There’s no sexier story in professional sports than a quarterback controversy.
Mark Sanchez starts for the New York Jets and we ask why it isn’t Tim Tebow.
Colin Kaepernick is the starter for the San Francisco 49ers and we ask how he got past Alex Smith and when Alex will get back in.
The Arizona Cardinals struggle and we ask whether Ryan Lindley or John Skelton should start (Not really. It doesn’t matter.).
Quarterback controversies are as old as the NFL and Bay Area teams have been ground zero for some of the greatest quarterback battles: Tittle vs. Brodie, Lamonica vs. Stabler, DeBerg vs. Montana and Montana vs. Young, for starters.
Is Carson Palmer vs. Terrelle Pryor next?
In some ways it is. But it shouldn’t be.
Oakland Raiders backup Pryor got on the field for the first time this year on Sunday, running the team for one series as the crowd cheered. He handed off twice and threw an incompletion, then the Raiders punted and Palmer returned for the rest of the game.
Some fans moaned, wondering what Pryor needs to do to play more.
Here’s what: Play better than Palmer.
The NFL is a meritocracy. Players who deserve to play get on the field. Coaches want to win, so they play the players they think give them the best chance to do so.
They’re wrong sometimes, but not usually.
That’s why Rex Ryan stuck with Sanchez all year, despite the calls for Tebow to play: Sanchez is a better quarterback than Tebow.
That’s why Kaepernick moved past Smith: Jim Harbaugh sees them in practice and knows Kaepernick has a skill set that Smith lacks.
And that’s why Raiders coach Dennis Allen, when pressed about his quarterback situation, says “Carson Palmer is our quarterback of the future.”
Palmer, not Pryor.
The Raiders have a lot of problems. The defense can’t stop good teams. Their offensive line is a sieve. The running backs keep getting hurt. Their receivers are regressing.
Carson Palmer isn’t their problem. He hasn’t been great, but he’s been better than anyone on the team other than the punter and kicker.
Pryor isn’t the solution. He’s intriguing, because we haven’t seen him and he’s the backup.
But he’s not the answer.
On to the topics du jour . . .
• The Big East Conference is reeling from the impending loss of its seven Catholic schools, none of which plays major college football.
Georgetown, St. John’s, DePaul, Marquette, Providence, Seton Hall and Villanova voted unanimously last week to depart the league by 2015.
Anyone who watched the glory days of Big East basketball in the 1980s (Patrick Ewing, Chris Mullin and the miracle Villanova team all at the same time!) has to hope that the basketball schools will retain the Big East name. When I think Big East, I think about Georgetown, St. John’s, Providence and Villanova.
• The Toronto Blue Jays added Cy Young Award winner R.A. Dickey to a team that already acquired all the good Miami Marlins, making them the early favorites in the American League East.
A word of caution: The Anaheim Angels were last year’s winter favorites, adding Albert Pujols and C.J. Wilson, with super rookie Mike Trout on the way. They missed the playoffs.
You win your division in the summer, not December.
• With two weeks left in the NFL season, everyone says the race for MVP is up in the air. I say baloney.
Adrian Peterson, who will run for 2,000 yards and may break Eric Dickerson’s record for yards in the season, is the easy choice. He’s overwhelming opponents while playing for a team that has no other serious offensive threats. The Vikings have the inside track on a playoff berth.
All after major knee surgery a year ago.
Adrian Peterson is the most valuable player in the NFL.
Reach Brad Stanhope at 427-6958 or [email protected] Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/bradstanhope.