Welcome to the 2011 edition of the semi-annual Quarterback Name Ratings. I tried this theory a couple years ago on my old MySpace blog, but I thought now would be a good time to expand upon it a bit. In essence, I believe names matter. I believe all of the great quarterbacks in the NFL The National Football League have really strong Quarterback Names. When you hear their names, you think “quarterback.” I’ve believed this for years. It’s one of those things you think about but don’t really talk about with people, at least not if you dislike being thought a lunatic. Well, I’m a proud lunatic, and now I’m sharing this particular theory with everyone.
I believe this applies to most other professions as well. “Michael Jordan” is a strong name for the greatest basketball player ever. “Steven Spielberg” sounds like a hugely successful film director. When you see “Directed by Ridley Scott” on a movie poster, that just looks and sounds right. How could “Tom Cruise” be anything other than a movie star? (Yes, I’m aware “Cruise” isn’t his birth name.) “William Shakespeare“? Writer, obviously. Barack Obama? Not the most presidential name. As such, he should probably lose his job next November. Similarly, as much as I like the guy, I can’t picture a President Ron Paul. President Paul? Nein. President Romney I could live with. I LOVE the sound of President Cain. It even works for non-public figures. If you meet a guy named Michael Horowitz, you think, “This guy’s a fuckin lawyer!” And he probably is.
One of the best examples of a name fitting the profession is with quarterback’s names. We can start by looking at some of the all-time great quarterbacks; Joe Montana, John Elway, Bart Starr, Johnny Unitas, Steve Young, Terry Bradshaw, Dan Marino, Joe Namath. All strong, manly quarterback names. Admittedly though, if I had no idea who “Fran Tarkenton” was, my first guess would not be “Hall of Fame quarterback.” In fact, I probably wouldn’t even guess that to be a male. But there are exceptions to every rule. More recently, you can hate on Brett Favre all you want, but it’s a fantastic, unique QB name.
Of course, this is not an exact science, and it doesn’t pan out 100% of the time. However, in my head, it just feels like most of the best QB’s in the league have really strong Quarterback Names. All of that said, here are a couple of rules I believe do apply. One is that your QB’s first name should preferably be one syllable, though again, there are exceptions. It should also be a manly name. None of this new age “Taylor” or “Jesse” crap. If your name could also be a girl’s name, and if it’s a stronger female name than male name, you will not be an elite NFL quarterback in The National Football League. Just ain’t gonna happen. The NFL National Football League is for men, not boys. As such, I can’t find a single good QB in the NFL The National Football League right now with a boy’s name. High school kids, if your first name is Joe, Tom, John, Mike, Matt, Vinny or Bill, you’re on your way. Parents, if you want your kid to be a famous football player one day, choose your children’s names wisely.
For proof of the opposite, just look at some of the QB’s in the NFL The National Football League who can’t get off the bench or who are consistently awful. You can’t tell me that guys named Brodie Croyle, Charlie Whitehurst, Charlie Batch, Curtis Painter, Seneca Wallace or Hunter Cantwell even had a chance at being great quarterbacks. It wasn’t meant to be, fellas. Guys with goofy names aren’t elite QB’s in this league The National Football League.
Even though he’s getting a lot of hype as a rookie, do you really expect a guy named Blaine Gabbert to be an elite QB? No, you don’t. “Blaine Gabbert” sounds like the owner of a used car dealership. “Come on down to Blaine Gabbert End Zone Chevy…where our deals are a SCORE!”
Looking ahead, the projected #1 pick in the 2012 draft, Stanford QB Andrew Luck, not only has all the tools to succeed in the NFL The National Football League, but he’s got a hell of a Quarterback Name. Any team that starts this season 0-5, 0-6, whatever, and needs a “quarterback of the future”, should seriously consider tanking their season to put themselves in position for that top pick next spring. ESPN fantasy guru Matthew Berry coined a phrase for this; “suck for Luck”, which I love so much I think I’ll just steal it a few times in this column.
So here we go, team by team, with each projected starting quarterback’s Quarterback Name Rating scored from 1-10.
In A-B-C order by city name-
ARIZONA CARDINALS: Kevin Kolb (6.5) – Let’s just say that if Mr. Kolb is one day inducted into the Hall of Fame, I’ll be more than a wee bit shocked. I hope Larry Fitzgerald and his fat new contract don’t think this is the guy that’s gonna get them to the Promised Land.
ATLANTA FALCONS: Matt Ryan (8.5) – Solid, solid QB Name. The double first name doesn’t always work, but I think in his case it does. It sounds like a guy named “Matt Ryan” ought to be a good QB, doesn’t it? This is what I mean. Bonus points for coming out of Boston College. You never know how a team is going to perform, but if Matty Ice doesn’t play in at least 2 Super Bowls, I’ll be very surprised.
