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An open letter to Graham Mertz

Some thoughts for QB1.

Wisconsin v Northwestern Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Hey Graham,

I hope you’re feeling ok.

I’m sure you are used to hearing some form of checking in like this from your friends, teammates, coaches, parents, etc. But I’m asking you this as a Wisconsin Badgers fan.

While I’d like to think that the hateful comments left to you on social media are a small portion of Badger fans, it is a shocking reminder that some people only see you as a football player, not as a human being.

Obviously, as a starting Division 1 quarterback, you are in a position of incredible notoriety and scrutiny for someone still unable to legally drink alcohol. With the accolades you earned coming in and your confidence and stated desire to bring a national title to Madison, some people might forget that this was your first full season as the starter.

After your first game — a brilliant performance where you threw for five touchdowns in a blowout win over Illinois — Badger fans were on top of the world seeing those promises about to come true this year.

And then the reality of this absurd year hit after you tested positive for COVID-19 — the terrible virus that has impacted countless things more important than college football worldwide — the day after that historic performance. The highs and lows you must have felt is something I can barely wrap my head around. It feels like it must have been a gut punch like no other.

Fortunately, you recovered and were able to return and start again after three weeks of no football. Another win, this time against Michigan, where you once again showed off your great talent and promise.

You know the rest. It’s been a season that is disappointing by fans’ standards and I’m sure you and your team’s lofty standards as well. The disappointment that we have as fans must pale in comparison to yours.

In a year full of gut punches, with life changing all around us, with the cancelation of the season and the herky-jerky attempt to bring it back, with your sudden ascension to starting quarterback after Jack Coan’s foot injury, with the starring debut, with your illness and the cancellation of Badger games, with the struggle of not only losing valuable practice time due to the important safety standards, but having many of your teammates and important offensive targets being out with injuries, to turning in some fans mind from a potential “savior” of Wisconsin football to receiving hateful messages from those same “fans,” it must be tough sometimes to remember to breathe.

I trust that you and your teammates and coaches are working your asses off to improve every day. I know that your stated goal of winning a national title is something that the program is working towards every day. I know that even during tough games and tough results, the love shared between the Badger football and the entire state of Wisconsin is eternal. I know that fall Saturdays are some of my favorite days of the year, and I gotta assume that’s true for y’all as well.

But I also know that you’re a human with emotions and not going to always make every pass. I can’t expect you to. And I’m sure you don’t think many of the “fans” who commented mean things can do what you do either.

And I know that next year when hopefully things return back to “normal” — or at least as normal as normal will be after this year like no other — that I’ll be ready and eager to watch you lead the Badgers as the quarterback and wow us with your talent and ability.

While the season is not over, and you and the rest of the Badgers will get to play in one of college football’s oldest rivalry games for the all-important Axe this Saturday, I know that you’ll be hoping to put a positive spin on this disappointing year.

But I also just want you to know that I hope you — and every other Badger athlete we are lucky enough to watch compete for the school we love — are feeling ok.

Because that’s what matters more than any game.


Bremen Keasey