Super Bowls don’t determine greatness

9 02 2010

For all you Peyton Manning critics who claim he can’t reach NFL immortality now that he’s lost a Super Bowl, take a deep breath, relax and chew on the following few paragraphs. As much as credentials for quarterback greatness might have once swung too far toward statistics, the argument for who’s the best has pivoted too much to the other side of the pendulum, the one that looks at Super Bowl rings as the absolute precursor to a legendary resume.

I get why all quarterbacks are measured by the number of Vince Lombardi trophies they raise during their career. Football is the consummate battle and quarterbacks are the ringleaders, thus making a championship the ultimate test of their leadership, toughness and talent. Yet those critics who claim that quarterbacks should be measured by their Super Bowl rings will also endorse football as the ultimate team sport.

Football advocates cite each position’s reliance on the other as the reason for why football promotes teamwork better than any other sport. The quarterback is dependent on the offensive line to protect him and the wide receiver catch his pass. The running back is reliant on the quarterback to properly hand off the ball and for everybody else to block. The defense works essentially the same way, with linemen and defensive backs realizing that their job is based at least somewhat on whether the other performs his role.

So if football is the ultimate team sport, why put so much of the onus on quarterbacks to win the Big Game? Sure, they receive most of the glory for winning, but that doesn’t mean critics should double up on a misguided placement of responsibilities by labeling them as “not great enough” if they don’t win one Super Bowl, or multiple in the case of Manning. He’s won “only” one Super Bowl. He’s “just” 9-9 in the playoffs, although the 9-9 critics fail to point out that he’s 9-6 since 2003 and 6-3 since ’06.

Manning will — and should — go down as one of the sport’s greatest quarterbacks. Whether or not he’s number one is simply a matter of preference for an era. Old-timers consider Johnny Unitas the greatest because of his toughness, leadership and ability to pique interest in football at a time when baseball was still America’s game. Some prefer Joe Montana because of his cool under pressure and the great defenses he faced in the ’80s. Others hold Manning in the highest regard because of more athletic defenses running far more complex schemes during his era. You really can’t go wrong as long as you take time to tailor your pitch. Just don’t hold a quarterback responsible for the entire actions of a team at every moment of his career.


Quotes of the Week II

29 01 2010

Another Friday morning with the best quotes I could find in the sports universe during the past week.

Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson in a speech to his players:
“If anyone steps out of my control, they’re dead. The most important person in Manchester United is the manager.”

Kevin Garnett on his left knee injury that shelved him for over a month:
“The old ’76 Pinto got banged up a little bit.”

Top high school basketball recruit Quincy Miller in a Tweet about North Carolina’s struggling basketball team:
“Is UNC really that sorry or is my mind playing tricks on me? Hahaha.” You won’t believe this but Miller hasn’t been offered a scholarship from UNC.

Suns head coach Alvin Gentry on an ESPN-reported rumor that Amar’e Stoudemire has created tension in the Suns locker room because of trade rumors:
“It’s the biggest crock of shit I’ve ever heard.”

Warriors head coach Don Nelson on how the team will handle losing a slew of close games recently:
“We’re grown-ups. We don’t need lollipops.”

Phil Jackson on Andrew Bynum sleeping in and missing the Lakers’ flight from New York to Toronto:
“It’s a rookie mistake, as we call it, even though he’s not a rookie.”

Ex-Saints quarterback Archie Manning on whether he’ll root for the Colts — his son’s team — or the Saints during the Super Bowl:

“I’m pulling for the Colts 100 percent, it’s not even close.”

Ron Artest on his excitement level at getting to meet President Obama during the Lakers’ trip to the White House Jan. 25:

“I’m not that excited to meet him because I look at him as a regular person”

LeBron James’ response to head coach Mike Brown’s call for a double-team on Dwyane Wade on the last possession of the Cavs’ win over the Heat Jan. 25:
“I got D-Wade.” A fired up LeBron James is better than an angry Kobe Bryant. Hate to admit it but it’s true.

Phillies manager Charlie Manuel on what he’d do if the Phils had kept Cliff Lee to go with Roy Halladay and Cole Hamels in the starting rotation:
“I might even be buying more expensive furniture than the Mrs. has been buying me lately.”

