Hall of Fame Cowboys quarterback Roger Staubach played in a different NFL, a 1970s league where men were men, quarterbacks didn’t whine to the refs every time they got knocked down, and wide receivers weren’t calling for flags every time they got touched downfield.
At least, that’s how Staubach remembers it. And he doesn’t think the current NFL has the same standards of toughness.
“I saw Peyton Manning one time and he had a great comeback drive, but he had two 15-yard roughing the passer penalties,” Staubach said, per Tom Lorenzo of FanHouse. “I’m thinking, ‘I don’t ever remember having one of those.’ It’s kind of a wussy game, really, in a way.”
Staubach was one of the best passers of his era, but his statistics look rather pedestrian compared to today’s quarterbacks: Staubach led the league with an 84.9 passer rating in 1978, for instance, whereas that rating wouldn’t have even put him in the Top 15 in 2009.
Staubach said different rules make it impossible to compare his own stats to those of today’s players.
“When we used to run around a little,” Staubach said, “the receivers were still getting pounded downfield until the ball was in the air. Today, if you buy a little time, receivers are running free, you just have to find them. So in the passing game [it's] much more [difficult] to separate players, [statistically].”
Staubach is right that the game has changed a great deal since he played. On the other hand, Staubach has said he suffered 20 concussions in the NFL. If turning the NFL into a wussy game means fewer players getting concussed, maybe a wussy game isn’t such a bad thing.