OK I have to say this because it’s beginning to bother me entirely more than it should. Let me start by saying that I am a Patriots fan and I believe Tom Brady is the best ever! I also am an African American former college football player. Although I am happy with the Patriots’ big win, my joy has quickly turned into frustration over the treament of the Seahawks QB Russell Wilson and his status as a quarterback in the National Football League. What I don’t understand is why everyone seems to disrespect Russell Wilson like he’s some mid level quarterback. He is one of the best quarterbacks in the league! He has been the same if not better than Brady (the best ever) in his 1st three years, while probably never even throwing over 400 passes in a season! I’m just warming up…
“That was the Worst Call in NFL History”
Many people are jumping on the Deion Sanders and Michael Irvin bandwagon of the Seahawks’ final play being the worst play call in Super Bowl history and Russell Wilson’s lack of checking out of it, the worst QB decision in Super Bowl history (according to Prime Time). If that was the worst call and worst QB decision in Super Bowl history, then that must mean that Peyton Manning is the worst QB in Super Bowl history, because he was the one making the QB calls and decisions last year that got their doors blown off! Not to mention (yeah let’s mention) that the numbers say that he (Peyton Manning) is arguably the worst playoff QB in NFL history. But did they rip into the one who they say is arguably the best ever? Of course not they just chose to praise the other side ( Seattle’s Defense). If I’m not mistaken shouldn’t we be talking about Malcolm Butler and praising him saying that his play was arguably the best defensive play EVER in Super Bowl history? Of course not! That would be…well…way too accurate of an assessment to make.
Now back to the play call. Let me start by saying don’t mistake me as a arm chair quarterback. First, I’ve never played the QB position. Secondly, I know more football than most of those who get paid to know (or pretend they know) football (in my Barack Obama “I know football man” voice). The man upstairs just has me on different marching orders at this point and maybe before my dirt nap, he’ll allow me to work in the football/sports field. But until then I’m relegated to blog rants and late night conversations with my wife who tries really hard to listen to me until she realizes that their is no end in site (sorry sweetie). So back to the play call…
My nephew (who will be a great NFL pro player one day soon) called me and said that he too thought it was the wrong play to call by Seattle. I had to school him on how not so clear-cut the play calling situation was, as some people on TV were trying to make it out to be. I told him about the fact that you still have to play as if you won’t score on that 2nd down play, which allows you, if it’s incomplete to have two downs and a timeout left to try to win. If it’s incomplete, you still have a run pass option on 3rd and 4th down because you have a timeout left. If you run the ball and don’t score then you went all in on one down and are forced to pass on 3rd and 4th down. Now let me just add that I said all of this before Pete Carroll was interviewed to give his explanation of the play call. However, once coach Carroll made his explanation of what happened, it made even more sense to me. Coach Carroll said they came out in their 3 receiver package to RUN THE BALL, thinking it would keep the Patriots out of their goal line package- run stopping defense, so they could RUN THE BALL against an easier defense (yes I’m adding some explanation for emphasis). However, when the Patriots still came out in there goal line package- run stopping defense, at that moment it became a no-brainer for the Seahawks to attempt the pass on that play and still have a timeout and a run pass option after that play if it was incomplete. This was not the worst play call in SB history, it was an incredibly thought out process and only because a guy made a once in a lifetime play, are people, even football people, trying to over simplify the situation.
What we as fans witnessed on that play was a masterful chess game playing out in front of our eyes between two incredibly smart coaches and teams. One team’s player went check mate and took the game, and it just so happened to be my team; the Patriots. Now let me rant a little bit more on this… It’s people like Prime Time and Michael Irvin and the radio people that are bothering me the most. They would have never questioned Peyton Manning throwing in that situation, or Kurt Warner, John Elway, or even Tom Brady (who never had a great running back except Curtis Martin). You really think Brady would’ve put the game in someone else’s hands in that situation…yeah right! These radio and TV people have been inconsistently harder on Russell Wilson for one play, than they have been on Peyton Manning for an entire playoff career. It’s simply consistent, which is simply not right.
“But Russell Wilson is Just Not Elite”
I’m just shocked at how people are questioning if Russell Wilson is an elite QB. That’s just nonsense if you truly understand the trajectory and progression of an NFL quarterback. No one is questioning if Andrew Luck is elite. But all he has done is look just like Manning and Elway in his 1st few years in the league…a great regular season QB thus far. So all I am saying is how about we praise a brother (and by this I mean an African American) for what he really is; an elite Quarterback. Now if for some reason you respond by saying, “it’s not a color thing but it’s simply a quarterback thing”; then by your same words that means that Tom Brady (who is the greatest ever) was not considered elite in his 3rd year in the league; which we all know that not to be true. We were already calling him the next Montana! If you want to say the numbers say Russell Wilson is not elite, then I ask what numbers are you talking about? The numbers that matter; those numbers (from Tony Drovetto of Seahawks.com) seems to say other wise:
1. He’s 10-1 vs Super Bowl winning QBs
2. He Has The Most Regular Season Wins By A Starting QB In His First 3 Seasons (36) in NFL history
3. He’s 1 Of only 3 Quarterbacks To Throw At Least 50 TDs In His First 2 Seasons (Manning & Marino NOT Brady, Luck, Montana, or Rodgers)
4. He’s 1 Of 2 Players With 50-Plus Passing TDs & 1,000-Plus Rushing Yards In Any Two-Year Span (Randall Cunningham)
This is better than Brady in his 1st three years…all except falling one play short of having 2 rings. What makes me more upset is how people praise Andrew Luck…Andrew has done nothing yet. It’s hard for me not to think that race indirectly (or directly) is not playing a part in people’s perception of Russell Wilson because we’ve never been accustomed to talking about a black quarterback as one of the greatest (except Warren Moon and that was after the fact).
