Which QB Will Be Remembered?
“Heroes are remembered, but legends never die.”
This is the classic quote from The Babe in the movie The Sandlot. It states that heroic acts can define a moment in time, but being a hero can define a person — making them legendary.
They were each drafted by rival teams in the NFC West. Both teams were young and slightly above average, yet had great front offices that knew exactly what direction they were heading. Each team has been sculpted into defensive juggernauts with electrifying offensive attacks.
The reins have officially been handed to both of these quarterbacks, who will now battle head to head for the next several years in one of the most exciting and anticipated rivalries in sports history.
So, at the end of the day, who will be remembered?
You always remember the victor when looking back in time. Everyone can remember “the drive” when Joe Montana led the comeback against the Bengals in 1988 to win Super Bowl XXIII. Yet, most can’t recall the opposing quarterback, Boomer Esiason, who was actually the NFL‘s MVP that season.
The 1988 Bengals were ranked one of the top five of the NFL’s greatest teams to lose the Super Bowl, according to NFL Film’s “The Missing Rings.”
My point is that no matter how great the player, you are rarely remembered if you lose. Which makes this situation so unique. These players are going to play each other. Somebody is going to lose. So, again, who will be remembered?
Let’s break down the players by the three categories that I believe defines a quarterback: Leadership, physical ability and mental makeup.
It is difficult to analyze a player from a team that I despise, especially one with such a douche-bag exterior. But that aside, let’s look at this from a gentleman’s perspective.
One thing that defines a good leader is someone who leads by example. When it comes to work ethic, Kaepernick has been praised by his teammates.
Defensive lineman stated in an interview that Kaepernick is constantly misunderstood by his media antics — wearing bright sneakers and sun glasses to the ESPY’s, posing naked for ESPN the Magazine, repping other team’s gear — but he works well with the coaching staff and players and is always the first one to the facility, emphasizing the trickle down effect a good leader should.
That is solid from a leadership perspective. But then there’s Russell.
Russell came into the locker room, third-round pick and all, and expected to be the starter come week one. He didn’t wait for the coaches to direct him to a specific team; he walked right into the first team huddle and began calling out plays.
He may sound cliché — or even robotic to some — during interviews, and outsiders looking in might think it is just a hoax. Something to improve his appearance to the media.
But the more you watch this guy, the more you realize that’s just who he is. Wide receiver Golden Tate commented on the topic, saying “Yeah, I was one of those guys. He (Wilson) walked in here and starting saying these things and I was like, come on man. Really? But you begin to realize that’s just who he is. He’s all you could ask for in a quarterback.”
Now I don’t know much about what goes on in the San Fran locker room. But from a league-wide perspective, everyone agrees that once you speak with Russell, you are convinced he is going to be great.
This category has been completely transformed over the last couple years. Physical ability used to consist of arm strength, accuracy, footwork, and maybe athleticism.
You could now argue that athleticism is becoming a necessity for quarterbacks. And both of these guys have it.
Kaepernick might be the most athletic quarterback in the league. He ran a 4.53 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine, but it is his combination of size – 6’5″ 230 – and quickness that make him such a lethal threat.
Because of this ability, he has been pegged as a scrambling quarterback. I don’t think that’s the case.
His ability to run is undeniable, and his ability to throw on the run is also lethal. But he has proven to have impressive touch and accuracy from within the pocket. Now, his delivery has an odd 3/4-like release that makes him look a little raw, and he has been known to struggle with his reads at times; but he still is very young and has room for improvement in those areas.
Russell starts out in a hole when comparing physical ability to Kaepernick. He is half of a foot shorter and 25 lbs lighter. He trumps this with his uncanny footwork, elevated delivery and ability to find seams. But nonetheless, he is physically at a disadvantage.
He did, however, run a 4.55 40 so the speed isn’t far behind his competitor. And one thing that brings Hawks’ fans a sense of relief is his ability to stay in the pocket.
He can run, and he does run, but nobody on the planet labels him as a running quarterback. If you look up each individual’s highlights, Kaepernick is running PA stretches while Wilson is throwing sideline bullets and picturesque deep balls.
While both have great arms and Russ can make almost any play on the run, he simply is outmatched by the freak athleticism of Kaepernick.
This one is kind of a landslide victory.
This combines work ethic, intelligence, instincts and just a flat-out sense of mind. All of which Russell trumps most quarterbacks — if not all.
We have watched this young man for one season, and I am convinced that he works harder than anybody else in the league. The only man I can think of that compares is Peyton Manning. Now if you are being considered in the same category of work ethic as the future head coach/hall of famer himself, you’re in great company.
It isn’t really fair to compare Kaepernick to Wilson in this area.
For God’s sake the kid spends his days off at the children’s hospital! Meanwhile, Kaepernick is kissing his biceps and posting pictures of himself on Instagram wearing other team’s hats, quoting “It don’t matter what I wear! Imma do me!”
Yea dude, that’s the guy I want in my team’s huddle for the game winning drive.
You think Mr. “Go Hawks” himself would be caught dead representing any team that isn’t a Seahawk or Badger? No. Why? He knows how much it matters. He understands the impact he has on his fans.
Big surprise, a Seahawk fan picked Wilson.
Most 49er fans will rebuttal with the fact that Kaepernick led his team to the Super Bowl. Yea, so did Joe Flacco. And Trent Dilfer. Neither of whom I would consider elite. Wilson DID, however, lead his team to a ridiculous comeback in the NFC title game.
That is what’s beautiful about this debate. No 49er fan would trade their QB for ours, and no Seahawks fan would trade Russell for damn near anyone in the league.
However, one thing that will always stick with me is that during the beat down of San Fran at Century Link, when the crowd was roaring and the scoreboard was concaved toward Seattle’s side, you could see the fear in Kaepernick’s eyes. That is something you will never see in Russell’s.
All in all, no article will ever convince the opposing side to change its mind.
The debate will continue, and the teams will decide who is remembered after it’s all said and done.