Sep 15, 2013; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Texans fans dressed as the Hulk watch a replay in the fourth quarter against the Tennessee Titans at Reliant Stadium. The Houston Texans beat the Tennessee Titans 30-24 in overtime. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

NFL Quarterback Superhero Comparisons: Part Three

The comparisons between top NFL quarterbacks and our favorite superheroes continues with part three.  Who is up next?

To see the previous lists, click below.

Part One

Part Two

Tony Romo – Ant-Man

Dec 15, 2013; Arlington, TX, USA; Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo (9) walks off the field as photographers capture images after the game against the Green Bay Packers at AT&T Stadium. The Packers beat the Cowboys 37-36. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

Contrary to popular belief, not every person with amazing abilities embraces the idea of being a hero or a villain.  Hank Pym was an ordinary boy from Nebraska just trying to find his niche in the world and a use for his gifted mind.  Unfortunately the devastating loss of his wife sent him over the edge, eventually leading to his diagnosis of bipolar disorder.  Yet that did not stop him from applying his genius to the betterment of humanity.  His greatest breakthrough was the discovery of special particles that could alter the size of a human body from skyscraper down to lowly ants.  That is how he drew the title Ant-Man.  Still, for a time Pym wanted no part of the bigger fight against evil, desiring only to pursue his explorations in science.  This has led to a very grey history involving great triumphs as a hero but also darker moments that include creating the villainous machine Ultron.  Tony Romo endured a similar upbringing.  A small-town kid from Illinois, he came to the NFL as an undrafted free agent.  It didn’t take long for his talent to find him a job and soon bigger demands were made of him until he became starting quarterback of the Dallas Cowboys.  What followed has been perhaps the most bipolar career in league history.  Every moment of brilliance Romo has is seemingly followed by a catastrophic mistake.  He plays big in some games and small in others.  There is no black or white to his career.  Like Ant-Man, he has begun to embrace his role as a leader and exudes more self-confidence.  Whether that is enough to vanquish the demons of his past is still to be answered.

Joe Flacco – Mr. Fantastic

Oct 13, 2013; Baltimore, MD, USA; Baltimore Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco (5) runs with the ball during the game against the Green Bay Packers at M&T Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports

One would think being the leader of a team of superheroes makes a man ridiculously popular with fans.  Strangely that is not the case for Reed Richards, also known as Mr. Fantastic of the famed Fantastic Four.  While teammates The Thing, The Human Torch and The Invisible Woman garner the most popularity, Richards embraced his role as leader with both his genius intellect and uncanny stretching ability that allows him to reach heights, lengths and widths no other being alive can imagine.  Nothing about his fight against evil is flashy, but he always seems to do enough to get the job done while letting others take the glory, even when it involves his own personal demons.  Baltimore Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco has lived that life since entering the NFL in 2008.  Always overlooked in favor of longtime stars Ray Lewis, Ed Reed and Ray Rice, the gangly 6’6″ kid out of Delaware embraced the lack of spotlight in favor of winning.  It is a role he took to the mountaintop, quietly leading his more flamboyant teammates to a championship in 2012.  Despite this accomplishment, Flacco, like Mr. Fantastic, remains in the background, content to win rather than seek glory.

Eli Manning – Captain Marvel

Dec 22, 2013; Detroit, MI, USA; New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning (10) gives a play in the huddle during the fourth quarter against the Detroit Lions at Ford Field. Giants beat the Lions 23-20. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

What seems less heroic and more benign than a child?  Heroes are required to protect children, not the other way around.  That apparently wasn’t good enough for Joseph “Billy” Batson.  After losing his parents to murder and his inheritance to his uncle, Billy seemed lost to history until he was saved by a powerful wizard named Shazam.  Impressed with his selflessness, optimism and compassion, the old magician thus selects Batson to become Captain Marvel.  At the mere utter of the word “SHAZAM” Billy is struck by a thunderbolt, transforming him into a full grown adult with a wide range of powers from strength and speed to hypnosis, lightning and resistance to magic.  The birth of the Eli Manning fans know today happened a lot like a transformation does for Captain Marvel.  For years he was just the younger brother of Peyton, not worth the attention of the national media beyond that.  Then, suddenly, the boy became a man in 2007, leading the New York Giants with a relentless optimism and clutch play that eventually landed them a Super Bowl championship.  One might say that personality persists for Manning.  One season he seems like a young child in over his head, and the next a Pro Bowler.  Frustrating to be sure for fans, but no less exciting to marvel.

Philip Rivers – Jonah Hex

Dec 29, 2013; San Diego, CA, USA; San Diego Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers (17) prior to the game against the Kansas City Chiefs at Qualcomm Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

Cowboys were heroes once but no one would really categorize them as potential superheroes.  Jonah Hex broke that mold.  Raised by Apache Indians and survivor of the Civil War, he became a ruthless but remarkably skilled bounty hunter known best for his disfigured face and incredible marksmanship.  No matter how many times opponents seem to put him down, he comes back a little more powerful than before.  One of the great tragedies of his life is betrayal, either by family or inadvertently by him that leads to more death and suffering for others.  Yet it is an iron will that drives him to seek a better path and help others.  Philip Rivers broke up a family through no doing of his own the moment he joined the San Diego Chargers.  His arrival led to the departure of Drew Brees, which in turn revealed the inner turmoil between former head coach Marty Schottenheimer and former GM A.J. Smith.  On top of that his often outspoken and boisterous personality didn’t sit well with many people  All of it overshadowed how good of a quarterback he is.  Despite limited athleticism, Rivers used pinpoint accuracy and a gunslinger’s mentality to five Pro Bowls.  Like Hex, he was left for dead in 2012 as a declining quarterback, only to resurrect himself a year later to get the Chargers back to the playoffs.  It just goes to show what one cowboy can do with a gun on his right hip.

Jay Cutler – Deadpool

Sep 22, 2013; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Chicago Bears quarterback Jay Cutler (6) runs the ball past Pittsburgh Steelers defensive end Brett Keisel (99) during the second half at Heinz Field. The Bears won the game, 40-23. Mandatory Credit: Jason Bridge-USA TODAY Sports

Confident, brash, misunderstood and a little crazy are often the traits attached to Deadpool.  Once a villainous mercenary named Wade Wilson, he was characterized by his rather aloof attitude, unpredictability and relentless mouth.  Eventually he decided to become a hero, all the while taking rather insane risks that put his body in harms way and at the same time somehow maintain a degree of mystery about his personal life and dark origins.  When things look bad with him, they look really bad.  Yet, when asked to save the world, Deadpool answers the bell in his own unique and sometimes beautiful way.  There can be no debate that when he entered the league Jay Cutler was disliked by a lot of people.  He didn’t like the media, often brushed off fans and had a cockiness to him that rubbed many the wrong way.  Through the years, trials, hits and lessons his personality has shifted.  Embracing fatherhood and responsibility as a leader for the Chicago Bears has made him more likeable to the fans.  At the same time he can’t stop taking crazy risks with the football because of how much he trusts his arm and his toughness to take the vicious shots that go with them.  Like Deadpool, not every risk is met with success, but he always gets up, dusts himself off and keeps going.

Tags: Eli Manning Jay Cutler Joe Flacco Philip Rivers Tony Romo

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