After being thoroughly and to some extent irrationally excoriated by fans after a disastrous NFL debut against the Chargers last season, Nathan Peterman remains a viable candidate to become the starting quarterback on opening day against the Baltimore Ravens. Let that sink in for a minute.
There’s arguably never been such a visceral reaction by Bills fans to a player over the entire history of the team’s existence. And that says a lot, because regarding this team, I’ve seen it all – and most of it ‘ain’t’ pretty.
WGR’s Sal Capaccio wrote an interesting article about “smart and resilient” Nathan Peterman that got me thinking (oh no) about how off the rails some Bills fans are about the notion of Peterman being on the team, let alone the possibility of him winning the starting job when the regular season opens.
Why does Nathan Peterman trigger such violent reactions from a sizable number of otherwise rational Bills fans?
I get that Peterman’s disastrous debut against the Chargers was eye-bleeding bad. However, anyone old enough to remember Gary Marangi would tell you, it’s been worse. Much worse.
Stat-mongers: feast your eyes on these stats. As we know all too well, even stats don’t tell the entire tale of how bad Marangi was as a QB.
Here’s why Nathan Peterman is no ‘Gary Marangi’.
Marangi never got better. He was a horrible quarterback throughout his short but painful three-year career NFL with the Bills during the mid-1970s. If one put aside their negative bias about Peterman and watch how he played against the Colts in the snow game last season, you could see a guy who used disaster to motivate himself.
Seriously, think about it for a minute. How many people could withstand the brutal reaction people had after Peterman’s debacle against the Chargers? His response (as pointed out by McDermott) to his failures in that game were the definition of ‘grace under pressure’.
Peterman swallowed the vitriol like a champion and vowed to rise up from the ashes of his short NFL career. After watching his game against the Colts – before he was knocked out of the game with a concussion – you could see a young man who already figured out how to use negativity as a motivator for success.
Why do I think Nathan Peterman might surprise a lot of people?
It’s rare to see someone in the public eye recover after being trashed the way Peterman was trashed. A man of lesser internal fortitude would completely cave under the pressure. Even his fierce competitor for the job, AJ McCarron, referred to Peterman as “an angel”.
OK, so we don’t need an angel at quarterback, I get it.
However, taking a peek under the hood at Peterman’s intangibles, I’d say some folks may have to rethink their vile reaction to the guy. I’ve read it elsewhere and agree with those who make solid comparisons between Peterman and Frank Reich.
Both possess a high degree of self-confidence buttressed by their faith. Frank Reich flourished in his role as a back-up to Jim Kelly, and Peterman could fill the same role if given a chance. Frankly, I expect to see more pressure on AJ McCarron in training camp because he has the most on the line.
Both Peterman and Reich are not defined by what they did or continue to do on the field. Their faith allows them to be free of the judgment of others. This rock solid foundation allows them to show uncommon grace under pressure. This puts them at a competitive advantage because they have disciplined minds.
Frank Reich in the comeback game provided a perfect example of grace under pressure. He carried a team in college (Maryland) and the NFL on his back for historic comeback victories.
Coincidence? I think not.
If Nathan Peterman succeeds or fails in the NFL, it won’t be because the pressure was too much. He gets it in a way most his age do not. He frequently mentions to reporters he has the best job in the world – getting paid to perform a sport he loves.
I would argue Peterman has the least amount of pressure going into training camp this week regarding the quarterback battle. No one expects him to succeed.
But if Peterman does succeed and wins the starting job, are those reviled by him willing to reconsider their position?
Editor’s babble: This might be one of the most interesting QB battles coming up at training camp in many years. Looking forward to checking them all out at camp very soon. You can find me on Twitter @RobynMundyWYO.