Perception versus Reality

Before the destruction of the Berlin Wall, a teacher gave his class an assignment that revealed the tendency to form opinions based on perceptions without looking at actual facts. The teacher handed out a paper that contained quick facts about two countries’ spending habits. For example, country A spends 50% on defense. The goal was to process the facts, and then match the country with its spending habit. Of course, the two countries were the USSR and the USA, and the class was not able to match the countries based on the spending habits with any real accuracy. What did this prove? Well, it proved that what the students “knew” didn’t exactly match the facts. Shall apply this theory to the NFL? The facts versus the perception.

After watching the Texans defeat the Denver Broncos it became clear that Peyton Manning climbed into the “Joe Montana” zone. For those of you who don’t know, the “Joe Montana” zone is reserved for quarterbacks that never get blamed for bad throws. It’s always the receivers fault. The receiver didn’t run the right route, or the receiver didn’t make the catch. The analyst would rather brag on the tight spiral versus the fact that the spiraled football went straight to the defender. This was painfully clear after Peyton overthrew Demaryius Thomas on a routine pass play, and the comment from one of the announcers was, “Thomas should have made that catch.” Sure, only if Thomas was eight feet tall. Peyton posted pedestrian numbers. He completed 26 passes out of 52 attempts for 330 yards and two touchdowns. On the plus side, Peyton didn’t throw an interception; however, one of his touchdown passes was an exhibition of good fortune as the tipped ball just happened to deflect straight to a friendly receiver. The perception was that Peyton performed worthy of lofty status. However, the reality was that Peyton performed like an average quarterback.

Tim Tebow was blasted for his inaccuracy last year, and most analysts trumpeted the soundbite that he was the worst quarterback to ever play a game in the NFL. Tim Tebow did not post great numbers last year, but how many quarterbacks have a playoff win over the Pittsburgh Steelers on their list of accomplishments? Was Tim Tebow the worst quarterback, ever?

Quarterback X’s performance the past two weeks.


17 31 183 54.8 0 1
11 27 126 40.7 1 4

Quarterback Y’s performance the past two weeks.

10 21 155 47.6 1 0
7 19 53 36.8 1 0
Quarterback Z’s performance the past two weeks.

10 28 110 35.7 1 1
15 28 243 53.6 2 2

Would anyone give pause if those numbers had the name Tim Tebow attached to them? Let’s reveal the mystery quarterbacks. Quarterback X is Jay Cutler, quarterback Y is Blaine Gabbert, and quarterback Z is Josh Freeman. None of whom, are labeled as the worst quarterback, ever. Keep in mind, those numbers were posted by quarterbacks on teams that believe in their ability. (Obviously, Jay Cutler doesn’t belong on the worst quarterback list, but his numbers are horrible.) The perception that Tim Tebow was the worst quarterback to play an NFL game was a little over the top as there are other candidates for the title.


Perhaps, overblown statements made like “The best __, ever!” will prompt curious people to examine numbers or other facts to draw his or her own conclusions.  Don’t get fooled by other people’s perceptions.



  1. Good points, but who outside of Merril Hoge and Pete Prisco called Tebow the worst ever? He’s been roundly criticized for his mechanics, but haven’t heard the “worst ever” label used widely .. at least not by anyone who ever watched Ryan Leaf or Heath Shuler play.

    1. Stephen A is probably the only other analyst I can think of at the moment that falls into that category. That’s a good point — I could have qualified that statement as most analysts I listen to. Speaking of Shuler, I thought he would eventually make it after he played on a team that could protect him better. It didn’t work out, though.

      Thanks for stopping by, and I hope you continue to do so.

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