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Are Rings the Only Thing That Matters to NFL Quarterbacks?

14 Aug

steve young

With the growing increasing in the popularity of fantasy games and statistical methods to evaluate sports, even casual fans are caught up in using numbers to compare players.  One thing that has always been obvious is that baseball is a game of numbers.  Bill James and other sabermatricians may have increased the reliance on numbers to assess players, but they certainly didn’t start America’s love affair with baseball and mathematics.   There are just so many iconic numbers: 400 average, 61 homers, 56 straight games played, 190 RBIs, etc.  Thanks to fantasy football the love affair with numbers is growing with football.  Ask any fantasy degenerate and he can rattle off how many touchdowns every player in the league has.  They can recite how many targets every receiver on a particular team has, and they know how many yards per carry every running back has had in the last five years.  All of that is well and good to the general public, but numbers matter for every position except quarterback.   Not that stats are irrelevant for quarterbacks, it’s more so that the only thing that matters for them is winning Super Bowls.

 

 

The whole notion of wins being the only thing that matters for QBs is stoked by the controversy surrounding Timothy Richard Tebow.  More on Tebow in a moment, but thinking about quarterbacks and their stats has always been a source of complication.  Consider Tom Brady breaking the touchdown record in 2007.  No one really pays attention or cares about that record because the Patriots didn’t win the Super Bowl that year.  I guarantee that if Brady and Belichick won the Lombardi trophy in the 2007 season we would all be calling Brady’s season the best ever for a quarterback.  Ironically enough, everyone celebrates Randy Moss breaking Jerry Rice’s touchdown reception record with 23.  Moss broke the record in 2007.  Going back to quarterbacks, does anyone consider Dan Marino one of the best players in NFL history?  Despite having better or comparable career stats to Johnny Unitas, Brett Favre, Peyton Manning, and Steve Young, he’s never mentioned as an all time best simply because he has one less ring than they all do (Young actually has more than one ring, but only one as a starter).  The ring is the thing for quarterbacks.  People rightfully say Jim Brown, Barry Sanders, and Walter Payton are the best running backs of all time.  Emmitt Smith doesn’t vault ahead of them just because he has three championships.  It’s not all about jewelry for any other position.

 

No one cares about Brady throwing 50 TDs since he lost the Super Bowl

 

Trent Dilfer was essentially a pretty mediocre quarterback his whole career.  He finished with more interceptions than touchdowns, a career completion percentage of 55%, and was only 3 games over .500 for his career.  Those are pathetic stats, but he is remembered as being the guy who didn’t keep Baltimore’s defense from winning the Super Bowl.  He sounds a whole lot like David Carr, except everyone agrees that Carr is pathetic

Consider the plight of these three quarterbacks:

QB1

  • Has 2 more career touchdowns than interceptions for his career
  • Has a career completion percentage of 51.9%
  • Has a career winning percentage of 68%

QB2

  • Has 47 more interceptions than touchdowns for his career!
  • Has a career completion percentage of 50.1%
  • Has a career winning percentage of 48%

QB3

  • Has 3 more touchdowns than interceptions for his career
  • Has a career completion percentage of 55%
  • Has a career winning percentage of 60%

 

Two of these quarterbacks are considered icons, the other is considered overrated and essentially replaceable.  Without knowing names one would easily assume that QB2 doesn’t really belong in the NFL, but everything is about the ring for quarterbacks.  QB1 is Terry Bradshaw, QB2 is Joe Namath, and QB3 is none other than Mark Sanchez.

 

Yes, he has the stats of a Super Bowl champion (although that’s not saying much).

