Is the "Sheriff" the NFL's best choice for President?
Last week, the United States had a choice of deciding who would be the best candidate to lead our country into the next leap year. After months of hard campaigning, anyone with any bit of hearing or reading ability had a good idea of what was good and bad about each candidate and made a proper choice accordingly.
By the end of the night, after a hard-fought battle between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney, the president came out on top and retained his position as the leader of the free world and POTUS.
Now, a week after the presidential election was decided unofficially and most of the politically-charged dialogue is dying down, a lot of focus has been returned to what is normal in a sports fan’s life: NFL football, all day, every day.
Given the influence of the NFL and how it is ingrained in our culture, I could not help but think of how it could be connected to the political landscape. More specifically, I wondered, if there was a ballot being passed out with NFL players only, who would be on the ballot and why? I think the candidates that came to mind are all pretty interesting in their own way, but should not surprise anyone. The key players in the NFL are well-recognized, and there is definitely a pecking order of sorts in the league.
Here are the candidates:
Urlacher is one of the longest running "faces of the game"
Is there anyone in the league that is more likely to defend his fellow teammates and coaches more than this guy? He rides party lines like it’s his job. He will never criticize a teammate no matter how they are playing or acting, and he will always focus the attention on the media for creating stories.
Urlacher is likely loved by his teammates because of this strong leadership qualities. If he has a problem with someone, he will settle it in house. He has an open line of communication with his coach and likely GM, and he vows to handle them that way, not through the media. He sticks up for his brethren when they need help and makes sure that they look good in the process.
If you are the media or an opponent, good luck (unless you are Danieal Manning or someone else he has a lot of respect for, like Aaron Rodgers)! In the process, he gets the job done. He has been called overrated before, but over the course of his long and productive 13-year career, he has done nothing but rack up large sack totals, make plays to help his team get off the field and backs up the confident talk he does in the media.
In all but one year in which he has played 16 games, he has racked up 100 tackles in each of them and made it to eight Pro Bowls in the process. He has been named All-Pro five times as well.
Manning for World Peace?
Unless you are on the other team, or just hating, how can you not like Peyton Manning? He is an unbelievably smart, prepared, productive player in this league and has done it consistently over the years at a rate that no one else has in the history of this game.
He smiles, he’s nice to folks, he is forthright with the media and he commits himself to the same type of excellence that he asks of those around him. What you see is what you get. He can be a hothead when negotiating what he wants with coaches and teammates and hates to lose, but what great players are not like that?
Peyton Manning has endeared more fans this year bouncing back off the canvas from a scary career-threatening neck injury that required multiple offseason surgeries. After being counted out by many, almost like President Obama when he went through rough patches in his 2008 campaign and first term presidency, Manning has bounced back to return to All-Pro form.
He has led the Denver Broncos from the offensive mutiny that is Tim Tebow, a very popular figure in town that was forced out of town after a playoff win, to a healthy and potent aerial attack that has put fear into opposing defenses after their 6-3 start.
It was almost like following up a popular president that was a great guy and was productive and then making them forget the guy ever existed. We do not see this often, but Peyton Manning sure did. This would be the equivalent of Bill Clinton running again and saving our country.
Manning has a chance of leading the Broncos to the Super Bowl for the first time since their GM, John Elway, last took the saddle and contended for a super bowl in 1998. They have gotten through the rough part of their schedule, and now, he is racking up impressive numbers after a shaky start. Anyone that predicted that after one half of a season, Manning would have 2404 yards, a 69.5 percent completion percentage, a rating well over 100 (108.6) and a league-leading ESPN QBR of 85.4 would be simply lying.
If he continues on this pace in a football city like Denver, he can run for mayor there or in Indianapolis until Andrew Luck’s career is done.
Even when Tim isn't playing he gets respect from Rivals
Speaking of Tim Tebow, although his skills are not on par with some of the others on this list, there is no doubt that he could contend with any of them for president of the United States.
He is polarizing and loved by his supporters, so he would get his base out to support him fully, but he also has enough people who hate on his credentials to get the job done but fully appreciate him as a person and leader.
He is able to inspire change, inspire teams to do something with nothing, as shown by their ability to win seven of eight games with a putrid offense that could barely avoid three-and-outs most of the time.
Tebow is an upstanding person that would grab the morality vote, and would win on a likeability factor. Similar to Obama in 2008, some hated him for various reasons, but after you heard him speak, it was hard to hold beef against him given what he represented and the eloquence that he articulated it with.
Tebow has some of that same ability. Some will hate him, be made uncomfortable by what he stands for and criticize his credentials and past performance, but you cannot question his charisma, leadership ability and likeability. He’s a person that if you ever met him, you wouldn’t be able to hate him if you tried.
