Why the NFL Seems Obsessed With Hand Size, a Measurement That Doesn’t Matter

Potential No. 1 overall pick Joe Burrow's hand size was measured at 9 inches at the combine

Why the NFL Seems Obsessed With a Measurement That Doesn't Matter
Joe Burrow interviews during the first day of the 2020 NFL Combine. (Alika Jenner/Getty)
By Evan Bleier / February 25, 2020 2:23 pm

After the size of his mitts came out earlier this week when they measured nine inches at the NFL combine, there was much hand-wringing about whether potential No. 1 overall pick Joe Burrow was still worthy of a top selection.

That’s because there is a belief among some NFL executives and pundits that quarterbacks with small hands struggle to grip the ball, particularly when the weather turns cold and wet later in the season. Among some, there is also a belief that a better grip afforded by larger hands allows a QB to get more revolutions on the ball, according to the Guardian

But, as an ESPN piece points out, though the size of a quarterback’s hands is a top offseason talking point thanks to the NFL combine, it is a measurement that rarely matters once the season starts.

“While no one is arguing that a strong grip isn’t important for quarterbacks, there is no biological or kinetic proof that hand size correlates in any way to hand strength,” writes ESPN’s David Fleming. “Even with hands the size of catcher’s mitts, Brett Favre still fumbled at an alarming rate (166 times, more than any QB in NFL history and good for 0.55 per game), far greater than that of his replacement, Aaron Rodgers (0.43), whose hands are a quarter-inch smaller.”

Either way, though he has nothing to worry about, Burrow had a funny response to all the hand hoopla.

“Considering retirement after I was informed the football will be slipping out of my tiny hands,” Burrow tweeted after the hand-size news leaked. “Please keep me in your thoughts.”

As for Burrow and his future in the NFL, he’s just ready to play — even if it is for the Bengals (who haven’t won a playoff game since 1991).

“I’m not going to not play,” Burrow told a throng of reporters at the NFL combine on Tuesday. “I’m a ballplayer. Whoever takes me, I’m going to go show up.”

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