Give Steve Young an assist for how Aaron Rodgers handles the "F" word.
But I'm not sure he needs much help. You haven't heard all that much about the relationship between Steve Young and Aaron Rodgers, and both men probably like it that way. They are not everyday texting or calling friends, and I believe Rodgers would have handled the last six years of his landmine-turned-golden life pretty well without Young's occasional advice, because Rodgers was raised by parents with excellent perspective.
But Rodgers and Young do have one very important thing in common: They took over for all-time great quarterbacks, and the succession in both cases was not smooth. But Young learned enough in the awkward years aside Joe Montana, and then replacing him, to be a good sounding board for Rodgers, particularly in the rough times when a) it seemed like he'd never have a chance to play and b) mayhem swirled around the 2008 Brett Favre retirement/unretirement and distracted Rodgers and the Packers daily.
And when Rodgers would seek Young out, the advice would be the kind of sound stuff that hit a home run with Rodgers. Paraphrasing, this was the kind of counsel Young gave Rodgers over the years: Never, even to your mother, say something that makes you a victim. Human nature being what it is, you'll want people to know your side of the story, and you'll want them to know how hard it all is for you. But if you complain publicly even one time, you'll be a crybaby. That's how people will see you. And they'll remember.
Instead, if you just hold it in, and you just focus on football, it may take a few years, but respect will come back to you a hundred-fold. And when you begin to have success, people will look at you with tremendous respect because you didn't fall into the trap of complaining about your circumstances.
Is that exactly what happened or what? I mean, what tremendous advice. I was reminded of this last week when I had Rodgers on my SI podcast (a 34-minute talk you can hear on iTunes: or SI.com and, in prepping for the conversation, knew how fruitless it would be to talk about Brett Favre.
Rodgers doesn't take questions about his relationship with the man he took over for in 2008, because they basically have no relationship. I figured, why throw ice cubes on the conversation? If it came up in the conversation, so be it. And it did, sort of. I asked him what he thought he'd learned from Favre in his three years as his backup. There was a pause, and I thought he would say some version of no comment, but he said something educational. "I think his eye control,'' Rodgers said. "He was great with his eyes, moving defenders and throwing look-off passes all the time. If you watch film on other quarterbacks, there's not a lot of guys in the league who are consistently using their eyes to move players. I think it's a learned trait. It's something you have to work on. The top guys in the league are doing it just about every play. But that was something I watched, I saw, and I really tried to incorporate into my own game."
Interesting. But back to Young. I gained a lot of respect for him after the Super Bowl 17 seasons ago, when he threw six touchdown passes to crush the Chargers. In his suite a couple of hours after the game, one of his relatives or friends in the back of the room, with some giddiness, called out, "Joe Who?'' And Young, who could have said something to stick a dagger into Montana, instead said, "No, don't do that. Don't worry about that. That's the past. Let's talk about the future.''
Sounds like something his protégé would say.
Speaking of positive things about Aaron Rodgers ...
No player in history has had six straight games with a passer rating of 110 or higher -- until now. Rodgers (119.6 in the 24-3 win over the Rams) is the man, and as he continues to put up transcendent numbers, consider this: He is on pace to throw 45 touchdown passes and eight interceptions, and to challenge the holy trinity of single-season quarterback records. How Rodgers lines up against the best single seasons in three major passing categories:
What exactly is Andrew Luck worth?
Not a lot of people would know, because there have been very few times in NFL history when a relatively sure-fire quarterback prospect such as Luck comes out in the draft. So I asked the only general manager in history (I believe) who has been in position twice to take the top quarterback in a quarterback-heavy draft: Ernie Accorsi. In 1983, he was the rookie GM with the Baltimore Colts who set a high price tag for John Elway. In 2004, he was the veteran GM of the Giants and juggled Eli Manning, Philip Rivers and Ben Roethlisberger at the top of the draft, considering all and trading for Manning.
Accorsi told me he has seen Luck on TV but would be doing an injustice to scouting by having an opinion on Luck, the player. But he did tell me if Luck is in league with Elway as a prospect -- which is the widely held view of many scouts; not better, and maybe not as good, but in the same league -- then the Elway situation is a good barometer. Accorsi set a price tag of three first-round picks and two second-rounders for the first pick of the '83 draft, which certainly would be used on Elway. He never got the deal he wanted, so the Colts picked Elway No. 1.
But Baltimore owner Robert Irsay commandeered the trade negotiations for Elway once he found out signing him would cost $5 million over five years. (Exorbitant at the time, ridiculously reasonable in retrospect.) Irsay dealt Elway to Denver for the fourth pick in that year's draft (tackle Chris Hinton) plus Denver's first-round pick in 1984 and marginal quarterback prospect Mark Herrmann. Two ones and a backup quarterback, basically, for Elway. Turned out to be dirt-cheap compensation. Elway led the Broncos to five Super Bowls, winning two. "Five Super Bowls? You can't overpay for that,'' said Accorsi. "It's like overpaying for Joe DiMaggio. In retrospect, three ones and two twos would have been very fair. A bargain, really.''
I think three first-round picks for the first selection in the 2012 draft is more than fair if the team that earns that right is in a dealing mood. One of those picks would have to be in the top 10 of the 2012 draft. "If he's as good as everyone says he is, absolutely it's a realistic price,'' Accorsi said.
In 2004, Accorsi traded for Manning's rights with San Diego in a deal that essentially was two firsts, a third- and a fifth-, with one of the firsts being the fourth overall pick in that draft. (The picks were made, Manning by the Chargers and Philip Rivers by the Giants, and then swapped by the teams.)
