The Browning Nagle of American Presidents

Bush-obamaI was recently musing about the seriously flawed presidency of Barack Obama. 

I remember voting for him with a vengeance after suffering through eight years of his predecessor's utter disregard for constitutional rights and common sense. But, since then, like many others who formed Obama's base, I've grown frustrated by his Kerry-like flip-flopping. 

Also being something of a sports junkie, I began thinking of athletes from football, baseball and yes, even golf (which is a game and not a sport, BTW) whose careers paralleled The One's. But, I didn't stop there. I also thought of jocks whose accomplishments (or, lack thereof) reminded me of Obama's predecessors: W and Slick Willy.

See what you think:

– Obama is the Browning Nagle of American presidents. For those of you who don't recall Nagel, the Jets drafted him from the University of Louisville and immediately anointed him as the 'the next Joe Namath'. Gifted with a canon for a throwing arm but hampered by a brick for a brain, Nagel quickly flamed out after a season or two, and was never heard from again.

In thinking about the past three years, I believe Obama's made nearly as many ‘on-field’ mistakes as Nagel. He's clearly a gifted intellectual, but lacks the spine to make the tough decisions needed of a leader in times of crisis. In my opinion, he'll have to stage a serious fourth quarter rally to win re-election and not end up like Nagel: a forgotten wanna-be.

– W is the Herb Score of American presidents. For those of you who don't recall Score, he entered Major League baseball with a 100 mph fastball and pinpoint control (insert Score's bio). He was literally unstoppable until struck by a line drive that knocked him unconscious and out of baseball for the rest of the season. When he returned, Score was never the same and disappeared from America's pastime within a few years.

Like Score, W enjoyed one of the great rookie seasons in recent memory and was positively Lincolnesque in his immediate post 9/11 statements. But, like Score's line drive to head, something unhinged W's thinking and he set upon an unprecedented course of rack and ruin (i.e. Missing the opportunity to nab bin Laden in the first few months after the Twin Towers attack, using a total lie to justify invading Iraq (WMDs), totally ignoring New Orleans in the aftermath of Katrina and, of course, de-regulating Wall Street and setting the stage for the 2008 crash that reverberates to this day). In fact, it's not a stretch to say that no single American president has done more to damage America's international image and reputation than W.

– Bill Clinton is the Tiger Woods of presidents. Since you all know Tiger, I won't recount his off-the-course hijinks. Nor will I call attention to Clinton's infamous “I did not have sex with that woman” statement. Clinton will be remembered as a gifted politician who accomplished tremendous things but whose image is permanently tarnished. The same holds true for Woods. He was a great golfer who allowed his personal putter to ruin his legacy.

So, there you have it. Do you agree with my comparisons? If not, to whom would you liken Obama, W and Slick Willy? I'd like to hear your thoughts. (Note: I'd suggest a follow-up blog offering jock analogies for H.W., Reagan and Carter but, alas, I fear my Millennial audience won't know who those presidents were.)"

8 thoughts on “The Browning Nagle of American Presidents

  1. I don’t remember any hoopla surrounding Nagle. Rather, the story (as I remember it) has Jet executive Ron Wolf targeting a little-known QB with an unpronounceable name — a five-letter last name with a “VR” that sounded like an “RV” — before Wolf left for Green Bay, where he selected said QB. I can’t imagine a QB taken out of Louisville in the second round being the subject of hype, unless, of course, he was once a better prospect whose horizons had been dampened by off-the-field issues.
    As for Todd, neither he nor Namath threw all that much in college. He was, however, the number-six overall pick in his draft and the first QB taken. And, coming from a school known for its QBs, that’s a lot different than Nagle in the second round from Louisville.
    Finally, your reference to Jerry Kenny has left me wondering about your bona fides as a Met fan. I’m beginning to suspect that somewhere — perhaps in a basement closet — you have an autographed Horace Clarke baseball.

  2. I beg to differ, Ghost (but, my memory banks are rapidly failing, so who knows for sure?). Nagle received tons of pre-Jets hoopla and, with his canon arm, was likened to Joe Willie from the get go. And, you’re dead wrong about Richard Todd. Todd was purely a running quarterback at Alabama who was never seen as another Joe Willie. Yes, he was drafted while number 12 was still on the squad, nut no one ever expected number 14 to light up the airwaves the way Joe did. As for Pelrey, maybe. But, the better baseball example may be Bobby Murcer and Jerry Kenny, who the Yankees anointed as the heirs apparent to Messrs. Mantle and Maris, respectively. Murcer had a decent career, but was no Mantle. And Kenny faded into oblivion.

  3. Nagle was actually a second-round pick who arrived with little fanfare, tore up the league in his first start and then faded into oblivion. Considering the low expectations which accompanied his selection in the draft, I wouldn’t equate him with disappointment; rather, that was the proverbial cream rising to the top (and vice versa).
    Two better examples would be Richard Todd and Mike Pelfrey, respectively. Todd, who, like Namath, went to Alabama, was taken in the first round while the latter was still wearing the green and white, and was widely seen as the heir apparent. While he boasted all the physical tools, he had none of Namath’s mental toughness. Ditto for Pelfrey, a first-round pick who has been the quintessential disappointment, never winning a big game and being consistently outperformed by lesser lights. To me, that’s Obama: The hope and potential of the pedigree offset by the lack of intestinal fortitude to get it done. Suffice to say, Obama wouldn’t have lasted through one assignment-sheet meeting.

  4. How cool is that? I’m glad to see that Browning landed on his feet, so to speak. Another NY Jets success story to be sure.