I’m not saying I would ever, ever, ever stream sports online. But I totally understand why people like Tom Brady do it. Whether you’re watching the Super bowl in Costa Rica like Brady did or you’re a helpless victim of the NFL’s notorious blackout rules, or you just want to see the damn Sixers play the Heat and you don’t have Philadelphia CSN, live streaming sports can be key to the plugged-in sports lovers experience.
For bloggers like myself live streams can be key to being able to speak to the sport with authority. We don’t get free game film from the NFL or NBA etc. I personally rely on NFL game rewind to make sure I saw what I thought I saw, or to get caught up on a team before I write about them. In a perfect world I’d have satellite TV and could DVR games using NFL ticket. But guess what? I can’t get a satellite where I live, I have to have cable. And the NFL has an exclusive deal with DirectTV. My cable provider is Comcast.
Obviously SOPA and PIPA and ACTA and other legislation have really put “piracy” on the map again. So now the government has seized about 16 sites that stream live sports. More have popped up already but I can imagine the government is going to go all Whack-A-Mole here (at least for a little while). I can only hope for the sake of sports fans everywhere that this is like every other government crack down—they send a message for a while and then realize there’s no way they can possibly keep up with the internet’s steady-moving targets.
I wish that sports leagues (and record companies for that matter) would just get with the times. Nobody wants to pay $10 for a shitty cd with two good songs on it. And, nobody wants to pay 2389042038 to buy NFL ticket or 2389042038 to go to games + concessions + parking (not to mention traffic headaches in many areas of the country). Sometimes you just want to catch a good game without all the hassle and expense, and as long as ticket prices and cable prices are sky fucking high that’s not going to change.
Last week was a week of QB overstatements. New York Jets Coach Rex Ryan said Jets QB Mark Sanchez is elite. New York Giants QB Eli Manning said he was in Tom Brady’s class of QBs (i.e. elite). And, somehow, the delusion managed to leave NY and travel all the way down to Baltimore where 3rd year QB Joe Flacco of the Ravens said he was a top 5 QB (i.e. elite).
I’m all for players (and coaches) fighting to get a place in the top player conversation. I’ve blogged about that before in reference to Donovan McNabb. The truth is, once people say something enough, people start to believe it. And once people believe something ain’t much that will change their mind. So hats off to Flacco, E. Manning, and Rex Ryan for trying to drive the conversation.
I don’t agree with what they said though.
Which brings me to the point of this post. What is an elite QB?
One of the reasons I hate getting into debates about “who’s the best such and such” or “who’s the top such and such” is because there are NEVER any parameters. Someone arguing for Tony Romo will cite his completion rate, somebody arguing for Brady will mention Superbowls, someone arguing for Rivers will emphasize passing yards.
*Enter conversation that goes round and round and never ends*
That’s why those kinds of debates make great fodder…everyone can argue forever and the only loser is my last nerve.
Short on that kind of patience, I boil my analysis of elite QB down to one question:
Can the QB do something on a CONSISTENT basis that no one else can do?
And by no one I mean, almost no one. But you get my point. A QB needs to have some sort of talent that makes them unique or rare. That talent needs to be CONSTANT–not appear in flashes here and there.
From my perspective:
Ben Roethlisberger is agile and tough enough to defy almost any defender—though Richard Seymour might want to have a word with me about this. He also has an uncanny ability to extend plays.
Tom Brady’s decision making is top notch. He just has a feel for the game that is unmatched.
Michael Vick’s athleticism and ability to extend a play puts him in a class of his own regardless of what other weaknesses he may have. And long passes are effortless for him, so is scrambling when he needs to.
Drew Brees’ ability to create a play with his arm is as stunning as it is fun to watch. Pro Football Focus found that if you discount spikes, dropped balls and grounded balls, Brees and Brady were the most accurate QBs of 2010. Brees also knows how to find weaknesses and exploit them.
Aaron Rodgers’ versatility makes him a complete QB with some real strengths in every area of measure. In particular, he can threat the needle and he has a quick release.
I can’t think of any “rare something” possessed by Eli Manning or Mark Sanchez that impresses me game after game. When I can, I’ll consider them elite.
That doesn’t mean they’re not good. Mark Sanchez has accomplished a lot in a short period of time and shows flashes of brilliance. Eli Manning has a Superbowl under his belt and managed to do it with the entire New York media firing shots directly at his butt cheeks. And Flacco is still the only rookie in NFL history to win two playoff games.
