Hall of Fame NFL Players

Trent Edwards, Joe Montana: Many Similarities

Trent Edwards and Joe Montana
Most people don’t like to rush to equate young NFL players with Hall of Famers of legendary status. Obviously, earning the rank of “legend of the game” takes many years of consistent production, and can not be applied to any player in his first or second year in the league. I would not presume to equate any such novice with any aforementioned Legend.

But I am shocked by the similar starts to their careers.

As I said, Joe Montana is a legend. I can’t say it enough. Every time I say his name it is like the pure definition of the word quarterback. They are synonymous. When I first began watching football games some 20 years ago, I quickly learned that Joe Montana was the king of his craft. With him under center, the 49ers were never out of the game, and were usually going to win the game. Precision passing, a great knowledge and understanding of the game, quick decision making, and cool, calm and collected demeanor. That was Joe Montana.

And it sounds a lot like how we describe Trent Edwards. Let’s take a look at just how similar they are.

Bill Walsh
The first thing that comes to mind is Montana’s former coach, the late Bill Walsh, has often been cited as commending Marv Levy and crew following their selection of the QB in the third round of the 2007 draft. Walsh knew that Edwards was something special, and he called up Levy to tell him so. The Bills had Edwards rated very high in the draft and were thrilled when they picked him up in the third round. Hearing Walsh’s endorsement of him as “the real deal” (or something to that effect) only further confirmed their selection.

Passing Style
I mentioned some of this above, but it bears repeating. As I have watched Trent this season, I’ve heard comparisons to a young Tom Brady. Brady was an unknown mid-late round draft pick who has obviously excelled. But I never quite bought that. Brady has a very different style. He has a slightly stronger arm and excels at the deep ball. Edwards can throw the deep ball, but that is not his strength.

It finally hit me a couple weeks ago. The closest match is Joe Montana. Montana was a very poised, confident, cool and collected leader on the field. His team was never out of it, and they believed he could bring them back. We see that already from Trent and his teammates. Montana didn’t have the great physical talents of Elway (rocket arm), Marino (lightning-quick release), or Kelly (toughness, grit, and strong arm) of his day, but he always made the perfect throw to the perfect guy.

On top of his decision making, Edwards has been right on the money with his passes. He throws a perfect pass to the perfect place for his perfect receiver. He completed 80% of his passes in one of the games this year, and for the season is completing 65.5% of his passes. Montana was also an incredibly accurate passer. He was consistently between 65 and 70% for much of his career. A lot of this is attributed to being able to read the defense quickly and correctly, but of course also a testament to the skill of the passer, throwing an accurate ball.

The Draft
Trent Edwards was projected by some as a late first-round choice. The Bills were shocked that he was still on the board when they were making their third-round selection in the 2007 draft. They had to take him, even though they weren’t planning to take a QB till the later rounds. Edwards was drafted in the third round of the 2007 draft at number 92 overall. Not too surprisingly, the Legend, Joe Montana was drafted by the 49ers in the third round of the 1979 draft, pick #82 overall.

Comeback Kings
This is perhaps the greatest similarity – and what alerted me to how much Edwards is looking like Montana. Joe Montana is known for connecting with Jerry Rice – a lot – and for winning Super Bowls, and for the things I mentioned above. But perhaps above all, he is known for engineering fourth quarter comebacks. And really, what better stat is there? Elway was great at this. And Montana was a master. He engineered 31 come from behind victories in his 16 year career, 26 of them as a 49er.

Trent Edwards has only started 13 games. Less than one full season. Thanks to trailing by one point at the start of the fourth quarter in yesterday’s game against the Rams, Edwards is credited with another fourth quarter comeback in his fledgling career. Actually, that makes five. FIVE. Not only is Edwards a fairly impressive 9-4 as a starter, he also has five 4th quarter comebacks under his belt. Well on his way to 31? Perhaps…

First Year as a Starter
This is where I am getting into speculation a bit, but bear with me.

Joe Montana played a few games in 1979 and 1980. In fact, his first 4th quarter come from behind win was in December of 1980, subbing for the starter, Steve DeBerg. His play that season solidified him as the starter for the coming season. San Francisco had been 2-14 in ’79, and then 6-10 in ’80 – definitely not impressive. But 1981 was coach Bill Walsh’s third season. He had been building the team in his image (much like Dick Jauron – currently in his third season – has done with the Bills) and they were poised to succeed under their new field commander.

Montana led the 49ers to an impressive 13-3 record that season. But it didn’t stop there. That team, which Montana was officially commanding for the first time, hosted the NFC Championship game against Dallas. Dallas had a lead with under five minutes to go in the game. Montana got the ball at the 1 yard line and engineered an 89-yard drive that culminated with “The Catch.”

A come-from-behind victory, taking his team to the Super Bowl. In his first season as the starter, in his coach’s third season with the team. They even went on to win the Super Bowl that season. Montana had pretty average numbers, but as always, got the job done, and got the W.