 

Tim Tebow doesn’t look like an NFL quarterback at all.  He’s built like a fullback, his throwing windup literally includes a windup, and so far is accuracy is well below average.  But all he does is win.  No he hasn’t won the one game that counts, but he’s only played in essentially 11 games in his career, and he’s won 8 of them.  Not to compare him to an all time great, but Magic Johnson didn’t look the part of a point guard either.  How many point guards have there ever been in the NBA that are 6’9” and couldn’t really shoot?  Tebow is only completing 47.5% of his passes and is averaging less than 7 yards per completion.  Both of those numbers are figures keep him near the bottom of the pack for NFL quarterbacks.  He’ll probably not be an all-time great, but he deserves to be given a chance by his coach John Fox and team president John Elway.  Speaking of Elway, he was the perfect QB prospect coming out of Stanford University.  He was 6’3” with a cannon arm, good speed, good footwork, and he was incredibly smart.  Everyone knew Elway was great because he looked great.  The thing most don’t remember is that he was never mentioned as an all time great until he won the back-to-back Super Bowls.  Just like Tebow, Elway struggled as a first year starter.  He completed only 47.5% of his passes and had twice as many interceptions as touchdowns.  In fact, Elway only surpassed 60% completions for a season 3 times in his career.  Of course none of that matters because he has a ring for each of his hands.  As its always been and will always be, for quarterbacks, the ring is the only thing that matters.

 

Baseball Is Not a Sport

19 Jun

fat baseball player

Due to its overwhelming popularity, we at AnswersFromMen.com have decided to resubmit this article for our readers.

fat baseball player04

America’s favorite pastime is not a sport. Of the three major sporting events in the United States, baseball requires the least training, the least athleticism, and the smallest amount of effort. Baseball players are regularly out of shape, and success in the sport is more contingent on skill level than on natural ability. The very essence of sport is based in a player’s natural ability and the genetic inclination towards harsh, challenging physiological exercises, but baseball does not depend on those gifts. Baseball, even at the highest professional level, is just a physical activity or a competition, not a sport.

Baseball is the only highly-paid recreational activity where the participants do not have to maintain their weight. Players like C.C. Sabathia and Prince Fielder showed up to spring training grossly overweight every year and thrived once the season started. Tony Gwynn was built like a bowling ball and was one of the best hitters of his generation averaging .338 for his career. In a sport, athletes have to undergo intense training to compete with their opponents, and players that have not put in the necessary work, falter under the demands of grueling seasons. Basketball players stay in constant motion to score or defend against other players. Their percentage of body fat never exceeds 10%. Basketball guys that train poorly are exploited on the basketball court or fall victim to injuries. A football player’s ability to compete is dependent on how much he can lift, how fast he is, and how fluidly he moves. There is constant contact between players and their physical prowess is matched against another player on every sequence of each play. Football players that avoid strict regimens of exercise are quickly over-matched by better players or they get hurt. Baseball has the longest season by far, with twice the games as basketball and 10 times the amount of football games, but the players get fewer injuries. It is void of the displays of athleticism seen in the other sports, other than the occasional leaping catch. A great pitcher does have special gifts, but is not necessarily an exceptional athlete. For some reason, a pitcher’s arm produces more torque than the average arm. Part of their success is due to a physiological advantage, but they do not have to shape their entire body; they only hone their pitching arm. Case in point, David Wells, an overweight left-hander, pitched a perfect game in the playoffs with a severe hang-over. He retired every batter that he faced after a night out drinking heavily. That could never happen in any of the other major American sports. They require an athletic standard and a discipline that baseball does not have. Baseball is not a sport, at least partially, because obese, undisciplined players often yield the same results as those that work tirelessly.

fat baseball player - david wells03

This guy pitched a perfect game in the playoffs.

