South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier said something that will go down as the dumb statement of the day, the week, the month and maybe the year: Alabama could compete with -- and defeat -- some lower-echelon NFL teams.
“Alabama, gosh, they look like they could beat a couple of those NFL teams that I've watched on Sundays,” Spurrier said on the Dan Patrick Show. “I think a lot of the oddsmakers out there, that usually know what's going on, I'd guess Alabama would be favored by a little bit.”
OK, where to begin with this.
Spurrier's statement doesn't outrage me, but it is an insult to the real football professionals who make football their lives. It also shows a profound ignorance of how pro football works.
The worst team in the NFL is Kansas City, and the Chiefs would beat Alabama by 50 points. It wouldn't be competitive.
LeCharles Bentley, who was a damn good player for the Cleveland Browns, tweeted to me: "The mental aspect aside, most collegiate athletes aren't physically ready for NFL level. Even elite [college players] will struggle."
Spurrier should know better. After all, he did coach in the NFL, if that's what you want to call what he did. Hell, Spurrier couldn't even compete in the NFL.
Two main issues. The first is physical. The daily pounding of practices and games, the year-round weight training and mini-camps, add incredible strength and bulk to the frame of NFL players. NFL players also become nastier because it's a business. This creates a gritty, meaner player.
The biggest problem with Spurrier's claim is that any NFL player will tell you the biggest difference between college and the pros is the mental game. The only thing mentally tougher than being an NFL player is maybe a competitve fighter.
The sport is practically year-round with maybe a four-week period beginning in late June that NFL players take it down a notch. Other than that, it's constant pressure. The number of players that cracked under that pressure from Ryan Leaf to David Carr to Joey Harrington to Courtney Brown to Charles Rogers to JaMarcus Russell to Wendell Bryant to Vernon Gholston. The list is extensive. Thousands and thousands of players who made it in college but failed in the NFL.
College football is tough.
The NFL is absolutely, over-the-top brutal.
In fact, maybe the only NFL team that Alabama could beat would be one coached by Spurrier.