Now their futures are clouded, and they have to wonder if there's a light at the end of the tunnel.
Two of them -- Collins and Frerotte -- are looking for new teams, and Hoying and Foley don't know if they have a future with their current teams.
Collins, the starting quarterback in the NFC title game just two years ago, wore out his welcome in two cities in the last year.
Picked up by New Orleans after he was dumped by Carolina in October after telling former coach Dom Capers he wanted to be taken out of the lineup, Collins has been sent packing again.
Coach Mike Ditka announced last week that Collins doesn't fit in his plans because he committed 14 turnovers in fewer than 24 quarters of play.
"That [turnovers] was the glaring thing," Ditka said.
Frerotte, who lost his starting job to Trent Green last year, was waived by the Redskins last week and is now on the open market.
Foley, who dug himself a deep hole in coach Bill Parcells' doghouse and lost the starting job to Vinny Testaverde, was put on the expansion list only to have Cleveland pass him up. If he stays with the New York Jets -- a big if because it's hard to get out of Parcells' doghouse -- he'll have to take a pay cut.
Hoying, who lost his job in Philadelphia last year to Rodney Peete and Koy Detmer, is a restricted free agent but was given only a $429,000 offer.
The four quarterbacks hope to revive their careers, but they found out it's a short trip from the penthouse to the outhouse in the NFL.
Moon over ...
Warren Moon, waived by the Seattle Seahawks at age 42 last week, still wants to play -- but only in the right situation.
Moon's agent, Leigh Steinberg, said about 10 teams have called.
Moon said, "It's nice to be wanted. I have to see how they want me and how I'll be involved. Is it as a mentor or as a starter? If nothing's out there that I really like, I'm just going to retire. I'm not going to take a long time waiting. Either something is really going to happen, boom, or I'm gone."
Moon said that if he retires, he'd be interested in joining the Houston ownership group if that city gets an expansion franchise.
The San Diego Chargers were one of the first to call, because they're looking for a veteran to be a mentor to the troubled Ryan Leaf.
The Chargers are so desperate for a veteran that general manager Bobby Beathard even called Boomer Esiason, who's now a member of the "Monday Night Football" crew.
It turned out that Cincinnati hasn't relinquished its rights to Esiason, and Beathard had to apologize to the Bengals. Esiason apparently has decided to stay in the booth.
Throw him the ball
He's complaining the Vikings didn't get the ball enough to him in the second half of the NFC title game loss to Atlanta, when he caught one pass for 4 yards.
"It's about getting me the ball " he said. "Get me the short stuff and let me try to work with it that would have been all right. But when you're trying to run me deep all game, and I'm out there with a sore ab [abdominal muscle] and trying to breathe and making sure my legs stay right, so I can be able to run all those nines [deep patterns], I mean, that's hard."
He said he suffered a stomach bruise early in the game.
"It wasn't that bad, but it really hurt when I started breathing heavy. I just had to stay out there regardless," he said.
It didn't help that Moss dropped one pass in the back of the end zone and failed to out-jump Eugene Robinson for a long pass in overtime.
Of the long one, he said, "I replayed that one in my head for a day or two. But then I said the heck with it. There's really not too much that could have been done about it."
Ravens coach Brian Billick, formerly Minnesota offensive coordinator, said Moss' comments are just part of the frustration that comes with a tough loss.
Cornerback Antonio Langham, who struggled in San Francisco last year, was thrilled to be picked by the Browns in the expansion draft.
Langham, who said he had problems with the San Francisco defensive scheme, said, "I'm going to be a Dawg."
Langham also said he was one of the players who had trouble adjusting to the move to Baltimore from Cleveland in 1996.
"It was a hard adjustment for the players because for a while, they [fans] wouldn't accept the team. The players from Cleveland all wished they could have stayed. The people there [Baltimore] didn't feel it was their team. They felt like they had stolen a team from another city," he said.
Jets coach Parcells doesn't allow his assistants to speak to the media during the season. But since Parcells skipped the Pro Bowl, defensive coordinator Bill Belichick, who ran the AFC team in Parcells' absence, was able to speak to reporters.
He was quick to gloat about the Ravens' 16-31-1 record following his firing by the Browns when the team moved from Cleveland after the 1995 season.
"When I was fired, I thought, 'This is great, because wherever I go, it's going to be better than this.' And, take a look at the record [of the Ravens]. It's not me. They're the worst [actually fifth worst] team in football the last three years. That's the bottom line. I'm not looking to blame anybody. I'm just saying, since they moved to Baltimore, their record is terrible. Case closed," he said.
"If I'd been a jerk, people would have felt sorry for me, but there wouldn't have been the outpouring. It just makes you feel good."
-- Hall of Famer Walter Payton on the 10,000 pieces of mail he got in the first six days after he announced he has a rare liver disease and will need a liver transplant to survive.
Pub Date: 2/14/99