We didn't want to do this ... but you made us, Gregg Easterbrook. We didn't want to insert you into one of our blog posts, given as you are to the Gladwell-esque life assertion that anything in the world can be summed up and solved with a few half-baked sociopolitical theories, and questionable uses of SCIENCE. But you made us do it, and you made us angry, and this won't be pretty.
Easterbrook, in case you don't know, is ESPN's "Tuesday Morning Quarterback," a man who used to watch game tape and bring forth some interesting ideas, but apparently finds the Weather Channel more to his liking these days. We understand this choice, given that Stephanie Abrams is not on the NFL Network just yet (Note to the NFL Network: Please rectify this. Thank you). But here's a tip, Gregg -- when you're writing about football, it would help you to do two things: Look stuff up, and actually watch the games and players you're writing about.
In his post-draft "special," TMQ poses the following hypothesis on one Robert Griffin III, newly minted quarterback of the Washington Redskins:
Griffin played his high school and college ball in Texas, where annual precipitation is less than that east of the Mississippi, and he became a football star during the period when much of Texas was suffering a multiyear drought. In his two starring seasons with Baylor, Griffin started 21 games in Texas, and five games in also-dry Colorado, Kansas and Oklahoma. So far as I could determine, he has never played in the rain zones of the Northeast Corridor or Pacific Northwest.
Now Griffin heads to the Redskins, who each season host eight games in rainy Maryland plus have annual road dates in rainy Pennsylvania and New Jersey. Quarterbacks with small hands tend to fumble when it rains. RGIII has little experience with rain-game conditions, and there is a lot of rain in his future. "Nobody, not even the rain, has such small hands," the poet warned. Sure, lack of rain experience is a super-specific concern. But Washington just invested three first-round draft choices in Griffin. Did the Redskins' brain trust take this into account?
To be fair before we take Gregg apart completely, there is some correlation between hand size and fumbling. Dave Krieg had small hands and fumbled quite a bit during his long NFL career (153 times in 213 regular-season games from 1980 through 1998). But Krieg was also an undrafted free agent from Milton College, a school that doesn't even exist anymore. Griffin, in our humble opinion, is the best overall player in this draft class. So, even if he does have small hands, we're going to go ahead and assume he'll be able to work around that issue.
In his response to Easterbrook's article, our buddy Dan Steinberg of the Washington Post's D.C. Sports Bog did something that's apparently below TMQ's pay grade: He went on the Internet and looked stuff up. And as it turns out, Baylor played Texas in what was described as a "rain-soaked day" in RGIII's last collegiate home game.
Did Griffin disintegrate in such conditions? Um, not really. He threw two touchdown passes, ran for two more scores, and totally dominated in a 48-24 win. His TD passes to Kendall Wright and Terrace Williams were 59 and 39 yards, respectively -- and that was against a team that hadn't given up a TD pass longer than 20 yards all season.
Oh, yeah -- and about all that rain stuff? Steinberg uncovered the following information:
As for "rainy Maryland," NOAA data data indicate that Maryland is the country's 18th rainiest state. Pennsylvania is 21st. New Jersey is 15th. Not exactly the rain forest.
More to the point, and putting aside the drought, Waco averages 34.7 inches of rain a year. Dulles, where RGIII will practice, averages 40.7 inches of rain a year. National Airport, closer to where he'll play, averages 39.0 inches.
Have to say, I wouldn't be outraged if the Redskins declined to turn down RGIII due to an extra six inches of rain a year.
Easterbrook may have a world-class education, and a gift for fancy wordsmithin', but there are times when things can be summed up so much more simply. With that in mind, we'll let Texas safety Kenny Vaccarro have the last word when it comes to RGIII:
"He's a world-class sprinter and has a world class arm in a program that ain't done nothing."
And there you have it. As for you, Gregg, leave the football to the football people. Or, at the very least, the people who look things up when they're writing.