Patriots defensive tackle Vince Wilfork on his dissatisfaction if the Patriots re-sign him for one year with the franchise tag instead of giving him a multi-year deal. The franchise tag for a defensive tackle in 2009 was worth $6.058 million for one year:
“[The franchise tag] is decent money for most people out there.”

Nets center Brook Lopez after the Nets beat the Clippers 103-87 Jan. 27 for their fourth win:
“Did we need this? Are you kidding me? I mean we were 3-40.”

Patriots cornerback Shawn Springs when asked as a guest on ESPN2’s First Take which of the two Super Bowl teams he would rather not face:
“Well if it was me, I would hope a hurricane comes through.” One of the two Super Bowl teams plays in New Orleans, which was obviously ravaged by Hurricane Katrina in August 2005. Nice work, Shawn.

New Orleans mayor Ray Nagin discussing his efforts to secure Super Bowl tickets from the Saints:
“Some people seem to forget I come from the business environment. So I got contacts at ESPN, USAToday, you name it. So I’m going to work it out.”

League executive to Pro Football Weekly on the recent fat contracts Raiders owner Al Davis has handed out to players:

“And he keeps throwing boatloads of money at players who cannot handle the trappings of success — [JaMarcus] Russell, Javon Walker, Terdell Sands, Tommy Kelly, DeAngelo Hall. It’s a who’s who of turds.”

Spurs head coach Greg Popovich responding to a question about a Yahoo! Sports report that the Spurs are interested in acquiring Amar’e Stoudemire:
“What the heck is Yahoo? Is it one of those computer things? Is that like Twittering?”

What do you want from your quarterback?

2 04 2009

There’s something about a whining quarterback that rubs me wrong. The groveling, finger-pointing, ignoring phone calls and text messages…it seems out of character for a position which values leadership and toughness. But here we are with Jay Cutler, doing everything he can to earn the ire of opponents who may have already had no respect for the emotional QB (how hard must Phil Rivers and the rest of the Chargers be laughing at The Great Cutler Debacle). 

If you’re reading this and don’t know what Cutler situation I’m speaking of, I’ll give you the quick rundown:

1. Broncos fire long-time coach Mike Shanahan and hire young and inexperienced Josh McDaniels from the Patriots.

2. McDaniels and the new GM clean house and want to bring in their own boys — including former Patriots QB Matt Cassel.

3. Broncos attempt trade for Cassel, but swing and miss. Worse, the media finds out and Cutler is incensed.

4. Cutler says he wants to be traded and allegedly ignores all forms of attempted communication from the Broncos front office.

5. Broncos resign themselves to Cutler acting like an angry girlfriend and claim they will attempt to trade him.

I think that fairly encapsulates this situation in five points. Cutler is the angry girlfriend. He found out the Broncos tried to cheat on him through a third party, leading to embarrassment and anger. He feels used, like his past accomplishments don’t matter. Even worse is that Cutler likely feels ashamed at the Broncos for not considering him their man for the future. What does Cassel have that he doesn’t? At first glance, nothing, except the longing of Josh McDaniels.

Look closer, though, and Cassel has something else that alludes Cutler: the confidence to thrive in any situation. Remember, it was Cassel who maintained the confidence to come off the bench and replace Tom Brady after years of sitting on the bench, rarely getting game action. Cassel could’ve put on his sourpuss face at any point in his NFL career, but he stayed focused and waited for his opportunity. And he thrived when it came, leading the Patriots to 11 wins, and throwing his hat into the ring for Most Promising Young NFL QB. 

Cutler, on the other hand, doesn’t have the confidence to even speak to the Broncos after they admitted they circulated his name to teams in possible trade scenarios. Why Cutler is shaken that easily is something I don’t pretend to have an answer to, but I think it’s an ominous sign to whichever team ends up acquiring him. The guy seems a bit too fragile for my taste — could you imagine Brady or Peyton Manning or Big Ben Roethlisberger reacting the way Cutler has? 

This is a time for Cutler to show a bit of the arrogance for which he’s been known. Be arrogant enough to know that nobody can replace you, that the Broncos are better off with you, and that no trade rumor will prevent you from leading the Broncos back to the top of the NFL. Unfortunately for Denver fans, all he seems capable of doing right now is taking his ball and going home. Cry me a river.