Mentor or Adversary: The NFL Veteran’s Dilemma

Kate Arhar
Senior Sports Editor

By Kate Arhar // @ClvlndK8 

 

We hear it all the time… “That veteran will be mentoring the young guys, showing them the ropes.” But is that really true? And even more, is it really fair to expect a veteran who wants the starting job to spend any time at all helping the rookie who wants to take his job?

That seems to be the big story in Denver this week as quarterback Joe Flacco is taking heat for saying it’s not his job to be a mentor to newly drafted QB Drew Lock.

And I don’t blame him.

We’ve all worked at places where new employees have been hired. We show them around, help them with any questions and genuinely want them to succeed. But in 99% of the cases, they weren’t hired to be our unwelcome replacements.

Sports is a different kind of job, and the NFL in particular have a very “in your face” way of telling players that if they don’t perform, there’s a guy right down the bench willing to take your spot – and your paycheck.  Why do we expect players that are still in their prime to train the guy who it going to take their job?

The reaction on social media seems to be painting Joe Flacco as a jerk, or worse, and that’s not fair. We clamor for honesty from sports figures but when they give us the truth, we crush them for it. He left Baltimore for Denver in order to be their STARTING QUARTERBACK. The fact that they drafted Lock and that he’s the “heir apparent” to the starting job should only motivate Flacco to do better in order to secure his job. Why do we think he should help the young guy along?

Yes, Flacco should be a good teammate, and I think he will. Yes, the two need to work together. We all know the reality is that any team is one snap away from an injury that means the back-up QB will be sent on to the field. So yes, Lock will need to get himself prepared. But does that mean Flacco should focus on Lock’s development and not his own? No way.

This isn’t a new phenomenon in the NFL. Veteran leadership is a huge key to any team’s success. But fans seem to have the idea that mentoring younger players is the main responsibility of veterans – especially quarterbacks.

Don’t they have coaches? Aren’t there a ton of folks on the staff who’s job is completely focused on teaching all of the players the offensive or defensive schemes, play execution, game plans, improved techniques, etc? Let those folks do THEIR jobs and Flacco can focus on his.

Because everything else aside, the Denver Broncos have struggled at the QB position since Peyton Manning retired. They signed Flacco because he was a huge upgrade over what they had before. And yes, Lock may be their hope for the future, but they need to start winning games now before the fans revolt. The future will be here soon enough.

 

Talk football with Kate on Twitter // @ClvlndK8

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