Understanding our obsession with quarterbacks

There sure has been a lot of talk about quarterbacks these days.  In Minnesota, Donovan McNabb is out, Christian Ponder is in. In Washington, Rex Grossman is out, John Beck is in.  In Oakland, Jason Campbell is hurt, Carson Palmer is in.  And then of course, there’s Tim Tebow.

There’s also Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady, Drew Brees and Michael Vick and of course, Peyton Manning’s neck injury.  It’s a good thing Big Ben has stayed out of the ladies room recently otherwise he’d be added to the conversation.

There’s what Matt Ryan, Joe Flacco and Mark Sanchez aren’t doing for their teams and what Cam Newton and Andy Dalton are.  There’s praise for the Matt Hasselback pick-up in Tennessee and continued question marks surrounding Kevin Kolb in Arizona.  Heck, Brett Favre’s not even in the league anymore and we’re still talking about him.

We’re currently amid a whirlwind of boundless, quarterback affection with man-crushes escalating weekly as wins and fantasy numbers pile in.  I understand the quarterback is the most important position on the football field, likely the most important in all of sports, but this past week we’ve paid an inordinate amount of attention to one quarterback with three career starts under his belt and another who hasn’t taken a snap in almost a year.

We are so obsessed with the quarterback’s effect on a team that we’ve coined the phrase “Suck for Luck” which refers to those winless NFL teams we suspect might be intentionally losing games to garner the top pick in the 2012 NFL Draft and the eventual rights to Stanford’s Andrew Luck, who many see as the second coming of John Elway.

The importance of the NFL quarterback cannot be overstated.  Eight of the last ten regular season MVPs, and eight of the last thirteen Super Bowl MVPs, have been quarterbacks.   The four highest paid players in the league are all quarterbacks, however, if you take Tom Brady off that list, the other three (Peyton Manning, Michael Vick and Sam Bradford) have combined for only two wins this season!  It’s a slippery slope.

No other position in sport warrants this much fan obsession.  Not pitchers, not shortstops, not centers, not point guards, not goalies.  When an offensive lineman is taken out of a lineup, it’s a media afterthought.  When a quarterback is benched, it makes headlines nationwide, which is ironic considering a quarterback’s longevity and success are based largely on the strength of his offensive line.

We’ve panned the careers of Ryan Leaf and JaMarcus Russell, labeling them the biggest busts in sports history, to the extent that they both resorted to substance abuse.

Now more than ever, the NFL is a quarterback driven league.  If you want to succeed in this new vertical NFL, you better get your hands on a solid quarterback or you don’t stand much of a chance.  Gone are the days of the 2,000 yard rusher.  Teams have resorted to finding running back bargains in later rounds.  In fact, there hasn’t been a running back selected first in the NFL Draft since 1995 (Ki-Jana Carter) yet eleven quarterbacks have been taken first over that same period.  Furthermore, three quarterbacks (Brady, Brees, Rodgers) are not only on Super Bowl contending teams, they’re on pace to obliterate Dan Marino’s single season passing totals (5,084).  That record has stood for nearly thirty years.

Make no mistake, the NFL is reaping the benefits of our renewed fascination with professional sports’ most profiled position.  The league has made no apologies about protecting them either.   Just ask James Harrison what happens if you put your helmet under a quarterback’s chin.

The NFL understands that we’d much rather see Peyton Manning taking snaps than Curtis Painter.  Keep in mind, the NFL isn’t just protecting its quarterbacks.  It’s protecting itself as well.

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25 Replies to “Understanding our obsession with quarterbacks”

  1. What about Matt Stafford! He’s having a pro bowl type season and looks like a future star.
    I completely agree with you, though, QB’s are probably way too loved and protected in the NFL.

  2. DHS…

    I’ll probably be getting from grief from the locals for not mentioning Josh Freeman either.

    So there ya go, Bucs fans. Josh Freeman.

    I guess the question we have to ask ourselves, D, is… is the NFL wrong for protecting its meal tickets?

    Think about it.

    Let’s say the quarterbacks weren’t protected to the extent they are and rushing safeties, linemen and linebackers were able to have their way with them.

    Let’s then assume half of them, or at least Rodgers, Brees and Brady got knocked out for the season.

    Wouldn’t we say, wouldn’t that suck? Wouldn’t we be telling our friends, Damn, it’s too bad Rodgers is out for the season, the Packers would probably have repeated?

    I understand that injuries happen. They’re part of the game.

    But I guess I can’t fault the NFL for doing its best to protect the faces of the league. It makes for better football.

  3. What about Tony Romeo? What about Ryan Fitzpatrick? What about Phillip Rivers? WHAT ABOUT CHAD HENNE????????????? LOL!