Tim Tebow for President? We’ll see. In the meantime, he’s got to find a way to convince Rex Ryan that he is worthy of taking away playing time from his amazingly bad starting quarterback, Mark Sanchez. This is the equivalent of Obama convincing Republicans to go along with his legislation.
Brett Favre is always looming in the background...
He’s like the Bill Clinton of the NFL. The guy will not go away. He finally decided to retire for good when his body finally betrayed him and his performance did not overshadow his drama for once, but he still finds a way on TV doing interviews or commercials every time you look. People still ask Aaron Rodgers about Brett Favre even though he left almost five years ago and has won a Super Bowl!
Barack has made a name for himself and been elected twice, and he still has not escaped Clinton’s shadow.
This could happen to Rodgers as well. We’ll see how history plays out, but Favre is a legendary pro football figure. Tough, plain folks, “aw shucks” kind of guy who just made plays like a backyard quarterback. He can relate to the people and they can relate to him. That is why he is now coaching high school football. He wants no part of the ESPN circuit or the broadcasting booth, or even worse, the NFL sideline, as he seems to want to avoid becoming a part of “them” like many politicians do when they go to Washington.
Brett won’t say it, but he’s interested in keeping it real and staying true to himself. That could be a fresh breath of air for America. Or, it just might be time to move on from him!
Aaron Rodgers is the man
Going into this season, Aaron Rodgers was regarded as the best player in the NFL. He has peers, but it seemed to be about as much of a consensus as you can get in pro football these days. He has all the talents you could ask for in a quarterback, he has a great smile, confident swagger bordering on cocky, a clean-cut normal guy look and he came from humble beginnings. Not sure if I would compare him to Barack Obama or George W. Bush, but there are similarities in some ways.
Most importantly, Rodgers has the look of a president. He is more than confident as a player at his position and overall, and he talks the talk pretty well. He is a little bit more of a straight shooter than most politicians and a little bit more sensitive than the job description calls for (given his reaction to comments about his height), but Rodgers is a prototype leader of the NFL country.
He could appeal to both sides of the aisle and both sides of the constituents. There is a faction that likes quarterbacks to be pocket passers primarily, be able to make “all the throws,” be smart enough to execute sophisticated offenses and make adjustments at the line of scrimmage and be a “leader of men” in the locker room as well. Rodgers can be all of those things.
Then there is another faction of NFL fans that want their quarterbacks to be playmakers and are attracted to the exciting playmaking quarterbacks that can scramble, escape sacks and make incredible plays with their feet. Rodgers is not as big as Cam Newton or Ben Roethlisberger, and not as fast as Robert Griffin or Michael Vick, but he sure as hell can get you a first down and then some if you force him out of the pocket. More importantly, he is as lethal as anyone in the league throwing the ball on the run. It’s almost breathtaking.
It’s very hard to find something wrong with Rodgers, no matter how hard the media tries. He could unify this nation that is divided constantly over what a quarterback should look like.
Fire burns in and around this guy at all times...
Ray Lewis is widely known as the best leader in sports. His all-time historical context overall is debatable, but there is no doubt that no one has been able to inspire and lead in a powerful and charismatic fashion in recent times than Ray.
Ray is the type of person that could walk into Congress and inspire a movement with everyone going in the same direction. He would be able to get both his allies and enemies to agree on things and produce results despite differences. His opponents like and respect him, other coaches revere him and his teammates worship the ground he walks on. Old and young, they look to him for support, encouragement and motivation. There is really not much you can hold against Ray on the field.
Diplomatically, Ray has been on many Baltimore teams where his defense was championship quality, yet the offense was terrible or at best mediocre. Never have you heard of much rift between the offense and defense, and never has the defense decided that it was not worth it to keep pushing towards perfection because they were getting no help from the offense.
He has been able to encourage the quarterbacks and other offensive players while still holding them accountable in the process. His leadership abilities and inspirational talents are revolutionary, and he may be the type of leader that would really be able to inspire change and shake things up in Washington.
He is no frills, no-nonsense and no one can step to this guy without coming correct. He will shake the BS out of you.
Troy is renegade but he's all about getting the job done.
This may come as a surprise, given he hardly ever says anything unless he is in a Head and Shoulders commercial, but Troy P. could get some votes out of apathy or cynicism about our broken political system today. Some would not take him seriously, but that hair is something to behold. He is the equivalent to a write in vote that you always see in elections. They have just enough support to be relevant, but not enough to win or be corrupted!
His popularity is due in large part to the hair on his head, as it brings flare to his reckless style of play. In a sense, he is like a Tea Party candidate due to his disruptive nature, or better yet, a Libertarian candidate. If he got to Washington, he would not follow protocols and would be reckless in just getting things done.
