On Monday Night Football fans were treated to a gem of a game between the Chicago Bears and Dallas Cowboys. The game featured two of the prominent “Gunslingers” in the game, Jay Cutler and Tony Romo. During the telecast Jon Gruden must have said gunslinger about 38 different times and used the term in a positive manner. Essentially he is trying to say that the quarterback has a big arm and can throw the ball around. His usage of the term couldn’t be further from the truth. What it really means is “a quarterback whose decision making is as good as Antonio Cromartie is at wearing condoms for a team that is .500 or better…sometimes”. Tony Romo promptly threw five interceptions thus completely wiping out any shred of credibility that Gruden has when talking about gunslingers.
The gunslinger of all gunslingers is Brett Favre. He’d try and fit the ball in a spot the size of a peanut and maybe 50% of the time it would work and the pass would be complete. The other 50% of the time the ball would be intercepted thus killing the drive and often times hopes of winning the game. When that happened whoever was announcing the game would say something to the effect of, “Brett Favre is such a gunslinger. He just really wanted to fit that pass in there so bad. You’ve got to love the competitive fire inside of him”. There is one big flaw to explanations like this. When regular or crappy quarterbacks make the same interceptions they are “trying to force the ball in” and “what a bad mistake”, they aren’t a gunslinger. Take Ryan Fitzpatrick for example. Last year he led the NFL in interceptions with 23. I can say with almost certainty that none of those 23 INT’s were gunslinger INT’s like Favre threw. Instead they were putrid decisions by a quarterback on a 6-10 team. See, there is a definite correlation between the win/loss record of a team and the quarterbacks ability to be called a gunslinger. Favre won a Super Bowl and for the most part his team had a winning record. Because he had a track record of success it was OK for him to make total bone headed throws (which makes perfect sense). Unfortunately Fitzpatrick hasn’t earned enough stripes to have bad throws actually not be his fault.
Did you know that in 2005 Favre led the NFL in interceptions with 29? The Green Bay Packers went 4-12 that year and that was tied for 12th most interceptions thrown by any quarterback in a season. Can you also guess who has the most career interceptions of any quarterback by a wide margin. Yep, Mr. Gunslinger Brett Favre. He threw 336, which was 57 more than the guy in second (which is 21% more). Since clearly there is a misconception on what the term gunslinger actually means I thought that it would be best to start “The Gunslinger Award”. Each week I’ll profile the quarterback that throws the most interceptions in a game as well as keep tabs on who is leading the NFL in interceptions. This player will be the guy that undoubtedly “wants to win the most”, “has the most fire”, and “knows in his heart that he can make any throw”.
In Week 4 Tony Romo really wanted to win the most. He threw five interceptions which gave the Cowboys about a 0% chance of winning the game. He is also the current leader in interceptions thrown this year with eight. Here’s what the rest of the leaderboard looks like:
1. Tony Romo – 8
2(t). Matt Cassel – 7
2(t). Ryan Fitzpatrick – 7
2(t). Brandon Weeden – 7
5(t). Michael Vick – 6
5(t). Jay Cutler – 6
5(t). Ryan Tannehill – 6
Here’s a video of Brett Favre being the gunslinger that is. This was the 300th interception of his career (a distinction that only he holds). Take a look at when in the game he threw this interception: the Jets were up 23-10 early in the 4th quarter. What should have been a drive to put away the game turned into a pick six and the Jets were now one more Favre gunsling from being down a point.