BALTIMORE RAVENS: Joe Flacco (9) – This is a fan-fucking-tastic QB name, and honestly, Flacco hasn’t quite lived up to it thus far, but the potential is still there. If I didn’t hate the Ravens so much, I’d root for this guy to succeed. And if he doesn’t end up ever living up to his name in football, a “Joe Flacco” would make a great mob boss down the road. Don Flacco will make you an offer you can’t refuse.
BUFFALO BILLS: Ryan Fitzpatrick (6) – Ryan is a good start, but Fitzpatrick just isn’t a good athlete’s name. With that name, I’m not surprised the guy is a Harvard graduate, but the Ivy League isn’t known as a breeding ground for great football players, and Mr. Fitzpatrick is hardly the ideal starting QB. Here is our first serious candidate in the Andrew Luck “Suck for Luck” Sweepstakes. Bills fans, you do NOT want your team to be good this year.
CAROLINA PANTHERS: Cam Newton (7.5) – I’m not crazy about ‘Cam’, but it’s monosyllabic and comes out quick and easy. ‘Newton’ is good, but on the whole, it sounds like what it probably will be; a rookie who struggles mightily in his first year on a bad team.
CHICAGO BEARS: Jay Cutler (7.5) – Sounds like a guy who will never reach his potential, and who may actually be killed on the field because his o-line is so bad. It’s a decent name, but not one you picture coming up big consistently in playoff games.
CINCINATTI BENGALS: Andy Dalton (2) – Yeesh. A terrible QB name, and he’s a rookie on a bad team. Disaster approacheth the Cincinatti area. Sounds more like the name of an executive producer on a hit sitcom. The Bengals really need to get away from ginger-haired quarterbacks.
CLEVELAND BROWNS: Colt McCoy (7) – This was a tough one. McCoy is great, but I don’t know if I’m sold on Colt, even though it is unique. If he played for the Colts, that kind of serendipity would be worth an extra ½ point or so. But a “Colt McCoy” on the Browns? Doesn’t sound like the long term solution in Cleveland.
DALLAS COWBOYS: Tony Romo (7.5) – I like the name (it even feels like a good name specifically for a Cowboys QB), but the man doesn’t inspire confidence. He can throw for a bunch of yards and has a lot of talent around him, but what has that done for him or the Cowboys to this point? I’m gonna blame it on his goofy sidearm delivery. Real quarterbacks throw overhand.
DENVER BRONCOS: Kyle Orton (6) – Orton is a good football name, but I don’t think it’s a great QB name. I like it better for an o-lineman. Here you have a guy who can put up some nice stats under the right circumstances, but you’re not counting on him to come up big in the clutch and win games.
DETROIT LIONS: Matthew Stafford (7) – It’s not bad, but it’d be better if it were just Matt Stafford. Just sayin. These things matter. It would also help if the guy could play all 16 games this year, which would be a first for him.
INDIANAPOLIS COLTS: Peyton Manning (9.5) – If a guy named Peyton Manning wasn’t born to be a Hall of Fame quarterback, I don’t know who is.
JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS: Luke McCown (4) – I had to update this, because the Jags just cut David Garrard (6), whose name (and on-field performance) certainly wasn’t inspiring. Needless to say, Mr. McCown is no improvement. The Jags are officially on the clock in the Suck for Luck Sweepstakes.
KANSAS CITY CHIEFS: Matt Cassel (7) – If his name were spelled “Castle” instead of “Cassel”, it’d be a 7.5 or an 8. It’s too bad his ancestors didn’t have that kind of foresight. However, “Cassel” is a wonderful name for an unexceptional starter/solid backup QB.
GREEN BAY PACKERS: Aaron Rodgers (8.5) – Great, modern name for a QB with an excellent modern combination of pocket presence and the athletic mobility to be effective on the run. The Packers should be in good hands for another 7-10 years.
HOUSTON TEXANS: Matt Schaub (7) – He’s got half of a good name, and here again is another QB who is better at putting up yardage than he is at winning games. Plus, doesn’t “Schaub” sound more like a dentist’s name?
MIAMI DOLPHINS: Chad Henne (6) – It’s Chad Henne. I don’t know what you want me to say. Mediocre name, average player at best, and the Dolphins are desperate to replace him. Do I see another Suck for Luck candidate? Yes, I do! Wow, the AFC East might be really terrible this year outside of the Pats and Jets.
