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Wednesday, January 11, 2012

What a Super Bowl Victory Would Mean for the 8 Remaining Quarterbacks

by Keith Edwards, writer for The Penalty Flag

While winning Super Bowl XLVI would me so much to each franchise, its no secret that Super Bowl rings mean more to certain player's legacies than others. The "Marino Effect" has plagued many great players including one of my favorites, Michael Strahan. Strahan would still have been a Hall of Fame pass rusher had the Giants never won a title with him. However, prior to 2007, when you talked about him, you mentioned his sack record, the gaping hole in between his two incisors and the fact he had never won a championship. Of course he overcame that with a magical victory and a lifelong Christmas card commitment to David Tyree. 

Strahan aside, the opportunity to win a ring is especially lucrative for quarterbacks, the sexiest position in the NFL. Dating back to playing touch football in the front yard, everyone wanted to be the QB. No child ever got especially jazzed because he was the nose tackle. You wanted the ball in your hands. You wanted to directly affect the outcome of the game. You wanted to be sexy, because that's what the quarterback position is. The glamor and media glory make the Lombardi Trophy carry a different weight for the guys under center, especially for the remaining eight this year.

Group 1: The Long-Shots 

Tim Tebow, Denver Broncos
     I know what you are thinking, and yes, it very well may be a sin to have this guy listed as a long shot. From the time he burst onto the scene in college, all this guy has done is prove people wrong. His latest “Oh, Yes I can” moment came when he and his Broncos defeated the Steelers this weekend in overtime on a perfectly thrown pass that went for 80 yards, a touchdown, and a win. 

What it would mean: If Tebow can lead the Broncos to a Super Bowl Title, it will make him the single greatest story in NFL history, hands down. Greater than the undefeated Dolphins. Greater than the completely defeated Lions. It would be greater than anything. 40 years from now, when we’re all teaching our grandkids about the NFL, we will start by telling them the story of little Timmy Tebow and the Broncos that could. We’ll have no choice. 

The Odds: Less than Lou Holtz Pronouncing Cincinnati Correctly% 

T.J. Yates, Houston Texans
     The fact that the Texans are even in the playoffs, much less within a few games of the Super Bowl, is a miracle in itself. Forget what Matt Flynn did against Detroit, not many teams can lose their starting QB, his replacement, and have their third string rookie quarterback lead them into battle successfully. Kurt Warner was the last to complete such a similar feat in his rookie year following a 4-12 Rams’ season.

What it would mean: Houston would start taking some serious limelight and publicity from Dallas as the premier football team in Texas, like the Mets in the 80s. For Yates, it could mean a new team. After the season, the Texans would have an interesting problem. Do you trade Yates and get the plethora of draft picks he’d surely bring? Do you trade Schaub and continue going forward with Yates? There’s also the scenario of them competing for the position in the preseason. It also makes Yates one the best underdog stories in the NFL. An afterthought rookie, who was drafted after Cam Newton, Blaine Gabbert and all the other can’t miss prospects, takes over the team midseason due to injuries and leads his team to a title? That’s Brady (circa 2001) territory. Can you imagine if the Texans and Broncos met in the AFC title game?! Actually don’t…you’re not ready for it yet. 

The Odds: Snowball’s Chance In Houston%

Group 2: The I Just Can’t See Its

Alex Smith, San Francisco 49ers
     Once considered one of the bigger draft busts of the last decade, Smith has reinvented himself with this 49ers team that demolished an unimpressive division, and earned the second seed in the NFC. Under new head coach Jim Harbaugh, Smith has flourished as a pocket-passer throwing for over 3,000 yards for the first time in his career. He is now commissioned with the tough task of keeping up with the Saints explosive offense to give his defense some breathing room. 

What it would mean: It wouldn’t mean much for Smith, because, well, lets face it: if the 49ers do win it all, they will be led by their defense. However, it would inspire the Alex Smith’s of the world. Former first round busts would put down the bowl of chips, shave their stubbly beards, and start getting into playing shape because they would be able to believe that there is a coach out there somewhere, with some sort of system, with a crazy good defense, that will allow them the opportunity to just get by. I don’t believe we’ll see a sober Ryan Leaf or a not extremely overweight Jamarcus Russell leading teams next year, but a Brady Quinn? Eh…maybe. If Alex Smith can do it… 

The Odds: If Trent Dilfer Can Do It%

Eli Manning, New York Giants
     Anyone who watched the Giants play last year knows that Eli Manning threw a boatload of interceptions. But anyone who watched the Giants play last year also knows that a vast majority of those interceptions were balls that the receivers should have caught, but gave minimal effort. Tipped balls were his demise and had the media circus, New York sports writers, dogging him and calling for his head. This year? Eli just missed out on joining the elusive 5,000-yard club. He was also historically good late in games, throwing 15 fourth quarter touchdowns. The Giants would not have been able to think about the playoffs without him under center. 

What it would mean: Eli’s winning of a second Super Bowl would change his entire public perception. We no longer have the conversation about whether or not he is elite. We’d now be having the conversation about whether or not he is going to be a Hall of Famer. It would give him one more title than Brett Favre, Steve Young, Joe Namath, and older brother Peyton Manning. He would fortify his title as the greatest quarterback in New York history, and he’d have a permanent leg up on Peyton…unless Peyton can win another one. 