This might upset some of his peers and disturb the status quo, but somehow, beneath all of that hair, I do not believe it would bother him one bit. Troy has never been one to play to the media or be concerned about what his peers thought. He just wants to get the job done. This may cost him games because he frequently gets injured, and it may frighten opponents, but Troy P is an exciting breath of fresh air and may be something that our government needs in a sense.
We just do not know which version of Vick we are getting
Flip floppin’ Mike Vick. First, there was the dog issue, then he supported animal rights; then he wants to be a highlight-reel, playmaking quarterback, then he wants to be a pocket passer. Then he wants to be a hybrid, then he wants to be a humble guy, then a confident guy in interviews, then he’s an elite quarterback, then he’s bordering on average, if that.
What’s it going to be, Mike? You remind me of Mitt Romney.
Right now, it looks like both of them might be out of a job, and a lot of that has to do with the fact that the two of them did not stay true to themselves. The pundits said that if you acted “this way” or said “this or that," you would be accepted and it would make everyone happy. As a result, they both sold their soul and affected their overall performance because they were not operating in a mode of passion.
Vick has a passion to be a successful quarterback that is respected and Romney wanted to be president of the United States, but in the process, we lost track of who these two were, and it cost them.
R G III...R G III
While Aaron Rodgers would have the ability of uniting the factions of quarterback analysis, given his dual-threat abilities while operating from the pocket despite having the look of one type of quarterback, if you look closely, he may be more Aaron Rodgers than Mike Vick or Cam Newton.
Despite his world-class speed and playmaking ability, he actually prefers to play from the pocket and has proven it over the majority of his college career and into his time in the pros. He possesses the arm to make “all of the throws” effortlessly and accurately.
He is small, but he is quick and agile enough to escape pressures, and once that happens, look out! He has the top-end speed to take a broken play to the house or, more importantly, make a devastating throw on the run on target.
In addition to his qualifications, he has some of the characteristics that have made him so likeable over the years. He has a great smile, he always says the right things no matter how much you bait him and he puts in the work to play at a high level mentally week in week out.
Like he pulled the Heisman from out of the grasp of America’s favorite quarterback, Andrew Luck, who did the NCAA and Stanford a favor by coming back despite being fully ready to matriculate to the league, and other impressive players from last year’s Heisman class, he will sneak up on folks as a leader as well. He is not the loudest, and he is not the most boisterous, but he seems to have no problem commanding respect and giving respect in the process.
His production is there (1993 yards at halfway mark with a 93.9 rating), the personality is there and he may be the type of person to get things done in Washington because that’s what he has been doing throughout his career. If only he can get the Redskins to start winning again consistently, he might be forced into running in the next election! That would be a feat!
Superman is a polarizing figure with very partisan support
Cam is an interesting candidate. He is one of the more polarizing figures in football. His troubles date back to some of the discipline and ethics issues he had in his brief stay at University of Florida, and the controversy followed him to Auburn years later and into the NFL.
He set NFL records that no one thought he was even capable of setting last year. If another person had done them, they would be glorified. Yet because there is a big group of fans and analysts that expected him to fail, and frankly, hoped he’d fail, his sophomore struggles have done nothing but make haters smile (or breath a sign of relief) followed by a chorus of “I told you so."
People said he could not throw the ball accurately; people said he could not be a leader. People said he could not handle adversity. And people said that his rookie Pro Bowl season was a fluke. His fans defend him questioning the talent around him and the play calling and say that the opposition is being too hard on him given how far the Panthers have come since he got there.
The opposition says this is what we expected, and he will not be able to adjust because he does not know how to handle struggles. After all, he has won all his life, and every loss he suffers in Carolina is followed by an embarrassingly sullen and immature press conference from the Panthers signal caller.
If you ask the detractors, he cannot do anything right, even if he does through for 300 yards and two touchdowns and rush for another. Did you see all of the throws he missed? Did you see that fumble he had at the end of the game that cost them the upset victory? He can’t do anything right in the eyes of the “haters“ unless he is playing elite football.
Does this sound familiar? Sounds like the president‘s plight. His supporters will defend him to the grave and blame a lot of his struggles on a stubborn Congress, an economic collapse and a terrible setup from the previous administration. His detractors say he blew it and did a terrible job during the first term and his visions of hope and compromise were empty and not backed by true competence and ability to get the job done.
Those that support him support him tirelessly, as was demonstrated in last week‘s election, while those that do not like him cannot wait to see him fail and are still waiting after he was elected. There are interesting parallels here. No matter what side you are on of either debate, it‘s eerily similar.
When you look up presidential online, you might as well plug in Tom Brady. He is the type of guy that people base their expectations and caricatures on.
Once upon a time, Brady led the Patriots to Super Bowls almost every year, did it all from the pocket, made all the throws and did not necessarily need stars around him to succeed, or a great defense for that matter. Does not hurt that he had the great looks and dating partners to go with it.