And, hitting offers no evidence that the baseball players who are more physically gifted excel more than those of average ability, either. Bat speed, which is a measure of athleticism, does not determine the power or effectiveness of a hitter. Gary Sheffield possessed one of the quickest bats and was one of the better athletes in Major League Baseball history with a bat speed of about 130 mph. Sheffield produced relatively strong numbers with his bat garnering a career batting average of .292, 509 HR, and 1676 RBI. The average MLB player has a bat speed that hovers around 108 mph and the league batting average floats between .260 and .275. However, Albert Pujols of the St. Louis Cardinals, manages his at-bats with one of the slowest bat speeds in the MLB at 85 mph. Despite this, Pujols could historically be the best batter ever. He has a career batting average of .331, with 409 HR and 1233 RBI, in 11 fewer seasons than Sheffield. Pujols has almost matched Sheffield’s career numbers in half of the time it took Sheffield to produce them. He won the National League MVP 3 times, has hit more home runs through his first ten years than anyone has hit in their first ten years, and is the only player to ever hit at least 30 HR in each of his first 10 seasons. Pujols has achieved all this with a slow, deliberate swing. He is able to do this because batting is about technique and pitch recognizance, not raw strength and bat speed. Players that are afforded good coaching can decipher the difference between a curve ball and a fastball in fractions of the .47 second that it takes the baseball to reach home plate. Batters learn to get power from their hips, not their arms and drive the ball. The ability to swing a bat quickly is completely unrelated with how well someone hits the baseball, so physical aptitude is less important in this recourse. Ken Griffey Jr. retired from Major League Baseball as one of the most prolific home run hitters in baseball, despite having a slight build. He learned how to see and react to the ball from his father, Ken Griffey Sr., a professional baseball player, and had one of the smoothest swings in baseball. He had outstanding, readily-available coaching, so he excelled in the game. Now most of the talent in baseball comes from suburban families that play baseball all year or from farm systems in rural South America. They are given multiple opportunities to learn, and thus acclimate to the technique of batting and recognize pitch movement better than the average person. Getting more chances to hit the ball translates into better hitting. Greatness in baseball has nothing to do with talent level. It is contingent on practice, repetition, and more options to play the game.

baseball - albert pujols02

Pujols has one of the slowest, but most effective swings in baseball.

Baseball relies on a particular set of learned skills rather than natural athleticism, so it should not be categorized with football, basketball, soccer, and track and field as a sport. Baseball is closer related to golf, bowling, or motor racing. In general, the people that play it at its highest level are not great athletes, but just people that have specialized in their field. With training, persistence, and opportunity, they have come to excel at an activity that most people have not had the chance to try to pursue. Other than the specific position of pitcher, any average athlete could succeed in baseball, and if anyone can do it, then it is not a sport.

Olajuwon: One of the League’s Best

15 Jun

basketball - hakeem olajuwon11

By William Bixby

Hakeem Olajuwon is the most skilled, graceful, and impacting center to ever play basketball. He played the game of basketball with the power and athleticism of a center, the shooting touch of a forward, and the quickness and dexterity of a guard. Olajuwon finished his basketball career 1st all-time in shot-blocking, 8th in scoring, and 8th in steals, and 11th in rebounding. It is incredible that a man that played the position of center is 8th all-time in steals. The other nine players on the list were all guards, smaller, supposedly quicker players. Olajuwon had career averages of 21.8 ppg., 11.1 rpg., 1.7 spg., and 3.1 bpg. He is one of four people to record a quadruple double. That is, he achieved double digits in 4 statistical categories in the course of a single game. He is one of two people to record at least one 5×5, which is having at least 5 points, rebounds, steals, blocks, and assists in a single game. In 1989, he became the first person to make the top 10 in four statistical categories in two consecutive years. Hakeem became the first person in NBA history to win the NBA Most Valuable Player award, NBA Defensive Player of the Year, and NBA Finals Most Valuable Player in the same year. The statistics and the outliers of his career are mind-boggling.

But, Hakeem “The Dream” Olajuwon’s value could not be found only in his numbers. His true worth is found in the aesthetics. Olajuwon spun, faked, and countered his way into the Hall of Fame. His moves looked choreographed when facing opponents in the paint. Olajuwon’s footwork was so spectacular that he often made defenders look and feel foolish on the basketball court. As if in a living, on-court chess game, he seemed to be three steps ahead of any other player. Ask David Robinson, whom Olajuwon embarrassed in the Western Conference Finals in 1994 after Robinson robbed Olajuwon of his second MVP award. He left Robinson spinning dizzily and mis-stepping the entire series. Post-series, after Olajuwon had put an average of 35 ppg. on Robinson’s to his own 24 ppg., Robinson said that he thought he did a pretty good job of guarding the Dream. He was wrong. Olajuwon’s extreme offensive versatility gave all his opposition nightmares. If the defender was smaller than him, Olajuwon would overpower him and finish with a short hook over either shoulder or a vicious dunk. If a defender was larger, he would take him to the top of the key and dribble past him, or post at the baseline for his patented “Dream Shake.” Hakeem Olajuwon was unstoppable.

