(Luck photo courtesy of Indianapolis Colts)
(McNabb photo courtesy of Philadelphia Eagles)
By Clark Judge
Talk of Fame Network
Carolina quarterback Cam Newton doesn’t need another wide receiver. He needs a history lesson.
Earlier this week he told a Charlotte TV station that “nobody has ever been who I’m trying to be,” explaining that he’s not saying he is or will be the best quarterback in NFL history but that “so much of my talents have not been seen in one person.”
Excuse me … what?
“Nobody,” Newton told Morgan Fogarty of WCCB, “has the size, nobody has the speed, nobody has the arm strength, nobody has the intangibles that I’ve had.”
Now, I think I know what he’s saying – that no quarterback has his size, speed, arm strength and intangibles … except I have no trouble thinking of a quarterback who did. And I don’t have to go to Canton to find him.
Donovan McNabb, come on down.
I don’t care what you think of the guy, but he had the size (he was 6-2, 240; Newton is 6-5, 245); he had the speed (he ran a 4.64 40 at the NFL combine while Newton ran a 4.59); he certainly had the arm strength and don’t get me started on the intangibles. Donovan McNabb quarterbacked an Eagles team that went to five conference championship games in eight years, including four straight, and led Philadelphia to its only Super Bowl appearance since the 1980 season.
He could run, with his 3,469 career yards ranking sixth among NFL quarterbacks. He could throw, becoming the first quarterback in league history to have over 30 touchdown passes and fewer than 10 interceptions in the same (2004) season. And he could win, with a 92-49-1 record in Philadelphia where the Eagles won five division titles on his watch.
“I would love to see him in the Pro Football Hall of Fame,” Hall-of-Fame quarterback Warren Moon told the Talk of Fame Network earlier this year.” I thought his career was exceptional. He went to five championship games, went to a Super Bowl, had a great touchdown-to-interception ratio as far as his passer rating and all that … Just a great competitor.”
I mention McNabb because of his size. He was a guy who, especially early in his career, could run over tacklers and who three times in his first three complete years as a starter produced 100 or more yards rushing in games.
But why stop there? Steve McNair wasn’t quite as big (6-3,230), but the guy could flatten would-be tacklers, was a dangerous passer and could win. Then there are the intangibles. All I know about Steve McNair is that he was so valuable … or invaluable … he once tied Peyton Manning for league MVP.
What gets me about what Newton said is that after backpedaling from his initial statement that “nobody has been what I’m trying to be,” he went on to say “so much of my talents have not been seen in one person.” Huh? My guess is he never heard of Hall-of-Fame quarterback Sammy Baugh, who was so versatile, so athletic and so much better than everyone else he played quarterback, defensive back and punted for the Washington Redskins.
As a rookie, he threw for 335 yards in a playoff game – a postseason record that lasted for 75 years, or until then-rookie Russell Wilson broke it in 2012. In 1942, he led Washington a 14-6 defeat of unbeaten Chicago in the NFL championship game, with Baugh producing a touchdown pass and 85-yard quick kick. A year later, he led the league in passing, punting (45.9-yard average) and interceptions (11) and produced one of pro football’s most memorable performances when he threw four touchdowns and made four interceptions in a 42-20 defeat of Detroit. And in 1945, he completed a then-record 70.33 percent of his passes, a figure that remains the fourth best in history.
Bottom line: So much of his talents had not been seen in one person.
But if you want something … or someone … more recent, I’ll offer quarterbacks like Hall-of-Famers Steve Young, Fran Tarkenton, John Elway and Roger Staubach – guys who weren’t built like Newton but who had all of his abilities … and more. And I’ll offer quarterbacks like Randall Cunningham and Michael Vick, too. Again, they weren’t built like Newton but were extraordinary talents who were as dangerous running as they were throwing. Plus, they were team leaders.
Now fast forward to today and go to Indianapolis where Andrew Luck is the quarterback. At 6-4, he’s an inch shorter than Newton, and at 240, he’s five pounds lighter. OK, so size is comparable. At the 2012 NFL scouting combine, he ran a 4.59 40 – or the same time as Newton the year before. He certainly has the arm strength, he’s far more accurate and intangibles? When Luck took over the Colts they were coming off a 2-14 team. Since then, they’re 33-15 with three playoff appearances.
In Newton’s first three years, Carolina was 25-23, with one playoff appearance.
I think you get the idea. Cam Newton is a talented guy, but next time he starts talking about quarterbacks who can do it all, I have a suggestion: Instead of looking in the mirror, either pick up a history book or go to Indianapolis.
You might learn something.