Edwards’ team is off to a 4-0 start, with three fourth quarter comebacks engineered by the poised, cool and collected, confident, unflappable quarterback. Could we possibly be seeing history repeating itself?

Bills fans certainly hope so!

Montana not only took his team to the Super Bowl – and won – his first year as the starter, but that really ushered in an era of dominance by Montana and the 49ers. They won four Super Bowls during his time there, and were a perennial force in the NFC.

It’s obviously too early to call Edwards a legend. Or even a legend-in-the-making. But you have to admit… he bears a striking resemblance to The Legend. The Legend’s coach saw something in this kid, too.

If Edwards is even close, Bills fans can look forward to great football for many years to come.

Bills History Hall of Fame Links Videos

The Thurmanator

Thurman Thomas and Marv Levy at 2007 Hall of Fame Enshrinement
As most (I’d guess ALL) of you know, Thurman Thomas was enshrined at the NFL Hall of Fame in Canton, OH this weekend. His career forever bronzed in a metal representation of his head.

If you got to see him play, you know what an amazing career it was. (I still contend he is the best overall player in the old NES game Tecmo Superbowl…) The guy led the league in yards from scrimmage … several times! You can check out all his stats, but most people who watched him know that it was his determination to win, to overcome, that not only set him apart, but for the span of his career with the Bills, was the mark of the entire team.

Maybe it started with the Thurmanator.

If you click the image above it will open a streaming video in RealPlayer of Thurman’s HOF speech on Aug 4th. But there are many more things at the HOF site, so click on that link below. There’s also a great video up at the Buffalo Bills website, so check that out when you can. Plus, a great article at by Vic Carucci.

It’s time to celebrate Thurman, so here are some good ways to do it. (Add any others in the comments below…)

Bills History Current Bills Hall of Fame NFL

Football Fan, or Buffalo Bills Fan?

I got an e-mail from today, promoting the upcoming Hall of Fame inductions. As a Bills fan, you know that Thurman Thomas will be one of those inductees on August 4th. If money were not an issue, I am pretty sure we’d be there. The e-mail that was sent had each player in their uniform as a collage of NFL players for the header of the e-mail. It was neat. Seeing Thurman with that group of great players… just brought back memories.

But one of those players, Bruce Matthews, is shown in a Tennessee Titans uniform. Now, I remember Bruce Matthews. I believe he mostly played for the Houston Oilers, am I correct? I realize that the Houston Oilers moved and are now the Tennessee Titans, but can’t you give the Houston fans something to remember their team by? Yes, they have the Texans now… but come on. Do they even compare? Not yet, they don’t.

That got me thinking about the Bills. Rumors have abounded since I first became a Buffalo Bills fan way back in 1988 that our team “might not be here much longer”. Rumors of moving the team to L.A., to Toronto… and maybe some other places. But for now, the Bills remain in Western New York, and I remain a Big Bills Fan.

But what if Mr. Wilson passes on in the not-too-distant future? I’m sure he’s making some plans… but, you can’t know what will happen when someone else is calling the shots. Will they keep the team in Buffalo? With the new contracts that players are signing, I really don’t see how the Bills can remain a viable franchise in this region. (Note. I am no financial wizard. So, take my “business sense” with a grain of salt…) I do know that as player price tags rise, the only way to compensate is to charge more money. Who mostly gets charged? Western New Yorkers. Bills fans.

If nothing changes, and the Bills get moved to a larger market to survive, what will you do Bills fan? Will you continue to follow the team? (Any Clippers fans out there still?) Or will you root for the Browns, the Steelers, or whatever team (if not the Bills) shows up just north of the border?

I have to say that if no team were here in Buffalo… I might follow them in whatever town they were moved to for a year, maybe two. But, I really don’t think I would continue very long. I am a BUFFALO Bills fan. I am (sorry NFL) not an NFL football fan. Yes, I like football, but my allegience is to my team here in my area. I really don’t care much at all about any other team. Ask my wife. She’s the one watching the other games on weekends, while I find something else to do around the house.

What would you do if the Bills left town, and 10 years down the road they are still inducting members of those Buffalo Super Bowl teams into the NFL Hall of Fame, but instead they are shown as Toronto Loons, or Los Angeles Gang Members? “This year’s Hall of Fame class includes Steve Tasker, from the Toronto Loons.” Ouch.

No, Bills fans, I’m sad to say it… if the Bills ever left town, I would quickly forget about the NFL. I would move on to other things. (There actually is more to life than football, though with only nine days to training camp… it’s hard to remember that!) I just wouldn’t care if the NFL did not have a team in my area.

So listen up, NFL. If you want fans from this area… don’t expect us to root for our Bills if they are based in Toronto. Don’t certainly don’t expect us to latch on to the Browns, Steelers, Jets, or Giants. We’re Bills fans. BUFFALO Bills fans. I know I am. And forever shall be.