Tarvaris Jackson: What Does the Media Have against Him?

Gerald BallCorrespondent IAugust 9, 2008

I still remember when ESPN and the rest of the media ripped the Vikings for selecting Tarvaris Jackson over QBs that they deemed to be better in the NFL draft in 2005.Who were those QBs that the media considered so obviously better? Ingle Martin, Charlie Whitehurst, and Brodie Croyle. Well Martin has been released from his first team already and is trying to win a 3rd string job on his second, Whitehurst is third string, and Croyle may lose his starting job this season. So, if the media was somehow vindicated in their evaluation by Jackson's performance so far, being right has never looked so wrong.

It gets better. Jackson spent his rookie season holding clipboards, as you would expect a I - AA QB taken with the last pick in the second round to do. Yet the media claims that the Vikings need to draft Brady Quinn? Well Quinn was taken by the Cleveland Browns after the Vikings and 20 other teams pass him up (including incidentally Cleveland) but he is on the bench unable to beat out journeyman Derek Anderson, who by the way demonstrated his being a better QB than Quinn in college also when his Oregon State team shredded Quinn's Notre Dame in a bowl game (Quinn = 0 - 3 in bowl games, 0 - 4 against USC, not only 1 - 2 against Michigan but played terribly in the one game he did win.)

When Jackson got his first shot at starting last season (in his second season, which incidentally is faster than a former I - AA player should get on the field to begin with)  the media pretended as though he played as poorly as some guys who were so bad that they never even made it through a whole season like Ryan Leaf, Akili Smith, Heath Shuler, Cade McKnown ... guys who were drafted much more highly by the way. The truth is that had Jackson not missed three games due to injury—and had not been limited and limping when he did return—he would have led them to the playoffs.

And this year it has gotten even more ridiculous.

First, some of these folks are actually claiming that John David Booty—the sole reason that USC didn't go 26-0 the last two seasons—would beat him out. Then, they tried to pressure Minnesota into going after every free agent QB in the league, claiming, "Minnesota is SUCH a good team and the ONLY thing that is keeping them from winning a Super Bowl is not having a QB."

Right...as if there haven't been LOTS of teams in this situation in the past few years? I don't recall the "Let's get this team a QB!" campaign for recent Carolina, Tampa Bay, Baltimore, Chicago, Miami, etc.—all teams that had everything but an average signal caller, especially before that QB even had a full season of games under his belt.

What really took the cake was the media's attempt to link Chad Pennington of all people to Minnesota. Look, Brad Childress's version of the West Coast offense requires a QB with the arm strength to get the ball to the corner and down the field. (As a matter of fact pretty much all versions of the west coast offense do, as Joe Montana's allegedly weak arm was mostly urban legend.) But Pennington couldn't get the ball outside the hashmarks BEFORE he had reconstructive surgery on his shoulder cuffs. And when was the last time Pennington made it through an entire season? Now Brett Favre I can understand (and even then weren't there other teams for the media to spend two months trying to force Favre into?), but Pennington is supposed to be the guy that led the Vikings to the Super Bowl? Based on what? Seriously, the Jets drafted Kellen Clemens to replace Pennington for a reason.

It is almost as if the media doesn't want Jackson to have a fair shot. How else can you explain them going bonkers over Minnesota drafting the guy, trying to get them to draft someone else to replace him before the guy played in a single game, and again after Minnesota went 8-4 in his first year as a starter and second year in the league?

Again, had Jackson not gotten injured, Minnesota would have easily made the playoffs. Not only did they go 0-4 during the games that Jackson missed, but since like most west coast QBs Jackson is a scrambler who makes a lot of plays with his legs (either as a runner or rolling out of the pocket and throwing on the run) his groin injury severely limited his effectiveness when he did come back.

I just want to know what it is that the media has against the guy. Does he have a bad attitude or a history of off-the-field problems or something? In any event, the media's attempts to run Jackson out of Minnesota are proof that Rush Limbaugh's claims that the media promotes black quarterbacks because of political correctness is false.

Do not get me wrong, I am not a fan of Jackson or even of the Vikings. And I do consider the fact that the fellow could not win the starting job at Arkansas to be a trouble sign (although to be fair, the guy who beat him out at Arkansas, Matt Jones, was one of the better college QBs that I have ever seen ... he saved Houston Nutt's job ... I still think that Jones will be a great NFL player if he ever applies himself because he was an outstanding college player ... I still remember the game where he beat Vince Young and Texas practically all by himself, and the game was in Austin!). I just think that the guy deserves a shot to succeed or fail just like every other draft pick without the media trying to run him off; why he is the one guy in the NFL that the media is trying to get replaced.