“F” Favre

So, when did Brett Favre actually become a woman?

Watching him decide to retire (or not) over the past few season has been like watching my wife decide where to put a picture on the wall, except that she can come to a decision and stick with it better that he does.

I’ve never seen a male with a greater sense of entitlement while still maintaining the ability to constantly change his mind.  Hey Brett, I went through 10,000 hours worth of Sportscenter bemoaning your retirement or the possibility thereof for the last couple of years.  I’m tired of it.  Go away already.

This guy feels that he, because he is Brett Favre, can expect his fans and former team to accept anything that he suggests.  Obviously it is not in the Packers’ best interest to bring him back at this point.  They have committed to Aaron Rodgers.  How could it possibly be in their interest to screw the quarterback that they have identified as the future of the club?  According to Peter King,  the packers offered to bring him back earlier this off season when rumors first began, but he flatly said that he did not want to return.

Favre, howver, expects to come back one way or another.  The Packers own his rights, and have rightly decided to move on without him due to his retirement, but now that Brett wants to come back he is whining like a woman that he should be traded if they do not want to play him.  The packers reportedly have said, and rightly so, “Screw that!”  Why would it ever be their best interest to allow him to play for a team that they might have to meet during the season?  That would be stupid, but Brett feels that they owe him this.  Right.

I hope that they bring him back as a back-up (the prep squad would be even better), and put a gag order on the whole team (a la Bill Parcels).  That way every time he whines to the media about it, they can just fine him and get part of his salary back. 

Allow me to join the chorus, “We don’t want you, Brett.  Go back home to your goats.”

Reaction to ESPN’s Top 10 Running Backs List

Due to hectic events, I have been a little remiss in writing lately.  I hope to make up for some of that with this hot sports opinion.

 

ESPN has published a list of the top running backs of all time, and it is a big steaming pile of horse s—.  You know it must be the slowest sports time of the year when they have nothing better to dredge up than the second most tired argument in sports (the first being the Pete Rose Hall of Fame argument)- the ‘who was better Emmitt or Barry’ argument.  I am going to give them the benefit of the doubt and assume that the purpose of this article is simply to create interest through ‘shock value.’

 

Here is a short version of the list:

1. JIM BROWN
Career: Upon retiring before ’66 season, the Browns’ RB was all-time leader in rushing yards (12,312), all-purpose yards (15,549) and touchdowns (126).

2. BARRY SANDERS
Career: Sudden retirement in ’99 came with the Lions’ RB trailing only Walter Payton on the all-time rushing list. Ran for more than 1,500 yards in a season five times.

3. WALTER PAYTON
Career: Played on mediocre Bears teams until late in career but retired as leading rusher (16,726) in history.

4. EMMITT SMITH
Career: Smith, who played 13 seasons for Dallas and two for Arizona, took over as all-time rushing leader in ’02. His 164 rushing touchdowns are the most in history.

5. GALE SAYERS
Career: Knee problems forced him to retire in ’71 after seven seasons with the Bears. At 33, he was the youngest person selected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

6. LADAINIAN TOMLINSON
Career: The Chargers’ RB has at least 1,200 rushing yards and 50 receptions in each of his first seven seasons.

7. MARSHALL FAULK
Career: Began career with Indianapolis in ’94 but was traded to St. Louis in ’99 and became cornerstone of “Greatest Show on Turf.” First running back in history to lead his team in receptions in five different seasons.

8. O.J. SIMPSON
Career: The Bills’ great became the first player in NFL history to rush for 2,000 yards in a season when he gained 2,003 in ’73.

9. LENNY MOORE
Credentials: One of Johnny Unitas’ key weapons for the Colts, he scored a touchdown in 18 straight regular-season appearances between ’63 and ’65.

10. ERIC DICKERSON
Credentials: Reached 10,000 rushing yards in 91 games (the fastest pace in history) and rushed for 2,105 yards in ’84. Played for Rams, Colts, Falcons and Raiders.

 

To distance themselves from the ridiculousness of this list, they have been upfront in giving credit/assessing blame to these authors of the list Don Shula, Marv Levy, Dan Reeves, Robert Smith, Jerry Richardson, Floyd Reese, Jack Bushofsky and Emmitt Thomas.

 

I do not have a problem with Jim Brown being at the top of the list.  What he did during the time he was in the league, and when he did it compared with the other running backs of his era, makes his stand out above the rest on the list.

 

I start having problems at number two on the list.  Emmitt Smith is at number four.  I will deal with the tiring Barry/Emmitt argument first.  I do not want to hear about Barry’s self-truncated career any more.  He was a great back, but his career does not compare with Emmitt’s because he threw a fit and quit.  We do not know if he would have had a better career that Emmitt, because,… he quit.  There is no data, and it is not fair to project ‘could have been’ data to an argument such as this.  Barry should be on the list, but I put him at number five.  All of you Barry lovers need to let it go and realize that his early retirement actually hurt his legacy.

 

The authors of this article defend the list by saying that Walter Payton was great while playing most of his career on bad teams.  On the contrary, they spend a whole section of the article backhandedly complimenting Emmitt and explaining his position at number four as a result of the fact that he played with other stars, such as Troy Aikman and Michael Irvin, together with a great offensive line who assisted in making Emmitt good.

