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Every USA President as a Quarterback Part II

Part II

Day two of four of this historical sports blog spectacular. I love some of the dialogs that started with the last blog and some of you made some accurate predictions about who would be compared in Part II. Todays era (1849-1897) is a complicated one. Many presidents burdened with implications of a Civil War and humanitarian crisis with the emancipation of slaves in the southern states. I try to acknowledge the good of most of these leaders and what they accomplished rather than focusing on their shortcomings with the benefit of 200 years of hindsight—what I am getting at is that if you are upset because you think I misrepresented the legacy of someone like Millard Fillmore or Rutherford B Hayes then don’t. This is a site where the blog posted before this was about how sneezing while hanging upside down might be more pleasurable. I digress. Hope you all enjoy part two and I hope you learn something you can share at the water cooler.


12.   Zachary Taylor as Cam Newton


Taylor was known as “old rough and ready” due to his success in the second Seminole War. Never a true political powerhouse Taylor quickly rose to popularity and the president was the first job in public office he would ever hold. Cam was a JUCO Quarterback who backed up Tim Tebow at Florida before finding his home in Auburn. JUCO success turned into NCAA success resembles the path from War General to President. Cutting your teeth in trenches to be rewarded handsomely. Taylor led an outnumbered US squad into Texas and delivered a devastating blow to the Mexicans that would help them win the war. Cam led an Auburn roster with no other NFL talent to a national championship, both accomplishments catapulted the men into successful tenures.

Taylor was indecisive on how new territories of New Mexico and California would handle slavery and left it up to the states to draft their own constitutions. Taylor metaphorically dropping the ball on the biggest issue in America is eerily similar to Cam’s infamous Super Bowl 50 decision to not jump on a dropped ball. Taylor's presidency was cut short due to a stomach disease and think many would agree Newtons run as a play caller was not as long as we all hoped.


13. Millard Fillmore as Jacoby Brissett


Fillmore began his life with humble beginnings and worked his way up the ranks in the Whig party after he left the Anti-masonic party. Fillmore was supposed to be the boring Vice President to the fiery Zachary Taylor, but once Taylor died it was Fillmore’s time to shine. Brissett has found himself on many different rosters switching teams just like Fillmore swapped parties. A similar level of boringness came with Brissett whenever he was signed or took control of Quarterback duties.


Both men were never chosen by the people to lead on their own, rather thrown into the fire. Fillmore struggled dealing with how to handle slavery in the newly acquired territories of the USA just like his predecessor. His continued indecision led to him not winning the bid to run for re-nomination. Brissett got his one shot as an NFL starter in Indy in 2019 but had a rather uninspiring 7-8 season. These performances saw GM’s and the Whig party looking for newer, younger, more vivacious options in the future.


14. Franklin Pierce – Justin Fields


Franklin Pierce came from a political family and found his way into office as the Democratic party wanted someone who would not ‘rock the boat’. Justin Fields played a similar role in his path to becoming the Bears Quarterback. Fields came from a football family, THE Ohio State University. Both had limited resumes, but both were trusted with taking over the leadership role in their respective organization. Pierce would gain some notoriety for his three-year stint fighting in the Mexican American war. Field’s three-year service was for another disputed rivalry between Ohio State and Michigan. Both proving beating your rivals can take you a long way.


Pierce’s time in office was lackluster and the only real achievement to hang his hat on was the Gasden Purchase; acquiring land in southern New Mexico. This meek crowning achievement is like that one Thursday Night Football game vs the Commanders where Fields looked incredible. A façade for an otherwise failure of a presidency. People will still defend Fields which some did of Pierce, but they were in the minority. Pierce became the first elected president to not win his party’s re-nomination and it seems as though Fields will not be getting his re-nomination in the form of the 5th year option on his contract—and knowing the Bears luck Field’s successor will be as disastrous as Peirce’s was.


15. James Buchanan - Nathan Peterman


Whew time for a stinker. Largely renowned as the worst president in American history, a perfect pair for a QB who has rewritten the record book in all the wrong ways. Nathan Peterman solidified himself as the laughingstock of the league in the late 2010's as he miraculously had 5 interceptions in just one half of football. Pretty awful performance by any stretch. You know what else I'd classify as poor performance? Allowing the country to slip into a Civil War and having no real plan to unite the states or stop the recession.