But good is not elite. And by my measuring stick they fall short.
So now you have my criteria. What’s yours?
Update: Sanchez became the 2nd rookie to play in two playoff games. Thanks for the correction @klew24. Maybe I blocked that out because I hope the Jets go up in flames. ^_^
This week Dan Patrick at Sports Illustrated reported that former Charger/Cowboy/Seahawk/Buc Ryan Leaf said he wishes he hadn’t gone # 2 in 1998.
..Ryan Leaf remains the most notorious QB bust in recent NFL history. Looking back, Leaf wishes he hadn’t gone No. 2 in 1998. “I was a very entitled and very spoiled athlete at that time,” Leaf told me. “You don’t want to say the money changes you, but it definitely does. I think getting drafted later would have been a benefit.”
I agree with Leaf and it’s part of the reason I can’t wait to see what happens with my new object-of-football-affection former Arkansas Razorback now New England Patriot Ryan Mallet. Mallet fell down in the draft but was eventually taken by the Patriots in the 3rd round.
I thought this was great for Mallet, especially if he gets to succeed a very successful Tom Brady who, himself, was pushed into starting when Belichick plucked him from fourth string and dumped Drew Bledsoe in his favor.
Leaf’s weirdly protracted stint in the NFL wasn’t just riddled with bad play, it was marred by him being a bad person in general. Mallet has developed a reputation for being a bit of an asshole. Some of that reputation was built up by a bored media and underhanded team staff, but Mallet has admitted to drug use and his personality is definitely rough around the edges. Starting behind someone is a great way to give a kid like that a little perspective on things.
I think Tom Brady, in addition to folks like Aaron Rodgers are proof of how much playing behind a great QB can help in the modern game no matter the draft number. Brady wasn’t even picked up until the 5th round. If Mallet goes on to be be a great QB and Cam Newton, the #1 pick, fizzles out after a couple seasons with the Carolina Panthers, it doesn’t mean Mallet was always destined to be a better QB. Seems like people tend to look back on busts and say someone else should have been drafted instead when other factors play a role.
To use Leaf as an example, Matt Hasselback was drafted the same year as Leaf in the sixth round and began his NFL career on Green Bay’s practice squad behind Brett Favre “the quarterback whisperer.” Even Brian Griese, also drafted in 1998 but in the 3rd round stuck around the NFL until the late 2000s despite being injury prone.
After watching some of the tragic QB performances of last year, and quite frankly the year before, I’ve gotten super into QB development. If the current normal is to have at least 50 QBs start and at least 72 take a snap at some point in the season, QB support has got to become a priority in the NFL. Anyway, I’ll be blogging about this more in the coming months as I chat with some people and get some ideas.
I think that also might inspire me to do some QB controversy posts…lots of QB struggle going on across the league.
According to Sports Illustrated Peter King and a few others, the NFL called all 8 remaining teams and put them on notice about trash talk. This feels a little like when your teacher would say if Mike doesn’t get quiet none of you are getting ice cream. Then you’re left to wonder why the fuck should Mike’s loud mouth stand between me and two delicious scoops of pecan praline?
We all know that the Jets are the primary trashtalkers, so this move by the NFL was obviously a roundabout way of shutting them down.
The Jets are a bunch of *insert racially insensitive term that conveys shucking and jiving.* Starting with the Coach they’re just very annoying on a whole. Most of us noticed how annoying they were LONG before this week. But perhaps this week with comments from Bart Scott, Antonio Cromartie, on top of Rex Ryan’s usual diarrhea of the mouth it was all just too much.
I’m sure the NFL is sensitive to the fact that the playoffs draw in more casual fans of the game which makes them pay more attention to news coverage. I get that they don’t want people to think that this is all the game is.
Football isn’t a pretty sport. I would expect men who violently run into each other and get sewn up on the sidelines like soldiers on a warfield to talk a little trash when feeling confident. I mean we can’t all have split personalities like the soft-spoken and downright chirpy hitman Troy Polamalu.
Besides it’s not the Jets fault that the media is feeding into their plan to have them focus on the trash talk rather than endless non flattering comparisons of Sanchez to Brady or harping on the 45-3 shut out.