Remember all the talk before the NFL Draft about how Brandon Weeden's advanced age would work against him? Probably it did.
But post-draft? Now that Weeden has an employer, his age suddenly becomes a plus.
Weeden is a 28-year-old rookie quarterback with the Cleveland Browns. But he's no ordinary rookie.
Only four offensive players in the Browns' training camp are older than the 28-year-old Weeden.
Which means leadership will come much easier and much more quickly for Weeden.
So says Roger Staubach, who was 27 years old when he made his NFL debut and 29 before Tom Landry handed him the Dallas Cowboy huddle for good.
“Being a leader as a quarterback is really important,” Staubach said from his Dallas office the other day. “His age will work for him there.
“That's the position where you can really take advantage of it. That's a position that's more than throwing the ball. It's leading the team.”
The Browns have yet to name Weeden their starter, but that's considered a formality. Cleveland coach Pat Shurmur said he could name a starter anytime between now and the exhibition opener next week.
And Weeden not only is talking like the leader, he's being treated as the leader. Weeden has taken the majority of snaps through the first two days of practice, the Cleveland media swarms Weeden at every chance and Weeden talks about his new teammates the way he talked about his OSU comrades the previous two seasons, building up receivers be they proven or not.
In 1969, Staubach joined a Cowboy team with established players like Ralph Neely, Walt Garrison, Lance Rentzel and Bob Hayes. But Staubach was older than them all.
“Made a big difference,” Staubach said. “I was their age; they looked up to me. It's a positive thing to have that. You're going to be quarterbacking guys, as a rookie, that are younger than you. I don't think it'll work against him in the long run.”
The Browns also drafted Alabama tailback Trent Richardson, third overall. According to the Cleveland Plain Dealer, only three NFL teams ever opened the season starting rookies at both quarterback and tailback: the 2008 Ravens (Joe Flacco/Ray Rice), the 1968 expansion Bengals (Dewey Warren, Paul Robinson) and the '69 Cowboys (Staubach/Calvin Hill). None of the duos lasted the whole season. Staubach was subbing for the injured Craig Morton.
Staubach didn't get the Cowboy QB job full time until 1971. Landry was slow to commit to an inexperienced quarterback, even someone as talented and mature as Staubach, a Naval Academy graduate who spent five years in service to the country before going to the NFL.
Those days are gone. Ballyhooed rookie quarterbacks now almost always are thrown in the fire.
And Staubach said Weeden's age will not be a negative. He said Weeden can have as long a career as he wants. Staubach played 11 seasons and was chased away not by old age, but by too many concussions.
“If he can throw it at 28, he's still going to be firing that thing at 38,” Staubach said. “Quarterbacks can stay around quite a while … if he's a fitness guy and stays in shape, he can play a long time in the NFL. He'll get a full NFL career.”
In some ways, a fuller NFL career. Weeden is an old-pro rookie. What was a curse before the draft now becomes a blessing.
Berry Tramel: Berry can be reached at (405) 760-8080 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. He can be heard Monday through Friday from 4:40-5:20 p.m. on The Sports Animal radio network, including FM-98.1. You can also view his personality page at newsok.com/berrytramel.