Cult Of The Quarterback: Why NFL Rules To Protect The QB Erode The Game

Bleacher ReportSenior Analyst INovember 26, 2009

Here is a topic that grinds my gears: the debate on whether the NFL should inordinately protect the quarterback, and whether it makes the game better.

Frankly, I think it makes the game worse. To me, it is the same as home runs from steroids, only in the NFL it is a codified inflation of stats.

Statistics don't make the game better, they make it worse. It is that simple. 

Remember the movie The Incredibles ? In this case, stats aren't special when nearly every quarterback has comparable stats. The numbers are nihilistic. Rather than making the game exciting, they become more of a sedative than an endorphin.

Since 2004, two quarterbacks—Peyton Manning and Tom Brady—have broken the single-season record for touchdown passes, with Daunte Culpepper also coming close.

Never mind the glaring fact that Randy Moss is the common factor in the stats of Culpepper and Brady, because the mental conditioning that NFL fans are supposed to worship is that quarterback stats are independent. 

This must be why many NFL fans despise wide receivers that celebrate a touchdown.

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I don't assert that Manning and Brady are bad quarterbacks, but simply that their stats have been inflated.

Many players routinely beat the stats of yesteryear, and we're supposed to believe that the "new" record is better than the old record. To me, it's nothing more than an arcade game with a high-scoring player named ASS.

Since 1999, no-name quarterbacks have routinely waltzed onto the team and succeeded, such as Kurt Warner, Tom Brady, and Jake Delhomme. 

Even Matt Hasselbeck with his bad back can throw touchdowns in the NFL. Rookie or first-year quarterbacks succeed like never before—Ben Roethlisberger, Joe Flacco, Matt Ryan, Philip Rivers, Tony Romo, Carson Palmer, and Matthew Stafford. 

Even Matt Cassel has succeeded, who had not started a game since high school. 

What I assert is that the pattern of practice squad quarterbacks, rookies, and no names ascending to stardom is the result of the rules to protect the quarterback. Obviously every team can't win, thus not every quarterback can succeed.

Yet, stats of recent have shown that quarterbacks whom pass over 220 yards are winning more than ever, unlike previous years. Thus, I must ask what has changed?  Are the quarterbacks on average getting better, are executives getting better at finding personnel, or is this the result of something newly inherent to the game such as rules to protect the QB?

Cassel is just one example. I gave many examples, but I highlight Cassel because I think the fact that he had not started since high school was the final nail in the coffin, and proof in the pudding that a quarterback does not have to be very good in order to succeed in the NFL, just lucky enough to play on a team loaded with hard working players desperately trying to make the team to make him look good.

Some would argue that Cassel's success is an indication of the Patriots system, when I think it's an indication that the NFL is easier for quarterbacks. Thus, I'm not impressed by quarterbacks as "independent" players, when they are dependent on the team.

If high school quarterback skills are transferable to the pro level—that should tell you something about the NFL. 

For quarterbacks, the NFL is arbitrarily kept at the same level as the high school game. While other players are expected to be inordinately better than their competition for their position, the quarterback is treated as a fully actualized person who doesn't need to learn, adapt, mature, or continue to improve.

If defenders find an upper hand, the NFL will say, "you can't do that," rather than tell the quarterback to improve. 

The NFL wonders why players like Pacman Jones act out in generalized frustration.

It could also be why, on average, black players in the NFL are more athletic than white players. We know that biologically people are roughly the same. There's no biological reason that black athletes are often more athletic than white athletes.

So, the problem could be environmental, cultural, or systematic.

Generally, black players don't get the opportunity to be freeloading quarterbacks. They are expected to work harder to make QBs look good, and let them take all the credit too. 

Meanwhile, white quarterbacks, don't have to work as hard to be on the field because the league carves out a position tailor-made to their limited skills.

Paychecks have nothing to do with the stratification in the NFL.


The NFL rules have made the game easier for the quarterback. Team's defenses are predicated on the notion that "defenseless" quarterbacks should be protected with exclusive rules.

Some defenders claim that quarterbacks should be protected from concussions and even wax emphatic for the "poor babies," who instead, should be subject to the same violence of the game as other players.

In the NFL, defensive players like Pacman Jones get suspended while "defenseless" quarterbacks accused of rape are protected by the NFL and media. Of course, I'm referring to Ben Roethlisberger, whom has an history of concussions and stupid behavior (i.e. the motorcycle accident).

Ironically, the fact that people say quarterbacks like Roethlisberger must be protected because of concussions, should be an argument against Roethlisberger's credibility in the civil suit that charged him with rape, in that, with his mental health, what would he remember? 

Is he fully aware of where he is at all times?

If you're a quarterback concerned with concussions—then use your money to hire a specialist for a second opinion.

If you want to play football, you should be prepared to get hurt. If you're afraid to get hurt, don't play. Don't put the pussies on a pedestal (note: for those who are typically offended by that word, I ask that you consider the context and intent).

Like a cult follower, I do think that people truly believe that the quarterback should be above it all; that his stats are independent and earned only by him.

That is why a quarterback like Cassel had $60 million thrown at him by Kansas City for one season in New England, while receivers and running backs get demonized when they demand more money after a productive season (i.e. Brandon Marshall). The quarterback would demand more money, except he doesn't have too.

Remember this: the word "token" can be used to describe a "quarter," and thus in the NFL, the passer is really just the "token" back.

To the quarterbacks that whine, cry, and whimper about the violence of the game: Work harder and be quiet.

You have now been deprogrammed.


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