Suddenly it all makes perfect sense

I have finally pinpointed the reason I never lived out my dream to play quarterback in the NFL.

Trying to figure out why I wasn’t good enough to run an NFL offense has kept me up at night since I lost a brief but spirited quarterback competition to Jeff Hartwick for the starting job on the Kennedy Elementary fifth grade flag football team in the fall of 1985.

I suspected it was any number of weaknesses that go along with not having a speck of athletic ability that was holding me back from my dream. Just when I was beginning to blame my slow feet, small hands and lack of arm strength, I heard ESPN draft expert Todd McShay criticize new Buffalo Bills quarterback E.J. Manuel.

Suddenly, everything makes perfect sense.

McShay said the Bills drafting the Florida State signal caller was the “worst non-Raiders pick in years.” One of the points McShay used to support his claim that the Bills’ No. 16 pick in the first round was a boneheaded one: Manuel has “slow eyes.”

Slow eyes? That’s it. That’s exactly why I never made it as a quarterback. I too have slow eyes.

In grade school I was the Slowpoke Rodriguez of slow eyes. My eyes were so slow that my left one would often say “ah, the heck with it” and just stay locked on my nose.

Years of therapy with my eye doctor helped speed things up a bit, but not enough to see a safety cheating toward the right side of the field or to pick up a blitzing outside linebacker.

From what I’ve seen of Manuel, he doesn’t have the cross-eyed problem that I did. Apparently, it just takes his eyeballs a really long time to move from point A to point B. By the time he gets to point C, he’ll be killed by an NFL defensive end.

I suspect his eyes are also slow to dilate, too. Unfortunately, McShay didn’t elaborate on the slowness of Manuel’s eyes. He didn’t have time in the sound bite world of television sports news.

The 6-foot-4, 234-pound Manuel runs the 40-yard dash in 4.7 seconds. That’s not bad for a big guy. However, apparently his eyes run a Manti Te’oian 6.4.

The Bills, looking for the next Colin Kaepernick, want Manuel and his athletic ability to run the read option in Buffalo.

McShay thinks that’s a bad idea because, clearly, Kaepernick relied heavily on his way above-average eye speed to lead the 49ers to the Super Bowl.

Admit it, once you got past Kaepernick’s tattoos you said, “My God, look how fast that guy’s eyes are moving. He was looking over here, then — bam — just like that he was looking over there.”

Besides being dreamy, Tom Brady has really fast eyes. Everybody knows that. The same could be said for Troy Aikman, Joe Montana and John Elway.

Todd Marinovich had really fast eyes, but that was probably all the cocaine. Allegedly.

Jim Kelly, though, only boasted medium-speed eyes when he led the Bills to four Super Bowls. That’s probably why they lost those games.

On the other hand, Terry Bradshaw always had slow eyes — among other things — and he won four Super Bowl titles. He doesn’t get nearly enough credit for that.

What Manuel lacks in eye speed, though, he apparently makes up for it with character, leadership and manners.

When told about McShay’s assessment, the quarterback passed up the chance to go all Bill Tobin and say, “Who in the hell is Todd McShay?”

Instead, Manuel said he will work on his deficiency. Then, like every other person on the planet with an IQ greater than 83, he laughed at McShay’s comment.

McShay exemplifies everything that is wrong with the media coverage of the NFL draft. He’s a guy who has absolutely no accountability for any picks, yet acts like he just won the last nine Super Bowls while telling every team which players to pick.

McShay and Mel Kiper Jr. — the godfather of so-called NFL draft expertise — conduct mock draft after mock draft leading up to the real draft. Good luck finding any of those mock drafts after they get six out of 32 correct.

These guys treat the draft as if it’s an exact science. That’s why they were both pounding their chests and screaming for teams to take Brady, a sixth-round pick, in the first round.

Oh yeah, that didn’t happen. They would have called Bill Belichick a moron for “reaching” if they took Tom Terrific in one of the first five rounds.

That’s what they do. Teams spend countless hours scouting, meeting and background checking their possible selections as if their livelihood depends on it — because it does.

Then if their selection is one that McShay or Kiper don’t agree with, the guys who spend the majority of their time in hair and makeup act like the NFL general managers just don’t get it.

That’s why Tobin was one of my favorite all time NFL personnel bosses. Remember when Tobin blasted back at Kiper when Mr. Hair thought the Colts should have picked Dilfer over Trev Alberts? It was one of the all-time great moments on TV. It was like John Wayne telling Robert Duvall to “fill your hand.”

The sad thing is people actually listen to all this geekery and they feel like they went into the draft knowing as much as the guys in the “war rooms.”

The kids listen to it, too. That’s the real tragedy.

Somewhere, there’s a young boy worried he’ll never play quarterback because his eyes are not fast enough.

— Sportswriter Bill Foley, whose eyes run a 9.3 40, writes a column that appears on ButteSports.com on Tuesdays. Email him at foley@buttesports.com. Follow him at twitter.com/Foles74. 2 comments



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