While quarterbacks in the Canadian Football League are taking up almost full-time residence on various injured lists, QBs in the National Football League, which gets under way this week south of the border, are walking on water.
At least that’s the feeling of fans in Cleveland, where No. 1 overall draft pick (2018) Baker Mayfield begins his second season at the helm of the Browns, suddenly regarded as a contender, and of fans in Kansas City, where Patrick Mahomes begins his second full-time campaign behind centre for the Chiefs.
Mayfield threw 27 touchdown passes as the Browns moved toward respectability, while Mahomes had one of the splashiest seasons ever for a newcomer, winning the Most Valuable Player award after starting only one game the previous season, his first in the league. His 2018 numbers were spectacular: completed 66 per cent of his passes for nearly 5,100 yards, threw for 50 TDs and had only 12 interceptions.
But the NFL is a ‘what-have-you-done-for-me-lately’ league so the QB focus on the eve of the 2019 season is not necessarily on Mahomes and Mayfield, but on an untested rookie for the Arizona Cardinals, Kyler Murray. Another No. 1 overall draft choice, Murray has had to contend with derision about his height (5-foot-10) and pressure associated with more hype for an NFL rookie since another smallish, scrambly quarterback with a big arm, Robert Griffin III, in 2012. RGIII flamed out, never reaching the heights expected of him, and is now a backup in Baltimore. Arizona fans are hoping for a different outcome from their QB saviour as he gets comfortable in the pros under a new coach, Kliff Kingsbury, known in the college ranks for his ‘Air Raid’ offensive innovations.
Quarterbacks in the NFL are kings of their sport. You may have heard of Tom Brady in New England, Aaron Rodgers in Green Bay and Drew Brees in New Orleans. Heck, one of the most famous NFL quarterbacks hasn’t played in three years. That would be Colin Kaepernick, whose social justice manoeuvres have kept him in the headlines, but out of uniform. The biggest NFL news of late August was the retirement of a quarterback, 29-year-old Andrew Luck of the Colts.
So with the NFL season getting ready to roll, the spotlight is, as usual, on the quarterbacks. No team can hope to contend for the Super Bowl without a Pro Bowl candidate behind centre.
- Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times: “THE Ohio State University filed a trademark application for the word ‘THE.’ Smokey THE Bear is livid.”
- Another one from Perry: “University of Chicago researchers are working on a pill to treat loneliness. They say it’ll come in especially handy if you’re ever in the stands at a Marlins game.”
- Brad Rock of Salt Lake City’s Deseret News, after a Puerto Rican bowler’s team was stripped of its gold medal at the Pan Am Games for a doping violation: “How that would help pick up a 7-10 split is anyone’s guess.”
- Greg Cote of the Miami Herald, on the Dolphins’ quarterbacking situation: “Fins still haven't named who least-bad starting QB will be.”
- Cote again: “The World Orienteering Championships have ended in Norway. Are eliminated teams said to be dis-oriented?”
- Janice Hough of leftcoastsportsbabe.com: “In Las Vegas, the most preseason Super Bowl bets are being placed on the the Chicago Bears and Cleveland Browns. Yeah, there's a reason they've been able to afford to build all those amazing resorts.”
- Patti Dawn Swansson, aka the River City Renegade, on the Bombers search for a quarterback to replace the injured Matt Nichols: “GM Kyle Walters has been working the phone in search of a QB with some savvy. That’s good to know, but if old friend Drew Willy is the best he can dredge up we’ll know it isn’t a ‘smart’ phone.”
- Swansson again, on the infamous heart-attack inducing Walby Burger, after former Bomber Troy Westwood tweeted that Chris Walby actually doesn’t eat that much: “Sorry, Lefty, but you don’t grow to Walby’s proportions without strapping the feed bag on your head and refusing to come up for air until the last pork chop is gone.”
- Paul Friesen in the Winnipeg Sun, on the Packers-vs.-Raiders game in Winnipeg being billed as a big deal, like a Rolling Stones concert: ”Only this was the Stones at a sound-check, with a roadie filling in for Mick and your annoying, guitar-playing neighbour sitting in for Keith. With wonky amplifiers.”
- Swansson, on the same subject: “Someone suggested an NFL game in Winnipeg is comparable to a Paul McCartney concert. I agree. The Raiders haven’t been any good since the 1970s and neither has Sir Paul.”
- Vikings linebacker Anthony Barr, to the NFL Network, on why he got cold feet after agreeing to leave Minnesota and sign with the Jets: “It was like you’re about to go down the altar and marry the wrong woman.”
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