Even Donald Regan Can Understand QB Controversy

The Trojans have one, although it hasn’t fully blossomed. The Bruins have one, sort of, but its impact is dulled by a winning season. The Raiders have one that keeps rumbling like a ripe volcano. The Rams not only have one, theirs is about 30 years old and considered a classic, and a model for all the others.

What they all have is a quarterback controversy.

The coaches all deny it, of course, and the quarterbacks don’t want to discuss it, thank you. They all swear it is an invention of the sensationalist media. But you and I know real quarterback controversies exist.

The quarterback controversy is an important part of the game of football, from the sandlots and peewee leagues on up.


But the quarterback controversy is also a much-misunderstood aspect of the game. There are many myths, perpetuated mainly by coaches. So let’s shoot down a few of them--myths, not coaches.

What quarterback controversy? We don’t have a quarterback controversy.

Pure fiction. Every team except the Chicago Bears has one. The Bears don’t have one because they are undefeated and also because just about everyone agrees that William Perry is a few games away from being ready to take over as the Bears’ starting quarterback.

It’s pointless to debate quarterbacks, because the coach knows best.


Coaches are very busy people, working long hours, hoping to achieve the ultimate goal of every coach--a job as a TV color analyst. The coach’s attention is divided and fragmented. He has to worry about everything from which silly hat to wear on the sidelines next Sunday, to who to play at the other 21 positions.

The fan concentrates his or her total energy on one position. When fans talk football, they warm up by tossing around nose tackles and wide receivers, but quarterbacks always wind up dominating the discussion.

Television reinforces this. The viewer is conditioned to believe that the quarterback is not only the key player, but seemingly the only player. The TV camera zooms in on the quarterback’s face, nose, eyes. Closeups as he fades to pass, then replays of his follow-through and his reaction as the pass is intercepted or his leg is snapped in two.

Only cheerleaders and the idiots who paint their faces or wave stupid signs get more camera coverage than the quarterback, so the TV viewer becomes a quarterback expert.


Coaches tend to get bogged down in technical coaching details. Example: Dick Vermeil, brilliant former coach of the Philadelphia Eagles and now a TV coach, was asked his opinion of Ram quarterback Dieter Brock, whom Vermeil saw play in an exhibition game.

Vermeil said: “I thought he was doing everything right, except he wasn’t throwing the ball accurately.”

I rest my case.

Quarterbacks get too much of the credit when the team wins and too much of the blame when it loses.


If that’s true, they get too much of the money, too.

Watch the sidelines during a time-out late in the game. Who is the coach always talking to? A defensive tackle?

Booing the quarterback is useless because the quarterback and coach are so focused on the game that they don’t hear crowd reaction .

A sixth-degree black-belt Hindu yogi couldn’t shut out the noise of 80,000 beered-up fans booing their lungs out.


The quarterback hears the booing, and it reinforces his belief that the fan is a horse’s hindquarters. But when the quarterback later pauses to reflect, he realizes that the booing is a form of constructive criticism. And since most coaches have unlisted phone numbers, they welcome the booing as an avenue of communication with the fan.

Also, booing is healthy. A good boo is a splendid release, like a good cry. Watch a booer closely. He (or she) is enjoying himself enormously. Living proof that not all of us lead lives of quiet desperation.

A quarterback controversy is bad for the team.

A juicy quarterback controversy boosts interest in the team, stimulating discussion and debate so vital to a free society. It’s as much a part of democracy as free elections.


A quarterback controversy is good not only for the team, but for the community. It’s something in which we should all participate and take pride.