As we all know, the quarterback is the most important position in football.
Distributing the football in tight windows while reading a defense — all in less than three seconds — is an art. Many guys, such as Green Bay’s Aaron Rodgers and Kansas City’s Patrick Mahomes, have the art down.
There are also talented players who don’t get opportunities to showcase their abilities due to self-inflicted circumstances. As a quarterback, you have to do all the right things on and off the field.
“Talent wins out,” so the saying goes, but that has not shown to be true with the NFL in recent years. Colin Kaepernick has proven this with his protest. Nobody disputes what Kaepernick kneeled for being an issue in the country. Unarmed black men were being shot and killed by police officers. But the way Kaepernick protested kneeling during the anthem cost him his job, and deservingly so. Playing in the NFL is a privilege — not a right — and we have football only because of those who serve.
But what about when you have an incident or outburst and you frankly don’t have what it takes to play in the league? A few weeks back before the trade deadline, I wrote about the Pittsburgh Steelers and how Mason Rudolph was not the answer for them at quarterback. Well, I proved that to be right.
I also wrote about the toxic, undisciplined environment of the Browns just days before the Rudolph-Myles Garrett fight. The story behind the fight is layered like an onion and is more complicated than casual fans realize.
Prior to the fight, Rudolph had the worst game any quarterback has had all year. Frustration was high for him, so he did the one thing a quarterback should never do and one I’ve never seen before — he started a fight, and a fight with the biggest man on the football field. We all know what ensued next and although I think Rudolph deserves punishment and blame for starting the fight, Garrett took it way too far and should have received a one-year ban.
Rudolph, like most quarterbacks, should have learned from Kaepernick’s situation actions matter. Rudolph isn’t talented enough to outlast what he did last Thursday night. He is the only player involved in the scrum who didn’t receive suspension. Rudolph is lucky I don’t coach the Pittsburgh Steelers. He cost the football team the game with his poor play of four interceptions, then to start a fight that cost the team $250,000 in fines and a three-game suspension for one of their best offensive linemen? He’d be off my roster.
Kaepernick is more talented than Rudolph, period, but neither Kaepernick nor Rudolph deserves to play because neither is good enough. When selfish actions cost the owners and the league millions of dollars, which both situations did, you have to live with the consequences.
It is a reminder to young quarterbacks it could all be lost in a second with your character tainted. One decision could forever make you a distraction to your team. It’s not always about talent.
Win or lose the game, you have to win the press conference.