In the upcoming NFL draft, Andrew Luck is being hyped as the sure-fire first overall pick. He’s one of those guys pegged to one day be a Hall of Famer before he even takes a snap. Some say he’s even better looking than Peyton. Coming in slightly behind him in QB rankings in the draft (and likely at Number 2 overall) is Robert Griffin III. He’s being bandied as a Vick 2.0 type. A Cam Newton relation with blazing speed and a monster arm. But he’s no Andrew Luck. Good….but not quite Luck. Who can blame anyone making those assessments? Andrew Luck has the prototypical “size” for a QB and played amazingly in college. He’s got the arm, the mechanics, the speed, the toughness, and the “intangibles.” But what the fuck is an intangible?
There’s got to be some element of character or maturity that Andrew Luck has that Robert Griffin lacks right? Well let’s see….one started college early in 2008, finished a degree in political science two years later with a 3.7, and is going to finish his Master’s Degree before the draft. The other will be an engineer by the time the draft starts. The first is RGIII, the second is Andrew Luck. Can you judge who has the better “intangibles” from that alone? Both are undisputed team leaders and Griffin has proven to be the more charismatic one in public. Both study film endlessly. Luck had a 71.3% completion percentage. Griffin had a 72.4% rate. Luck broke the all-time Pac-10 QB efficiency rate with a 162.8 QB rating. Griffin shattered the standing all-time NCAA QB rating with a 189.5 rating (he was later beaten out by Russell Wilson’s phenomenal performance in the same year). Luck led Stanford (which was a preseason title contender) to a #7 ranking and a Fiesta Bowl victory. Griffin led a pretty shitty Baylor squad with an imaginary defense to a #12 ranking and one of the few bowl wins in school history. Who had “better” intangibles? Why is Luck the once in a generation great while RGIII is just the “next” Vick or the “next” Cam?
One word: it’s Whiteness. It’s the reason why Tim Tebow is in the league starting as a “winner” and Vince Young (clearly a better passer, as much of a “winner”) is probably gonna be a backup from here on out. It’s the reason why shitty white QBs get to stay around so long (Sanchez I’m looking at you) and struggling Black QBs get changed to “athletes” or WRs so quickly. It’s just easier for scouts and GMs to believe a guy is a good player if he fits a certain mold. If he doesn’t listen to hip-hop, won’t be a hip-hop reference, won’t dougie on the sidelines after a play, won’t thank his mama’nem after winning, and won’t be seen near a strip club or a Popeyes. It’s just harder to market Black guys as the faces of teams.
Even though I’ve considered this the “Age of the Black Quarterback,” aside from two teams (the Panthers and the Bucs), the teams that have Black QBs have always been “Black QB” teams. Teams that for some reason or the other have always played Black QBs. The traditional Black QB teams are Philly, Minnesota, and Oakland. Pretty much every Black QB you can name has gone through one or more of those teams. Outside of the teams mentioned so far, the only success I remember of a Black QB was in Atlanta…..which is the blackest market in the league. So while it seems Black QBs are gaining ground, now and in the past it’s always been with a small concentration of teams outside of the general powerhouses and largest markets, all of which tend to field Black QBs already. And I put it down to “intangibles,” whatever they are.
No way a Black guy is gonna start as a quarterback in Indy or New England or NY or wherever. And Black QBs will always have shorter leashes. Thus when a guy like Daunte Culpepper has perhaps the greatest season of all time for a QB (2004), and screws his knee up, he gets a lot less help and leeway than a struggling Tom Brady after the same injury. It’s the same reason Peyton is the number 1 free agent after going through FOUR neck surgeries late in his career and not even being sure he can play, and Warren Moon had to retire after being forced to be BRAD JOHNSON’s backup after a serious collarbone injury. And it’s the same reason why Andrew Luck will be drafted over RGIII, despite the latter being as well-documented a passer and a better athlete. Sure, he has size, but the two best passers in the league last year, Aaron Rodgers (same height and weight) and Drew Brees (smaller) were around RGIII’s profile. Hell, Luck may very well be the better player, but I just don’t see right now how he’s such a clear cut number 1 over RGIII. It doesn’t make sense. And the only thing that consistently stands out is “intangibles.”