MINNESOTA VIKINGS: Donovan McNabb (6) – Decent last name, but 3 syllable first name? A first name that should be a last name? Sounds like a guy who would vomit on the field during the Super Bowl, doesn’t it?
NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS: Tom Brady (10) – I mean, come on. This is as classic as it gets. One of the great QB names of all-time, and he’s one of the all-time great QB’s. Coincidence? NO. Moving on…
What’s that? You just called me a homer? This is me not giving a steaming, barrel-rolling shit down a hill.
NEW ORLEANS SAINTS: Drew Brees (9) – Strong monosyllabic first name, unique monosyllabic surname. Huge birthmark on cheek. What more could you want? (That is a birthmark, right?)
NEW YORK GIANTS: Eli Manning (7) – He’s got the ‘Manning’ lineage, but ‘Eli’ sounds like some dumbass Podunk redneck who lucked his way into a Super Bowl victory against a better team…which is exactly what Eli Manning looks like!
Google search: “Eli Manning face dumb”:
NEW YORK JETS: Mark Sanchez (7) – Good first name, but I’ll be honest, there isn’t a lot of precedent for Latino starting quarterbacks in the NFL The National Football League. I like Sanchez as a QB name, but with no precedent, he’s setting the standard by himself, and the results are mixed.
OAKLAND RAIDERS: Who the hell is their quarterback, anyway? If it’s Jason Campbell (5), than the Raiders are still uberfucked. Mediocre name for a QB who will never be above average…on a team that doesn’t deserve a winning record until they find a new owner.
PHILADELPHIA EAGLES: Michael Vick (8.5) – If he could play a full 16-game schedule without breaking ribs or a leg, and cut down his scrambling by about 50%, I think Vick could truly be a great quarterback. Unfortunately, I don’t see either happening. I for one am not worried about the Eagles being some kind of “Dream Team” this season. Gimme a break. If Ronnie Brown is a member of your “Dream Team”, you have a very limited imagination.
PITTSBURGH STEELERS: Ben Roethlisberger (8) – Good first name, and his last name is so long, so unique, so convoluted and hard to spell properly that it actually works. But it also sounds like a guy who should probably be in prison for sexually assaulting multiple women.
SAN DIEGO CHARGERS: Philip Rivers (8) – Solid name, solid performer for the most part, but you’re also not surprised when a guy named Philip turns out to be a whiny, sidearm-throwing bitch on the field.
SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS: Alex Smith (5.5) – I’m actually kinda rooting for the 49ers to be atrocious this year so that they get Andrew Luck, who would be reunited with his college coach. That just sounds right to me. The 49ers have a history of great QB’s, and “Alex Smith” is not up to the task, in name or in ability.
SEATTLE SEAHAWKS: Tarvaris Jackson (4) – The problem for him is he has a wide receiver or running back’s name. The problem for Seattle is he sucks. You’re telling me David Garrard wouldn’t be the best QB in Seattle if the Seahawks signed him?
ST. LOUIS RAMS: Sam Bradford (7.5) – I don’t know that I’m onboard with the people who think he’s a sure thing going forward. He’s got a good name, but it feels like he may be another guy who just puts up lots of stats, which, in the end, isn’t all that impressive. I’m not so sure he’s a consistent winner.
TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS: Josh Freeman (7) – Rolls off the tongue nicely, but it’s sort of bland. However, if he keeps up what he did last season in the clutch, he’ll actually outperform his name, which is a rare feat indeed.
TENNESSEE TITANS: Matt Hasselbeck (6.5) – Bleck. I don’t even like talking about this guy. He had potential once upon a time, but for any number of reasons never rose above the average NFL National Football League quarterback. See? He’s too boring to even think of anything clever or funny. At the very least, he’s an upgrade over Kerry Collins and Vince Young. In theory. So there’s that, Titans fans!
WASHINGTON REDSKINS: Rex Grossman (5) – Let’s just say this isn’t the Redskins’ year. And when Grossman inevitably loses the job, I’m not sure a guy named John Beck is gonna be the answer, either. Here’s another team that should seriously weigh the merits of losing.
Let’s look at all the guys who have QB Name ratings of 8 or better: Brady, Manning, Brees, Flacco, Rodgers, Ryan, Vick, Rivers, Roethlisberger. 6 MVPs and 9 Super Bowl wins among them, and those are more or less all of the elite quarterbacks in the league The National Football League, are they not? Theory proven, I’d say.
Now, let’s look at some backup QB’s who have good names. These teams should seriously consider giving these guys the starting jobs, based only on their names.
–Tim Tebow, DEN (9) – I’ve always loved his name. He’s a winner. Kyle Orton may be a more precise, standard QB, but if the Broncos wanna win, they need to trade the blandly named Orton for some draft picks and commit to Tebow. So says I.