Hakeem was also one of the best defensive stoppers of his generation. The Houston Rockets had mostly mediocre defenders surrounding him at best. Vernon Maxwell was the only other good defender on the team, but Olajuwon fortified the team with his quick hands, quick feet, and electrifying leaping ability. At 6’10, he was slightly shorter than a typical center, but he compensated for that by using his quickness to deny and/or steal the ball from bigger centers. He was known to occasionally pick the ball away from a guard too, and sprint down the court for a breakaway dunk. Once the basketball got past him on an entry pass, he converted into one of the best shot-blockers that ever lived. He is the most prolific shot-blocker since the statistics for blocks started being recorded in the 1973-74 NBA season. Because he could block the shot of the man he was guarding or help weak-side, the Houston Rockets were told to siphon penetrators into Olajuwon. That practice was just as effective as stopping the penetration altogether. He blocked everything. He blocked layups, dunks, and short jumpers. If an offensive player actually faked and got Olajuwon off his feet, he often recovered quickly enough and jumped high enough to block the shot anyway. Olajuwon was one of the last pure shot-blockers.

Olajuwon, shined despite playing during the best era for big men in NBA history. Olajuwon faced 6 of the 10 best centers of the NBA’s 50 greatest players. He played against the best talent level at his position and won 2 championships with a team of fairly average players. His career completely overlapped with both Patrick Ewing’s and David Robinson’s careers and none of those centers could match Olajuwon in his prime. His NBA peers knew how dominant Olajuwon was during the nineties. Robinson said that you don’t really guard Olajuwon, you just try to stay between him and the goal, stay on your feet, and hope he misses. Hakeem sent Shaquille O’Neal, one of the best and biggest men in NBA history, home in tears after being swept in the 1995 NBA Finals. Shaq post-game said that Hakeem was the greatest center of all-time. Though his statement was forged in frustration, Olajuwon was easily the best center in that series and in the NBA at that time. Michael Jordan, arguably the best basketball player of all-time, said the center that he most would like to play with was Hakeem Olajuwon.

Even today, Olajuwon’s unique skills are being called upon by the younger generation despite his retirement. The best players in today’s NBA are persuading Olajuwon to share his wisdom and unparalled footwork with them. In 2008, he worked with shooting guard Kobe Bryant, the best closer in the league on his spin move. Bryant went on to when his fifth ring and second consecutive NBA championship. The next year Hakeem worked with the league’s best big man, Defensive Player of the Year, Dwight Howard. With only a little coaching, Howard pushed the Orlando Magic to the NBA Finals as the centerpiece of the offense. If Howard was an apt pupil, he may push his hometown Atlanta Hawks past teams more heavily favored to win the NBA championship this year.

Hakeem Olajuwon’s greatness cannot be measured in numbers. To appreciate all that he could do, honestly, you had to see him. In the 90′s, he was simply better than everyone around him and he proved it by dominating all his peers on the basketball court. No center has ever played with the grace or visually stunning and appealing style that Hakeem Olajuwon did. He did not just physically outplay opponents, he embarrassed them. And in complete contrast to his mercilessly assault of the centers in the 90′s, he was genuinely humble and almost regal when asked about freshly defeated victims. Hakeem was unyielding on the court, but gracious off of it. Most importantly though, he won basketball games. He did it through a complete, expansive offensive arsenal, a smothering defensive game, and one of the most beautiful styles of play in basketball.

Why Baseball is Dying

14 Jun

Bruins vs Arizona Sun Devils
This article was originally submitted on November 6, 2010. With baseball season looming and spring training started,
it seemed like the perfect time for one of the fan favorite articles about baseball
by Rodimus Dunn

In my short lifetime baseball, the National Pastime, has gone from the most popular sport around to discussing contraction and having the worst ratings in World Series history.  The popularity and marketability of baseball is literally behind the NFL, NBA, and NASCAR.  Moreover, it may have also been passed by both NCAA football and basketball.  Why does no one other than the geriatric baseball “purists” care about baseball?  Why has the sport people used to associate with America fallen so far?

baseball - bo jackson

1.    Short attention span society – With the advent of high speed internet, wifi, texting, twitter, etc, American society has the attention span of a 5 year old.  Baseball games average about 3 hours, therein lies a huge disconnect.  If you’ve been to a baseball game lately I guarantee you’ll see significantly more people looking at their cell phones then at the actual game.