To pile on while we’re at it, James Buchanan was the only President to be a bachelor and never marry (virgin). Nathan Peterman was a Division I quarterback but he could only do it at the University of Pittsburgh (a school full of virgins). A couple of people who were good enough to make it far in their careers but shitty enough to be remembered as one of the worst to ever lace them up. Bravo.


16.   Abe Lincoln as Robert Griffin III


Lincoln redefined what it meant to be a president, with a Civil War in full effect there was no use in following old presidential rules if the alternative was a lack of a country at all. RGIII redefined what it meant to be a Quarterback with a skill set that had not been seen in the NFL. His dual threat ability made him one of the hardest players to guards. Lincolns election saw the South secede from the union and Americans had never been more divided. RGIII inspired similar polarizing debates on what it meant to play the position with him being the first modern day Quarterback who was suggested to switch positions.


Both saw a tragic ending to a promising career. The two most dangerous places to be in Washington DC are the Peterson House Theater as President and FedEx Field as a human with functioning knee ligaments. I think both guys set the tone for years to come. RGIII said his favorite accomplishment was watching Lamar Jackson succeed and I believe the way Lincoln inspired so many young politicians he would have said the same thing in respect to them if he had gotten to see them lead.


17.   Andrew Johnson as Kirk Cousins


Right off the bat we have the two backups to number 16 on this list with Johnson to Lincoln and Cousins to Griffin. Johnson was often described as honest, honorable, and old fashioned. During a time of unrest in Washington both had to answer tough calls from both side of the aisle. Johnson struggled mightily in the spotlight under the relentlessness of a strongly voiced House of Representatives. Cousins shared similar struggles in the spotlight with his notorious primetime record.


The fourteenth amendment granting citizenship to newly emancipated slaves was passed under Johnson much to the dismay of Southern States. In a meeting with reporters after signing the amendment Johnson allegedly yelled “You like that!” as he waltzed out of the capitol building—not actually, but that probably would’ve been enough moxie to get him re-elected. Frustrations grew however, and Johnson was not re-nominated and returned to his humble life in Tennessee. Cousin's contract in Washington was not renewed either and he landed in Minnesota where he lives out one of the more humble and quiet lifestyles in the modern day NFL.



18.   Ulysses S. Grant as Johnny Manziel


Grant came into office after a success stint in the Army helping win the Civil War and capturing the heart of America. Manziel also captured the heart of America by some successful work in the deep south. Grant was in an uphill battle from the jump with President being his first position in office. The lack of experience showed as he struggled to implement policy and quickly fizzled out. Being a Quarterback drafted by the Browns in the 2010’s is probably the football equivalent of Grants obstacles.


Grant was criticized for the crew he hung around with, historians referring to them as “dirtbags”. I mean even I can’t make that up. Manziel was no stranger to off the field issues with partying that ultimately led to end of his NFL career. Some legendary stories have come out about Manziel and the closest thing to any of those shenanigans during the mid-19th century was Ulysses. Grant’s strongest achievement was preventing recession by having more control of the money supply than any president before his time—what a great comparison for Money Manziel.


19.   Rutherford B. Hayes as Andrew Luck


Hayes and Luck shared in interesting mentality that I can best describe as reluctant ambition. Surface level the description is oxymoronic, but these two men are eccentric enough it might just be perfect. Hayes was a Civil War general who, after being injured in battle, rose in notoriety. The republicans thought he would be a great candidate and nominated him for election in 1876. Hayes accepted the nomination but did not campaign stating, “an officer fit for duty who at this crisis would abandon his post to electioneer… ought to be scalped”. He did not want to be President when he knew he could serve on the front lines, his lack of initiative to campaign served as indicator that he would be a great man for the job. Essentially acknowledging that he will be President, not because he wants to, but because he needs too.