Radio host, TV analysts and commentators, former great players, you name it; they are calling him not elite or the second option on his team…ridiculous! So unless you want to say that Tom Brady was an average QB in his 1st three years (which no one will say); stop saying it about Russell Wilson who is on track to be one of the best QBs ever in league history. If you look at his numbers, compared to Brady at this point; he is statistically better than Brady (the Manning argument), has been just as clutch than Brady, and was a yard away from having the same amount of rings as him (the Brady argument). Let’s continue…
He has done all of this with probably as a half as many throwing attempts. So he’s been a combination of Tom Brady and Randall Cunningham (in his prime who was at one point larger than Michael Jordan) in his 1st three years. You’re telling me that is not elite? If that’s not elite then I don’t know what elite is! Russell Wilson wants to win 6 rings, and according to the stats that matter, he may very well get 6 chances to do so, which sounds similar to another elite QB we know. If you still haven’t had enough or haven’t figured out yet that I’m the last person you want to get into a debate with (don’t believe me…just watch) then let’s continue…
If your argument is now what most radio and TV people are feeding you about the numbers saying the Seahawks’ passing offense ranks 20th something in the league and there it is; he’s average. Great and to that I say there I have you again. Let’s talk elite QB and team passing rankings. Here are “elite Brady’s” passing rankings during his 1st three Super Bowl runs:
2001: ranked 22nd
2003: ranked 9th behind teams like the Vikings, Titans, Bucs, Chiefs, and the Seahawks…none of which had elite QBs
2004: ranked 11th behind teams like the Oakland Raiders, Tennessee Titans, Minnesota Vikings, Philadelphia Eagles, and Carolina Panthers…none of which had elite QBs.
But let’s also deal with the argument that it’s Russell Wilson’s defense and not him that has his numbers so good. Well we never talk about the Patriots and Tom Brady’s defense (which I’m a defensive guy) in the way that we talk about the Seahawks’ defense. No, we talk about Tom Brady and what he did over those 3 Super Bowls years. Well we’ve seen their passing rankings over those years…average at best. But let’s look at their defensive rankings over those glorious Tom Brady- the next Montana years.
Patriots Defensive Rankings:
2001: Ranked 6th
2003: Ranked 1st
2004: Ranked 2nd
Why are we not talking about the Patriots’ defense during that time being one of the great defenses ever during their Super Bowl runs? Or at least state what seem to be pretty obvious, that those defenses won Tom those championships. Would talk about it because it’s simple; because it was about Tom Terrifc and not the defense! Again the stats simply say Tom and Russell are nearly identical over their first three years. So if one is average then they both are average, and if one was elite than they both are elite. But not only is this not the line of reasoning taken by most; some people act as if it’s not even close. What other explanation is there at this point is than the fact that Russell Wilson is not being judged, assessed, and viewed the same as other similar QBs of a different color who have done the same things he has done. Just sayin…
The Sweet & Bitter Final Word
There are no more excuses. I am a Patriots fan and was one of the few who actually knew Brady would be better than Bledsoe, even when he hadn’t played yet (ask my wife). I said the same about Russell Wilson before he played; that he was arguably the best QB in his draft (check my tweet to Pete Carroll prior to Russell’s rookie season). And I was shocked that he was taken so late in the draft. But just like Brady… he’s done nothing but prove me right!
However, in addition to being a Patriots fan, I am also an African American male who knows the game of football really well. I know that all things are not being seen as equal right now when it comes to how Russell Wilson is being viewed and talked about IN COMPARISON to how others with same or lesser accomplishments are be spoken about. If you want to say to me, “Tommy let’s not make this into a color or race issue, let’s keep it merely a quarterback issue”; to that my response is simply this…
“I couldn’t agree with you more.”
Dear sports world, let’s just accept the fact that you’ve had double standards on this issue and apologize (in the spirit or demands of Robert Kraft)…oh and let’s change our tone about one of the elite QBs in the NFL today; Russell Wilson. Who is on pace to do what Brady and Montana has done…become one of the GOATs (Greatest Of All Time)!
Go Patriots! Go Russell Wilson!
Dr. Tommy Shavers