clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

THE MC REVIEWS A BOOK

New, 890 comments

NO REALLY WE READ A BOOK

If you buy something from an SB Nation link, Vox Media may earn a commission. See our ethics statement.

Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

1. The book is The QB: Making Modern Quarterbacks. It is pretty much on spot with the title, and is about how people attempt to make quarterbacks out of unformed athletic adolescent putty. Full disclosure from the start: we know Bruce Feldman, and are thanked in the acknowledgements for reasons we don't quite understand.

2. That said, the chief takeaway from The QB is this: Trent Dilfer is a fucking lunatic. Like, maybe in the good sense, like your local cheery lunatic who's determined to accomplish something pretty benign? But also sort of like the local lunatic who teaches math, and breaks down in tears when someone refuses to do their trigonometry homework yelling about how the future needs bridges, and if the bridgebuilders won't do their homework the bridges will fall, and then we'll be back to taking ferries and who wants that? And then the teacher either shoots eight of his co-workers in the lounge, or goes home and applies to law school after deciding he's not cut out for teaching? That got away from us, but Trent Dilfer cries a lot and talks about how quarterbacking will save the world a lot. It's entertaining and frightening and we'd love to be stuck in a car with him for ten minutes. (Not eleven, though: exactly ten minutes, and not one more.)

3. Dilfer's just one of the QB whisperers profiled, a group of guys who all come across with drastically different results. George Whitfield, the man on ESPN chasing guys around with a broom, comes off as half-cracked, but still seemingly legit. The guy who pronounced Tim Tebow's throwing motion to be fixed after three months or so of work, Tom House, might be the biggest beneficiary here: a flaky ex-pitcher with piles of data, a messy office to match, and a stellar roster of clients who quietly swear by him. In contrast, Steve Clarkson, the man who brought Jimmy Clausen to the world, comes off as a money-hoovering huckster prone to announcing any client as "the next [STAR QB GOES HERE]" if given enough cash. Feldman doesn't even have to try, really. You just write down Clarkson's quotes and they do their own work.

4. They're an interesting cast. If you're football-freaky that and the question of QB development would be enough to finish the whole thing, but the really horrifying bit comes in detailing the lengths parents go to in order to get their child QB training. This isn't so much true with the elites paying Steve Clarkson thousands to personally run their spawn through drills, but the grasping done by parents of relatively modest means bent on feeding their kids into the ecosystem of coaches, camps, teaching, and ultimately something resembling a payoff.

5. That chance at a payoff is slim at best, something the book illustrates with a long series of cameos by the Ghosts Of Quarterbacks Past. There's Tyler Watts, failing to throw a deep ball in training drills. There's Jordan Palmer, bombing out of the NFL and becoming a QB consultant. There's Jameis Winston, wanting to play at Texas more than anywhere else and getting zero response from the staff. Will Proctor makes an appearance, if you need the most random mention possible. There's a huge array of names, and so few of them even get something close to success in college.

6. It's really good for the football obsessive, if a bit thick with detail for the total amateur. (The random reader might glaze over a bit when the football talk gets heavy, but that's gonna happen.) You read the accounts of endless drilling and film study and broom-chasing and start wondering if being a quarterback hasn't become the new "my child will learn Chinese to compete in the 21st century." FYI, there's one parent in the book who puts zero pressure on his kid, and just sort of lets him do what he wants, and then ends up with an NFL QB anyway: Oliver Luck. Then again, Andrew Luck had a QB coach help him prepare for the NFL Draft: George Whitfield, the dude with the broom.