Will They Be Draft or Hall of Fame "Busts"
Will They Be Draft or Hall of Fame “Busts”
Well, to no one’s surprise a couple quarterbacks were selected one and two in this year’s edition of the “The Future Is Now” show, a.k.a the NFL Draft. The Los Angeles Rams grabbed Jared Goff and the Philadelphia Eagles snagged Carson Wentz.
Alright, alright, before I go any further, I admit my using the term “The Future is Now,” is a bit ironic. Washington Redskins fans will remember that phrase was owned by George Allen. The Hall of Fame coach used it to describe his philosophy of building teams with “seasoned veterans,” not draft picks. So, while I feel a little sacrilegious about twisting his famous axiom, I do so with respect.
None-the-less, expectations right now are pretty high for these two fortunate young first-round QBs. I expect Rams loyalists will soon proclaim the selection of Goff as the best thing to happen since Fred Gehrke painted logos on the team’s helmets in 1948. And fans from The City of Brotherly Love will declare – at least for now – an unwavering affection for their new QB.
However, it might be wise for the optimistic to temper their enthusiasm just a tad. Remember, as Benjamin Franklin once said, “In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.” And when it comes to drafting NFL caliber quarterbacks, especially in the first round, Old Ben is right. Nothing is certain.
Now, I’m not trying to throw a wet blanket on this year’s top two picks. Certainly there have been more success stories about QB’s chosen in the first-round than not. But let’s not forget, in 1998 while the Colts selected “future Hall of Famer” (a phrase I rarely use) Peyton Manning, the Chargers chose Ryan Leaf. And the Cleveland Browns, well, their recent run of first-round QB picks include the likes of Johnny Manziel, Brandon Weeden, Brady Quinn, and Tim Couch. Anecdotal evidence of my point that not all first-rounders are a sure thing, I admit. But here’s something else to toss around (pun intended). There have been some really great NFL QBs that were either late-round selections or not drafted at all.
Case in point, Hall of Fame quarterback Johnny Unitas, considered one of the best ever, was a ninth-round selection of the Pittsburgh Steelers in 1955. The Steelers, however, cut him before he threw a single pass in the regular season.
After a season of semi-pro football, he was signed by the Baltimore Colts as a free agent. Although Johnny U’s first regular season pass was intercepted and returned for a touchdown, followed by a lost fumble on his very next possession, he soon thereafter developed into one of the game’s finest and led the Colts to titles in 1958 and 1959 and a win in Super Bowl V.
Another Hall of Fame quarterback, Bart Starr, was drafted by the Green Bay Packers in 1956 in the 17th round. Like Unitas, he too had a rocky start as a pro. In fact, after three seasons he was just about ready to hang up his cleats when the Pack’s new head coach Vince Lombardi convinced him to do otherwise.
Bart went on to earn MVP honors in both Super Bowl I and II and was a three-time NFL passing champion and a 10-time Pro Bowl choice.
More recently, in 1994, Kurt Warner reported to the Green Bay Packers for a free agent tryout. The undrafted rookie was released before the regular season began. After a three-year stint in the Arena Football League he was signed as a free agent by the St. Louis Rams who then sent him on to NFL Europe’s Amsterdam Admirals.
It wasn’t until 1998 when starter Trent Green went down with an injury in the preseason that the Rams turned to their backup. Warner responded with an NFL MVP season, and a victory and MVP honors in Super Bowl XXXIV. He followed that up with another Super Bowl appearance (SB XXXVI). Later, as the starting QB of the Arizona Cardinals he made his third Super Bowl appearance, losing to the Pittsburgh Steelers in Super Bowl XLIII.
Now I’m not trying to say that Goff and Wentz need to be looking over their shoulder for some unknown never-quit free-agent or late-round selection to take their spot on a roster. But, maybe before we add their names to the “future Hall of Famer” list we should wait and see if their first pass is intercepted for a touchdown too.
Go back to all blog listings