WTF: Breaking Down Colin Cowherd’s Nonsensical Rant Against Andrew Luck Critics
Colin Cowherd, the divisive radio host whose unceremonious departure from ESPN was rewarded with an insanely lucrative deal with Fox Sports 1, has made his bread and butter from telling everyone how stupid they are on a daily basis. This makes him the worst kind of sports TV host.
The talking heads over at First Take are pretty unbearable, but they generally stick to telling each other how idiotic the other is and rehashing old feuds to appease the "hot take" sensibilities of their loyal fan base. They know their shtick, but they also stay largely within the framework of the role of host; to bring the topic forward, offer information into the details and present a discourse that viewers can agree or disagree with.
Cowherd takes his stances in a way that sets aside all chance for a proper debate or discussion and disregards any possible dialogue from the other side. He doesn't care to play devil's advocate with himself, as any good solo sports radio host has been taught to do for generations; and his refusal to do so means he rarely has to face that fact that he can't possibly be the lone voice of reason among a sea of brain dead morons as often as he'd have himself believe.
Here is the opening bit to his latest nearly eight-minute rant attacking critic's of Andrew Luck who believe his interceptions and mistakes are beginning to be a problem.
"You folks on this 'Andrew Luck is a turnover machine. That's why they're 0-2!' I don't mean to be mean-spirited, you're dumb. That's not it, okay. He pushes the ball down field. In my life, I'm 50. I've had 6 or 7 friends who have hit it. They've all had one thing in common. It's not where they went to college. It's not their intellect. It's not their sense of humor. They're aggressive. Aggressive guys, chips to the center of the table, they leave Vegas broke or rich. Congrats on winnin' 80 bones. Breakfast is free, on Larry."
Oh my god. Please continue, oh friend of the eternally bad ass.
"You wanna be a player? You wanna win titles? Who are the three to four baseball players you'd actually pay to see? Bryce Harper. Mike Trout. Kris Bryant. Chris Davis. They strike out a lot. You want to hear the all-time leader in the NFL in interceptions? Brett Favre, Fran Tarkenton. Marino. Unitas. Fouts Manning. Elway. Bradshaw. Namath. You know who's not on that list? Kenny Anderson for the Bengals. Phil Simms who played it safe. Andy Dalton!"
OKAY. Stop it right there. There is so much wrong with that first minute plus of his rant that I don't need to go any further. If the technology were possible for me, I would record myself arguing a rebuttal to every single one of those statements and splice them into this video, but I am not capable of that. So I am going to break it down piece by piece, as best as possible. Here's the full video if you want to watch more of what he has to say past this point.
Lovely. Before I go any further let me make it clear that I do believe Andrew Luck is an extremely talented quarterback who is sometimes the victim of a mismanaged offense that struggles every year with personnel issues. I believe that he will play in at least one Super Bowl, most likely more. I do think he will have a career similar to Peyton Manning that is largely full of regular season success and postseason ups and downs.
Still, I don't think any of that based on the fact that he is some maverick, all-chips-in, full-throttle maniac that goes for broke. I just believe he is more naturally talented than most of the other quarterbacks he will play against once the current group of elites have retired. Just because it is possible to throw too many interceptions and still win football games doesn't mean it's a good sign. His high number of interceptions and offensive mistakes is a problem that cannot and should not be explained away through the high risk-high reward theory.
Okay...Let's start with this gem:
"I've had 6 or 7 friends who have hit it. They've all had one thing in common. It's not where they went to college. It's not their intellect. It's not they're sense of humor. They're aggressive...they leave Vegas broke or rich."
See this is the kind of crap that you can only get away with saying if you don't stop to take a breath and actually think about it after the words vomit out of your mouth, because if you did, you'd want to punch yourself in the face. In what realm of reality is a casino gambler who may or may not lose his house at the craps table the same type of person who wins a football game?
Being aggressive is one tiny part of a nuanced position that require much more than getting out there and slinging the ball like a maniac. There are play books, film studies, sack prevention techniques, physical injuries, timing and communication issues, etc; and also 21 OTHER GUYS ON THE FIELD THAT ARE PART OF EVERY PLAY, 11 of which are trying their very best to get the ball out of your hands and into theirs.
