It doesn't get more cold and cruel in NFL than Tyrod Taylor's demotion as Chargers' starting QB
Most of us, especially those who have been athletes, would agree that if you are losing your role or job through your own mistake or because someone is just better, so be it.
But to lose your job like Tyrod Taylor - it's just cruel.
On Thursday, Los Angeles Chargers coach Anthony Lynn announced to the media that rookie Justin Herbert will be the team's starting quarterback for the remainder of the season and won't look over Herbert's shoulder.
Herbert would eventually switch to the starting job. After all, the Chargers pulled him to sixth overall in the spring, so the regime was clearly convinced that he would be the quarterback of the future.
That's how he became a starter, and more so, how unfair it is for Taylor.
Taylor led Los Angeles to an opening season win against the Cincinnati Bengals, but suffered broken ribs in the game. Over the next week, in the minutes before the chargers were due to take on the Kansas City Chiefs, Taylor was given a pain reliever injection near the fracture site so he could play.
The effects only last a few hours, so the process is usually done as soon as possible before kick-off.
A punctured lung injury cost Chargers quarterback Tyrod Taylor his starting job. (AP Photo / Aaron Doster)
That shows how much Taylor wanted to be on the field with his teammates to lead the offensive against a division opponent and the reigning Super Bowl champion. Anyone who has dealt with broken ribs can tell you how uncomfortable they are. Add to the contact that soccer players even absorb quarterbacks and he would have been in a lot of pain the day after, though it's fair to ask why sports coaches allowed Taylor to play in the first place. If he needed shots to get through the week of training wearing a non-contact jersey, would he let him play in a game where, in his best interests, he would have been a target of pass rushers?
It all led to a massive, career-changing problem: The team doctor who administered the shot injured one of Taylor's lungs and has not been able to play since.
The NFL Players Association has opened an investigation and has a 60 day window to file a complaint on Taylor's behalf. A league source said things were "on hold" right now as any possible complaint would depend on Taylor suffering material losses - in other words, loss of money due to incentives associated with starts, wins, etc. are.
Complaints can be chaotic and lengthy, which sure means there is room for the chargers to do the right thing and pay Taylor due to some mistake by their medical staff. All of the guaranteed money in his two-year contract came last year.
Immediately after the second week game, Lynn insisted that Taylor would not lose his job. And when the news broke about why he'd missed the Chiefs game, it was completely understandable.
The situation had shades of Brady-Bledsoe from two decades ago: in 2001, Drew Bledsoe, considered the entrenched starter of the New England Patriots, received a week 2 hit from Mo Lewis of the New York Jets that worried him and troubled internal bleeding and a collapsed lung. Backup Tom Brady joined the group and the rest is history.
Will Herbert lead the Chargers to the Super Bowl this season, assuming the COVID-plagued league hits that point? At the moment it seems unlikely they are 3-1 after the late loss to Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers last Sunday, but perhaps this year more than any other year, a team's health and depth will be paramount. If a club can avoid their team facility from becoming a coronavirus hotspot, they may be in a far better position than other franchises (you see Titans).
Taylor does not have the résumés of his contemporaries like his colleagues from 2011, Cam Newton or Andy Dalton. He was a viable starter, a 2015 Pro Bowler who should receive credit for helping to turn the Buffalo Bills from being ridiculed to being a playoff participant. He is commended for his professionalism and Lynn said Thursday that Taylor is the only player to have received a captain vote from 100 percent of his teammates. He will remain the captain all year round.
But he could also have the worst luck any NFL player in the recent past.
After beating the New Orleans Saints in 2017, Taylor was substituted for Nathan Peterman, arguably the worst quarterback to start a game in the last 20 years. Peterman promptly threw five interceptions in the first half. Taylor got his job back at halftime, the Bills finished the season 9-7 (with support from the Cincinnati Bengals) and eventually returned to the postseason.
In 2018, Taylor was with the Cleveland Browns, starting the first three games of the season when he suffered a concussion in the first half of the third week. Rookie # 1 draft pick Baker Mayfield came in and led the Browns to their first win in over a year (they drew with Taylor in Week 1) and Taylor was done.
And now that.
It's not new for NFL coaches to cycle through players so easily, even those they respect and hate, to give the news of a demotion as Lynn did.
But when one player fails because of someone else's mistake, someone else's mistake, when trying to play in pain to be with his team, it is a reminder of how cruel the sport can be.
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