The NFL season begins this week and with it, a lot of golf clubs get put in the closet. Countless NFL stars have taken a liking to the links, but their focus is obviously directed elsewhere during the fall.
These days, it seems like a summer doesn't end without hearing of some great golf stories involving NFL pros. Three years ago it was Tony Romo nearly winning the annual celebrity event in Lake Tahoe, the American Century Championship. There was also the story of Wes Welker taking lessons so he could attempt to beat his then-quarterback, Tom Brady. Last year, it was Peyton Manning sinking a hole-in-one with a random group of strangers, and later teaming with Brady to defeat some businessmen.
So many football players golf that someone really needs to set up an NFL tournament. Straight up stroke play would be great, but Romo would likely take that title every year. So how about a team event? Sure, you could pair buddies like Brady and Manning together, but let's see them go head-to-head like they (sort of) do on the football field – twosomes consisting of NFL teammates.
Here are the NFL golfing tandems that would immediately vie for that crown. (Interesting that they all include quarterbacks; does mental acuteness have something to do with golf?)
Aaron Rodgers and Mason Crosby, Green Bay Packers
Coming in second among active NFL stars at this year's ACC was Rodgers, who also took second in 2013. Yet his kicker may be even better. Rodgers edged Crosby in the 2011 ACC, but Golf Digest's 2009 athlete golfer rankings have Crosby with a 3.6 handicap and Rodgers at 8.1.
Tony Romo and Anyone, Dallas Cowboys
Anyone playing with Romo will have an edge, so it doesn't matter much who he's paired with. The much-maligned Cowboys signal caller is a good enough golfer that he's attempted to qualify for the U.S. Open, and he finished runner-up at the Tahoe event three straight years (2009-11).
Josh Scobee and Blake Bortles, Jacksonville Jaguars
We're not quite sure how good Bortles can be just yet -- on the gridiron or on the golf course -- but we do know this: he swings lefty. Ultimately, though, his skill level doesn't matter much as Scobee is one of the best golfers in the NFL. The kicker was the highest-finishing active NFL player at this year's ACC.
Jay Cutler and Robbie Gould, Chicago Bears
In Romo's absence, Gould took top honors as the highest-placing active NFL player at the 2013 American Century Championship, coming in at 15th overall. The kicker's handicap hovers around 2. Pair him with his team's quarterback – Cutler's handicap is reportedly hovering around 12 – and you get a formidable twosome.
Peyton Manning and Wes Welker, Denver Broncos
In addition to competing with Brady at the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am, Manning played Augusta last summer with coach John Fox and front office boss John Elway. The QB couldn't top Elway – an annual contender at the ACC, who also contended this summer at the Colorado Senior Open – but he carded a 77. That won't win the Masters, but it won't put you in last either. Team him up with a determined Welker, who once took golf lessons so he could better compete against Brady, his former QB, and this Broncos pair should click on the course like it plans to on the field when Welker returns from suspension.
Drew Brees and Mark Ingram, New Orleans Saints
Reports have Brees' handicap hovering in the 3 to 5 range, and his running back reportedly shot a 69 as an eighth grader. If it weren't for football and golf being played during the same season while he was in high school, Ingram might have continued to star in both sports. He does have a pretty good swing:
Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski, New England Patriots
Brady says he first began playing golf as a 2-year-old, and his latest reported handicap, per Golf Digest, was 8. We see Brady as a precision player, not especially long off the tees. For that he can team with his tight end. Gronkowski is a beast, and his golf game has been compared to Happy Gilmore's. That might not seem like a compliment, but remember, Gilmore got good at the end of the movie.
Alex Smith and Ryan Succop, Kansas City Chiefs
Another quarterback-kicker combo. Coming in just behind Rodgers at the 2013 ACC was Succop in 25th, and finishing up in 51st was the Chiefs' quarterback, who also played in the event this year. It's a shame Smith had to leave the golf mecca that is Northern California, but at least he's got a decent golf partner in Kansas City. Succop helped Hickory High to a North Carolina state golf championship in 2003.
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