Born to run

Say you don’t know how to do it now

So you run

It’s not that you’re bleeding, but you’re through it now

So you run, so you run – “Amazing” by Seal

What do Robert Griffin III of the Washington Redskins, Colin Kaepernick of the San Francisco 49ers and Russell Wilson of the Seattle Seahawks have in common? They’re quarterbacks who like to run. Indeed, they are just as likely to carry the ball themselves as they are to send it spiraling through the air, an approach that’s part of the flexible read-option so beloved of college football and so controversial in the NFL. In Sports Illustrated’s NFL Football Preview issue (Sept. 2), writer Greg A. Bedard – or maybe it was his editors – called the read-option “the hottest new offensive scheme,” then asked the question “How can it be stopped?”

While the refinements of the read-option are beyond the purview of WAG, we’ve always had a soft spot in our hearts for fleet-footed quarterbacks. (Where have you gone, Tim Tebow?) To understand the controversy that surrounds them, we turned to a man who coached one of the best, Greenwich High School’s Pat Mediate. Among his charges in the late 1970s was a quarterback whose left arm was still a work in progress but whose legs could fly, Steve Young. That arm and those legs would take Young to three Super Bowl championships with the 49ers, two league MVP awards and one Super Bowl MVP award.

Still, Young is regarded by some experts to be the only running quarterback to helm a Super Bowl winner to date. (Kaepernick, who is often compared to him, came up a bit short last year, and the great Dallas Cowboys’ quarterback Roger “The Dodger” Staubach ran only when death-by-Mean Joe Greene was imminent.) So what’s the problem with a quarterback who’s born to run?

“The quarterback is a favorite target for defensemen, and there is a penalty for attacking him,” Mediate says. A quarterback on the move is harder to protect and too valuable to risk on the run.

Fans of tradition like to point to RGIII’s right knee injury last season, while those in favor of the read-option note that RG injured his knee trying to retrieve an errant snap, not running.

Injury risk or not, there’s something thrilling – something very individualistic and American — about a quarterback who, faced with no other options and unwilling to concede the ball, takes matters into his own feet and runs with it.

Nothing quite like a take-charge guy – unless it’s a take-charge woman. (See next item.)

For more on Pat Mediate, Steve Young and the new Greenwich High School Sports Hall of Fame, check out WAG’s January “Super” Power issue, with our salute to the New York-New Jersey Super Bowl.

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