Wally Pipp was a professional baseball player. He played professionally for 19 years, predominantly for the New York Yankees. Wally hit 90 career home runs and 998 RBIs; he was a two time American League home run champion, won the World Series in 1923, and is widely considered to be one of the best power hitters in the “Dead Ball” era.
But nobody knows or cares about any of that. Wally Pipp is now remembered for one thing: being replaced by Lou Gehrig.
That is one hell of a legacy. Now any time an athlete is permanently replaced after suffering an injury, he was not merely replaced…oh no, he was ‘Wally Pipp-ed’.
In the NFL getting Wally Pipp-ed is not that infrequent, especially at the quarterback position. Kyle Boller of the Ravens was Wally Pipp-ed by a strong-armed rookie from the DII school of Delaware by the name of Joe Flacco; the same can be said of Drew Bledsoe when he was Wally Pipp-ed by the unheralded Michigan product Tom Brady. And even more recently we saw Jim Harbaugh allow incumbant former 1st overall pick Alex Smith get Wally Pipp-ed by an uber-athlete out of Nevada named Collin Kaepernick.
After this past weekend we may have all caught a glimpse of Wally Pipp’s continuing legacy when the oft-injured Tony Romo took a rough shot, in a meaningless preseason game, which resulted in a cracked vertabrae. With that Romo is projected to miss 6-10 weeks and thereby opening the door for the 135th pick in the 2016 draft: Dak Prescott.
Prescott, the pride of Mississippi State University, has been the talk of the NFL preseason world. Thus far in three games, Prescott is 39 of 50 passes with 454 yards, 5 passing touchdowns, 2 rushing touchdowns, and zero turnovers. And while critics may continue to discount Prescott with their analysis, saying things such as he cannot throw deep and cannot do straight drop backs; their analysis ultimately counts for nothing when the games are actually being played.
Here is the long and the short of the situation: Tony Romo will be missing significant time for the fourth strait year (herniated disc surgery, two fractured back bones, twice-broken clavicle, and now the broken vertebrae). Romo is also 36 years old. While we see older quarterbacks excel on a weekly basis (i.e. Drew Brees, Tom Brady, etc.), it does not negate history and history dictates that as a player gets older, both production and health begin to significantly decline.
The other thing to remember is that winning cures everything. If Prescott goes 5-1 by playing mistake-free and leaning on the Elliott-driven run game, then the Cowboys would be hard-pressed to rush Romo back to the field. And if Prescott somehow goes 8-2 or 7-3, then the Cowboys may decide that the future is now.
A quick look at the schedule shows that of the first ten teams the Cowboys faced, only four made the playoffs; the Redskins, Bengals, Packers, and Steelers. Of those four teams only the Bengals possess a quality run-stuffing defense and none of those teams were in the top 10 of total defenses last year.
It will no doubt be a challenging road for Prescott, but he has at a minimum shown that he has the ability to compete at a high level. You cannot prepare for the future by living in the past and with Tony Romo once again missing significant action, it would appear that the future is now. And while I have always been a big fan of Romo, it appears to me that…
Mr. Romo sir…
You just got Wally Pipp-ed.