We need to talk about the rivalry between Tua Tagovailoa vs Justin Herbert.
I mean we don’t, because it’s not a rivalry, and it will never be a rivalry.. but for some reason enough of you got tricked into engaging in something that has no business being a debate, so here we are.
The only thing Tua and Herbert have in common, besides the position they play, is that if I had to name two NFL quarterbacks that would rather face a free-rushing Aaron Donald than be included in a synthetic rivalry for the sake of ’embracing debate,’ it would be these two men right here. Both are humble, hard working, and embrace the challenge before them without any prima donna tendencies.
If anything, they could both use a bit more ego. Maybe then, Herbert would protect his ribcage and Tua would protect his medulla oblongata, instead of putting their health at risk for the benefit of their teammates and the fans that root for them.
But for some reason, we’ve been roped into comparing their skillsets.
Are you kidding me?
I get that most sports debates are subjective. Statistics go a long way to scaffold and support an argument you’re presenting in one of those debates, but for the most part, a person makes up their mind, AND THEN finds the numbers that will buttress their claim. But that’s only a process people go through when there’s a debate worth having. Or at least, it used to be.
If you were walking a busy downtown street and saw a man holding up a sign that said “Tom Brady or Peyton Manning?” You might stop and give the question your time and energy. But if that same man held up a sign that said “Puppies or Tax Audits?” You don’t need to add your voice to that.
It’s not anyone’s fault Herbert went after Tua in the draft. He had some training wheels on him in Eugene, and despite the fact that he was clearly built in the same quarterback lab that gave us Josh Allen, at the time of the 2020 draft, Allen hadn’t finished evolving into his highest form yet. And to even become the sixth pick in the draft, Herbert had to outshine his initial three star ranking out of Sheldon High, while also languishing on Larry Scott’s inaccessible television network.
Tua was always that dude. ESPN and Rivals had him as a top 60 prospect. 247 had him as a five star, which if you’re not familiar with the rankings, five star means projected first round NFL draft pick. Nick Saban clearly thought he was worthy of a spot on a championship roster out of Alabama, and he lived up to every bit of the hype while in Tuscaloosa.
But one of these men is 6-6, 240, has Michael Vick’s arm, and Rob Gronkowski’s athleticism, and was drafted with the full understanding that all those tools had yet to be tapped into to their fullest extent. And all he’s done since landing with the Chargers is save the entire franchise from drowning in the irrelevance that moving out of San Diego created.
Meanwhile, the owner of the Miami Dolphins, Stephen Ross, has his entire franchise being sanctioned over trying to get rid of Tua for everyone from Deshaun Watshon to Tom Brady. Tua is a very good quarterback, but not good enough to have the man that signs his paychecks convinced he’s the future.
Do you understand how concerning that is? It’s pretty clear that Arizona Cardinals owner Michael Bidwill might hate his starting quarterback, and vice versa, but even that dysfunctional mess of a relationship doesn’t go as far as denying that Kyler is the future of the franchise.
Herbert and Tua’s skillsets, and their place with both their own franchises, and as the future of the NFL aren’t even in the same neighborhood. And the worst part about engaging in this conversation at all is that it steals the joy from Dolphins fans who should be able to enjoy being competitive in the AFC East for the first time in decades.
Instead they have to mount up and defend a point that they don’t even believe.
Imagine being a Dolphins fan last night when Justin Herbert and the Chargers had a two-score lead in the fourth quarter, and Herbert had thrown for more yards against your defense this year than anyone outside Josh Allen. Imagine sitting there knowing that your franchise quarterback, who had been artificially inserted into a debate he wanted no part of, was simultaneously putting together the worst game of his career. Instead of just taking the L and moving on to next week, you’re having to consider whether to delete all the social media apps off of your phone, or to mentally deconstruct your own understanding of both facts and truth so that you can engage in living an obvious lie without it causing permanent brain damage.
Last night should be the end of a conversation that never should have started, but in the hot take economy anything can happen. And if Justin Herbert vs Tua can heat up the internet streets, anything can. Guard your hearts and minds, folks, because if not, you might find yourself skipping dinner with the family to write ten paragraphs about why Jalen Hurts is better than Davis Mills.
When a thing is true, it should be able to Speak for Itself.
Let that sink in.
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