Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Second verse same as the first...

It's late-summer/early-autumn in northeast Ohio, so you know there's a "quarterback controversy" in Cleveland. It's about as predictable as a sunrise. We had Bernie-Vinnie, Couch-Detmer, Couch-Holcombe, Dilfer-Frye, Frye-Anderson, and now there's Anderson-Quinn. What I find absolutely fascinating is not that the Browns as a franchise can't seem to find a solid, predictable quarterback (the Browns have been described as dysfunctional in times past), but that the media and especially the fans fall for the same stupid story line year after year after year.

It really is a broken record. Is there no other story to cover in Cleveland? Are the writers at the Plain Dealer and the Beacon Journal that devoid of imagination? History suggests: Yes!
So it's time for me to tell you how to manage this situation. My wisdom in this matter comes from watching years of football with the breadth of many different teams. Here's the scoop, from the players' perspective:

If you're part of the "quarterback controversy," you don't want to be named the starter for the first game. To be named the starter means that the media focuses on you for the entire week leading up to the opening game. Meanwhile, the scrub that you beat out in practice gets to take reps in relative obscurity during that week. The best job in the world is the #2 quarterback: much less risk of injury, big money, and you can't thrown an interception from the sideline with a baseball hat on.... plus, you still get to call yourself a quarterback.

Once the games roll around, you'd better be on yours because there's another quarterback on the bench that just barely lost out to you that's been studying and working and is waiting for you to fail. The fans will stick with you as long as you're throwing touchdowns and winning games. Ditto the coach. The first interception you throw will send a low frequency of thought through the fans' minds, "I knew we should have started _x_." After the second interception... hit the showers, because that #2 is lookin' like a #1 and you're lookin' like a #3.

And the scoop from the fans' perspective:

If the above is the story on the field, then don't get emotionally invested in it! You have no control over it, and whoever is named the starter is going to screw up in the first couple of games and the second-stringer is going to be the new starter. Any exception you can think of occurred 15+ years ago. In today's age, with 24/7 coverage from ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNEWS, FSN, Fox Sports Radio, ESPN.com, CBSSportsline.com, etc., there's so much pressure on these teams to make the "right" choice that they screw around with the players' heads, and unless each quarterback has their own sports psychologist on speed-dial, they'll be toast after one round of one-time-starter-now-benched quarterback (see Tim Couch).

So if you insist on emotional investment in the Cleveland Browns' starting quarterback job (let's talk about priorities after you're through reading this, e-mail or call me... really) then I suggest you root for your quarterback to finish training camp #2... that's the only way he'll eventually be #1.

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