The elite quarterbacks of the league are elite because they earn it. Some of them were drafted high, some low, but all have motivation like most of us can't even understand.
But don't take my word for it. Read on and then compare and contrast these words with a certain cannon armed quarterback and #1 overall pick....
One example: He finishes every day by watching practice film. Eight days before the playoff win, Brees flipped on the lights in an offensive meeting room at the team's practice facility in suburban Metairie and spent 30 minutes running through the day's workout. Before each snap he softly spoke the formation and play he was about to run, a habit he learned under San Diego offensive coordinator Cam Cameron. At the end, he snatched up his messenger bag and walked to the parking lot, sated. "If this is the last thing I do every day," he said, "I feel like I've accomplished something positive, even if it wasn't a great day otherwise."
If possible, Brees probably would have worked 10,000 hours this week.
On a normal Tuesday day off during the regular season, he's famous for putting in full days of film study. Typically, the quarterbacks arrive at 8 a.m. and don't leave until 2:30 p.m.
That work schedule has ratcheted up in the Saints' second season. Saints quarterbacks worked full days Monday and Tuesday, both scheduled days off for players. Brees was on the same schedule last week.
Saints tight end Jeremy Shockey said Brees arrived before sunrise last week.
"I cannot beat him here," Shockey said. "He's been here very early. I've been here every day at about 6 o'clock and he's beaten me. So like I said earlier, I'll be here at 3 a.m. and try to beat him. And he'll still be here probably earlier than that.
"He's a great teammate and an extraordinary quarterback."
Brees' work ethic can't be underestimated. His success on Sundays starts on Monday and Tuesday.
Later in the day, as other amazingly conditioned, hard-working NFL players walk to their cars, satisfied after 90 minutes of rigorous training and 60 minutes of on-field football work, Drew lines up at the goal line for some self-prescribed extra conditioning. Flexing his mind’s superiority once again. “My body can only go as far as my mind can take it,” he tells us. And the 2008 NFL Offensive Player of the Year makes his living by taking his body a little bit further each day—a beautiful thing to witness.
Schaub accepted this mantle of responsibility with his work ethic and personality. Kubiak told me a story of that first training camp when he passed a group of players gathered around Schaub's car late one day. He understood that it was scenes like this that get teams built.
He also has had a Pro Bowl season in terms of leadership, toughness and work ethic. That's the part of his job that numbers can't measure.
No position in professional sports is as demanding as that of NFL quarterback. He's more than just a player. His words carry more weight. His work ethic, poise and demeanor set a tone in every corner of the locker room.
Schaub's teammates were sold on his work ethic and drive long ago. The day he was traded from Atlanta, Schaub asked for the team's phone list. He called each teammate to tell them how much he was looking forward to the season.
He and his wife, Laurie, often host the players at their home. Schaub also takes different teammates out for dinner at various times of the year and tries to coordinate Halloween and Christmas get-togethers.
On the flight home from road games, Schaub sits across the aisle from Johnson to rehash every play and discuss what each was thinking.
Johnson was surprised by it all at first — the phone calls, the invites, the postgame chats.
"The relationship I have with him is totally different than the relationship I had with David (Carr) and the other guys we've had," said Johnson. "I think it's helped a lot and it's carried over onto the field. When David was here, I never talked to David outside of the locker room. But Matt, he has you over to his house.
"In OTAs, he's like, 'I'm throwing burgers on the grill. You guys come over and jump in the pool.' Just little things like that tell you a lot about a guy. We knew we had the right guy from that first phone call."
Every play has several options, both run and pass. When a call comes in from the sideline, Peyton decides on the final incarnation based on his personnel and the defensive alignment presented to him at the line of scrimmage.
Peyton is regarded as a strong leader. He inspires teammates through deed and word. His work ethic is unparalleled. Peyton is as intense as they come. He’s also not afraid to get into a teammate’s face and demand his best effort
[Just scroll down to the bottom of the article and have a look at his workout routine. It's crazy.]
That's because of Manning's work ethic.
When the Colts took him with the top overall pick in the 1998 draft, the Louisiana native already had a strong pedigree and the resume of a winner.
But instead of relying on his surname, past successes or the prestige of being a No. 1 pick, Manning became the consummate student. He spent countless hours working on timing with former teammates like Marvin Harrison and Ken Dilger, and was a workaholic in the film room, too.
Over the past 12 seasons, Manning hasn't changed — or forgotten — much. He refers to opposing players by name rather than numbers, can cite background information about them, and remembers virtually everything he's ever done on the field — good and bad.
I bolded that sentence because I think it's the ultimate summation of the point I've been trying to make here.
In his own mind, Russell is still that hotshot junior phenom at LSU and #1 overall pick. Mentally speaking, I don't think he's ever progressed past posing for the customary picture beside Roger Goodell on the draft stage.
I actually feel bad for Al Davis. I really do. He's invested over 30 million dollars into Russell and surrounded him with some good coaching talent. He's done all he can do. The rest is up to JaMarcus and he's let Davis, his teammates and the fans all down.
If you're inclined to defend Russell, please go over in your mind all the stories about Russell missing meetings, sleeping in meetings, skipping OTAs, showing up out of shape and partying long into the night....then re-read all those excerpts above. Do you ever see him pushing himself to that level? I sure don't.
Most of Russell's teammates realize he doesn't have the passion or drive. Tom Cable sure does. I wish to god Al Davis would realize it too.
But he hasn't yet and apparently won't.....woe unto the Nation for yet another year.