Those who spend any time today thinking about the football career of former quarterback Trent Dilfer generally don’t come away marveling at his achievements and abilities. A former sixth-overall draft pick who played with five teams, he is best known for his one season in Baltimore, starting eight games during the Ravens’ first-ever Super Bowl run.
It wasn’t exactly the most remarkable display in NFL history. He went 124-for-226 for 1,502 yards with 12 touchdowns to 11 interceptions. But he played when the game of football was still tough, or so he would seemingly argue.
That was the premise of remarks that went viral yesterday, culled from comments he made during an event that was featured in ESPN’s 30-for-30 documentary, Bullies of Baltimore, detailing the team’s 2000 Super Bowl XXXV run.
“The modern-day game does not impress me”, he said in a clip that was shared by former Ravens quarterback Robert Griffin III. “It’s super easy when you don’t get hit as a quarterback, and when you can’t reroute receivers, and when you can’t hit guys across the middle”.
“I love Tom Brady, I love Aaron Rodgers, I love these guys”, he continued. “It’s not impressive”.
Dilfer started 113 career games, going 58-55. He threw for 20,518 yards with 113 touchdowns to 129 interceptions and made one Pro Bowl.
The Ravens signed Elvis Grbac in free agency in 2001, the year after Dilfer won the Super Bowl with them, rather than re-signing him. He admitted in the documentary that it took him many years to get over that.
“It was the hardest thing in my career that I’ve had to get over, was being told that you weren’t good enough after just winning a Super Bowl”, the team’s website quoted him as saying, adding that he only began to come to terms with it over the past five or so years.
Complaints about the game becoming too easy for offenses certainly are not uncommon, yet if anything it has only heightened the disparity between the great quarterbacks and the…well, the Trent Dilfers. The two quarterbacks in this year’s Super Bowl were the league’s All-Pros for the season.
I suppose Dilfer would argue that Brady wouldn’t have been able to put up the sorts of numbers that he had in an earlier era, though many of the rules he questions now were not in place during his historic 2007 season. The guy had been playing ball for a minute.
Still, there is a point in there to be made somewhere regarding making comparisons across eras. The game as it is played today is not identical to the one that was played in the 70s, nor do either perfectly match how it looked in basically any other decade you want to pick.
The game has continually evolved since its inception, and will presumably continue to do so. But the truth of the matter is that quarterback play has never been better than it is now. The rules may have made it easier to showcase that, but just as is true at every other position, the talent is just at another level when your life is dedicated to the game.