No, Tom Brady is not on the Football edition of Hot Guy Friday. I’m a Charger fan and I’m sorry, I’m not a good enough sport to put him here. But considering that it IS time for the gridiron gladiators to strut their stuff (and based on the success of last week’s Grand Slam HGF), I thought it only right and proper to give some due to the guys in tight pants moving fast.
A couple of notes: This is not the collegiate ranks, people, so don’t even go there. This is the big time, shake your moneymaker, I’ve-got-cars-that-cost-more-than-your-house level. And I’m not even go to try to pretend impartiality: I’m a fan, root of the word = fan-atic! So I might as well get that top prejudicial pick out of the way….
The Field General
In 2004, San Diego GM AJ Smith decided to try and draft Eli Manning, who refused to play for the Chargers (Um, can you say my eternal SH*tlist, Eli? Yeah, get used to being there.), and then worked a deal with the Giants for Philip Rivers in the Round 1 all while having highly talented Drew Brees. I admit I was pissed off. I liked Brees’s attitude, his presence on the field, and he was shaping up to be a great QB without having to look over his throwing shoulder at the young upstart from NC State. It was made even more tough when Brees had a fantastic year and then tried to push for franchise status with a torn shoulder.
Needless to say, both players ended up exactly where they needed to be, Brees in the recovering New Orleans and Rivers as starter of a highly competitive team. But much like Romo in Dallas, Rivers had a lot to prove to an audience feasting on the performance of one of the best backs in NFL history, LaDanian Tomlinson. But he grew up and learned fast, taking the reins of leadership so that LT could just do his thang.
And as the team got more depth, Philip shared the ball, spread the love, and remained a constant force in the game. For awhile, you wondered, what happens when LT is off his game? Can the Chargers still win? Who will be the leader if they can’t look to #21? Sunday, January 20, 2008, in the snow and cold of Foxboro, Philip Rivers showed everyone how a leader steps up. With LT smartly on the sidelines, Rivers took every rabbit out of his hat to try and win the game. And while it wasn’t enough against a tough Patriots team, everyone would later learn that Rivers played with a torn ACL, requiring surgery.
Ironman football all the way, Rivers epitomizes the tough guy quarterback that there are few of in the league. But enough of me fawning, look at the stats. 2008 regular Season, Rivers was top of the leaderboard with an amazing 105.5 QB rating. This fan is so looking forward to watching this tough guy show it out on the field and not in the press (Are you listening Cutler?) It shouldn’t take long for the endorsements to start coming in and the other opportunities now that he’s emerged from LT’s formidable shadow, which makes me interested to see how he translates NFL success to other aspects of his life. Speaking of that….
The Double Threats
It might not be fair to use twins as our next entry (especially with one retired) but I figure if Tiki and Ronde Barber can host shows and write books together, they can share the honor of GridIron HGF. Well spoken, intelligent, fun, and man, what smiles! Oh, and they both play pretty well too, covering both sides of the ball with Tiki as a top running back and Ronde as a top cornerback. On the field, these guys just go to work. Tiki became the best running back in Giants history, with 3 Pro Bowl selections, 2000+ yards, and 55 career touchdowns. Ronde’s stats on the other side are equally impressive: 5 Pro Bowl selections, 37 career sacks, and current active leader in defensive touchdowns with 11 (this year he’ll likely beat Rod Woodson’s all-time career record of 13).
But stats aside, these two guys are such ambassadors of the game and the opportunities it presents, it makes as much fun to watch outside the game as in. And man, they have style. I’ve always been a fan of the NFL dress policy, always glad to see it maintained as a profession (in contrast to the collegiate ranks) and these guys work it.
It’s been so fun watching Tiki grow his career as a broadcaster, taking the not-so-expected route of Today show correspondent to start off and he shows no signing of slowing down, including rumors of replacing Matt Lauer’s cohost position in 2011. Smartly going out on top (Hello? Calling Brett Favre?), his credentials outside the sport keep growing, while he’s kept it real with his roots on the Barber Shop, his radio show with Ronde, as well as their many books. It makes me want to enjoy Ronde’s days in the NFL but looking forward to what he’ll accomplish after he hangs up his cleats.
Did I mention they win the Best Smile award? That always translate well.
Mr Happy Feet
Speaking of life outside of football (which is amazing needs to happen for several months out of the year), it’s really no surprise that footballers do so well on “Dancing with the Stars.” Even the big guys. Enter Jason Taylor. But then again, their size means nothing if they can’t move and, especially in this modern game, be light on their feet, dancing around players, along sidelines, and through holes in the offensive or defensive lines. But it is still amazing to behold when a 6’6″, 255 lbs, linebacker doing the quick step scores a perfect 30 and becomes a top contender for the prize. (I still think having a figureskater in there is sooooo unfair but whateves.) Jason Taylor showed off his good looks, style, and that something special that Hollywood eats up. Whether he’ll be able to translate that into acting success versus his already successful guest sportscaster bits is too soon to say. But he’s got a lot of momentum to work with.
Back on the field, it’s a relief he’s back in Miami, probably both to his family and to the team. After all, that’s where he built his career. 6 Pro Bowl selections, 120.5 career sacks, and the prestigious Walter Payton Man of the Year award. How far Miami will go this year in Year Two of the Parcells era is anyone’s guess but you know Taylor will be a big factor and leader out there and I’m looking forward to it. He, like the Barbers, is making good on his opportunities in the NFL, readying himself for after football success while also giving back to his community with his Jason Taylor Foundation.
Contributions on and off the field showcase the best of what the NFL has been and continues to be and really sum up what it takes to be a true GridIron Hot Guy! And really, at the end of the day, all I can say is R U READY FOR SOME FOOTBALL?!
For more Hot Guys in football, check out this cool site: First and Girl, especially if you’re still learning the rules and the game. It’s got great player profiles and even hot guy voting. (Although, the pink’s a bit much for me :p)