One of the more surprising manufactured outrages this week came from Broncos quarterback Joe Flacco‘s candid comments regarding his lack of interest in mentoring Broncos rookie quarterback Drew Lock. Flacco’s words irked many who fail or refuse to understand how pro football really works.
Like all competitive sports, the competition in pro football unfolds within the confines of a given team, with the best players earning playing time and the rest watching and waiting for a chance to play. Few players aspire to not play, and none should aspire to actively help a player who wants to leapfrog the person who is assisting him.
Flacco told the truth, in a very non-hostile, matter-of-fact way, when asked about mentoring the rookie.
“I got so many things to worry about,” Flacco said Monday. “I’m trying to go out there and play good football. . . . I’m not worried about developing guys or any of that. That is what it is. I hope he does develop. I don’t look at that as my job. My job is to go win football games for this football team.”
Those who don’t have a problem with that attitude include Broncos G.M. John Elway. Via Mike Klis of 9news.com, Elway said that he liked Flacco’s comments regarding a focus on winning, pointing out that it’s more important for the backup to learn by watching the starter than for the starter to expressly teach the backup.
In some situations, a quarterback specifically is signed to assist a younger player. The Jets, for example, paid Josh McCown $10 million in 2018 to embrace his role as short-term starter and full-season mentor to Sam Darnold. Plenty of veteran backup quarterbacks have similar roles.
The Broncos didn’t trade for Flacco to hold a rookie’s hand. They traded for Flacco to win games.
Eventually, they’ll turn that responsibility over to Lock. But they don’t want — and shouldn’t want — Flacco to go quietly. Every team should be lucky enough to have 53 guys who have a burning desire to play. It’s the job of the coaching staff to develop those players who need development. It’s the job of the players who are developed to focus exclusively on the only mission of the team: Score more points than the opponent, each and every week.