In case you didn't hear, former Steelers receiver Emmanuel Sanders questioned the preparedness of his former quarterback, Ben Roethlisberger, in a roundabout way by praising the preparedness of his new quarterback, Peyton Manning, in a recent interview on a Denver radio station.
Naturally, this caused a stir among local media members and fans who were quick to remind the former Young Money receiver of all the passes he ever dropped--including the two-point conversion in a two-point loss to the Ravens last Thanksgiving.
Sanders may have, in fact, meant his comments as a dis to his former quarterback, but let's not pretend that Roethlisberger's dedication to his craft hasn't been questioned by people many times in the past--including the fans (you know who you are).
So, does Roethlisberger prepare himself for his job as well as the older Manning brother? Probably not. And you know what I think about that?
In an interview that's included on The Complete History of the Steelers DVD that was released about a decade ago, Hall of Fame quarterback Terry Bradshaw admitted that he didn't like to study (and maybe couldn't thanks to suffering from ADD).
Sanders also applauded Manning's leadership skills and the fact that he insists on his receivers staying after practice to work on whatever it is QBs and WRs work on after practice.
Again, so what?
Many things have been written and said about Bradshaw, but the word "leader" isn't often used to describe him (words like "enigma" and "misunderstood" seem to get thrown around more), yet he was somehow able to play well enough to be named Super Bowl MVP two years in a row (XIII and XIV) and win NFL MVP in 1978.
Is preparation important? Yes. Is film study important? Yes. But how much does one need?
What more can you learn from watching six hours of film (for this article, we'll call that a Manning) than you can by watching two or three hours worth?
After a point, doesn't it get kind of ridiculous? Doesn't it become obsessive compulsive? If you thoroughly clean your bathroom once, doing it three more times won't make it any cleaner.
Doing things like working out for eight hours and watching film for a quarter of a day are lauded because these actions demonstrate passion and a work-ethic, but are they necessary? Don't ask most NFL head and assistant coaches that question because they'll probably look at you like you're crazy. That is, of course, if they can step away from their preparation long enough to even give you a quizzical expression.
I don't know when it began or who started the behavior, but football coaches are notorious for spending 20 hours a day watching film and perfecting their game plans. And when they're done with those activities, many reportedly re-charge their batteries by sleeping at their office, before getting up to do it all over again.
Why do they do this? To find that all important edge, obviously.
You know who really didn't do this? The legendary Chuck Noll. Of the many great things that have been written and said about Noll, one of the most refreshing gems was that he reportedly took a "9 to 5" approach to his job as head coach of the Steelers and apparently didn't like to talk about football when he wasn't actually at work. Instead, he liked to fly his own plane, cook gourmet meals, and he was even a connoisseur of wine.
One time, the Emperor even conducted the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra just for kicks.........during training camp!
But, somehow, despite not watching film at the Steelers' facility for an extra six hours each day, Noll managed to win 209 games and is STILL the only coach with four rings.
Speaking of Super Bowls, the Steelers have the record with six titles, but they needed 43 tries to set that mark. Now with 48 Super Bowls in the books, that means, for all the hours NFL coaches have spent on preparation over the years, and for all the hours their players have spent in the film rooms and on the practice fields, the best any organization could do was win one Lombardi every eight seasons.
I don't know how many hours Charles Haley, the former 49ers and Cowboys pass rusher, spent watching film or perfecting his technique after practice, but I do know he's the only player to win five rings during his career (or four more than Manning).
How much does Roethlisberger prepare? Again, it's hard to say, but he does have a career QB rating of 92.6, which indicates to me he's "on the details."
What about physical preparation? Is Roethlisberger as fit as Tim Tebow, who likes to workout by pushing around huge tires? Those who have made fun of No. 7's weight over the years probably don't think so.
But Dan Marino's teammates often called him "mudslide" for his less than chiseled physique, yet he still managed to dissect his opponents to the tune of 61,000 passing yards during his career. Tebow has 2,422.
This isn't meant to dis Manning or to encourage the usual refrain of "Ben has one more ring," but the people who say that kind of have a point.