Aaron Rodgers finally got his chance to play in 2008, so I'd like to take a quick jaunt down memory lane. I don’t think I’m exaggerating when I say that Aaron Rodgers fell to the 24th pick back in 2005 because he had the taint of Tedford upon him. As the draft hype was entering its final stretch run in the spring of 2005, Rodgers was largely thought of as a top pick at quarterback, and in fact, many projections had San Fransisco taking the local product with the first overall pick.
When the Tedford Curse talk began, I thought it was just another draft smoke screen, with someone posturing for a trade, or sending false signals, through the use of national columnists or commentators, like Len Pasquarelli. After all, teams wouldn’t actually make decisions based on such rationale would they?
And let me be clear. If teams scouted, and I mean actually scouted, a player like Rodgers and saw flaws in his technique or something like that, even flaws that they may have also seen in other Tedford-coached players, that’s one thing. If they reviewed the film and saw that the numbers were inflated by throwing easy routes, and saw that he struggled with “NFL throws”—fine. But that’s not what this was. The worst thing I read about Rodgers, other than the vague fear of association with Tedford, was that he was “robotic”. If you play like Joey Harrington, you are “robotic”; if you play like Peyton Manning, you are “consistent” and “precision-like”.
As for the whole Tedford hysteria, it was overblown, even at the time. (And since I'm pointing out old articles discussing a Tedford curse and other such voodoo, I should also point out that Jeffrey Chadiha wrote a more reasoned piece at the time.) I mean, Tedford got credit/blame for BOTH Carr and Harrington in 2002? What, was he dating one while seeing the other on the side? It seems to me like there was a lot of "Norv Turner produces great running backs" hype going on here, where there are some truths, some half-truths, and some circumstantial stuff. So I cross-referenced Tedford’s actual coaching career with the “Tedford Five”.
As it turns out, Tedford only coached David Carr when Carr was a freshman reserve, and then Tedford moved on from Fresno State to become offensive coordinator at Oregon in 1998. A sample size of five is small enough, but there’s no way Carr should have been on the list. Tedford coached Akili Smith for one season as offensive coordinator (his first at Oregon), and Kyle Boller for one season as head coach at Cal. Boller was fairly widely considered a reach based on “potential” at the time of the pick. He wasn’t that good under Tedford in his final season at Cal, but that was an improvement over what he had been. I don’t see how you blame Tedford because Billick fell in love with Boller’s arm strength and turned him into a first round pick. Which leaves the guys that Tedford worked with for multiple seasons—Dilfer, Harrington, and now, Aaron Rodgers. I'm not here to tell you that Trent Dilfer was great or anything, but on the spectrum of first round picks at quarterback, he is a far cry from both the best and the worst--he did stick around for a long time. And as for Joey Harrington, well, he wasn't very good, and he got lots of opportunity to prove it.
It took four seasons for Rodgers to get his chance. As it turns out, a guy who carved up USC in 2004 might have been worth the top overall pick in the 2005 draft after all. I don’t know how Rodgers' career will turn out on the spectrum of good to great quarterbacks. He's not much like an Oregon Duck (or a witch), though, and he’s got a pretty good chance of staying afloat in the NFL for awhile.