I find myself perpetually seduced by the possibility of comparing seemingly disparate entities. I look for similarities between French new-wave films and reality television, debate whether athletes’ sponsorship deals shed light on the sociopolitical climate in America and consider what rock stars the NFL’s most renowned quarterbacks resemble. This article seeks to provide something of a fleshed-out answer to that last idea.
Why compare NFL quarterbacks to rock stars, you ask? Several reasons.
For starters, quarterback is the most coveted position in American sports today. It has displaced heavyweight champion of the world, Olympic track star and power hitter as the most high-profile and recognizable position among fans and non-fans alike.
Quarterback play is dissected to an absolutely mind-numbing degree, and the best NFL quarterbacks now constitute their own celebrity subcategory. People with zero interest in football would have a better chance at recognizing Eli Manning than Kevin Durant—and Manning didn’t just spend the summer winning a gold medal for the United States.
Quarterbacks can no longer get away with simply leading their teams on the field. They must serve as faces of their respective franchises.
Teams take on the personality traits of their quarterbacks—their strengths, their weaknesses and everything in between. The New York Jets are considered an unsafe bet because Mark Sanchez lacks confidence. The Green Bay Packers are a powerhouse with the cool Aaron Rodgers and his swagger at the helm. The Buffalo Bills are underdogs because smart kids like Ryan Fitzpatrick aren’t supposed to be good at football.
Nobody considers how the personalities of middle linebackers affect the team as a whole. That would just seem weird.
Professional sports are a form of entertainment, and when it comes to entertainment, personality matters. Rock stars ooze personality even more than they ooze music, and quarterbacks are the rock stars of the modern athletic scene.
With the 2012-13 NFL season nearly upon us, it behooves us to compare the most compelling quarterbacks—the men who will be the most publicized athletic-celebrities over the next five months—to rock stars from bygone eras.
Here is the list. Have at it.