The NFL is a tough business.
Nearly every quarterback has gone through it at some point—heck, almost every person has gone through it—but for Los Angeles Rams quarterback Case Keenum, it doesn't make the pain sting any less.
Injuries and benchings are commonplace in sports, in fact, their guaranteed. Without them, we would have never seen the likes of Tom Brady, Steve Young, or Drew Brees. These quarterbacks famously rose from the ashes of their older predecessors and become Hall of Fame caliber players.
On Tuesday, it was Keenum's turn to swallow his pride and step aside for the younger upgrade to take over the reign of the Rams. Needless to say, he wasn't happy about it.
"I was obviously surprised," Keenum told a horde of reporters in his first public comments since the benching. "Honestly, I wasn't happy. I want to play."
Keenum captained the Rams to a 9-6 victory over the New York Jets on Sunday, but failed to record a touchdown despite numerous attempts in the red zone.
The win snapped a four-game losing streak for the Rams, which was why Keenum was surprised, but in reality, he shouldn't be. The team did not trade away four draft picks before the season began for the No. 1 overall pick to watch him put up a quarterback rating of 43, let alone throw more interceptions (11) than touchdowns (9) on the season.
Keenum's fate was sealed in Week 2 when the Rams defeated the Seattle Seahawks, 9-3, in their first home game at the LA Coliseum in 37 years.
Despite the victory, the team failed to score a touchdown and by the fourth quarter the chants for "We Want Goff!" steadily rose.
After back-to-back victories on the road, they quelled, but after four consecutive losses, including a 13-10 defeat at the hands of the NFC Champion Carolina Panthers at home in Week 9, they reached a fever pitch.
"They have a right to feel however they want to feel," Keenum said about the fans at the time. "I'm glad that the fans are there and the stadium is full, but it's in one ear and out the other."
That response only made the fans more rabid so after once again failing to find the end zone in Week 10, Keenum's ticket to the bench was punched, especially with mounting pressure on head coach Jeff Fisher to make a move as he's in the final year of his contract.
"I guess it was going to happen at some point, but in my mind it was my team," Keenum said sternly. "That's the way I viewed it. It was my offense, and I took ownership of it."
Keenum is now the former owner of the Rams offense as Fisher handed the keys to the car over to the rookie. It's a situation that's similar to Tony Romo and Dak Prescott in Dallas, but when asked if Keenum sees any similarities, he was succinct with his answer.
"I saw a little bit of it, I'm sure it was pretty emotional for him," Keenum said of Romo's press conference on Tuesday. "I didn't relate to it though."
It's obvious that it's an emotional catharsis when you're told as an athlete and competitor that the team is moving on to a younger more inexperienced player. The conflicting feelings can be difficult to handle, and despite his best efforts to masquerade them on Wednesday, they seeped through the cracks in his short responses and salty comebacks to some members of the media.
Thus far, both Romo and Keenum have handled their demotions in a professional and classy way. Often, the best approach is to be honest with your emotions, and congratulatory with your reactions to the player that has been chosen to replace you.
Nobody will feel sorry for Keenum on Sunday, after all, he was given ten weeks to lead this team to a winning record, and thus far, has failed to do so. However, he must remember that he still has an opportunity to return and become a hero for this team in their new home.
Keenum is just one snap away from going from victim to savior, a fact that NBC LA reminded him of on Wednesday.
"I'll prepare the same way whether I'm one, two or three," Keenum said. "I'll be ready to go if my name is called again and I will go out and make this team the best team it can be."
If that day comes, Keenum's story can be one of redemption as a revenant.