The last time I checked Mark Schlereth never threw a pass, much less a touchdown pass, in his 12-year NFL career. He never ran the ball. He never got in the end zone, I’m sure, except on a touchdown celebration.
Schlereth played guard in the NFL. He was a 10th round pick in the 1989 draft. He was a member of three Super Bowl championship teams. But as a guard, some anonymous slug — not as some pivotal MVP. He has also never been a head coach in the NFL, nor in college. Had he not been a professional football player, he likely would not have been hired as an analyst for ESPN.
That said, I’m not sure why Schlereth is an analyst qualified to critique players in positions he has no personal or professional knowledge of. I say all this because in recent days it is Schlereth who has been one of ESPN’s talking heads called on to analyze the Tim Tebow trade from the Denver Broncos to the New York Jets.
Schlereth was again the first analyst ESPN went to this morning immediately after the Tebow press conference at the Jets’ facilities in New Jersey. And Schlereth gave the same unflattering but unqualified comments he’s made about Tebow since the middle of last season — ignoring the critical fact that, regardless of Tebow’s poor stats last fall, he led the Broncos to the playoffs.
Tebow also threw the overtime pass that beat the Pittsburgh Steelers and likely brought about some tremendous changes in the Steelers’ plans for the future — the firing of Steelers’ offensive coordinator Bruce Arians and the forced retirement of slowing All-Pro receiver Hines Ward.
Sadly, the person ESPN should have led off the Monday Tebow analysis, former All-Pro QB Steve Young, was someone it went to only after Schlereth set the mood — so much so that Young, who was not in the studio, a couple of times deferred to some things Schlereth said and never got a chance to adequately comment on what Tebow had said at his 35-minute-long press conference.
Of course, Schlereth’s comments are no different than those of another ESPN Tebow basher, Merril Hoge, another 10th round draft pick as a running back and who in his best season ran for only slightly more than the rushing yardage Tebow gained last season as a part-time QB.
I think Schlereth is extremely qualified to analyze the play of offensive linemen or prospects like USC tackle Matt Kalil, who likely will go high in the 2012 draft. And this is the kind of work he should be doing on ESPN — critiquing the work of linemen and offering analysis of how the players in the trenches succeed or don’t. But he is as qualified to comment on quarterbacks, running backs and receivers as Jessica Simpson, who once dated a quarterback.
On second thought, Jessica might have more insight.