Obviously, that does not really describe a president, but in this context, few fit the profile more than Tom. He seems to be what everyone wants to be. He’s got the look, both physically and in terms of fashion, he says all the right things, talks the prototypical safe, and politically correct, non-translatable talk and his performance speaks for itself. He’s a winner, he’s clutch, he’s talented and he is a leader that you cannot help but respect.
He doesn’t expect anything from anyone that he doesn’t expect twice as much from himself, and he is an extension of his now-legendary coach. He represents the NFL and the Patriot organization with flying colors. You can criticize him because he has not won Super Bowls every year, or because he occasionally misses throws here and there or occasionally throws a big interception, but chances are, if you find a lot wrong with Tom Brady, you are reaching.
I must say his wife, Gisele Bundchen, would make a nice first lady as well! Beyond the obvious, she is very opinionated and has her husband’s back as demonstrated after a tough Super Bowl loss last year. She will learn in the White House to keep that down just a tad, as Hillary and Michelle had to learn.
Hard to like Brees....and he has principles
Drew Brees is about as likeable and genuine a star player as there is in the league today. Although he was a star player in college at Purdue and put up prolific numbers in one of the first versions of the now customary spread offense, he has overcome multiple obstacles to now be considered one of the best quarterbacks in football.
He has been called short, folks have questioned his arm strength and when he hurt his shoulder in San Diego, he was considered damaged goods. In America, we like to think that the American dream is still possible and anyone can grab a hold of it if they just chase their dreams and do their part. That may or may not be true, but for sure, when we as Americans witness someone overcome obstacles to be successful, we applaud it and, in turn, like that person.
Since signing with New Orleans almost as an afterthought, he has become an elite quarterback that helped revive the city of New Orleans and its franchise and has become an ambassador for New Orleans. It’s almost as if he can put the revival of New Orleans on his resume for the people of America to look at.
If he can inspire a city in turmoil and chaos through his play on the field and show his commitment to the community and the people of New Orleans while helping a franchise that had been mired in mediocrity at best for so long, then surely, he is qualified to lead a country out of rough economic times and dissension, right?
More realistically, he would be a good candidate to help connect the commissioner’s office to the players association, which has become more and more acrimonious towards Roger Goodell, but unfortunately, he may be the leader of the pack in that movement. As likeable and agreeable as he seems, he has been relentless in his criticisms of the commissioner and his heavy handed, bully-style of leadership. He has been upset with how his team has been handled in the aftermath of “bounty gate” and the lockout that took place last season.
He has pulled no punches in expressing his feelings about it, and many of them are justified. He sticks up for his constituents and to those he has loyalty to, and those are great qualities for a president.
Drew Brees is as respected a player as there is in the league, and he backs it up by producing on the field at an elite level. This year, that comes in the form of 2,847 yards with 25 touchdowns and just six interceptions. These totals are a near record-setting pace for a single season. His rating is pushing 97.6, so his stats have not been completely fluffy.
This has been the norm for Brees the last several years. This is the type of track record that no one could argue with if he were to run for president.
Body language police anyone? He always wears it on his sleeve.
Jay Cutler keeps it real. There is no doubt about it. If he does not like something, he will say it. If he does not like something or someone, he’ll say it. He fails consistently in the eyes of the “body language police." He is a supremely talented quarterback who seems to be respected by most of his teammates, but yet he is criticized.
Why is this? He doesn’t seem to know the answer to this question, and he really does not seem to care. That bothers people.
Is it the constant frowns and smirks? Is it the body language? Is it the arrogance? Is it just because he does not seem to really care much about what people think almost to the point of being dismissive of the media and fans?
Unfortunately for Jay it’s not just his attitude; it’s his performance as well. Jay can always be counted on to make a few untimely mental mistakes or risky throws that result in interceptions. They often come in chunks. This definitely does not do much to endear a rabid fanbase in Chicago, and definitely adds fuel to the fire of those looking for excuses to not like him.
All of this reminds me of people’s reactions to Obama. Is it race? Is it partisanship? Is it fair? Is it warranted? The answers to that question are certainly debatable, but in the case of Jay Cutler, you have to look at the performance also before you really judge Jay. Right now, he has 1,814 yards with 12 TDs and 10 interceptions. He is 7-2, but it has not always been pretty.
His career stats are not much more impressive. Even if they were more productive, everyone wouldn’t like them, but it doesn’t help that the numbers don’t lie. If Obama’s first term went better, people would still hate on him, but they would have less of an arsenal to work with.
At the end of the day, Jay Cutler is the best quarterback Chicago has had in recent history, and he can own this town if he leads it to a Super Bowl Championship. He is capable of doing it; let’s see if he can pull it off.