In the world of pro sports, there are certain positions on a team that go virtually unnoticed. Most people do not really pay any attention to what goes on with many football positions. If an offensive tackle in the NFL has a great game, normally the only people who notice are the coaches. The average fan very seldom notices the line play unless someone jumps offside 10 times a game. Then the wrath of fans will come down on that particular player. But that level of anonymity does not hold true if you are a quarterback of an NFL team. In fact, I believe that there is no position in any professional sport that is more scrutinized than that of an NFL quarterback.
You could make the case for other sports positions. A goalie in the NHL is certainly under the watchful eye of many as is a pitcher of a major league team, or maybe even an NFL field goal kicker. A goalie in the NHL might be the most important position on any sports team but I do not think they get the level of scrutiny as an NFL quarterback. The NFL is a far more popular league and a player’s performance, good or bad, gets more attention from fans and the media. Just ask the likes of Tim Tebow and Mark Sanchez. Sports talk radio and quarterback bashing go hand in hand. I know since my favorite team, the Minnesota Vikings has a much maligned quarterback starting for them right now, Christian Ponder. He is one bad game from being run out of town right now.
Let’s face it, it is very difficult to win in today’s NFL without a good starting quarterback. The league has developed into a big time passing league and you need someone at the helm who has good accuracy and can make great decisions with the ball. Some guys have it and some do not. The decision-making process is what separates the haves from the have not quarterbacks. Nearly every qb in the league has a great arm and can throw the ball well when left with time but those who can make plays while under duress are the great ones. A team who has that type of player ought to lock that player into a nice long-term contract because they are a rare breed.
It is easy to take shots at your quarterback and rip him but many times, a quarterback is only as good as his offensive line or receivers. In Ponder’s case, his offensive line has been non-existent at times this season. How can you fault a qb who has no time to throw the football? A strong offensive line is very vital to a quarterback’s success. The same holds true of his receivers. Just as a quarterback has to improvise when the play breaks down, the receivers have to come back to the ball and get open again. A good receiver can make life so much easier for a quarterback as well.
Many fans like to criticize a player for throwing multiple interceptions during a game but are the picks really on the quarterback? Perhaps the receiver did not run the proper route or maybe somebody on the line missed a blocking assignment. I think quarterbacks get way too much of the blame at times. Sure, some cannot hit the broad side of a barn with their throws and they deserve the criticism. But when is a receiver blamed for not running the proper route or a linemen criticized for getting constantly beat on the line?
Sports talk shows are filled with many arm-chair quarterbacks who want to bench their starting quarterbacks. I wish many of those passionate fans would just take a deep breath and maybe review some of the plays. Maybe the starting offensive tackle should get benched. I would drive off the road if I heard somebody call into a sports radio talk show and demand that!! But it is usually the starting qb who gets all the blame. No doubt, their position is one of the most glamorous in the game and they usually get all the fanfare and hot women. But when things go wrong, lookout!! Fans will be screaming to kick the bum out of town. Besides the president, an NFL quarterback must have the most thick skin of any person in this country. I do not envy their position at all.