Today, Greg Cosell decided to drop some wisdom on the masses. He writes:
I remember Peyton Manning talking about the winning touchdown drive in the AFC Championship Game against the Patriots back in 2007 when we interviewed him for our “America’s Game” series...he went on to add that if Brady had followed with a Patriots touchdown in the final 54 seconds, no one would have remembered the Colts drive, as special as it was in Manning’s mind. His outstanding play would have been viewed through the prism of “he’s not a winner.” His performance would not have been any different. Again, perception without context and understanding.In 2011, one quarterback in particular fostered blind obedience by many observers to the phrase “he’s winner” without much thought as to why it was being said. Tim Tebow won seven of his first eight starts, a number of them in spectacular fashion with late-game heroics...Then came four losses in his last five games, during which Tebow, with the exception of the playoff win against Pittsburgh, played about as poorly as an NFL quarterback can play...So the question must be asked: Was Tebow a “winner” in some games, but not others? Did he not practice “winning” in the weeks leading up to those four losses?Let’s not focus on the specific quarterbacks I used as examples. If you do that, you are totally missing the point. My broader objective is to compel a re-thinking of the “winner” concept. When you drill down deeper, it’s really a term that has almost no meaning.
Cosell, the legendary NFL films guru, watches more film than Jenna Jameson, Mel Kiper Jr., and Francis Ford Coppola combined. His point is so profound, it's almost childlike in its clarity. Win? Lose? Often the difference is simply a matter of applying historical bias. Further, as Nassim Taleb, author of Fooled By Randomness would point out, in complex systems, the difference between the winners and losers can just as easily be ascribed to a random sample as it can be to an ex post facto description like "All he does is win."
In other words, Aaron Rodgers wasn't a winner until, well--he won.
From an evolutionary perspective, it makes sense. Human beings need to make sense of the world in order to make it their own--to survive, you might say. Back in the day, if your fellow caveman had the misfortune of being mauled by wild dogs, well, you might have said the Gods willed such misfortune because your fellow caveman was banging the Chief's daughter. Today, it's no different, just more refined. Tim Tebow (or John Skelton, it really doesn't matter) rips off some consecutive wins, and your mind can't possibly attribute it to randomness. The quickest way to avoid this discomfort is to create some voodoo chant like "He's a winner."
Greg Cosell is the James Randi of the NFL--a true skeptic of the football occult. Well done, sir.