    Okay… I’ll cool it…

    You wanta know who I really like? He plays for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, his first name is Josh and yet he doesn’t start for them. Watch for where Josh Johnson goes next year (pretty sure his contract runs out this year). Jim Harbaugh (coached Josh at U of San Diego) made an offer for him last off-season but Tampa evidently wanted more so now they’ll most likely let him go as a free agent… Doesn’t make a lot of sense to me but there ya go!
    Johnson’s a very accurate passer, very mobile and he’s got brains. Somebody will be very happy to sign him up. Maybe he’ll end up with my Niners anyway!

  4. My goodness, Dwin.

    How could I possibly have forgotten about our obsession with Tony Romo?

    And you’re right about Josh Johnson. The Bucs aren’t going to just let him slide but there’s no way he’s getting the starting nod any time soon over Freeman unless there’s an injury.

  5. Oh, and nine of our last ten Heisman Trophy winners have also been quarterbacks, only two of which (Bradford, Newton) were starting in the NFL until this weekend.

  6. Since everyone is throwing in the what abouts. What about that Cam kid?!?

    QB’s rule the league. I wish they’d make rules to help the rb’s out more…

  7. Chap Newton…

    Yea, this just in, Cam’s good.

    I think as their careers progress, it will become more and more surprising that Newton could never come close to beating Tim Tebow out for that Florida starting gig.

  8. Chris

    Sorry my hometown wasn’t more amenable to the Bucs over the weekend . Without Blount the Bucs’ running game was simply a dud !

    As to the issue of the QB’s in the league especially the ones who’ve been drafted in recent years. When they’re coming in , in some cases without the technique isn’t it incumbent on the coaches to polish and improve their skills ? Never mind the fact that in the case of Tebow all Meyer wanted out of the kid was for him to dazzle and flash without truly preparing him for the NFL ?

    Stats’ asides at the college level can you truly say that as an NFL coach you’d have drafted Tebow if the immediacy were all about winning now ? He’s still a work in progress but I for one don’t believe that the Broncos’ coaching staff are going to take him where he needs to be as a player !

    The Lions are still for real ? The Falcons made them look real average playing at home at Ford Field ! Now what ?

    tophatal ……………..

  9. So Chris , what would be your suggestion for Colts’ head coach Jim Caldwell and his coaching staff ? 62-7 I’d say they need more more than a quarterback ! They need 2 dimes , four nickels and a penny at least ! Drew Brees must’ve felt that Christmas came early .

    How ’bout them Raiders and their fans ? Kyle Boller and Carson Palmer ? Another comedy duo in the making ( 28-0 loss at home to the Chiefs ) no doubt ! It’s the god-damn Kansas City Chiefs ! But then again no one ever said they play a high caliber of football in the AFC West to begin with !

    tophatal …………….

  10. Well, AP, I try to remain as impartial as possible regarding Timmy T considering I’m a Florida alum.

    I ask myself, if I were an NFL GM, would I give him a shot?

    Tough to say no. The kid is clearly possessed. But can he throw a football and win consistently in the league?

    That’s what we’re all trying to figure out.

    As you suggested, the Dolphins are hardly a fair litmus test. Imagine him starting in Green Bay.

  11. Al…

    I had the Falcons in the game so I wasn’t overly surprised.

    And I sure would like to see the Bucs consistently lead games instead of always having to make a last ditch effort in the fourth quarter.

    We made Cutler look pretty good yesterday and have a brutal schedule coming up.

  12. Al…

    Palmer looked horrible, understandably.

    And I guess the Colts have to ask themselves. Would they take Andrew Luck with that first pick, because they’re well on their way.

  13. All Tebow had to do was bat his eyelashes and he won the starting gig over Newton. Can you believe some of the throws he made this weekend? It looked like a 40 yard handoff at times!!

  14. Chap…

    To be honest, I can’t believe the way either of them is playing right now.

    Tebow could barely complete a pass for three quarters and Newton’s been tossing it all over the place.

    I was skeptical when the Panthers took him at number one but that’s why I’m not an NFL scout.

  15. Quarterbacks are the face of the organization. Without a good one it’s very hard to win. If the team lose, most of the time they get the blame(Tony Romo), and if the team wins they are the heros. It’s a position that’s always under the microscope and the hardest position on the field.


  16. I hear that if they get Luck , Peyton might just have a hissy fit . Well being as he’s (Manning) owed $28 million as part of the contract and that’s not money the Colts can write off . It’s part of the signing bonus and incentives package as part of the contract extension . Colts’ GM Bill Polian knew going in this was a big risk being as the player had one surgery on his neck and was advised that a second procedure might be needed . What’s up with the GM’s in the NFL ? Have they got sh## for brains ?

    tophatal ………..

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