The Elephant in the Locker Room: Coming Clean on My Dislike for Certain Star Quarterbacks
By Greg Wright
This week I watched A Football Life‘s episode about Hall of Famer QB Steve Young. If you’ve ever followed football, you probably remember that he took San Francisco back to the Super Bowl in the wake of the legendary Joe Montana’s departure for Kansas City. You may not remember that he started his NFL career in the USFL, or that SF was not his first NFL stop.
You also may not remember that he played scared, but I do.
I’m sure I’m displaying a former lineman’s bias, but I simply cannot stand quarterbacks with poor body language or prima donna attitudes. Even when I played intramural flag football at the UW (which was a lot more competitive and physical than it sounds) I wanted my QB to be a relentlessly positive leader, a gridiron Harry Truman who took no prisoners and pointed no fingers. And Steve Young was one of the first professionals I watched play whom I thought I would have a super-hard time respecting.
Take a look at his face, for just one example, while he’s executing one of his classic scrambles:
Not a face that would launch a thousand ships or inspire much confidence. That dude was terrified every time he touched the ball.
The Football Life segment was at least illuminating. It confirmed that Young didn’t understand the basics of leadership until very late in his career, and that his coaches had to constantly play him off against Montana and other QBs in order to properly motivate him to lead. And that now, years later, Young acknowledges those shortcomings.
Which brings me to the QB that the Hawks face tomorrow.
I’ve also never cared for Aaron Rodgers for similar reasons. Like Young, he has tremendous athletic skills. Like Young, he can pass from the pocket or scramble like Tasmanian Devil.
But like Young, he has terrible body language. And he consistently demonstrates, both on field and off, his disgust with his own errors, his intolerance for the mistakes of others, and what he perceives as the incompetence of his coaches.
Do you recognize Rodgers’ trademark smirk, pursed lips and eye-roll after passes bounce off the hands of his receivers, or when he doesn’t like a play call?
This is not a leader who has your back. This is a perfectionist who thinks everyone on the team is there merely to support him. And if you let him down, he’s likely to show you up on national TV.
Now, that’s a legitimate style of leadership that can work. But I don’t like it one bit.
And I don’t like to see my leader pound the ground with his fist after losing a fumble at the goal line, like he did against Dallas earlier this season.
And I certainly don’t like my QB to throw an F-bomb on national TV on the way back to the huddle.
Give me Russell Wilson any day over Rodgers.
At least I’ve never seen him pull a Matt Schaub, if you’ll recall that classic moment in 2013 when Sherman picked him off for a TD, the fifth week in a row that Schaub had given up a pick-six.
Schaub could never get his mojo back after that.
I’m just hoping that Michael Bennett and Cliff Avril will get in Rodgers’ face enough on Sunday to make his composure crack. Maybe two or three picks from the secondary.
Or maybe Mike McCarthy will do us a few favors in play calling, like he did in the NFC Championship game two seasons ago.
I really enjoy watching Rodgers squirm. He’s a much more entertaining loser than winner.
There’s always some key issue that’s getting glossed over. It’s the elephant in the locker room, if you will, and gosh darn if I’ll let that ride. Join us weekly for a little closer look at our NFC West Champions.