CUE NARRATOR: And now for the exciting conclusion of word cluster theater -- a Quinn Martin Production!
Tonight's episode ... "Muduh-Faduh-Gahd ..."
Which, picking up where I left off last time, is what I mutter every single time I watch Tom Brady play the quarterback position -- as in, "Muduh-Faduh-Gahd I wish he was on my team!"
Don't get me wrong -- my heart will always belong to Jim Kelly. He's my guy. Irish tough, full of swagger, a dynamic passer, and let the record show he is the last significant quarterback who actually called his own plays.
Jim had a magic I miss to this day, and if it's time to grab some drinks down at the Swannie House, it's game, set, and match, Kelly. But Jim is retired, so I am left to wonder…
Is there an honest football fan among you who won't admit to the Brady yearning? Even those of you who have it great? Bengals fan? Come on down! Colts nation? Yes, I mean you! Don't be ashamed. I root for a team in his division, I don't like it any more than you. But this Brady thing… it's bigger than all of us.
Let's face it – everything is advantage Brady.
It's his world; we're just suffering it. Last week against Dallas, in the tilt formerly known as the "game of the year," Brady grossly overthrew Randy Moss on not one, but two wide-open flea flickers – and yet we all knew he'd get the win… and a million TDs. Why? Because he is already the best QB who ever played the game. There, I said it.
Oh, we all had our shot – Tommy boy was pick No. 199 in the 2000 draft. Hey, Chargers fan – you scored with LT at No. 4 – and you still blew it! That's how freakish his success is.
The man walked on the field after a Drew Bledsoe injury, started winning, and never stopped. No growing pains, no slumps, no stinkers. With the exception of one weird game I recall him playing in Miami, this guy just doesn't mess up at a position so complex it makes even the great ones look terrible from time to time. This year happens to be extra shiny because he's got the A+ receiving corps he always deserved. So what? Tom played great football even when the Pats sent Deion Branch packing, leaving his cupboard bare of an alpha dog WR.
I find myself trying to think of another quarterback who never had a bad spell. You know -- those inescapable moments when a QB looks so lost he gets booed at a home game. Let's call it the HERO & GOAT SYNDROME.
Comes with the territory. Except in New England. Oh, someday Brady might be 40 and scurrying behind a crappy O-line, but it's yet to happen. Newsflash: Tom Brady is in his eighth season as a pro -– and he has yet to be the goat. I know he rode the pine for a year, but that's supernatural, baby.
No QB in the history of the league has escaped this one ... except Tom. He even escaped fallout over Bridget Moynihan. Is he a terrible cad or a terrible victim? We don't know ... but we forgive him. Boy, winning is some sweet, sweet cologne.
Maybe you can help me with this one, because in my world, all the greats get pelted and crapped on. It's not a question of "if," but "when." Brett Favre is back to form this year ... after a few years marked by all those crazy, gunslinger interceptions that made him look like the problem, not the solution.
Terry Bradshaw? Tons of rings, but the early years were a nightmare. Anyone else remember when Steelers fans were clamoring for Terry Hanratty?
Elway? Great finish, rough entry.
Marino? Technically great passer, but when we consider the QB pantheon, he just didn't win enough when it counted.
Ditto Moon. Ditto Fouts. Steve Young? Pretty freakin' great, but like so many, it took time for greatness to gel.
Bart Starr? Interesting. You could make a case, but I say Lombardi's Packers were built to run the ball. Starr took his shots, but his greatest attribute was knowing when to attack and when not to mess up a good thing. I have a lot of admiration for Starr, yet I still lean to Brady. The same could be said for Troy Aikman, who might have given Brady a run, but we'll never know because those great Dallas teams were also classic run first, pass second.
The only QBs that merit consideration? I'll go with Montana and Unitas. If they got booed, I didn't hear it, and they were winners. Now, finally, we are in a zone I like to call classy problems, and you know something? Watching Brady dissect the entire league is a classy problem, too.
I say enjoy it, because these guys don't come along but once or twice in a lifetime. I had the joy of watching Bobby Orr change our concept of what one man can do on the ice, and it was the kind of magic that transcends all things – even your allegiances. I have a "Best of Orr" VHS tape that I still watch to this day. I find myself yelling and making strange sounds ... the kind that come from a joyous and instinctive place that remains astonished. It's nice, and you know what? I got to watch Gretzky do it all over again. Made me feel lucky. Crazy thought, but maybe we should all enjoy this Brady while it's fresh.
Got some interesting mail after I derided the rule-changed muck that is the CFL and Arena football, including…
I guess it's healthy to argue, a good relationship needs give and take, Yin and Yang. I've agreed and enjoyed your musings for far too long! The sound you're not hearing is me rolling up my sleeves ...
Loved your comment about no bad pizza, but then you tweaked my nose with the whole CFL bashing. I'm sorry, I'm sensitive. I'm a former Blue Bomber, yep, Win-Less-Peg. After my attempt at "pro" football fizzled in the USFL (Jacksonville), the Bombers came a-callin' and, not wanting to be rude to our Neighbors to the North, I made my way to the Great White North. But I digress... There are certain aspects of the Canadian game that intrigue me and I find myself longing for, like, no fair catch. Not that I want to see a talent like Devin Hester laid out like a Halloween scarecrow, but he has the God-given talent to survive that rule and thrive as do a handful of others in the league. And forward motion on a limited basis (1-2 receivers) wouldn't set the game back to the dark ages.
Sorry, I had to get that out.
I also played for a time in the service in Germany -- that's right, Nick, now you can say you know an original Cologne Crocodile! One of the league requirements was to teach your position to a German. Does my heart good knowing there's at least three guys in lederhosen who know how to cut block.
Mike – Lederhosen aside, let's just hope they don't cut block Travis Johnson! That being said, my hat is off to you, sir, and let the record show that for all my opinions I never fielded one damn punt in my entire life -- let alone with a gaggle of pro headhunters bearing down on me. Top that with no fair catch option, and all I can do is confirm that the manly house bows to your clearly superior manliness.
P.S. -- my mom is from Edmonton, so I have a lot to thank the great white North for – Nick
Anyway, I wanted to get your take on the "last-minute field goal timeout called from the sidelines" controversy. I mean what's the big deal? Kickers nowadays are too good and 50-plus yarders have become routine. I kinda like that rule and I hope they keep it, cause it adds a nice lil' childish "nah nah na nah nah" moment for the coaches. It's bad enough you have to get a subpoena before you can get within 5 yards of those oh-so-special teams divas. So let the opposing coach have his fun. It's a double-edged sword anyway, and I can't wait for the day a coach ices a missed FG and has to take that long walk to the press conference podium after the second one is good.
Keep up the good word.
Drew -– It's a tough year for everyone who lives and dies with the AFC East now that New England is pillaging at will. As for the kicker "freeze," I am steadfastly against anything that adds yet another commercial break during the final four minutes of a game.
I think I speak for all of us when I say that if I have to listen to that banal John Mellencamp "trucks is America" song one more time, I am going to go Elvis and shoot out my Bose system. Cougar, baby, you don't need the money. It's time to stop trying to be the cornpone Bruce Springsteen. I'm still waiting for you to top Hurts So Good.
As for kickers, they bring enough drama to the proceedings without some head coach forcing us to watch them go to their secret "safe place" while waiting out a last-second time out. I have no choice but to narrate their inner monologues: "Dear mother –- it's cold here in Missouri, and my thoughts wander to the sun-lit days of my youth ..."
I guess we'll have to wait for it to blow up on Belichick before the rules change.