Recently, I’ve heard over and over again the word “gunslinger” used as a complementary term. That is such a misguided stance, and I’m ready to prove it wrong. According to Wikipedia, Gunslinger is a “Term for a quarterback who plays in an aggressive and decisive manner by throwing deep, risky passes. These quarterbacks usually possess the strong arm needed to throw deep effectively.” The key term is effectively. Effectiveness is noted, but no importance is placed on the necessity of this skill for being a professional quarterback.
Quarterbacks that have been anointed with this term are historically inaccurate. Things sound great and long-bomb passes look wonderful on a highlight reel, but when it comes down to it, the failures far outweigh the successes. Let’s take a look.
The Quintessential Gunslinger – Brett Favre
Favre is considered the modern-day definition of a gunslinger. His carefree treatment of the football did not serve him well in any of his three stints in the league. He threw 508 career touchdowns and 336 interceptions. To give some perspective, Tom Brady has thrown a lifetime 456 to 152. Simply, a touchdown to interception ratio of 3 to 2 is unacceptable. Accuracy is one of the hallmarks of a solid quarterback, and Favre didn’t have it.
What Favre did have was an uncanny ability to make bad decisions. In the big games, where it all mattered, he failed. And quite miserably, I might add. In addition to all of his positive accomplishments, he owns the records for most career interceptions, second most post-season interceptions thrown, behind only Tom Brady, and the only QB to date that’s thrown over 300 career interceptions. Second place, held by George Blanda, was only 277. The differences between Brady and Favre are simple: While Brady has surpassed Favre by 1 in the postseason, he has made 14 playoffs, 34 games, and has 5 Super Bowl rings to show for his accomplishments. Favre has a grand total of 24 games, and 1 ring in 12 postseason trips. That says something about the talent of a gunslinger.
The Current Example
I did some checking around for discussions about gunslingers in today’s game, and there was really only one commonality – no one knows what a travesty it can be to call a quarterback something so reckless. Probably the most fitting name that buzzes around the gunslinger conversation regularly is Joe Flacco. A couple others are Matthew Stafford, Jay Cutler, Ben Roethlisberger and Drew Brees.
I can understand the Stafford argument, as his accuracy is questionable at times. But in his favor, he seems to improve year after year. Cutler actually has better lifetime stats than Stafford. And Roethlisberger, however unappreciated he may be, has a decent TD/INT ratio of approximately 2:1.
Drew Brees is NOT a Gunslinger
As for the last name on that list, let me clarify that Drew Brees is not a gunslinger. He is a long-bomb pocket passer with a hell of an accurate passing game. Along with boasting the highest completion percentage of all time, he hasn’t thrown under 30 touchdowns since 2007. And he has thrown over 20 Interceptions only once in his career so far. He’s thrown for 465 TDs and only 220 interceptions. He is the quarterback you want on your team. Except for Brady, of course.
Back to Flacco
In 9 seasons, he’s thrown 117 interceptions. His touchdown total? A whopping 182. Again, that’s approximately a 3 to 2 ratio. Gunslinger, yes; Legendary, no. It doesn’t matter how successful he is in the playoffs if he throws it to the other team too often to get there.
So, the next time someone accuses a quarterback of being a gunslinger, set them straight. It’s code for reckless, wreaks of inaccuracy, and is frankly offensive.