Around the Water Cooler: The NFL and the Ivy League

Published by Robert S Samuels on September 07, 2011 at 3:11AM

School’s back in session, and so are a bunch of Ivy sports. Others–like football–will have to wait a little while before opening the book on the 2011 campaign. With no intra-league contests this week, some of the biggest Ivy news was made in a place where few Ancient Eight athletes venture: the sphere of professional sports. We’ll sort out what’s going on in another edition of Around the Water Cooler.

Ivy Leaguers have famously made a habit of dominating many fields. Sadly, professional sports just isn’t one of them.

The NFL is evidence of that: other than a few notable exceptions (See Matt Birk '98 and Ryan Fitzpatrick '05), the league has been harsh to Ancient Eight grads.

This weekend saw another round of Ivy casualties. The Cowboys cut former safety Collin Zych '11, who captained the Crimson last year and helped anchor its defense.

Former Yale fullback Shane Bannon followed suit. When the Chiefs selected him last year, Bannon hadn’t really distinguished himself much in competition, but impressed scouts with his build and speed. He was, at the time, the only Yalie in the NFL. But that gig didn’t last long, as he too was given the ax over the weekend.

Thankfully, not all is lost. Cornell’s Bryan Walters is still on the San Diego Chargers’ squad. And, as Sports Illustrated writer Peter King enlightened us, Bannon’s dismissal may actually be a blessing in disguise. Now, King wrote yesterday, “he can get back to the work of a politically conscious being at a time when there seem to be too few young people who care about the issues of the day.” Gotta love the boy-this-generation-is-oh-so-screwed-up mentality.

King pointed out a hefty list of credentials that distinguish Bannon in the political arena.  He went to Yale, likes CNN, and, more legitimately, wrote his thesis on social media and Presidential campaigns.

While the world of professional sports has been (relatively) ablaze with Ivy news, things are just heating up in Ancient Eight play. Football doesn’t start for another 10 days, but naturally, people are lining up with their predictions for the 2011 champ. The early favorite is Penn, the two-time defending champion, with Harvard a close second.  But perhaps an upset is brewing, as this year the Quakers will have to travel down to Harvard Stadium in what may end up being the effective Ivy championship.

Regardless, it should be an exciting year of Ivy League football, especially since each of the eight teams returns its quarterback. In fact, the New York Times has preemptively declared it, “The Year of the Quarterback in the Ivy League.”