This isn't some guy with 20K to blow, ignoring his better instincts and putting it all on red. Yes of course aggressiveness is a part of the competitive, fearless nature that all great quarterbacks possess; but it should not occur to the detriment of a quarterback's offense. We'll actually come back around to that later when we address his list of quarterback examples.
"You wanna be a player? You wanna win titles? Who are the three to four baseball players you'd actually pay to see? Bryce Harper. Mike Trout. Kris Bryant. Chris Davis. They strike out a lot."
Wow, great way to argue your point against Andrew Luck's critics; name some of the best hitters in baseball right now and point out that they strike out a lot. First of all, there is almost nothing athletically comparable between a starting quarterback's interception ratio and a hitter's strikeouts. If anything, a quarterback's completion percentage could be analogous to a batting average; but strikeouts and interceptions don't match up.
Secondly, here are the 2015 batting average at bats, strikeouts and of the players that you just mentioned.
PLAYER NAME: BA (RANK IN LEAGUE) in ___ AT BATS WITH ___ STRIKE OUTS.
Bryce Harper: Batting .343 (1st in NL) in 484 at bats with 121 strikeouts
Mike Trout: Batting .293 (15th in AL) in 533 at bats with 148 strikeouts
Kris Bryant: Batting .277 (30th in NL) in 517 at bats with 185 strikeouts
Chris Davis: Batting .264 (41st in AL) in in 527 at bats with 196 strikeouts
Yes, all four of those guys strikeout a lot. But their strikeout numbers don't affect their status and performance as elite players at their positions and across the MLB. Harper and Trout are in the running for the MVP of their respective leagues. Bryce Harper has the highest batting average in the entire league.
Not only are these guys four of the most prolific players in baseball right now, but each and every one that Cowherd mentioned is actually setting the bar statistically for others in their leagues and on their teams.
Andrew Luck is not doing anything of that caliber in the NFL right now. He's just not.
He had the lowest passer rating of any qualifying quarterback in Week 2. In two games he's thrown the ball 86 times for 493 yards. He's thrown five interceptions to his three touchdowns. What part of how Luck is playing right now reminds you in any way of the four super star MLB players that Cowherd listed? Luck's interceptions are hurting his performance and his teams' chances of winning, and those guys' strikeout numbers are not doing the same.
"You want to hear the all-time leader in the NFL in interceptions? Brett Favre, Fran Tarkenton. Marino. Unitas. Fouts Manning. Elway. Bradshaw. Namath. You know who's not on that list? Kenny Anderson for the Bengals. Phil Simms who played it safe. Andy Dalton!"
I'm so happy to have finally gotten to this, because this is where things really come off the rails for Cowherd's inept argument. Let's take a closer look at these astounding examples. First of all, Brett Favre's interception numbers are inexcusable. People can say what they want about his success but Cowherd is talking about a chance at Championships, of which Favre only won one in 20 seasons.
Favre threw more interceptions that anyone in the history of the NFL with 336. In a very distant second is George Blanda, who played for TWENTY-SIX goddamn years and only managed to accumulate 277 interceptions. So Favre is very much in a class of his own here; the other guys do not deserve to get lumped in with him.
Before we dive into the other guys' career numbers and achievements, let's look at how Andrew Luck performed over his first three years in the league. In his first three regular seasons, he threw 86 TDs and 43 INTs for a passer rating of 85.4. He is a respectable 3-3 in the playoffs with 9 TDs, 12 INTs and a passer rating of 70.8.
So just for context, if Luck continues at his current pace and plays for 17 seasons (as Peyton Manning has) then Luck will throw 244 career regular season interceptions, putting him at 1oth all-time ahead of Bobby Layne's 243.
Now let's look at the rest of the guys that Cowherd mentioned. Since he is insinuating that interceptions translate into aggressiveness which translates into actual, tangible success, let's take a deeper look.