Andrew Luck also was not a Quarterback because he wanted to be one, he needed to be one. That’s where his skills required him. Committing to Stanford as a 5-star recruit after the Cardinal has 7 straight losing seasons proved that. Hayes committed to just one term in office before he was elected, and Luck’s tenure was cut short as he hung up the cleats early after just six dominating seasons. Luck and Hayes’ legacies left us wanting more, and in a way that adds to their lore. Andrew Luck was a football player and Rutherford B Hayes was an American. They didn’t want stardom or the spotlight, they wanted to be themselves, but both of their skill sets elevated them to the highest level.


20.   James Garfield as Aaron Rodgers

At first glace the second shortest presidency ever might seem like an inept comparison for a first ballot hall of famer, but these two share more than meets the eye. Rodgers took over and was quickly beloved by the Packer faithful and respected around the league like Garfield’s political prowess. Garfield’s success in politics peaked as a representative and once he reached office his career was short lived. I like to think of this as Rodgers on the Packers then moving to Jets being the equivalent of Garfield’s inauguration.


Garfield was one of the last Stalwart presidents who gave his political friends positions of power and used those promises to help fuel his campaign. Almost an exact parallel to Rodgers being the Stalwart Quarterback of the modern day who was able to get 8 former Packers jobs in New York included Randal Cobb, Allen Lazard, and most notably Nathaniel Hackett. Garfield was then quickly shot and modern medicine at the time as not strong enough to save him. Rodgers has had his own bouts with modern medicine and allegedly beat his Achilles tendon tear in 3 short months. If only Rodgers could’ve taken Garfield on an ayahuasca journey to South America he could’ve served a longer term.


21. Chester A. Arthur as Eli Manning


Often regarded as one of the most peculiar presidencies I think that adjective could also describe the career of the youngest Manning brother. Before his time in office, he shameless used his power to help out his political bosses. Eli also used his power to his advantage coming out and refusing to play for the San Diego Chargers until he ended up where he wanted—New York, which also happens to be Arthur’s home state.


Arthur was pegged as Stalwart on the GOP ticket but once into office he would use his position to do great things and serve as an independent administrator. Arthur wasn’t an incredible President but he was more than competent and had many successful policies. Manning fits this description too with his peaks coming in the two Super Bowls vs the Patriots but career record hovering just one game over .500. In terms of the greatness, I believe both sit right on the cusp earning spot in the proverbial “Hall of Very Good”.


22/24. Grover Cleveland as Joe Flacco


Both raised in New Jersey these two have similar career paths that saw two successful terms with an oddly placed gap in between. Cleveland is the only US president to serve two non-consecutive terms and we saw Flacco complete a similar feat winning Comeback Player of the Year after starting the season on his couch, proving the only thing that is more impressive than coming back from the dead is coming back from being QB on the Jets (sorry Damar).


As I read more about Grover it seems he actually wasn't that great of president with many unpopular policies which resembles Flacco and the media debating his elite-ness. Cleveland was criticized for his mistreatment of railroad workers and commented about their strike saying, "If it takes the entire Army and Navy to deliver a post card in Chicago, that card will be delivered". Flacco also had a knack for long deliveries by any means necessary, learning the art of the pass interference. The ability to harness the power of the Army/Navy and the officials to help get things done can be controversial, nevertheless both men found themselves with a second chance at the most important position.


23. Benjamin Harrison as Kyler Murray


As the grandson of William Henry Harrison, Benjamin’s campaign faced opponents who mocked his small stature dubbing him “Little Ben” and he stood at a modest 5’6”. Kyler had doubts of his size being one of the shorter Quarterbacks to take the field. Their actions early in their careers spoke for themselves. Republicans refuted insults of Harrison’s size saying he was “big enough to wear his grandfather’s hat” implying his ability to be a strong-willed leader. Kyler’s dazzling play allowed his supporters to claim he was “strong enough to lift the Heisman Trophy”. The treasury surplus vanished during Harrison’s administration and so did any salary cap space the Cardinals hoped they might have after signing Murray to his extension.


Policy wise Harrison signed off on the McKinley Doctrine and Sherman Anti-trust Act which were aimed at limiting foreign companies from selling goods in America and stopping any monopolies domestically to encourage financial prosperity and business equality. Murray also has been an advocate for implementing level playing fields as he often praises Call of Duty for their commitment to ranked matches on Warzone and Kyler has taken a strong stance against moded lobbies.

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