Brett Basanez is a guy you would like. He's smart, funny and unpretentious. Although playing in the NFL is a big deal, he doesn't act as if he is.
Basanez also is a player you will like. Despite the season-ending wrist injury he suffered in Friday's exhibition against New England, he is an NFL quarterback. If he doesn't stick with the Carolina Panthers, he'll make it with somebody else.
He was a rookie last season, and although he was smart, funny and unpretentious then, too, he also was lost. A free-agent out of Northwestern, he ran around a lot and was more enthusiastic than effective.
But as the season wore on, Basanez figured it out. The Panthers called him up from the practice squad in December, and he played in one game, a blowout loss to Pittsburgh. Don't blame him. The game had been lost long before he entered.
In an interview in training camp a few weeks ago, Basanez told me that even though he didn't know if he would make the Panthers as a rookie, he never doubted his ability.
He wasn't being arrogant. Can you imagine playing quarterback in the NFL if you doubt your ability?
He admitted that making his living standing on the sideline is strange.
"But I don't look at myself as a third-team quarterback," he said. "I'm always trying to take the next step and go to the next stage. I can't look at this (being third-team) as what I do. I want to keep getting better and keep going upward."
Basanez might lead the Panthers in notes. When he makes a mistake, he writes it down. How many notes has he taken? "Depends on how many mistakes I make," he says.
By reviewing the notes, he believes he can minimize the errors that plague almost every young quarterback.
In Carolina's exhibition opener against New York, Basanez hit Taye Biddle with an 85-yard touchdown pass.
This was his first throught after the touchdown. And it attests to why you should pull for him.
"I wanted to find the O-line and just give them a round of applause," Basanez said. "They kept them (the New York defenders) off us and gave the play a start."