anderson told Capaccio in the summer of 2019.
Derek Anderson finished his colorful fourteen-year National Football League career with 10,878 passing yards, 60 touchdowns, and 64 interceptions.
Derek Anderson, his wife, and their three children currently reside in the Scottsdale, AZ area.
Anderson is an avid golfer. In fact, ESPN Carolina Panthers reporter David Newton considered Anderson the NFL’s best golfer during his prime.
Anderson was so good he once shot a 65 at a golf course in Scottsdale, AZ. He also had a zero handicap.
Newton also noted Anderson’s 125 mph golf swing put him on par with top-notch golfers Sergio Garcia, Dustin Johnson, and Bubba Watson.
Anderson’s closest pursuers among NFL players back in the day were the Buffalo Bills’ Kyle Williams, the Atlanta Falcons’ Matt Ryan, the Dallas Cowboys’ Tony Romo, and the Pittsburgh Steelers’ Ben Roethlisberger, per ESPN.
When Anderson is on the green, he never wants to talk about the gridiron.
“No football,” Anderson told Newton in 2017. “Strictly golf. Golf’s my release.”
Anderson co-hosted a football camp with his Scappoose Indians teammate David Mayo during the latter part of his NFL career.