Around the NFL: Quarterbacks a rare breed
You might be interested in something 40-year-old quarterback Brad Johnson said the other day by way of the Dallas Morning News.
You might be impressed by his mature perspective.
“I find it interesting when I go to ballgames and sit up there and you hear what’s being said in the crowd, and then when I walk through after the games, I see all the beer bottles. I find it interesting who’s doing all the talking.
“You’ve got to satisfy your team and satisfy your coaches.”
You might not be impressed. Or you might remind Johnson, “Whatever you think of the fans, it appears you’ve been OK with taking their money.”
But then, what’s new about a quarterback putting himself on a pedestal? Or being put there from the time he was 9, when he could go 8-0 in the pee wee league.
The position does something to a guy’s wiring. Look at Brett Favre. Half of him is just an ordinary, average guy. It’s why so many people like him. But half of Favre is a raging egomaniac.
It’s why he can’t see how wrong it is for one guy, even that guy, to drag around a franchise by his pinkie. Hey, he’s the guy who shook hands and said goodbye.
It’s foolish to stereotype. Not all filthy-rich people are alike. I thought of an NFL owner I knew as “the down-to-earth billionaire.” He was a pretty nice guy.
Likewise, it’s unfair to stereotype quarterbacks.
Ask ordinary people who have been around Vinny Testaverde, a QB from Brad Johnson’s generation. He strikes everyone as my cousin Vinny. There’s not a pretentious bone in his body.
At the same time, it’s ignorant not to recognize that enough quarterbacks are strange ducks.
Not to say the following belong in the duck soup, but let’s play a little word association.
Tom Brady ... supermodels and child support payments. Eli Manning ... above being stuck in San Diego. John Elway ... above being stuck in Baltimore. Kyle Orton ... famous photo looking well-lit and flipping off a camera. Tony Romo ... supermodel looks trump Super Bowl preparation. Ben Roethlisberger ... motorcyle crash. Jeff Garcia ... upper-case Eccentric. Matt Leinart ... forget Paris? Michael Vick ... enough said?
Brad Johnson, in case you didn’t know, is Romo’s top backup in Dallas. He’s the guy who won the 2002 Super Bowl with the Bucs. An NFL owner who thought about bringing in Brad Johnson said, “I really like the guy.” He was talking about his personal makeup and physical ability.
My favorite quarterbacks, most of whom I’ve met, are the ones who come off as men simply trying to be a contributing part of the human race, as opposed to self-gratification addicts.
It’s not a long list. Favre used to be on it.
Canton on alert
Among QBs who will be slinging it in 2008, here are the likeliest to land in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, in order.
- Tom Brady. NFL chicken-egg question of the century: Where would Brady and Bill Belichick be without each other.
- Peyton Manning. They might as well make the bust now while bronze prices are down.
- Favre. Suppose he’d been New England’s QB, not Brady. What would he and Belichick have done with each other?
- Ben Roethlisberger. Unbeaten as a rookie starter, Super Bowl in Year 2, playoffs in Year 4. If he repeats his first four years in the next four, he’s on his way.
- Philip Rivers. His Chargers are 25-6 since he took over. If he starts winning playoff games ...
- JaMarcus Russell. Time to see what all the huzzah is about.
- Donovan McNabb. NFC title games galore, but a longshot unless he catches a strong second wind.
- Carson Palmer. He’ll turn 29 this year, so he’d better get a move on.
- Derek Anderson. It’s longshot country down here, but he was 10-5 as a 24-year-old, first-year starter and has the classic arm.
- Kyle Boller. Just checking to see if you’re still with us. ... if you want a straight answer, Eli Manning, maybe.
Kudos to Osi Umenyiora of the Giants reaching out to the troops in Afghanistan by going there to shake hands.
A stirring quote from Umenyiora in the New York Daily News: “At one base, we saw the actual ceremony of them taking bodies back to America. They had the caskets laying there and everybody had to come out and line up. It was very touching. When you see stuff like that it changes your whole perspective, because you’re there. You’ve got to think that a military person over there, looking right there at a casket going home, you know that at any point in time that could be you.”
Umenyiora, 26, made 13 sacks in 2007 playing a violent sport, but ...
- The top seven active QBs (based on career passer rating) heading into 2008: 1, Peyton Manning, 94.7; 2, Kurt Warner, 93.2; 3, Tom Brady, 92.9; 4, Ben Roethlisberger, 92.5; 5, Carson Palmer, 90.1; 6, Daunte Culpepper, 89.9; 7, Chad Pennington, 88.9.
- Eli Manning ranks 24th on the list at 73.4, just behind David Carr’s 74.4 and Gus Frerotte’s 74.3.
- The top seven active running backs (based on career rushing yards): 1, Edgerrin James, 11,607; 2, Fred Taylor, 10,715; 3, LaDainian Tomlinson, 10,650; 4, Warrick Dunn, 10,181; 5, Shaun Alexander, 9,429; 6, Jamal Lewis, 9,105; 7, Ahman Green, 8,751.
- James and Taylor have Hall of Fame numbers. I’m not sure they’re Hall of Famers.
Reach Steve Doerschuk at (330) 580-8347 or e-mail: email@example.com