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An open letter to Pernell McPhee

That’s my quarterback you’re talking about.

Chicago Bears v Detroit Lions Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images


When last weekend’s holiday spilled out into the beginning of the work week, I almost missed entries 50-41 of NFL’s Top 100 list. When Matthew Stafford’s name wasn’t called by the end of the show, I was met with equal parts annoyance and anxiousness: “There’s no way he’s absent from this list... right? Alex Smith was on this list, for crying out loud.”

Sure enough, just before signing over the airtime to the crew that soaks in all of the player and fan reactions to the latest set of rankings and then spits out enough spin to dizzy you, Stafford’s name was teased for the following week’s show; all was right and the Earth was still balanced on its axis.

Flipping back and forth between NFL Network and NBC’s Game 4 of Predators-Penguins—AKA the most entertaining thing going on in sports at the moment—it took almost an entire period and the end of the show to finally get to the Lions quarterback. At No. 31, he placed higher on the list than the likes of Philip Rivers, Andrew Luck and even last year’s No. 1 overall player Cam Newton.

Most of the highlight packages the NFL Network puts together for these players earning a spot on this list begin with some sort of testimonial from their peers, usually praising the player’s ability to do ‘x’, ‘y’, or ‘z.’ Right out of the gate, Stafford’s highlight reel began with you, Pernell McPhee, a Chicago Bears linebacker who has never made an All-Pro team, a Pro Bowl, or the NFL’s Top 100 list since its inception in 2011.

“I was just talking about that, and I was like, ‘He’s nowhere near the top 10 quarterbacks in the NFL,’” McPhee said. “He’s definitely not in my top 10. I had Kirk Cousins over him.”

See, you just had to go and open your mouth, McPhee.

It would have been fine if you wanted to say he wasn’t in your top ten and leave it at that. We’re cool. It would have been cool if you just said he wasn’t your flavor of quarterback, slap on that slight compliment of saying he has the best arm in the league and then not say another word. But you said he’s “nowhere near” your top ten? Come again?

But that wasn’t enough. No, your foot couldn’t find your mouth quick enough to damn up all the nonsense that was bursting out. You just had to tuck that little something extra in there, didn’t you? Cousins over Stafford on your list of quarterbacks.

And I get it, when you make your living with your athleticism off the edge, and someone flexes their 4.93 40 time on your head, it probably shakes up your rankings.

On the other other hand, when you get stood up by rook on the game-winning drive and touchdown, that’s gotta hurt too.

It’s so hard for me to sit back at home and look at a guy like Pernell McPhee spouting off about about my quarterback. Just last year, Stafford’s had more press and pub in one season than McPhee’s had since he came into the league. You’re talking about the comeback kid who puts an end to winning bids. The guy in control even if he’s in a hole. The gunslinger with a temperament whose arm was heaven-sent! And I’m having a hard time keeping this keyboard down.

You do realize you have to see this Stafford guy twice a year at a minimum, right? And I suppose I don’t have to include that qualifier of “minimum” because the Bears have been basement-dwellers in the NFC North for the past three seasons—and nothing much will change this year—but I’m sure Mitchell Trubisky will help clean up that Mess on the Midway—or will it be Mike Glennon?

This isn’t the time or place to put all that pressure on your quarterbacks to bring some relevancy to your season. It’s not like your head coach is a sitting duck while your general manager is so infatuated with a ‘97 Toyota Camry that he’ll make John Lynch look like a genius in the meantime.

And as goes for the NFL Network, you’re not safe from this either.

The first player you’re going to have talk about my quarterback is a Bears player? Unreal. Why don’t you just load up on clips from the final four games of the season where Stafford’s finger on his throwing hand was a mangled mess of ligaments? Hell, Alex Smith received more adulation for his ability to “win games” from the start of his montage than Stafford. At least Xavier Rhodes and Captain Munnerlyn did more than just ogle over his physical traits.

Gah! See! Pernell McPhee makes Vikings players—and alums—likable. Disgusting. Almost as disgusting as your comments, McPhee.

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