Andrew Luck will never throw the ball to the Venus on a Spider Two Y Banana again. Neither will you, provided you’ve ever thrown the ball to a “Venus” or that you have any idea what arachnids and fruit have to do with football in the first place. But, even if you don’t, you’ll probably still avoid Venuses and Spiders altogether thanks to the Jon Gruden QB Camp on ESPN.
Every year, the NFL Draft provides us with months of futile television designed to eat up air time that would otherwise be dedicated to Tom Rinaldi reading poetry live on the air for six hour stretches. Of course, the ultimate payoff for years was a grand master battle between Todd McShay and draft savant Mel Kiper with the most accurate mock draft earning a year’s supply of their preferred hair product (spray gel for McShay and good ol’ fashioned mousse for Kiper) compliments of Aussie.
However, in the last few years, ESPN has finally created some NFL Draft related programming that warrants my attention, and it consists mostly of former Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Jon Gruden badgering quarterback prospects and intentionally over-enunciating Dane Sanzenbacher’s name. It’s absolutely brilliant.
Granted, my affliction for the Jon Gruden QB Camp is concentric on my obsession with the X’s and O’s, but there is also an introspective look into the thought process of the most ridiculed person in sports — the quarterback. They use terminology that goes over the heads of most football fans, but that human element still gives it broader appeal than the simple niche audience that typical film study programming draws.
The best part is that Gruden doesn’t bother with pleasantries, he treats the interview process the exact same way that an NFL general manager would, reminding us that the multi-million dollar investments that franchises are making in these young signal-callers are rarely made on a whim. He absolutely crucified Terrelle Pryor last year, and justifiably so, but he was just as diligent with prodigal child Andrew Luck.
He hammered away at the expected No. 1 pick with questions about the flanker drive and play-side progressions, and, of course, there was discussion of a certain Roman goddess.
This afternoon, the last of Gruden’s subjects for the year will be Kirk Cousins. They previewed it on the afternoon SportsCenter, and once again, even in a quick glimpse, my hunger for football was satiated and I was entertained, mostly because Cousins appeared to be rocking a Casio — a tell-tale sign that he probably also reads the comic strips in the Lansing State Journal.
In the preview, Cousins peppers Gruden with questions in regards to throwing the fade route, which is probably the simplest route in football save the 9-route (fly). However, with typical attention to detail, Gruden goes in-depth over the intricacies of the route.
That fade is certainly easy to draw up, but it’s a difficult throw that requires unwavering precision, has little room for error, and is often thrown in critical red-zone situations. And even though only roughly half of all football fans understand the critical differences between the high-point fade and the back-shoulder fade, it still makes for good TV.
So while Kiper and McShay debate NFL potential based on homoerotic analysis of who looks better in a muscle shirt, I’ll be waiting for the next installment of the Jon Gruden QB Camp. And next time I lace it up, I’ll be sure to avoid the Venus on the Spider Two Y Banana.