And, for decades, the position was manned by lily white quarterbacks who all looked vaguely like Chad Pennington. Now, the league has African-American quarterbacks (Donovan McNabb, Cam Newton, Jason Campbell, Michael Vick, Tarvaris Jackson), Hispanic-American quarterbacks (Tony Romo, Mark Sanchez) and a quarterback of Native American heritage (Sam Bradford). And the great thing is that no one ever mentions their races, other than as a point of pride perhaps. The idea that race had any impact on whether a quarterback could succeed in the NFL was always absurd. But it took someone like Doug Williams (and, to a lesser extent, the sadly forgotten James Harris) to make that obvious.
2. Speaking of Redskins quarterbacks, I heard a Redskins fan on sports talk radio asking if Rex Grossman was the type of quarterback who could lead a team to the Super Bowl. Check your history books, my friend. He already did it before, with the Bears. If the Redskins fall short, as they likely will this year, it won’t be Grossman’s fault.
3. It’s time for Cowboys fans to marry Tony Romo. After five years of a frustrating, up-and-down courtship, Romo proved on Sunday that he’s the type of quarterback you marry. Yes, he was largely responsible for the opening game loss to the Jets, with a fumble and an interception that never should have happened. But to come back on the field with a punctured lung and broken rib to lead the team to an OT victory over the 49ers should tell Cowboys ownership and fans even more about him. Had it happened in the post-season, we would be telling our grandkids about it. Simply, Romo stepped up and decided it was his team and that he was going to make sure they didn’t start out 0-2, even with the injury. And anyone who has ever had a broken rib can tell you that you can hardly speak, let alone move.
4. Jay Cutler had to hate Romo’s heroics. The lasting image of Romo will always be of him gutting it out with a broken rib. The lasting image of Cutler will always be of him standing alone on the sidelines, moping, in last year’s playoffs. Yes, Cutler had an injury. But Romo would have insisted on playing with the same injury. And, had his request been refused, you know he would have been right next to his backup barking instructions.
6. Just when you think you’ve seen everything in the NFL, you see something that you’ve never seen before. This week, it was Michael Vick’s injury. When have you ever seen a quarterback injured by being thrown into his own lineman?
7. The injury factor is why it is so difficult to make predictions in the NFL. During the preseason, I was bullish on the Chiefs. Now that their entire team has suffered simultaneous, season-ending knee injuries, I’m glad I didn’t put that prediction in writing anywhere. And you can still find pre-season magazines talking about the Colts’ Super Bowl chances, which of course went out the window when Peyton Manning had another operation on his neck. That said, barring an injury to Matt Ryan or Tom Brady, I’d predict a Falcons-Patriots Super Bowl. And if not that, Packers-Patriots.
8. I’m still not sold on Mark Sanchez. And you shouldn’t be either, Jets fans. But if he gets injured, the Jets season ends right there.
9. Do you recall last year’s Bills quarterback battle between Ryan Fitzpatrick and Trent Edwards? Bills fans do, and they were more or less equally divided in support of those two QBs. I’ll bet half of them are hoping their friends have forgotten about that debate. It may prove to be a mirage, but Fitzpatrick has made some huge strides since that battle was settled.
10. By the way, that Chad Pennington comment in the first paragraph wasn’t meant to be a shot at him in any way. I was always a huge fan of his. The guy was a winner. Maybe he didn’t have the strongest of arms, but he was accurate as hell. In fact, next time you’re bored, take a look at the list of quarterbacks with the highest completion percentage in the history of the league. Yup, there’s Pennington at the top. He’s still young enough to return, even as a backup. And I hope he does.