It was November, 2001 and I was director of basketball operations at Fresno State. In the press box at Bulldog Stadium I made a comment to a friend that I had watched nearly every game our football team had played when it occurred to me I couldn’t remember one of our receivers ever making a great catch. The entire season had been the receivers ran their routes and it was like when they turned the ball was dropped into their hands.
David Carr was the quarterback and he went on to become the overall #1 pick in the 2002 NFL draft - only to be taken by the expansion Houston Texans and thrown to the wolves. His primary protector, LT Tony Boselli (who had starred at USC when I was on the basketball staff with the Trojans) had gotten hurt, leaving David pretty much facing Goliath each week without time to load his slingshot. Yet, to this day, I can’t remember seeing a more accurate passer up close than DC.
Since then I’ve marveled, with all the camera angles now available, at the ability of the best professional QBs to throw the ball through the tightest of openings under duress to receivers who have yet to come out of their break. Now, along comes David’s brother, Derek, who might be as good, or even better, than his older bro. The difference is I’ve seen some absolutely miraculous catches this year so either Derek’s receivers are superior or David was the more accurate of the two. Either way, the Carr family will have produced two NFL QBs.
These thoughts caused me to reflect on a radio interview I heard many years ago between Dan Patrick and Joe Theismann (a marvelous athlete I competed against in high school when Joe was at South River HS and they pronounced his name differently). They’d been talking about a charity affair in which a group of former NFL QBs would represent different contestants and the one who threw the most passes out of 10 through a tire 20 yards away (or a target, I can’t be sure, but you get the general idea), would win for that person the most money toward the charity of their choice. Dan, obviously representing the “average fan” with his question, asked Joe something to the effect, “Aren’t you worried that, um, you know, . . . you might miss?”
There was a pause in the interview, broken by Theismann’s simple, “No.” Implied in his tone was, “Are you kidding? Am I nervous that I won’t be able to throw a football threw a tire from 20 yards away? With all the time I want and no pass rush from mammoth NFL defenders coming at me? What, do you think I’m you?” Obviously, Patrick was looking at the situation through his own eyes, thinking of how nervous he’d be if he had to perform such a feat of athletic ability. What was being asked of Theismann was similar to requesting Patrick to be interviewed by a local high school on its own station - twenty years from now. One reason why the non-player is in awe of the pros is because the great ones make it look so easy.
Case in point: Eric Decker’s record day yesterday. He hauled in four touchdown catches. Take a look at each of those and you’ll see Peyton Manning placed the ball right in his hands. Don’t get me wrong, not just anybody off the street would have had four TDs but Decker didn’t even have to break stride. Yet, when asked about it after the game, Manning says, with a straight face as if anyone could accomplish what he did:
“If you run good routes and you have time to throw, it’s tough to defend that.”