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Great teams, not just QBs, win titles

Andy Reed areed@lebanondemocrat.com • Updated Jan 18, 2014 at 12:00 AM

CBS football talking head Shannon Sharpe was talking about whether championships are a requirement to be considered as a great quarterback this past Sunday when he made this statement:

“For a quarterback – at the end of the day – you don’t even get to get into this discussion if you don’t have a championship.”

What got people’s ears red about this statement was the fact fellow NFL Today panelists Dan Marino and Boomer Esiason, two of the best quarterbacks of their era but without championships, were on stage with him.

Marino acknowledged wishing he had the feeling of winning a championship. He then noted Esiason was leading his Super Bowl when he left the field and watched Montana drive the 49ers downfield to a game-winning score.

“A guy dropped an interception or he would’ve had a Super Bowl ring,” Marino noted about Esiason.

Sharpe, who tries to be the NFL’s version of Charles Barkley and often speaks without thinking, tried to backtrack, “There are a lot of guys that have Super Bowl rings that are less quarterbacks than Dan Marino.”

And one of them is the one who threw a pass or two to Sharpe in a Big Game – Trent Dilfer. But the Baltimore Ravens rode one of the game’s great defenses built around linebacker Ray Lewis to the championship. Along the way, the Ravens shoved aside the Titans from the playoffs with Sharpe and coach Brian Billick crowing about it on the way out of town.

Actually, Sharpe’s not the only pundit who equals quarterback greatness to championships. But Dilfer and Tampa Bay’s [we’ll pause here while I look up the name of the Buccaneers’ quarterback who took snaps when they won the Big Game years ago… let’s see… let’s try here… here it is] Brad Johnson throw that argument to the ground.

To be fair, Johnson had a Pro Bowl year that championship season, but I, and I suspect everyone else, remember the losing quarterback, Oakland’s Rich Gannon, better.

Dilfer and Johnson may have rings, but I bet no one, including those of the “no rings, not great” crowd, would take either of them over Marino, who was putting up Manning-Brady-Brees passing numbers 30 years ago when no one else was. They’d take Esiason, too.

To hear pundits talk about it, it sounds like quarterbacks are solely responsible for winning or losing. Forget about the lines, running games and defenses. If receivers drop passes placed in their hands between the numbers, it’s the QB’s fault.

I always thought football was a TEAM game.

Unlike what a well-respected coach told me years ago, quarterbacks are not just another position, particularly at the pro level. Quarterbacks may be the most important pieces of the puzzle. But they don’t win championships by themselves.

Marino is criticized for losing his lone Super Bowl, and he was badly outplayed by Joe Montana in his long Big Game. But for most of his career, Marino had no running game and little defense. He had to pass for 45 points and hope his defense didn’t give up 46.

Montana never scored 40 points in a loss. He always had a strong defense around him and usually a good running game.

All championship quarterbacks, whether great or just average, had strong TEAMS around them.

Peyton Manning is ripped for winning just one Super Bowl while Tom Brady has three rings[you’ll be reminded of this all weekend] and even little brother Eli two.

Funny thing, when dad Archie was toiling for the hapless New Orleans Saints, he was never criticized for not being a winner. Rather, he had the sympathy vote for being perennially saddled with lousy talent around him. The line often was if Archie and Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Terry Bradshaw had swapped teams, it would be the senior Manning with four Super Bowl rings.

Maybe if Peyton will play defense and intercept some Brady passes on Sunday…

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