One was second in the league in receiving yards during the regular season. Another averages over 5 yards a carry through just four years in the league. The third only plays offense, defense, and special teams after spending his college career as a quarterback.
None get out of the 5-foot-something range. All seem to be ”deceptively quick” in the eyes of television color analysts. And all will be playing essential — if not altogether expected and familiar roles — for a team amidst arguably the greatest dynastic run in NFL history.
Wes Welker. Danny Woodhead. Julian Edelman.
One more thing; none of them were invited to the NFL combine.
The week between the Conference Championship games and the Super Bowl tends to see the curious intersection of interests between the college and pro football fans. Not much of an NFL fan myself, I’m nevertheless drawn to this weekend and its implications to the greater trends in the game at large thanks to the Senior Bowl. With our favorite Saturday heroes still wearing colors from our alma maters, we nevertheless view them through the spectrum of the hypnotizing scroll of NFL Network’s ticker and the harsh tones of Mike Maylock. Players — like Wisconsin’s Russell Wilson — are lauded for their character yet mourned for their lack of “ideal” size. Some — like Kellen Moore — will fall victim to the old “funky throwing motion” debate, while more than a few will stumble in interviews and arouse whispers and suspicions of not being the proverbial ‘sharpest tool in the shed.’
All things considered, one could do worse than to be pegged as short, having a funky motion, or not having the football IQ of Vince Lombardi. One could, I think it’s safe to say on this not quite political correct of blogs, be a short white dude.
Funny though how we make jokes about short white guys not being the poster boys for athletic success when these three have been quite the opposite. In a day and age where the rumor of a less-than-ideal 40-time can cast you off to a MAC School or worse (yikes, Chadron State? Good luck with the Don Beebe route there, Danny) the thought that unheralded and overlooked can go to key role player or, dare I say in Welker’s case, veritable superstar, smacks of the kind of egalitarian made-for-tv movie you’d think the sports world would embrace.
So why aren’t they?
In a media environment Jordy Nelson ends up creating controversy in by musing on the popular stereotypes of caucasian skill position players, I suppose it’s almost a risk to even venture a guess. But as measuring tapes and electronic timers begin rolling out of the pockets of NFL scouts once again, it’s perhaps best to keep the cases of short white guys, the Senior Bowl, and the quest to be world champions in mind. Every team, every scout, every fan who scours the internet during a company’s other 4 hours of his/her time — they’re all looking for the next superstar to lead their team to the bigtime. But just ask the Philadelphia Eagles if it’s a guarantee of postseason glory, and you’ll likely get an awkward gulp.
Maybe they’ve all be looking in the wrong place. Maybe, just maybe, championships are won and loss not by the superstars at the Senior Bowl, but the short white (and black and asian and latino and ok, are there any arab?) guys standing to the side.