Around the very dawn of the Big Ten conference in the 1890’s, when the University of Chicago was an elite program coached by Amos Alonzo Stagg, brother schools in the young league would express frustration with Stagg—an All-American player at Yale under Walter Camp—when he would take the field as a quarterback and lead his fledgling squads to victory. 

Later, rules were written, including eligibility limits, to prevent young coaches from taking the field when the breaks were beating their boys in an effort to turn the tide of the game. The NFL, which came around much later, was also forced to write similar rules to stop teams from hiding extra players on their coaching staff and using them when the situations became dire. 

The Denver Broncos felt the brunt end of the rule this week when their request to sign Quality Control Coach Rob Calabrese—a former quarterback at the University of Central Florida—as an emergency quarterback to play this Sunday against the New Orleans Saints, was denied.

All four of the Broncos rostered quarterbacks have been forced to sit out after testing positive for Covid-19. According to reports, the Broncos chose not to isloate any of their signal callers after the outbreak and are apparently paying the price today. 

Long-time NFL reporter Chris Mortensen laid out the situation in on Twitter on Sunday morning. 

Old Man Stagg had a lot of pull with the early Big Ten and may have been able to weasel his way into a game. The Broncos just don’t draw that kind of water in the NFL’s league office.