When NFL evaluators descend on Indianapolis late next month for the Scouting Combine, people will laugh about their obsession with the measurements of the quarterbacks. But for all the jokes, there was a practical application of those numbers on display last week.
When Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers was being sacked from behind by Cowboys safety Jeff Heath, he didn’t lose the ball he had in his right hand. Why not?
“Size matters,” Rodgers said, via Rob Demovsky of ESPN.com.
When he was at the Scouting Combine, his hands measured 10 1/8 inches. Assuming they haven’t grown since then (or that he hasn’t had them stretched), that makes them officially large.
“His grip strength has got to be fantastic,” Falcons coach Dan Quinn said. “I totally thought the same thing. During the game, I said, ‘That’s amazing that the ball did not come out.’”
Anything under 9 1/2 inches is considered small, and can make it harder for a quarterback to grip the ball well enough to spin it in inclement weather. Or in Rodgers case, to secure it without fumbling while being drilled from behind with 18 seconds left in a tied playoff game.
“That was a huge play because if the ball comes out right there, that’s probably the game for them because they’re already in field goal range,” Packers pass-rusher Julius Peppers said. “I think when he absorbed that hit and held onto the ball, that was just a great, instinctive play that probably saved the game for us.”
Instincts and big hands, neither of which you can teach.