But that's not a bad template for a Luck trade. Let's say the Rams have the first pick in the draft next year, but because they've got Sam Bradford, don't feel a need to take a quarterback. The Dolphins, let's say, are picking fourth. The negotiations would have to start with two ones, a three and a five, but I think they'd have to be ratcheted up in value. Luck, in 2012, will likely be much more of a sure thing than Manning or Rivers were in 2004.
But if I were the GM of any bad 2011 team, with any current or near-future quarterback need (and that includes Indianapolis, where the owner is already talking about a Peyton Manning-Luck tag-team for three or four years), I wouldn't take any offer for Luck. I'd sit there and pick him. When you don't have a quarterback, and you're in position to take the surest of things probably since Peyton Manning himself came out, you have to take Luck.
One last point: Pete Thamel of The New York Times asked Luck the other day about the rise of "Suck for Luck'' sentiment around the league. In other words, root for your team to lose so you'll be in position to take him. (Judy Battista wrote smartly about it Sunday in the Times.) Luck has another year of eligibility left at Stanford, but those close to him, and most NFL people I speak to, are virtually certain he'll come out for the 2012 draft. "I am aware of it,'' Luck told Thamel, regarding the sentiment of fans who want their teams to lose to have a shot to draft him next April. "I think it's stupid -- simply put.'' It may be, but that's not going to stop fans in Miami and Seattle and other locales from rooting for their teams to lose.
Now for the rest of Sunday's headlines:
In the galaxy of Eagle stars, Kurt Coleman is not one -- but he did save their season in Washington. Three weeks ago, Coleman, Philly's seventh-round strong safety from the 2010 draft, was benched after allowing Victor Cruz of the Giants to beat him for a 75-yard touchdown. He didn't even know he'd be starting Sunday until a couple of days before the game. And all he did was intercept three Rex Grossman throws -- at the Eagles' 3-, 5- and 30-yard lines in the Eagles' season-saving 20-13 win ... the first time in 45 years an Eagle had three interceptions in a game. Think of the points he saved. Think of what might have happened without his triple intervention, even if the Redskins converted the three drives into field goals and not touchdowns. Washington 22, Philadelphia 20. He'd had only one pick till Sunday, and he was thrilled to get the start in this game because, as he told me, he felt he knew Grossman as well as he'd known a quarterback entering a pro game. "I had a great feel for Rex,'' said Coleman. "For some reason, after scouting them on tape, I had a great read on him and on their pass concepts. I just felt like I knew where he was going with the ball all day. It's a pretty humbling feeling, to get three in one game.'' Coleman claimed the messaged pounded into the Eagles defense all week was stopping the run, and they held Washington 42 yards on the ground.
The Bengals are 4-2. Knock Mike Brown for not trading Carson Palmer, for not building a consistent winner, and for ignoring the bleatings of generations of Bengals who have begged for him to hire a real general manager. His draft last April was as patient as it was productive. First the pick of A.J. Green in the first round; that surprised no one, and his production (29 catches, 15.6-yard average, four touchdowns) has been consistent with where he was drafted. But the drafting of Andy Dalton, especially where he was drafted, was a risky move that turned out to be a home run. Think of it. Starting around the 20th pick in the first round, there was a drumbeat for Dalton. Indianapolis liked him a lot at 22; Seattle loved him at 25, and Buffalo, one pick ahead of Cincinnati at 34th overall, had a quarterback need. Right behind the Bengals, San Francisco and Arizona both liked Dalton. But Brown stayed where he was and got Dalton. The Dalton-to-Green combo, plus a top-five defense with eight defensive linemen who play almost willy-nilly interchangeably, have the Benglas, next to San Francisco, the biggest surprise team in the league entering their bye.
Scattershooting. I know Matt Ryan has had a disappointing year -- very good quarterbacks should lift their team, and he hasn't -- but he made two great throws in the fourth quarter to keep Atlanta in the pennant race with a 31-17 win over Carolina ... Cam Newton is starting to look like a rookie. That's not an indictment, merely an acknowledgement of how incredible he was early and how young he looks now ... I thought the Saints looked out of sync at times at Tampa after Sean Payton suffered the broken tibia and MCL tear. But the Bucs and Raheem Morris deserve the lion's share of credit for that, and for the 26-20 win. Tampa Bay lost by 45 last Sunday, flew back across the country and prepared for one of the best offenses in football after the 49ers put up 48 on them. There's something you learn about your team when confronted with the kind of doubt that has to creep in when you lose a game by 45 points. Morris, obviously, didn't let it ... I don't know who the Giants are, but when they rely on the run game and rush the passer the way they did Sunday, they can play with anyone -- and I mean Green Bay too. They were buzzing around Ryan Fitzpatrick all day, and Ahmad Bradshaw outran the Bills for three touchdowns ... Fred Jackson is, by far, the most under-appreciated running back in football. It wouldn't surprise me if he becomes a star for the Bills the way Thurman Thomas was. Sixteen for 121 Sunday. Just another day ... The Raiders need a quarterback now, and if I were them, I'd go pay a fourth- in 2013 (they don't have their 2, 3, 4, and 7 from the 2012 draft) and try to wrest Kyle Orton from Denver. The Broncos are having an everything-must-go sale (kidding, sort of) and they know Orton's not anything now but insurance ... The Rams need to deal for Brandon Lloyd -- and would give a higher pick than San Francisco.
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