Byron Haters, Just Simmer Down Now

By Mike Freeman
Updated: August 21, 2005


TAMPA — So, here we go again. Presenting the annual Byron Leftwich fan complaint-a-thon.

Twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, 365 million complaints a year of over-the-top bashing from the Byron Hater Nation. Population: Too many.

If there was any more whining and moaning on talk radio this past week about Leftwich, he’d be the DMV.

It’s a big year for Leftwich, the biggest of his NFL career. This, of course, doesn’t require a CNN news flash. We know this. He must show some sort of significant progression from last year. I think he will.

The Jaguars’ offense against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Saturday night still was suffering from projectile dysfunction — things aren’t quite clicking in the passing game — but the unit’s performance was better, and Leftwich is beginning to steadily demonstrate more comprehension of the system as the weeks pass.

Leftwich’s greatest strengths are his toughness and ability to adapt.

None of this stops the Byron Hater Nation from flapping its gums and committing thirddegree assault against TV sets. Man, this gets old.

Apparently, Byron Bashers no longer are willing to wait until the first .39 seconds of the opening game to unload the venom.

Now, he can’t even get out of a few measly preseason contests without someone setting up a complaint booth outside his locker.

Byron can’t move. Byron’s accuracy stinks. Byron can’t do this, that or the other thing.

Sometimes, I don’t think it’s Randy Moss smoking the good stuff. I think it’s a handful of particularly wacko Jaguars fans.

Thus, pardon the interruption of the Hater-fest for a millisecond of common sense.

How about we give Leftwich, oh, I don’t know, maybe more than a season or two to mature? Because I cannot remember, in almost two decades of covering professional football, a quarterback this young held to such unfair expectations and bashed with such religious fervor.

He’s not Ryan Leaf, people. But some of you act like he is.

If Leftwich ends up a bust, then he will be gone. See ya’, wouldn’t want to be ya’.

We haven’t come close to that point yet, but it seems a number of fans and some in the media are unfairly forcing the issue.

He will fail or succeed, most likely the latter. Either way, just let it happen.

What I like about Leftwich is that he is aware of all the ugliness and double standards swirling about him like loose furniture in a tornado, yet he skillfully dodges the debris, never changing his personality or becoming bitter.

He stays calm and rational when some players might have lashed out by now.

I don’t know how Leftwich does it. I don’t know how he keeps his cool when an army of knuckleheads jump on the David Garrard bandwagon after the backup leads the offense to a score against a bunch of cadavers who’ll be out of the NFL by Labor Day.

Nothing against Garrard at all. Great dude, yet anyone that knows anything about football can see that Leftwich is clearly better.

Yes, Leftwich keeps his noggin down, glued to the playbook, as the flak whips by overhead.

And the complaint-a-thon rolls on …