PLAYER (YRS IN NFL): CAREER INTs (RANK) , PLAYOFF RECORD, SUPER BOWL RECORD
Frank Tarkenton (18): 266 (5th), 6-5 in playoffs, 0-3 in Super Bowls
Johnny Unitas (18): 253 (7th), 6-3 in playoffs, 1-1 in Super Bowls
Dan Marino (17): 252 (8th), 8-10 in playoffs, 0-1 in Super Bowls
Dan Fouts (15): 242 (11th), 3-4 in playoffs, never made a Super Bowl appearance
Peyton Manning (17): 236 (12th), 11-13 in playoffs, 1-2 in Super Bowls
John Elway (16): 226 (14th), 14-8 in playoffs, 2-3 in Super Bowls
Joe Namath (13): 220 (T-18th), 2-1 in playoffs, 1-0 in Super Bowls
Terry Bradshaw(14): 210 (20th), 14-5 in playoffs, 4-0 in Super Bowls
The first five guys on that list, who range from 5th to 12th all-time in interceptions, won a combined TWO Super Bowls. We get all the way to 14th and 20th to get to Elway and Bradshaw, and conveniently skipped over in Cowherd's little list are guys like John Hadl (2nd), Vinny Testaverde (4th), Norm Snead (6th, and never played in a playoff game), Jim Hart (9th), Bobby Layne (11th) and John Brodie (15th). Those are the kind of guys who have thrown more career interceptions that touchdown passes.
Funny how Cowherd rattled off the guys we've heard of (who - outside of a few - really didn't have inordinate postseason success) but failed to mention the ones that don't support his argument. The fact of the matter is, if Luck's interception numbers keep going the way they are going, he is far more likely to end up like Marino or Fouts than Elway.
Just for kicks, here are the current career stats for other quarterbacks (besides Peyton Manning) who have won Super Bowls in the past ten years. Please note that Cowherd actually tried to use these guys to support his point later in his rant.
PLAYER (YRS IN NFL): CAREER INTs (RANK) , PLAYOFF RECORD, SUPER BOWL RECORD
Drew Brees (15): 196 (T-28th), 6-5 in playoffs, 1-0 in Super Bowls
Eli Manning (12): 185 (33rd), 8-3 in playoffs, 2-0 in Super Bowls
Tom Brady (16): 143 (61st), 21-8 in playoffs, 4-2 in Super Bowls
Ben Roethlisberger (12): 132 (T-72nd), 10- 5 in playoffs, 2-1 in Super Bowls
Aaron Rodgers (11): 57 (T-200th), 7-5 in playoffs, 1-0 in Super Bowls
Russell Wilson (4): 28 (T-300th), 6-2 in playoffs, 1-1 in Super Bowls
That's odd! Even Brees - the passiest passer in the league after Peyton Manning over the last fifteen years - hasn't broken 200 INTs yet. And this group, outside of Rodgers and Wilson, aren't exactly the most mobile quarterbacks to ever play the game so it's definitely not that...
Could it be that aggressively passing the ball 1,000 times a game with no regard for whose hands it may end up in isn't actually a formula for success in today's NFL at all?! It sure does look that way. Why don't we head back to some other 80's and 90's greats.
Phil Simms (14): 157 (52nd), 6-4 in playoffs, 1-0 in Super Bowls
Joe Montana (15): 139 (65th), 16-7 in playoffs, 4-0 in Super Bowls
Kurt Warner (12): 128 (77th), 9-4 in playoffs, 1-2 in Super Bowls
Steve Young (15): 100 (100th), 13-8 in playoffs, 2-0 in Super Bowls
Look at all those non-aggressive losers. If only they'd forced more passes that never needed to be made and threw the ball indiscriminately, they could have been as good as Brett Favre and Fran Tarkenton!
Colin, buddy, pal...I'm all for a good radio rant. But the next time you want to call everyone who doesn't agree with you an idiot in a manic rant based on nothing but your boyhood memories of days past and your inexplicable inability to differentiate between two vastly different professional sports, take a deep breath and do some research.
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