This is a big victory for the little guys.
The Seattle Seahawks named 5-foot-11, 206-pound rookie Russell Wilson their starting quarterback for the 2012 season opener.
This is an unlikely emergence, considering that Wilson's size made him drop to the third round in the draft.
Wilson had an impressive pre-season when he went 40-for-63, 536 yards, five touchdowns and one interception (110.5 passer rating). His play caused head coach Pete Carroll to go with the rookie from Wisconsin over expensive free agent acquisition Matt Flynn whose preseason performance was rather flat. Flynn went 28-for-39, 204 yards, one touchdown, and one interception (81.6 passer rating).
In the United States, the average male height is 5-11. Even in football, it's not uncommon to have players that size. Redskins' player Brandon Banks is only 5-foot-7 and 153 pounds. However, at quarterback, it is quite unusual.
Of all the starting quarterbacks last season, none was listed at less than six feet tall. Of course, Drew Brees, the 6-foot Saints quarterback has dominated the league, establishing the single-season record for most passing yards in 2011. And then there's Michael Vick, the 6-foot Eagles passer who has displayed flashes of greatness over his career, at least when he is healthy enough to stay on the field.
But those two are slightly taller than Wilson. And they both qualify as anomalies. The prototypical NFL starting quarterback is six feet, four inches tall, and weighs 215 pounds. It is no coincidence that the two quarterbacks with the longest active streak for consecutive starts – the Chargers' Philip Rivers and the Giants' Eli Manning – meet those standards.
Quarterbacks need to be at least that size to handle the amount of physical punishment they receive from huge defensive linemen and blitzing linebackers, not to mention the fact that it's difficult to pass the ball over most defensive linemen once they get their hands raised. And with the vast majority of offensive lineman being more than 6-feet tall, passers need to be at that height so that they can see downfield.
Even though there are some football minds that would disagree, that's what most of them believe. So, Wilson now has an opportunity as well as a challenge. The opportunity of being the Seahawks' starting quarterback on opening day, and the challenge of proving the football world wrong.