The IT factor is tossed around on the blogosphere on an almost daily basis. NFL players must possess this undefinable somethingness or they can never be considered true championship caliber HOF dudes.
Alex Smith, of course, was the foremost player on the 49ers who was anointed as not possessing this mysterious ingredient. Taylor Mays might be missing it, too, and for all his obvious talents, this lack of ITness might prevent him from ever being the pro bowl player his athletic skills would suggest he should be.
Normally, this IT tag is applied to quarterbacks. Other players on a team may be virtually clueless, but still manage to contribute functionally to a team’s success. But not the QB. No, that poor fellow had better have IT or the best he can hope for is a fifteen year career making an obscene amount of money, but never earning any RESPECT. Or championship rings.
IT can be elusive, however. This is not a bicep we are talking about, where you can see it and touch it and flex it. Some QBs, many in fact, don’t have to play very many games to produce the tell tale eyeball roll of non-ITness. Other QBs, a few, grow into the sacred HE GETS IT realm as the years pass. These few, like Terry Bradshaw and Jim Plunkett, are the ones who blur the eyes and foster the hopes for the myriad of QBs who show signs of ITness from time to time, but never on a weekly, yearly basis. And eventually do this dabble long enough to where they are finally written off.
There are levels of ITness, also. Shaun Hill is a QB who most would say has IT, but he also has not much of anything else. A non-IT fellow with superior skills can take a team as far, or farther, than Hill ever could. For purposes of relevance, however, IT must produce championships to be considered a true IT.
The annual event known as the Playoffs is where the elite ITters are identified. This is the arena where Joe Montana forever outshines Dan Marino. And everybody else, while we’re at it. The playoffs are also where certain QBs who seem to have IT, are suddenly exposed as not havers.
For the better part of a decade, Peyton Manning and Tom Brady have been mentioned in the same breath as Joe Cool. But they are proving unworthy of this distinction with each passing year. Brady won three superbowls on the back of his defense and spy network, and none on the strength of his ITness. Manning is becoming almost synonymous with great regular season QB, not much in the post season, where, like Brett Favre, he routinely fails with the game on the line.
Last weekend, two more QBs slipped perilously from the IT supremacy level by once again failing in the playoffs — Joe Flacco and Matt Ryan. And two other QBs kept their stock rising — Mark Sanchez and Ben Roethlisberger. Sanchez benefits too much from his team’s stellar defense to get all goo-goo-eyed at this point, but Big Ben is starting to look like the premier IT factor QB in the NFL. Never mind that he has been a serial rapist. Well, you can mind, but on Sundays if you are a Steeler fan, you just don’t care. If you are not a Steeler fan, you just do not want this guy to have the ball with the game on the line. He will beat you every single time. Only two other QBs come to mind that you can say this about: Montana and John Elway.
At any rate, that’s IT for today. Tomorrow we might discuss THEM.