The Unsung Hero of Football
It is an undoubted fact that the position hailed as being the most important on the football field is the quarterback. He is the cornerstone of a good offense and is expected to read the game better than any other player on the field.
Now I’m sure that there’s some defensive players and coordinators out there that will disagree with me, saying that ‘defence wins championships’, and ‘The Broncos defense won them Superbowl 50, not Peyton Manning’ and I’d be inclined to agree with the latter of those two statements. However, it would still remain that quarterbacks are often referred to as being the most influential people on the field.
This article however, is not about quarterbacks or defences for that matter, it is about the man who puts in the work time and time again with no credit. The only position on the field where you can have 99% of a perfect game, give up one sack and that’s all people will remember. Ladies and gentleman, I am of course referring to the offensive lineman.
As of 2015, the average size for an offensive lineman was six foot five, weighing in at over twenty two stone. Now that size would be perfectly fine if offensive lineman were expected to stand still, which many ill-informed NFL pundits would have you believe. Despite this opinion, new age offensive lineman are expected to be athletic as well as big so that they can get downfield and make key blocks when needed.
One of the main reasons talented offensive linemen often go under the radar is due to the fact that it is much harder to measure their ability statistically. What I mean by this is that you can directly measure the successfulness of a quarterback by; their passing yards, their TD/interception ratio, their QB rating and their rushing yards. Measuring an offensive lineman’s season requires hours of watching their games closely and ultimately making judgements on how consistent they are.
A prime example of offensive lineman can be seen in a recent opinion put forward by ex-Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Michael Irvin who claimed that ‘playing offensive line is easy… it’s not like playing wide receiver’. Irvin went on to say that all an offensive lineman has to do is stand in front of another player of the same build and block them. As a result of this ridiculous statement, I, and thousands of other offensive lineman, lost all respect for Michael Irvin as a pundit.
Part of me wanted to call this article, ‘an open letter to Michael Irvin’ but Irvin is just a small part of the problem. It’s because of people like Irvin that kids are not saying ‘I want to be an offensive lineman when I grow up’. They all want to be the guys that score the touchdowns or throw them. But there is glory in the offensive line, the sense of achievement you feel when you bully a defensive lineman or linebacker into the ground and stand over them as they cower on the floor is incomparable. The feeling when you see your running back run fifty yards up the field because of a block you made makes you feel invincible.
So this is not an open letter to Michael Irvin, it’s an open letter to all the aspiring and current offensive lineman out there. No you may not get the glory like the receivers or the quarterbacks, but without us the offense is nothing. The war is won in the trenches and will continue to be won in the trenches for as long as football is alive.