“That’s just not me,” Josh Rosen says of the designer labels offered to him during an ESPN The Magazine shoot.
In a word: no. It is not him, just like him having to shut up and throw is not him. Josh Rosen, the best QB in this draft to this writer, has been heavily scrutinized more for what happens to him off the field than anything that could happen to him on the field. Before they even mention the 61% completion rate, they talk about the hat he wore to send a message on a golf course. Without discussing his two to one interception ratio, they rip apart his comments defending current Jacksonville Jaguar RB Leonard Fournette for not playing in a Bowl Game. Rosen openly talks about wanting to win multiple Super Bowls, and the retort becomes “he didn’t even win a Pac 12 title.” That is maybe the only time the criticism is kept on the field. You hear their tone though: less is more, they say, and Rosen needs to start giving less.
At 6’4” and 218 pounds, the son of a surgeon and a journalist has the prototypical size to be an NFL QB. Therefore, that removes him from the Baker Mayfield line of questioning. He is not a scrambler, so the Lamar Jackson-like questions about him tucking the ball and bailing on plays are never sent his way. He’ll be 22 by the time he completes his first full NFL season, but because he started as a Freshman at UCLA you don’t get the “has he played enough” kind of questions that should be asked about Sam Darnold. Despite people criticizing the Pac 12, it is still a Power 5 Conference so you don’t hear how Rosen played down to superior competition. When you remove that, what is really left?
Oh, right, his brain. Not just the concussion, though one thing Rosen will have to learn how to do in the NFL is take sacks when necessary. Not every sack is drive crushing, and for a kid with one concussion already on his docket another one could be career-defining. Rosen also has a past shoulder injury that cost him some time during his Sophomore year, but it is an injury that he appeared to be healed from last year as he completed 63% of his passes, threw for 3,717 yards, 26 TDs, and 10 INTs. He did all this while showing how deadly from the pocket he is, and how sound his mechanics continue to be. He displays great vision, the ability to look off defenders while progressing through his reads, and the arm strength to get the ball where it needs to go with exceptional timing. As a football player and potential franchise QB, he embraces what comes with that because he chooses to and not because he has to. He embraces everything that comes with being the face of a team trying to win a championship.
Rosen also embraces the very real reality that he wants to leave the world a better place. He gets that athletes of color are not, and have not been, afforded his privilege and he acknowledges his own circumstance and his role in the world. During a time where sponsors plaster an athlete’s face all over heir products to make money hand over first, it is not lost on a lot of people that the athletes labeled difficult or entitled are the ones who have views that don’t adhere to indecent thinking. JJ Watt was not told to shut up and sack the Quarterback when he raised money to help Hurricane victims in Houston, whereas Eric Reid is asked about whether he would exercise his first amendment rights by an owner that had signed off on drafting a player with a past domestic violence history. The NFL protects their 501 c 3 status as a tax exempt organization by touting a commitment to our troops and a commitment to breast cancer, and then enriching the financial bottom line of 32 owners with the benefits. However, a player is told to just shut up and do their job. At some point, we need to decide what it is we actually want from all our athletes, and not just the ones we agree with.
Instead of calling him divisive, call him informed. Instead of calling him entitled, call him aware. Instead of calling him arrogant, call him confident. Or, don’t call him anything at all really. That’s your choice after all. Here’s hoping Roger Goddell calls his name for the New York Jets in two weeks.
Photo Credit: UCLA.com