This is the tragedy of Christian Hackenberg.
It was day two of the 2016 NFL Draft. The Atlanta Falcons were on the clock at pick 50, when suddenly there was a trade. Bill O’Brien from the Houston Texans made a deal to leapfrog the New York Jets. The Texans took control of the 50th pick. All indications were that O’Brien would be selecting his former pupil from Penn State.
Christian Hackenberg Caught the “Yips” During His Time With the New York Jets
The rest is history. The Texans took a pass on the strong-armed phenom. Instead, they selected center Nick Martin from Notre Dame. Hackenberg would fall to the Jets at pick 51. He would go on to throw as many passes that day, as he would the rest of his career in a Jets uniform.
Hackenberg looked like everything you’d want in an NFL quarterback. He was 6’4″ and weighed 230 pounds. He was agile and had a cannon for an arm. He was loyal to his school, staying even after Penn State lost scholarships and their coach to the NFL. Most importantly, Hackenberg had lots of success in O’Brien’s pro-style offense. He was loaded with potential.
So, what happened?
Hackenberg got the “yips.” The “yips” is a term most often used to describe baseball players when they lose the ability to perform basic tasks. Short distance throws become cringe-worthy. The simple becomes profoundly difficult. Chuck Knoblauch and Steve Sax‘s all-star career’s were most famously destroyed by the “yips.” The “yips” are totally unexplained and come out of nowhere. Former New York Newsday reporter, Rich Cimini, reported being ten yards away from a play and being hit by one of Hack’s errant throws.
This kind of bad luck would be a surprise if it didn’t happen to the Jets, but it’s just the Jets being “Jetsie.”
Now, Hackenberg is John Gruden‘s problem. Gruden loved him when he participated in his quarterback camp. Hackenberg was dissecting plays and describing coverages with ease. Gruden loved his cannon arm and agility. They were the same attributes that led Hackenberg to be a second-round selection.
The “yips,” are still undefeated. Hackenberg’s story is short. His time with the Jets is over as he’s now with the Oakland Raiders. The Jets will receive a seventh-round pick from the Raiders if Hackenberg makes the team. The mystery of the “yips” will live on, but just be glad it’s not your favorite quarterback or second baseman that contracted them. It’s probably beneficial for Hackenberg to take his talents elsewhere as a change of scenery may help.
There’s still no cure for the “yips.”