Expectations: a feeling or belief about how successful, good, etc., someone or something will be — usually plural … “expectations for the team were high.”
Accountability: An obligation or willingness to accept legitimate responsibility.
It is one of my pet peeves. You justify a decision based upon an anticipated outcome. You set expectations high. Something doesn’t quite work out the way it was supposed to, so you sidestep accountability and blame it on someone else.
We see it every day in politics and life. The jury is still out on whether the Broncos will own the premature end to their 2012-13 NFL title run.
Peyton Manning is a fine man and a tremendous quarterback. The Broncos are fortunate to have him. My beef is not with him. Its not even with Champ Bailey, although perhaps it should be. My beef is with the legend himself, John Elway, Denver’s vice president of football operations, and the only quarterback to ever lead the venerable franchise to the promised land. Twice.
Why? Elway chose a “Favrearian” approach to quarterback selection, that’s why.
Yes, “Favrearian”; a newly minted term, meaning to mortgage your franchise’s future by signing an older quarterback whose skills may be diminished but is a “proven winner.” Someone who — you hope — can rapidly lead you to a championship thereby avoiding the need to develop the talent of a younger quarterback or mesh that talent with the teamwork-based intricacies of the most complex sport on the planet, professional football.
It is a strategy that, in the now 47 years of Super Bowls, has never worked. Not once.
It’s named after the sometimes infamous Brett Favre, formerly of the Falcons (yes, he played one season in Atlanta), Packers, Jets and finally, the Vikings. After his stint with Minnesota which ended in an NFC Championship game overtime interception on an across-the-body pass back toward the center of the field — a “Cardinal sin” for a quarterback, which led directly to a loss to the New Orleans Saints — he finally, mercifully, retired for good.
Elway justified his Favrearian strategy on the expectation that the Broncos would have a better chance to win it all now. Plus it was an easy excuse to send Tim Tebow, Manning’s bible toting, over-delivering social lightning rod of a predecessor, packing to NFL purgatory — the den of iniquity known as the New York Jets — after exceeding all expectations in 2011.
Under Elway’s tutelage, there would be no Steve Young to Manning’s Joe Montana for Tebow. Forget the opportunity to learn from the best. The kid was outta here.
It should not surprise that in the lead up to Super Bowl XLVII, Denver got a Favrearian outcome. Toward the end of Denver’s overtime playoff loss to Baltimore on Saturday, Manning threw across his body back toward the center of the field. A la Favre, Manning attempted a pass that his mind — replete with the muscle memory of dozens of such successfully made attempts — told him he could make again. Sadly, as with Favre, his body was not up to the task.
Criticize Tebow all you want but he did more in 2011 to improve those around him, and therefore contribute to Bronco team success, than Manning did in 2012 —- again through no fault of Manning’s, whose performance, until the end when the competition and stakes were highest, was exemplary.
Tebow took over quarterbacking a team that, after starting 2011 1-4, had defined itself as a loser. He was promoted to starter only after the powers that be, Elway and head coach John Fox, determined the season was over. There was no chance at a playoff birth, let alone the division title, so they might as well let the controversial second-year guy from Florida flail for a while. Only Tebow ignored the despair. Result? He and his teammates won seven of Denver’s last 10 games, the AFC West and the right to host a playoff game, which they also won.
Yes the 2012 Broncos won more regular season games, 13 to 8 over the 2011 team, but both teams were division champions. Tebow’s 2011 regular season record as a starter was 7-4, a .636 winning percentage. Manning’s was higher at .813, but he began the year as the starter after Tebow had catalyzed the Broncos to their winning ways.
Tebow on the other hand took over a disillusioned and demoralized bunch in mid-season. He led them to a division title and more significantly a playoff win over then-World Champion Pittsburgh on a timeless overtime touchdown pass and epic sprint by wide receiver Demaryius Thomas.
As we all know, Manning’s playoff overtime experience ended less favorably.
Make no mistake, Tim Tebow was the leader who, by virtue of his will and personal character, provided the transforming ingredient that recast the 2011 Broncos into winners in one of the best examples of true team football in NFL history. And what was Tebow’s reward for exceeding expectations? He was banished to the Jets.
It took Elway 15 seasons to win a Super Bowl for Denver, yet he wouldn’t give Tebow even three. Ironically, he chose instead to bring in the former quarterback of the team for which he refused to play when he was drafted No. 1 in 1983. So here’s to expectations and accountability; Tebow excelled. The jury is still out on Elway and his “Favrearian” era.