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Ask Farmer: Why aren’t there more left-handed quarterbacks?

Ask Farmer: Why aren’t there more left-handed quarterbacks?
Former NFL quarterback Steve Young was one of the rare left-handed quarterbacks in the league. (Doug Mills / Associated Press)

Have a question about the NFL? Ask Times NFL writer Sam Farmer, and he will answer as many as he can online and in the Sunday editions of the newspaper throughout the season. Email questions to: sam.farmer@latimes.com

Why aren’t there more left-handed quarterbacks?

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Stu Mitchell

Los Angeles

Farmer: It’s bizarre: About 10% of the people in the world are left-handed, according to WorldAtlas.com, and yet there are zero left-handed quarterbacks in the NFL. There hasn’t been one, in fact, since Kellen Moore in 2016. That wasn’t always the case. Steve Young played left-handed, as did Michael Vick, Mark Brunell, Kenny Stabler and a host of others.

“It’s just insane to me — 64 jobs and not one lefty,” Young said. “That’s statistically not possible. I remember in 1980 when I was a freshman [at Brigham Young], Doug Scovil said, ‘Well, I don’t coach lefties.’ You wonder if there’s still a little of that, if there’s still a little of, ‘Hey, if you’re a lefty, I can’t deal with that.’”

Even Young had a bit of a bias against left-handers — and he’s been one all his life.

“There’s something about lefties throwing a football where I’m like, ‘Man, that looks weird,’” he said. “Because I felt like I was normal. I felt like I threw the ball just like everybody else. But watching lefties it was like, that ball’s spinning funny.

“I can’t tell you what it is. But I can say that when there’s zero lefties, something’s up. Either there is a coaching bias, which seems far-fetched and weird to me, or maybe if you’re a lefty and you can throw the ball you’re like, ‘Forget it, I’m going to pitch. You get paid more.’”

There’s also the fact that an offense has to flip for a left-hander, so the right tackle is suddenly protecting the quarterback’s blind side, etc.

“Yes, you have to flip everything,” Young said. “But that’s why I always took it as an advantage, because I had to line up in left formation all the time. Even defenses, everybody’s right-handed.

“They think about everything right-handed, they practice right-handed. So I always thought it was an advantage to show up in left formation and see linebackers, you could see their mind that they were having to flip the coverage. It’s not a big deal, but it’s something.”

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What does the little green sticker mean on the back of only the quarterbacks’ helmets?

Kevin Casey

Portland, Ore.

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Farmer: That green dot designates which helmet is outfitted with the one-way, coach-to-player radio, which cuts off with 15 seconds remaining on the play clock. Only one player (per team) on the field at a time can have a speaker in his helmet. Typically, that’s the quarterback on offense, and a middle linebacker on defense. Likewise, there can only be one coach in the ear of that player.

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