…the lure of landing that franchise quarterback via the first round is strong. Strong enough to get teams like the San Francisco 49ers to make Smith the No. 1 overall pick in 2005, and for the Arizona Cardinals to take Leinart at No. 10 a year later.
Part of the problem is that non-football decisions often influence the process. Does anyone really think the Falcons’ football people wanted to pick Matt Ryan third overall? That decision reeks of an ownership move aimed at erasing the memories of Michael Vick.
As a result of the imperfect nature of the draft, plenty of guys not taken high in the process have climbed the ladder to become starting quarterbacks. Indeed, 10 of the current 32 starters were drafted either after round five or not drafted at all. (The AFC has no undrafted quarterbacks who are starters, which might explain why the AFC is generally viewed as the better conference.)
…Contributing to this dynamic is the amount of attention and pressure that lands on a first-round quarterback. The fans want to see what the kid can do, and the media will echo that sentiment by constantly clamoring for him to get onto the field. If/when the losses pile up, the coaching staff will feel compelled to comply.
Artists, musicians, and politicians aren’t the only household names that survive on the currency of creating biographical legends. As commercial brands, cultural icons, and skeletal-muscular deities, athletes are exalted for being a tier above the rest of us mere mortals. For reaching and landing faster, higher, farther, harder, and more beautifully (with or without the advantage of cellular energizers) in an informal or leisurely context (backyards, playgrounds, empty gyms), they must continue to be more than any of us could only emulate in dreams.
With the psychological and emotional implications of victories in the spectator-athlete dynamic steadfastly present, but the relationship between sports leagues and finances growing ever more transparent, figurative and literal investors need the fruit of their faith to blossom in a much shorter amount of time—as Florio points out in his article.
Moreover, despite whatever social blunders that have become characteristic of various roles in the world of celebrity, athletic beings must be simultaneously human and super human, humble and grounded and in a separate class.