NFL General

In the NFL- Clark Kent is every team’s Superman!

By all sports standards they are underpaid, undervalued, underappreciated, and totally unprepared.  The average man called upon at a moments notice to do the heroic feats of a superhero. Completely anonymous to many fans and media, yet expected to perform as a superstar.  No other position in sports demands more for less.  These masked men are football’s backup quarterbacks.       I argue that backup quarterback is the most important position on any football team’s depth chart.  For evidence, look no further than last week in the NFL, where no more than 10 teams started a second string QB, nearly one third of the league!  Under an avalanche of media attention, many also feel the pressure of the playoffs.  In these situations, it is critical for a backup to lead their team and keep the ship afloat; without a good backup, many hopes are dashed.  For teams in the spotlight the backup quarterback has no margin for error.  Looking at Dallas, the questions about Tony Romo have been going to beginning of training camp.  That situation is under such scrutiny because of the Cowboys do not make the playoffs, it is a failure.  The same is true in Seattle where nothing less than a Super Bowl appearance will do.  I am sure that more teams will also need their backup quarterback, increasing expectations and the pressure to win.

     For many, this is their first taste of this kind of pressure; having toiled away in the shadows watching film and studying playbooks, never even practicing with the starting team.  Now, suddenly and without warning, they must perform, leading their team to victory in front of the entire world.  In an instant, whether through injury or bad performance, the curtains will rise in the backup joins the show in progress.  Ready or not, the show must go on.  From every outside angle the impossible demand is, “don’t screw up and lose, but lead us and win.”  Kansas City coach Herman Edwards explains it perfectly, ” When you get a backup guy in there, that’s the first thing you tell them, ‘We’re not going to put it on your plate to win it, but you can’t lose the game, either. There is no superhero costume to change into; Clark Kent must be Superman.

     In a world of prima donna superstars where pride and ego are the norm, the realm of backup quarterbacks is full of humility and putting the team first.  The average salary of the replacement quarterbacks that started last week like Seneca Wallace in Seattle, Tony Romo in Dallas, Damon Huard in Kansas City among others is only $2 million.  Michael Vick alone earns 10 times that amount.  No imagination can make this position glamorous, in reality it is the blood and guts of every team.  They are not in the stadium performing for thousands, but on the practice field preparing the defense for their opponent.  There is no one asking for interviews or requesting an endorsement; no one even knows their name.  The outside world knows nothing about them until they are in the spotlight, underappreciated and undervalued until the pressure is on.

     As the season rolls along injuries will occur and backup quarterbacks will play.  The pressure will only intensify from here as the playoffs come closer, putting the role of backup quarterback under a microscope.  The demand to succeed and the fear of failure will be too much for some, while others will flourish or just tread water.  Regardless of the outcome from week to week the truth is that no position is more important even if it goes unseen.  Watch and see the teams that must utilize their backup quarterback, how they perform will determine the fate of their team.

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