"If you haven't played the game of football, you couldn't possibly understand."
--Ryan Leaf, 1998
One of my favorite blogs on the web is Shutdown Corner over at Yahoo Sports. They don't take football as seriously as your typical Oakland resident and they generally focus on the lighter side of today's NFL--always good traits to have. Recently, they brought us some hard-hitting information on the woman that charged $95,000 on Reggie Wayne's credit card, and previously waxed poetic on Jared Allen's mullet lifestyle. In short, the kind of stuff that is simply awesome.
My favorite thing they do, however, is to point out some rather interesting and controversial perspectives of athletes.
Which brings me to a recent quote from Aaron Rodgers. In the last few months, Rodgers has been feeling a little frisky (or upset that he was chosen behind Alex Smith?) and has hammered draft analysts like Todd McShay on his Twitter account for, in his opinion, not being well versed enough in the technical aspects of reading defenses.
A few days ago, he gave an interview to a local Milwaukee-ESPN affiliate and decided to do some more blasting of the media. When asked about the kinds of analysts he respects, he had this to say:
A good starting point is if you have played in the league and had some success. I'm not talking about you. I'm talking about guys on ESPN and stuff like that. (Editor: What about Ron Jaworski?) I like him, but, when I was coming out, he did the worst segment in the history of TV about me talking about my fundamentals. It was not even close to anywhere near my fundamentals. The first time I met him, someone introduced me to him and I said, ‘Yeah I know him. He's the guy who ripped me before the draft.' The rest of the night he told me how great I was. I was like, ‘I know your song and dance.' And now he loves me. I like Trent. He does a good job. He's had success at the position. You look at Marcellus Wiley up there talking about quarterback play. The guy was a defensive end for a few years in the league. He's not any good.
First, let me say that I think Rodgers is Top-5 with respect to Quarterbacks in the NFL. And if the Broncos could get him as their quarterback tomorrow, they should do it. But he's dead wrong about analysts. Under Rodgers' criteria, the only viable perspective one can get in the media is from former quarterbacks who have had success in the NFL (like Dilfer,and his level of success is debatable). So Ron Jaworski, shut your trap--despite putting up better numbers as a player than Dilfer. According to Rodgers, even former NFL players should not be respected when talking about a position they did not play. Marcellus Wiley, you're fired.
In the world of Aaron Rodgers, Tom Jackson should only talk about linebackers, Keyshawn Johnson about wide receivers, and Chris Berman about picking up chicks wearing leather pants in Scottsdale, Arizona sports bars.
This is simply absurd, unless, of course, you'd like to see who Emmitt Smith is picking in his mock draft this year or listen to another diatribe from Steve Young on the virtues of Jay Cutler.
The same criticism that gets leveled at Mel Kiper, Jr. each and every year is that he never played the game. But who cares? If the guy spends every waking moment of his life in his parents' living room breaking down tape and he can give me a good read on the prospects of Jeff George becoming a bust, I don't care if he delivers Dominos Pizza for a living. I want to hear what he has to say.
Rodgers' quote reminded me of something I heard from Brandon Marshall last year regarding the extent of his hamstring injury and Josh McDaniels:
I don't think coach ever played in the NFL, so for my hamstring to be feeling the way it felt, it's tough for me to go out there and expect to play at a high level.
Like Rodgers, Marshall feels criticism leveled by those who have never played in the NFL is unwarranted. Give me a break. Josh McDaniels has coached long enough to have seen hundreds of hamstring injuries. Just because he's never had a live trip to Revis Island doesn't mean he can't diagnose whether a player is capable of playing with a hamstring injury or not.
Imagine if we did this in other instances. Bill James, the father of Sabermetrics, and arguabley, the most influential thinker in Major League Baseball in the last quarter century, has never faced Roger Clemens. He's never successfully executed a delayed steal. He couldn't even throw a cut slider to save his life. But in the world of Aaron Rodgers, a guy like Bill James isn't worth much. That position he enjoys with the Boston Red Sox? Dump him.
But why stop there? Let's dismiss the Football Outsiders. As far as I know, they've never taken on Mike Singletary in the hole. Let's ignore innovators like Brian Burke at Advanced NFL Statistics. He's never taken a hit from John Lynch.
And let's cut loose that punk Woody Paige. He's too negative for my tastes, and what does he know? He only predicted the Broncos would draft Demaryius Thomas before anyone else. But he's never tackled John Elway. Neither have a lot of guys (the entire 1998 and 1999 Oakland Raiders, for instance).
Players like Aaron Rodgers and former-Bronco Brandon Marshall need to come back to reality. Instead of playing the you-never-played-the-game-of-football card, they ought to simply disagree with an individual´s perspective and leave it at that. Otherwise, I´ll assume Marcus Nash has more insight into the NFL than Peter King. Or that John Clayton is wrong more often than Jamie Dukes.
There are plenty of writers, former coaches, and even marginally-adequate college players not named Trent Dilfer who have insight into what's going on in the NFL. They may not always be right, and they may have even advocated taking Alex Smith as the first quarterback in his draft class, but they still have something useful to say.
Even Ron Jaworski. As the guys (simple bloggers, really) from Shutdown Corner point out:
Jaworski, who watches a ridiculous amount of tape at NFL Films in preparation for his work on "Monday Night Football" and "NFL Matchup," is rightfully perceived to be about as good as it gets when it comes to player breakdowns. I'd be interested to see Rodgers and Jaws discuss their differences and come to an agree-to-disagree compromise - I think he's earned more respect than Rodgers gives him.
Perhaps all of this nonsense from Rodgers really points out the need for the NFL to expand the regular season schedule. If it happened, we'd be talking more about actual games and less about Trent Dilfer.
And I'd have some stats to give you.