There's an old adage that says several items of significance occur in groups of three--celebrity deaths, Donald Trump marriages, Jonas brothers, etc. But what about all of the great foursomes that have left indelible marks on sports, music, movies and television? There weren't three Beatles (though Ringo Starr detractors might argue the contrary); there weren't five Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (and no, Splinter doesn't count); and the early '90s Seattle music explosion wasn't brought to you by the infinite supply of plaid-clad, Dr. Marten-wearing bands on MTV. Rather, all of those wonderful relics revolved around the number four.
So it shouldn't be any surprise that the NFL's 2012 quarterback class, which consists of Indianapolis' Andrew Luck, Washington's Robert Griffin III, Miami's Ryan Tannehill and Seattle's Russell Wilson, is proving to be a group that could one day rival the '83 and '04 classes for best ever. Further more, this group could reinforce the notion that the most significant things in life occur in fours, not threes, fives or sevens. While we wait to see just what the 2012 quarterback class is capable of achieving, let's put 'em up against the biggest fours found in the vast land that is pop culture.
4) 2012 QBs as 'Heroes in a Half Shell'
If you watched cartoons anytime between 1988 and 1993, you likely worshiped the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. I did, to the point where I wouldn't re-enact turtles adventures on the playground during recess unless I could be Raphael. This familiarity makes it somewhat easy to fathom Luck, Griffin, Tannehill and Wilson and pizza-scarfing, sewer-dwelling degenerates who just happen to be fantastic at things like skateboarding and martial arts. Luck and Griffin are perceived as the most popular members of the 2012 class, so we'll make them Raphael and Michaelangelo, respectively. Wilson has been the quietest yet most effective thus far, which makes him Leonardo (speaking of, why wasn't this guy the most popular turtle? His main weapons were katanas!). That leaves Ryan Tannehill as Donatello--unarguably the smartest turtle of the lot, yet also the most underrated (I am guessing the purple mask and bo staff didn't help his cause).
3) 2012 QBs meet the 'Seattle Sound' ...
While some of us were watching cartoons within the five-year period mentioned above, others were stealing copies of Nirvana's Nevermind and trying to cop guitar licks from Pearl Jam's Ten. For those of you who fall into the latter category, go ahead and compare the rookie quarterback class with the four forefathers who helped bring '80s sleaze rock to its knees while ushering in a seemingly endless amount of imitators, poseurs, whiners and losers (even this isn't enough to dilute the fondness with which I look back on the '90s). Again, Andrew Luck is the most popular of the group and was drafted first, so we'll give him the Nirvana mantle (he can have it, too--they're my least favorite of the big four). Griffin III followed closely on Luck's heels, and has a little bit more bombast and style, so he gets to be the Pearl Jam of this class. Wilson looks and plays nothing like the other three, so he's the Soundgarden of this group. And Tannehill, like Alice in Chains, experienced a big-time style switch (wide receiver to quarterback, as opposed to AIC's jump from big hair to grungy hard rock) before hitting it big.
2) ... And then they thrash it up some
This one's just for the sake of finding common ground between the Seattle movement of the '90s and the thrash metal movement of the mid-'80s. Luck is the Metallica of the group (both entities came to prominence in the Bay Area and were hyped to kingdom come); Griffin III is Megadeth, since he is closely associated with Luck the way Deth is associated with Metallica (Megadeth frontman Dave Mustaine was previously Metallica's lead guitarist). Wilson probably best represents Slayer since he, like the band's Reign in Blood album, is extremely short. That makes Tannehill the Anthrax of the 2012 quarterback class. Not sure how I feel about that. Let me go spin Spreading the Disease and Among the Living and I'll get back to you.
(Update: Just listened to "Madhouse" about 12 or 13 times in a row. I am now totally fine with sporting the Anthrax of quarterbacks in Miami.)
1) All you need is love ... and a quarterback
History smiles fondly on The Beatles for a reason: it'd absolutely impossible to find another entity that was as cohesive, brilliant, diverse, intuitive and groundbreaking as the Fab Four. You'll never see another movement like that in the world of pop and rock music (bummer for us '80s babies), but you could see that kind of output and excellence turn up in sports, perhaps by way of the 2012 quarterback brigade. In terms of matching them up with Liverpool's finest, it's pretty much a no-brainer to put Luck and Griffin III in the Lennon and McCartney roles, respectively. I am giving Wilson the drum seat here, as Ringo has been tiny, oft-disrespected man for much of his adult life. That leaves Ryan Tannehill with the lead guitar seat, occupied by arguably the best Beatle of the lot: George Harrison. Like George, Tannehill is quiet and workmanlike, but both had/have the capability to come up with something that makes you sit back and say, "Wow." Bonus points awarded for both men marrying blonde models, though George's wife eventually skipped town with Eric Clapton. Hmmm. Maybe that wasn't the best parallel.