Imagine that you are the general manager of the Indianapolis Colts. Do not close your eyes, but take a moment to truly imagine this circumstance. It is April 26, 2012, and you are one year removed from one of the greatest 13-year runs in NFL history. In those thirteen years, with Peyton Manning under center, your team won 147 out of 208 games, eight division titles, two AFC titles and one Super Bowl. Your fans watched arguably the game’s greatest quarterback play every game in that span. Since Manning’s second season, your team had been a legitimate Super Bowl contender every year.
Then, armed with the first pick in the 2012 NFL Draft, you released Peyton Manning on March 7th. Manning wound up in Denver after a whirlwind tour while your Colts organization had to decide on the franchise quarterback that you would draft with the 1st overall pick in April. Fortunately for you, one of the best quarterback prospects in the history of the NFL was on the board. You had total control of this year’s draft, sitting in the enviable position of being able to draft a sure-fire franchise quarterback.
This prospect’s physical tools include exceptional accuracy, great arm strength, and extraordinary athleticism. As a three-year collegiate starter, he threw for 10,366 yards, 78 touchdowns, and only 17 interceptions. His completion percentage was 67.1%. Last season alone, he threw for 4,293 yards, 37 touchdowns and only 6 interceptions. In three years, he prospect led his program from the depths of college football irrelevance to double-digit win seasons and bowl victories. This guy is a can’t miss prospect, a once-in-a-generation talent, and you are sitting on the number one pick in the draft.
And then, you drafted Andrew Luck.
Make no mistake, your faithful correspondent expects NEARLY unparalleled excellence from Mr. Luck, the leader of the Stanford football renassiance. Luck enjoys all the physical and mental attributes of a future Hall of Fame quarterback, and the Colts will be doubtlessly happy with their selection. However, Robert Griffin III is the best NFL quarterback prospect since John Elway. RGIII has an NFL-ready arm, mind, body, and spirit. Yet, he was branded second chair maestro from the minute the 2012 NFL Draft scouting process began.
The question is: “Why?”
A concise review of the statistical, measureable, and leadership traits of the top two quarterbacks leaves your correspondent seeking greater explanation on the perceived difference in ability between Luck and Griffin. Griffin threw for 786 more yards, five more touchdowns, and two fewer interceptions. His completion percentage and rushing statistics were superior to Luck. Luck is taller and heavier, and didn’t tear an ACL in college. Griffin is faster, more athletic, and could probably go to the 2016 Olympics in both of the hurdles events. Both are acclaimed leaders, and objectively, both are responsible for resuscitating moribund college football programs. They finished first and second in the 2011 Heisman voting.
Subjectively, draft experts often rave of Luck’s NFL-readiness. Luck did run a “pro-style” offense on The Farm, while RGIII ran one of the dozen or so variations of the spread-option offense at Baylor. At this point, I am now ready to stand and boldly proclaim: “WHAT THE FUCK IS AN NFL OFFENSE EXACTLY?” At the rate the tendencies of NFL teams change, it sure is hard to keep up. However, I do know that the 4-receiver and 5-receiver sets used by New England were taken right out of Urban Meyer’s playbook, and the Broncos reached the AFC Divisional Round running an archaic version of the spread option as recently as last year. Peyton Manning thrives in a no-huddle offense, which a short ten years ago was considered toxic in the modern NFL. What ever happened to the West Coast Offense? The modern advances of offensive football at the professional and collegiate level are so intertwined at this point, I am not convinced that either Luck or Griffin is more or less prepared for NFL offensive systems than the other.
Upon some deeper reflection, I am left with no other rational explanation for the failure of this evaluation process than the archaic stereotypes and assumptions involving race. An African-American born in Japan, RGIII can only be compared with the likes of Michael Vick, Donovan McNabb, and Steve McNair. A European-American of some variety (perhaps Irish? Those people are lucky; see Famine, Potato), Andrew Luck can only be compared with Peyton Manning, John Elway, and Tom Brady. This begs the question: what if RGIII really is more like Steve Young, and Andrew Luck really is more like Warren Moon? Uh oh, Houston. We have a problem.
This take is not to suggest that the Colts organization, or even the good people of Indiana, are racist or bad. Nor do I think that the Washington Redskins hate white people (though according to The Bunk, the Redskins may in fact have a small problem with racism). I blame the cultural underpinnings of historical differences between these groups and the inability of our society (mainstream media included) to overcome the mental boundaries established by racial stereotyping. The fact is that Griffin throws more like John Elway than Michael Vick. More importantly, Donovan McNabb’s attitude, Daunte Culpepper’s mental aptitude, and Michael Vick’s legal troubles should not be held against Griffin. I am afraid this thinking still exists.
This inane evaluation of player’s talent, rooted in stereotyping athletes based upon race, must stop. Griffin’s evaluation reports should all have an asterisk. The lens through which talent evaluators and commentators look at Griffin is as the athlete quarterback, right out of the mold of his African American predecessors at the position. It’s a shame, for both the Colts organization and our society, that these trends have not yet been eradicated.
Race Week will continue at The Daily Dickpunch until the scourge of bigotry is eradicated forevah from our land. Or Friday. Whichever comes first. If you’d like to contribute, send a draft and sexy pics to publius1981 [at] gmail [dot] com.