The Odds: Lighting Could Strike Twice%

Group 3: The We’ll Need a Few Lucky Breaks

Joe Flacco, Baltimore Ravens
     “Hey guys? Remember me?” This is what I imagine Flacco saying to the media weekly. While listening to teammates beg the coaching staff to run more and reassuring writers he’s not the place-kicker, Flacco has had an…O.K. season. He threw for over 3,600 yards, mainly due to his strong throwing arm, but has amassed only 80.9 passer rating. In fact, amongst all the quarterbacks with winning records, he is the most irrelevant (Kevin Kolb, close second). 

What it would mean: Flacco would join the long Ravens legacy of being completely mediocre and “complimenting” a ferocious defense (see Dilfer). It would most likely mean head coach John Harbaugh gave Ray Rice more touches and minimized Flacco’s involvement. The media will ultimately decide Flacco’s fate in history. They will either coddle and support him as a good guy who didn’t make mistakes or they will emasculate him to absolute worthlessness. 

The Odds: A Defensive Super Bowl MVP%

Tom Brady, New England Patriots
     Remember when all the Patriots did was win Super Bowls and look dominant? Seems like a long time ago, especially considering they haven’t won a playoff game since the AFC Championship game before getting upset by the Giants in Super Bowl 42. This year, the Patriots are back to being scary and dominate, thanks in large part, and I can not stress large enough right there, to Tom Brady. The Patriots defense ranks 32nd in the league this year, and yet the Patriots still won 13 games and clinched the number one seed in the AFC. Why? Because Tom Brady and the Patriots offense are virtually unstoppable. 

What it would mean: If Brady wins his fourth Super Bowl, he cements his status as the greatest quarterback to ever play the game. Aside from the fact that its his fourth ring, his fourth championship, his fourth title…sorry, that’s just so impressive. Aside from that fact, that if he can do it this year, he will have basically looked the “Defense Wins Championships” committee right in the eyes and said “piss off.” Think about how big of a deal it was for Kobe to win a ring without Shaq. That was a phenomenal feat in itself, but if Brady can win it this year, he will have literally done it without a defense. Quick, name 5 players on the Patriots’ defense. Can’t do it? Just name two you want on your team. Jerod Mayo? Anyone else? New England’s defense this year is awful. LSU could probably hang 40 on them. So, if the Lombardi trophy ends up in Boston this year, it will be because of Tom Brady and his prolific pass game because they also don’t really have a running game. Did I mention that? What they do have is a few stud tight ends, an amazing slot receiver, and TOM BRADY. If he wins it all this year, he’ll have a seat at the top of the all time quarterback mountain. 

The Odds: Shaq and Charles Barkley saying something on TNT that upsets the FCC%

Group 4: The Favorites

Drew Brees, New Orleans Saints
     Regardless of who wins the MVP award this year, Drew Brees has had a historically impressive season. He shattered Dan Marino’s single season passing record, connected on 46 touchdown passes, had a passer rating of over 110, and did it all while still keeping people from noticing or caring about the birth mark on his face. Not only did he put up video game numbers all season long, but he also remained extremely likeable. Unlike what happened when Brady became too dominant and fans turned against him, people still adore Brees. His skill and likeability are an even better combination than pajama jeans, and you can bet he’ll be making money for much longer period of time.

What it would mean: Brees winning the Super Bowl this year, would officially supplant Peyton Manning as America’s most beloved athlete. You wouldn’t be able to turn on a TV and make it through a commercial segment without seeing Brees’ face. A second ring would gain even more legitimacy for his emotional Super Bowl win two years ago and take him up into the next tier of quarterbacks. We would begin to start considering where he sits among the all time greats. Top 15? Top 10? Probably, and he’s still got the time, skill, and weapons to continue climbing that ladder.

The Odds: Donald Draper Having A New Fling%

Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers
     Logic says if you shed a few pounds, you’ll be able to run faster and better? Aaron Rodgers certainly proved that he can do everything better without the monkey of Brett Favre on his back. Rodgers led the Packers to 15 wins this year while throwing only 6 interceptions and having a passer rating of just under 123. He’s the favorite to win the MVP award, despite the record setting season Brees had. Like Brady, Rodgers is winning all these games with a team whose defense has been subpar. But not even a defense that gave up 22 points per game, or the 27th ranked rushing offense in the league could slow down Rodgers, who led the pack to the number one seed in the NFC. 

What it would mean: If Rodgers wins the Super Bowl this year, it would give him the inside track on Brett Favre to being the better Green Bay quarterback. That’s not to say that winning it this year automatically makes him the better quarterback than Favre, because you can’t ignore what Favre did for 20 years. However, if Rodgers wins two Super Bowls, something Favre couldn’t do, he would definitely have a leg up on Favre to having the better career. Just how significant is that? Hollywood teaches us on an all too regular basis that sequels are almost never as good as the original. And in the NFL, when you’re following a Hall of Fame quarterback, it’s never an easy task, even if you have success. As good as Steve Young was, does anyone really consider him better than Joe Montana? Maybe a few, but I’m guessing its 4-1 in favor of Montana. Rodgers would already be accomplishing something Favre couldn’t, with a young team, and at a young age and plenty of time to keep adding to his legacy. How many rings does he need to compete with two decades of success? Two probably doesn’t do it, but it’s an incredible start. 

The Odds: Jersey Shore Is Ruining America%

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