Everybody wants a Tom Brady, with his confidence, decision-making, work ethic and above average arm strength (not to mention, that chin and hair). Okay, so there’s only one Tom Brady and 96.875% of NFL fans can’t root for him, so what now?
Same goes for Peyton Manning, Drew Brees and Aaron Rodgers.
The second tier of NFL quarterbacks is kind of a revolving door, where some weeks Ben Roethlisberger and Eli Manning are there, the next they’re not, replaced by Matt Ryan, Matthew Stafford and Joe Flacco, or it’s some temporary combination of those mentioned.
Then there's the scrutiny-laden third tier, where there are flashes of great QB play muddied by “what-the-BLANK-was-that” turnovers and Gosh-darn-it body language. No one exemplifies life in this third tier more than two quarterbacks who played on Monday night, Jay Cutler of the Chicago Bears and Tony Romo of the Dallas Cowboys.
As an admitted Dallas fan, watching Tony Romo play like he did last night makes me want to kick newborn puppies across the room. He makes me want to burn down children’s hospitals. And what’s worse is the body language: the look of an infant who just had their favorite toy taken by a slightly bigger infant, yet he does nothing about it, just pouts and kicks cans at an age where it would be perfectly normal for them to fight back.
After watching a performance like that of Romo on Monday night, I feel a crippling illness come over me, like I should walk out in public and hand a complete stranger my wallet, or my laptop, or my daughter…anything of value to me, and then stand there as I watch them run the other way with it.
A performance like this leaves me longing for the days of Troy Aikman, where it might not be a flashy aerial assault like the top tier QBs of today’s game, but it was a W. And Troy Aikman always looked the part, like he was sure to leave the game in a limo or ride away from the stadium on horseback, either scenario believable and sure to involve beautiful women and the smell of musk.
Win or lose, none of this sticks with Tony Romo, who looks like he will go home after a game in a compact car and make himself a bowl of soup once he gets there.
I am not a Bears fan but have to assume the same goes for watching Jay Cutler, a player with the same gun-slinger type mentality as Romo. And it dawns on me that the two are, basically, the same player. Both can play at a high level, albeit inconsistently, and both can be Pro-Bowlers.
Where one has a stronger arm, the other might have a little more ‘touch’. They both are leading popular teams in major media markets and have not reached the expected or desired potential that those fan-bases yearn for. Both are, by different measures, smart guys: Cutler, a Vanderbilt Grad and Romo an avid golfer, a game that you have to at least have a full deck to be able to play well.
So since no two QBs are created equal, what’s the difference you might ask?
Romo cares too much, wetting himself on the biggest stages, especially at home, where last year I personally experienced the home crowd boo him when his name was announced during introduction of the offensive starters. When things go poorly, he tanks. He throws a pick, and you get the feeling he hopes they call running plays the rest of the game.
Cutler just doesn’t care. Okay, he might care, but he seems like he doesn’t, and I don’t always think that’s a bad thing. He throws a pick? So what, he might throw another one, or he might throw a touchdown, either way, he doesn’t really care what you think about him or his performance.
He’s a diabetic, has to have insulin shots during games, but he doesn’t care, and he doesn’t expect you to feel bad for him nor does he use it as a crutch. He constantly looks like he’s going to flip-off a fan or ignore a coach or argue with a teammate, and as a Dallas fan, I like that and would love to see some of that in Romo.
Cutler can play, Romo can play. Their difference is in what they let get to them. With Romo, it’s everything. With Cutler, it’s not enough.