Josh Rosen has a rocket for an arm and a lightning rod for a helmet. He’s brash, cocky, self-absorbed, too intelligent for his own good, and not deeply in love with the game of football. Or so you’ve heard from the backfield whispers and nameless scouts who launder their agenda into the take-o-sphere. The former UCLA quarterback is a miracle-worker and his specialty is embodying otherwise desirable traits and turning them into net negatives in court of public opinion.
Questions follow him as the NFL Draft approaches. What about his character? What about his relationship with former coach Jim Mora? What about his wealthy family? Franchises are either seriously concerned about handing the keys over to this guy or allowing that narrative to exist in order to improve their chance to get him.
Here’s the thing about all of these questions. Most, if not all, are easily answerable by the source closest to the situation. Rosen, well-spoken and candid, has those answers. And he gave a treasure trove to ESPN’s Sam Alipour in a wide-ranging interview. Drop everything you’re doing and read it in full.
It’s amazing we’ve gotten to this point where everyone’s opinion except Rosen’s has been used as the building blocks for a profile. It’s even more astounding to me — yes, a cynic — that this impressive display of honesty and intellect will do little to change the conversation when it comes to Rosen’s draft stock.
The truth of the matter is that there aren’t, in reality, unknowable mysteries surrounding Rosen. It’s that a certain inflexible faction of the football and football writing community doesn’t like the answers. More credence is given to what people are saying about Rosen than what Rosen actually has to say.
The mercurial quarterback didn’t duck responsibility for his past actions. He didn’t rely on excuses. He was also realistic about his current situation and how hard it is to change the winds of perception.
Rosen did not sugarcoat things or speak in clichés. He came off as composed, honest, deep, and at peace with his place in the world. He said what he wanted to say and not simply what prospective NFL teams would want to hear?
Isn’t that a good thing, especially in 2018?
We’re fresh off Johnny Manziel ripping the Cleveland Browns for not doing their homework and drafting him, a guy who wasn’t about to do any homework or study film. Do we really believe Manziel was open and honest about his intention to do no outside work during his pre-draft meetings with Cleveland. Or is it possible he tried to present himself in the best possible light, even if it didn’t comport with reality?
What’s the value in having an insincere person tell you what you want to hear without any intention of living up to that expectation? Not much. Rosen’s answers, though not always perfect in the eyes of the old guard, are far more informative than ones given to play a role of boring, uncomplicated quarterback.
There’s also the pesky little fact that, without a name, one could think this was an interview with Aaron Rodgers. Of all the NFL quarterbacks, Rosen most resembles the Green Bay Packers star (who, by the way, was being photographed with the Dalai Lama on the day this interview dropped). Neither are saccharine, prone to talking points or incurious about the world. One has transformed himself into one of the best to ever play the game. Is it crazy to think the other could get there, following the same path?
At a certain point, NFL teams will see the value in assessing the personality traits of a truly successful quarterback and realize Rosen is not some outlier, but the logical result of an ever-changing society. By then, it will be too late save for the one franchise who opens its ears and actually listens.