2.    Minorities are the main stars – Some people are just never going to be okay with foreigners making more money than a “blue collar, red blooded, hard working American.”  Over the last decade or so, baseball’s top stars have been Albert Pujols, AROD, Jeter (who is half black and half white), Ichiro, Manny Ramirez, Mariano Rivera, Barry Bonds, David Ortiz, Ryan Howard, CC Sabathia, and Johan Santana.  Out of that group we have half a white person.  People who spend lots of money on baseball want to spend money on people who look like them.  That’s not racism, it’s simply capitalism.

none of these guys is of any interest to MLB’s investors

3.    The stars aren’t marketed like in the NBA – Most of the lack of marketing has to deal with reason #2 of why baseball is dying.  The other major reason is that baseball is such a team sport with so much history that teams are marketed and not players.  As compelling as Manny Ramirez and Big Papi were during Boston’s initial World Series run, the Red Sox history of playoff losing was what MLB focused their money and attention on.  The Yankees are always loaded with larger than life players and personalities, but not a single one gets more attention than the legacy of all the former pinstripe greats.
4.    Unwritten rules take out the flamboyance – The me-first behavior of athletes in other sports that attracts the casual fan is missing from baseball.  Baseball’s unwritten rules prevents anyone from doing anything outside of a “web gem” that anyone will remember.  There’s no post play dancing or preening for the camera.  Chest bumps and tattoos aren’t seen.  Asinine tweets are nowhere to be found.  Nothing that happens off the field matters, and that’s boring to a lot of people.  Furthermore, guys are demonized for doing simple things like watching a home run too long or fist-pumping after striking out a batter.  As annoying as Chad Johnson and Terrell Owens’ antics have become, they’ve brought a lot of attention to the NFL.
5.    Performance enhancement – Steroid testing may have been enhanced in baseball, but the scepter of steroids and HGH still hangs over baseball like a guillotine.  Once again, casual fans are turned off by the idea that everyone in baseball cheats or has cheated.  There are more people who talk about Albert Pujols possibly being a cheat than people who talk about him putting up Ted Williams type numbers.  This is a major problem.

everyone wants to know who’s juicing

6.    Sabermetrics – The battle between the old skool sportswriters and the new generation of blogging “stat geeks” has been won by the stat guys.  Ten years ago things like OPS, OBP, WAR, BABIP, WHIP, UZR, and luck would never be uttered by the casual baseball fan or writer.  Now they’ve entered baseball’s vernacular, and the sport is better and worse for it.  Everyone benefits because there is a better understanding of which players are really good even if their traditional stats aren’t as impressive.  Baseball is worse for this because now we all know that baseball is basically an individual sport masquerading as a team sport.  Also, with the increased reliance on stats, everyone knows how the players are going to perform every year.  Everything is basically predetermined with a few calculations.  All you need now to follow the sport is a box score.  That’s lame, boring, and much more than the casual fan wants to worry about.
7.    Parity – When one can predict which teams are going to the playoffs just by looking at payroll, there’s a big problem.  This year was a touch different with Tampa Bay, Cincinnati, and Texas reaching the postseason.  On most other years everyone knows the Yankees, Red Sox, Dodgers, Cubs, and Angels will be in the playoffs (I would include the Mets, but their front office is so bumbling the team is always a disappointment).  If you don’t cheer for one of those teams, you’re disenchanted by baseball’s financial disparities and stop paying attention well before the season ends.
8.    Season ends too late – Most people argue that the season is too long, but that’s not the big problem.  The season ending in November is the major issue.  By the time baseball ends professional and NCAA football are in full swing, NASCAR is in its postseason, and the NBA season has started.  For the few people that still care about hockey, the NHL season has started by this time also.  Back in 1970 this wasn’t a big deal because everyone didn’t have cable television, satellites, or the internet.  In 2010 there are far too many programmatic options for people, and if they’re going to watch sports in November, it’s going to be America’s new pastime … football.