The quarterback is the most important position on the field. If your a fan of the NFL you probably remember the disaster of Brett Favre’s last few years, where he couldn’t figure out if he wanted to still play or just do commercials. That is the perfect example of “when it’s time to say goodbye” and the packers couldn’t of handled it any better. Let’s take a look a little deeper into a couple of the most recent goodbyes to franchise players.
Brett Favre is undoubtedly one of the greatest quarterbacks to ever play the game. However those guys behind the scenes over there in the land of cheese are brilliant. They knew around year 14 with their quarterback that they should start looking for his replacement, and instead of waiting until he was gone they did it the correct way and found that next guy sooner than later. In 2005 they drafted this 6 ft 2 stud from Cal and his name was Aaron Rodgers. Coming into the NFL most guys want to immediately become “the guy” and lead his team to the promised land, however more times than not it doesn’t work out that way. Just for example Peyton Manning, another all time great did absolutely horrible in his rookie year(at least compared to the rest of his career). Aaron Rodgers ended up sitting behind Brett Favre for his first three seasons and became the starter in 2008. While behind Favre he sat their like a sponge and soaked in as much knowledge as he could from the future Hall of Famer and it clearly paid dividends because in 2010 Rodgers led the Packers to a Super Bowl victory and was then named SB MVP. Every seasons since then Rodgers is in the top 5 in practically every category and in the running for league MVP. If you look at the teams that are year in and year out competing for a playoff spot they have something in common, a leader at the helm, a solid quarterback. Also vice versa the teams competing for the worst of the league have something in common, a suspect quarterback who either doesn’t have the talent around him or was thrown into a terrible situation without the luxury of learning from an all star who was their before him.
Another reason you might let go of your franchise quarterback who’s in his mid 30’s is because of injuries. Let’s be honest, will you ever get your future gun slinger off the free agent market? Not if he’s any good. You never see a top 10, or even top 15 guy out there because teams hold on to the good ones for dear life.You don’t let go of someone who has the talent and the right mindset to lead you to playoff victories, you just don’t. A few years ago though, we saw one the greatest quarterbacks to ever play the game out on the market no strings attached. That guy’s name is Peyton Manning. He led the colts to a super bowl victory and led them to the playoffs more times than not. Then old father time set in and Manning had a couple neck surgeries that sidelined him an entire season and the colts won 2 games that year just showing how important Manning was to a playoff team the year before. The colts were now sitting in a challenging position, do they get rid of the guy who’s filled their seats for over a decade and delivered them a victory in the Super Bowl or do they pay him millions and millions of dollars unsure of what he can actually produce on the field. What made their decision a little easier was the 2012 quarterback draft class including Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III. As we all know they decided to let Manning go and draft their future guy Andrew Luck. When the colts let him go, the feeding frenzy commenced and for awhile there ESPN had their hands full with rumors and teams going crazy. For awhile we heard the 49ers, Seahawks, Broncos to name a few, not including all those teams with under .500 records begging for a gift from god to make Manning come to their city. It just goes to show you how a player of that caliber never makes it to the market. Anyway, he ended up with the Broncos and has led them to a Super Bowl appearance and a few of the best years they’ve had since the Elway days. The Colts and Andrew Luck didn’t have the luxury that Aaron Rodgers had, or Brady, or Rivers and that’s a proven guy ahead of him to learn from. Like I said before when you get thrown into a situation, with extremely high expectations more times than not you fail, or at least not meet the standards that are expected. What Andrew Luck has done is simply unheard of. With a suspect defense, and a subpar running game he has led them a couple of division crowns and a few playoff wins, including that hell of a game against the Chiefs a couple of years ago.
In the end, what matters most in the NFL is having some under center who can control the offense and win you ball games. If you have an aging quarterback, especially one that has injury problems you need to think of the future. It’s never too early to find a backup that way you can groom him to be just what you want all the while he gets the best hands on training available in the game and thats a proven quarterback.