–Matt Leinart, HOU (8) – It’s a damn shame. He’s got a really good QB Name, but apparently lacks the skill to be a professional. I liked him for the Cardinals, too. I don’t necessarily feel bad for the guy, though. He’s still a multimillionaire, and he got to live a godly life at USC, my dream school. Now that I think of it, fuck’m!
–Ryan Mallett, NE (7.5) – Let’s just say the Patriots could have done a lot worse if this is the name of the Heir to Brady. Problem is, if Brady plays out his entire new contract (3 more years), I don’t know that Mallett will still be around to take the reins. Are the Pats really gonna keep Mallett on the bench for 3 full seasons? I think it’s more likely the Heir to Brady gets drafted a couple years from now. Brady’s contract runs until he’ll be 37. Brady has said he wants to play til he’s 40. I see Bill Belichick retiring from coaching BEFORE Brady’s current contract runs out, so the “Quarterback of the Future” in New England remains a mystery. Will the next Patriots coach believe in Mallett? I’d like to see what the kid can do one day (he’s drawn a lot of comparisons to Drew Bledsoe because of his size and arm strength), but I think it’s more likely the Pats trade him in a few years once other teams feel they want him as their starter. In other words, I think Mallett will be ready to start before Brady is done as the starter in New England. In other other words, I don’t see how Mallett is the actual Heir to Brady. But if anyone disagrees, feel free to tell me how my logic is wrong. Maybe you think Belichick will be here for another 10 years and will stand by Mallett. If so, I say you’re crazy.
–Graham Harrell, GB (8) – I’ve always liked the name. He was a monster of a college quarterback, but most “experts” seem to agree he might not have what it takes for the NFL The National Football League. I don’t know enough about college football to understand why, but I’d like to see him at least get the opportunity to be a backup. For now, it looks like he’s on the Packers’ practice squad.
–Tom Brandstater, free agent (8) – I don’t know why, but I’ve always liked this dude’s name. Brandstater. That’s cool, man. It’s unique. And with the “Tom” in front of it, that’s a winning formula. Because I like his name so much I always give this guy a boost in Madden. I think I made him the Redskins’ starter in my franchise on Madden 11. He’s been signed and cut by 4 different NFL National Football League teams during his short 2 year “career”. I don’t think he’s played a minute in the pros, but I wanna see someone give him a chance, dammit!
Finally, I’m leaning towards liking Jake Locker as a QB name, but I haven’t committed to that opinion yet. We’ll see what happens. Either way, it shouldn’t be too hard to unseat Matt Hasselbeck from the starter’s job in Tennessee if they get off to a rough start. Or, more likely, when Hasselbeck gets injured.
There it is. I realize this theory sounds a little crazy, but hopefully I’ve shown that the guys with the good names usually end up being the better players. Of course, what makes a good name is an individual opinion, but if you wanna tell me with a straight face that Kevin Kolb is a strong QB name, or that he’ll be a great player long-term, than I say you’re the crazy one. The same goes for anyone that I scored below a 7. Throwing for 4,000 yards isn’t hard to do in the NFL The National Football League anymore, so the ability to put up stats alone doesn’t make you a good quarterback.
Some quick news before we go:
-ESPN just renewed its contract for Monday Night Football with the league The National Football League, which allows them to carry MNF through 2021. The current deal was set to expire in 2013. The 8-year extension cost ESPN $15 beeeellion. Holy shit. That’s $1.9 billion per year for 17 games, or $111,764,705 PER GAME. That’s a bit excessive, does it not? They’re paying 73% more than they paid for the 2006-2013 deal, which seems…how shall I put this…FUCKING ABSURD! Have ratings climbed 70% in the last 5 years? I doubt it. So why gleefully overpay like that? Jesus. I think the NFL The National Football League may be the new Apple; a product for which people (in this case, television networks, but also us fans) will happily overpay for just because it’s the NFL The National Football League. ESPN will also add 500 hours of NFL National Football League programming, expanding NFL Live from 30 minutes to an hour, and taking Sunday NFL Countdown from 2 to 3 hours. Yes, that’s another hour of Chris Berman for your ass. Celebrate. At what point does the NFL The National Football League simply buy ESPN from Disney? [NYTimes]
Enjoy kickoff weekend! And don’t forget that there’s something a lot more important than football occurring on Sunday: the tenth anniversary of September 11. Be sure and check out some of the coverage on the major networks, the news channels, as well as places like Discovery, History Channel and NatGeo. There’s a lot of interesting programming scheduled, and of course there will be tributes aplenty at every NFL game.