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Sunday, January 23, 2011

Latest Sportscasting Cliche -- "Extending the Play"

How many times have you heard this comment over the course of the past several weeks, particularly about the best quarterback since a) Johnny Unitas, b) Joe Montana, c) John Elway, d) Dan Marino, well, you get the idea -- Ben Roethlisberger? Do the producers of the studio shows think of these things for the talking heads to say, or did one of them think of this description on his own and then post it on a website for the others to copy? Sure, I get the point about Roethlisberger, but if extending the play were the major, let alone sole, criteria, for a quarterback to lead his team to a Super Bowl victory, then the following would have won multiple Super Bowls:

a) Bobby Douglass (you can look it up, but he was quite the rushing quarterback when with the Bears over 40 years ago -- problem was that he pitched the ball as well as Steve Blass);

b) Randall Cunningham (Eagles' QB was adroit at rushing the football, which he had to do out of fear because his defensive-minded coach -- Buddy Ryan -- either couldn't recognize a talented offensive lineman or refused to draft one, and his receivers wouldn't make you forget Jerry Rice, John Taylor or, heck, David Tyree);

c) Kordell Stewart ("Slash" of Steeler fame was called that because he could run/pass/catch, but the problem was that he could do none of those memorably, although the name was pretty good, but he didn't do his job as well as the guitarist for "Guns 'N Roses" did his);

d) Donovan McNabb (Eagles' QB in his younger days was all about extending the play, labeled a "football player" as the highest compliment by many a talking head. McNabb running in his early days was like a freight train you didn't want to step in front of -- think trying to draw a charge from Charles Barkley after he stopped dieting on Twinkies); and

e) Michael Vick (One-time Falcons' and current Eagles' QB is the poster child for extending the play. He has more moves than the back-up dancers for P!nk and is better at escaping a (pass-rushing) jail than the all-time bank robber from the city he now plays in, Willie Sutton).

Look, no one will knock the fact that if your quarterback can make a lot out of a down where the defense has done its job but still gives the QB a bunch of time to make a play isn't a skill that will distinguish that QB from, well, Pete Liske, Rick Arrington, John Reaves, Doug Pedersen, Bobby Hoying, and, well, you get the idea. Roethlisberger has won a couple of Super Bowls, and he didn't do so by being average. He is very good, and, sure, he's good at making things happen.

Let's just try to keep the English simple, fellahs. There's enough jargon out there that you can end up making more out of qualities that you should. Look, Slash Stewart had his moments, but I'm not sure that his ability to extend the play would have propelled better Steelers' teams to the Super Bowl. Likewise, I do think that had Randall Cunningham been surrounded by anything resembling an offensive line and skill position players, he would have led his team to a Super Bowl (and was a Gary Cox miss of a chip shot very late in his career to having done just that with the Minnesota Vikings).

That dispensed with, what will the experts come up with for the Super Bowl?

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