 

How about this argument?  It is easier for a great running back to rack up yards on a bad team than a good team.  A bad team will place a larger part of the load on a great running back’s shoulders in order to keep from exposing the other bad parts of the offense.  On the other hand, a player like Emmitt could lose carries to other great players in his offense.  It seems worse than wrong to penalize a player for being on a great team.  The Cowboys played a #1 schedule against some of the best teams (including being in the NFC East) in the league for much of Emmitts career.  Payton and Sanders played much easier schedules in a much weaker division.  Check out Sanders’ performance in games that counted.  He could turn in a nice 25 yard performance with the season on the line.  Emmitt never did this.

 

Emmitt closed the deal also.  He not only set the all-time rushing record and the all-time rushing touchdowns record, he carried the Cowboys to three Superbowl victories in four years.  The article curiously gives some numbers, but does not just lay them out for consumption.  This is, of course, because the numbers do not back up the opinions espoused by the authors.  They oddly say, “Sudden retirement in ’99 came with the Lions’ RB trailing only Walter Payton on the all-time rushing list. Ran for more than 1,500 yards in a season five times”, regarding Barry Sanders.  When it comes time for the quick blurb about Emmitt it says, “Smith, who played 13 seasons for Dallas and two for Arizona, took over as all-time rushing leader in ’02. His 164 rushing touchdowns are the most in history.”  Dallas’ playoff record and Superbowl victories are not mentioned.  Of course, looking pretty as you run down the field is much more important than actually putting skins on the wall.

 

While I believe there is a legitimate debate near the top of the list, it begins to fall apart after Emmitt.  I am truly tired of seeing Gale Sayers at the top of these lists.  He is the biggest example of ‘good old days syndrome’ in sports.  In truth, if he had played in the last few years, we would not have even made the Hall of Fame.  His numbers compare with someone like Terrell Davis, who also had a very good short career, but does not deserve to be in the Hall of Fame.  Unfortunately, the argument that he is in the Hall of Fame is used to bolster many backs such as Davis who do not deserve to be there.

 

Seeing the rest of this list only underscores how difficult it is to have a great and sustained career at running back in the NFL.  Of course, Dickerson belongs on the list and much higher than #10.  He belongs in the top five in my book easily.  Compared with some of the others on the list, and listening to names that arises when the best backs of all time are listed, he may be the most underrated of the greatest running backs in the history of the game.

 

Even though he as a bastard and a killer, O.J. belongs on the list, and I put him at #6.  He was a undeniably the best back of his era.  Faulk probably deserve to be on the list, but he was as much a receiver as a rusher.  He changed the way the position was played, and he has his skins in the wall.  I put him at #7.

 

I’ really like Ladainian Tomlinson, and agree that if he continues to put up number even close to those he has so far, he may end up as the greatest back in the history of the game.  The point is, he has not done it yet, and as a result, I have to give him an incomplete, and cannot include him on the list.  He has already had one ‘career ending’ injury, and was hurt at the end of the last two seasons.  It is too early to give him a place on the list.  When I was in college, as a history major, we talked about the concept of history.  We were told that it is best not to write history until about twenty years after the fact.  This allows time for personal politics and such to wash away, and just leave the facts.  The same goes for this list.  We should at least allow the player’s career to end before evaluating it.

 

Lenny Moore?  Oh yeah, his name just rolls of the tongue in any conversation involving great running backs.  I find it interesting that they say his longevity, and the good job he did on a great team with other great players on the team, propelled him onto the list while these same facts seemed to hold Smith from reaching the top of the list.

 

Here is my list:

1. Jim Brown

2. Emmitt Smith

3. Walter Payton

4. Eric Dickerson

5. Barry Sanders

6. Marshall Faulk

7. OJ Simpson

8. Franco Harris

9. Earl Campbell (There is a big drop off to the last two places, and I might be talked into some else at these two slots).

 

Here are a couple of other lists for comparison, though the second is very suspect:

List 1

List 2

 

The Super Bowl

I went into the Super Bowl with the attitude that it was a win-win for me.  My beloved Cowboys were not present, so I began to evaluate who I wanted to really win or lose the game.

If the hated Giants won (hated, but not hated as much as the Skins or Eagles), the NFC representative would win, and a team that Dallas beat twice and played-well (this is not to say that Dallas had a good performance by the team’s standards, but that they were in the game for the whole game) in their last meeting would also win.  Also, as a good American, I like to root for the underdog (a practice that is easy for any Rangers’ fan).  The Giants would show that they do not need Jeremy Shockey, the third most overrated person in football, behind Dallas’ own Roy Williams, the Chicago defense as a whole, and just ahead of Sean Taylor, who like Selena rode his own death to greatness.

Most importantly, if the Giants won, the Patriots would lose.  No 19-0.  Not the best team ever (that would be the Cowboys dynasty of the 1990’s).  And, that group of cheaters would not set the mark for all-time for other NFL teams.

On the other hand, if the Giants lost, I would be able to tell my grandchildren about watching the game that set the mark for the greatest team in history.  That whiny Eli would lose, as well as the team that Jeremy Shockey plays for.  And finally, and most importantly if the Pats won, I would be able to stop hearing the yearly story about how “the ’72 Dolphins were cracking open another bottle of Champaign”, and then hear the annual interview from that crazy has-been Mercury Morris and the rest of the Dolphins from their nursing homes.

So the point is that I went into the game not really rooting for either team, but simply hoping for a good game, that was until the third quarter when the Pats –up by four- decide that they should go for it on 4th and 13 instead of kicking the 49 yard field goal.  I was stunned.  I think it even stunned the announcers, who generally fall all over themselves to tell us what a genius Belicheat is.  I like Troy Aikman as a player and as an announcer, but when he suggested that the decision was based upon field position, I did a Three Stooges spit-take.  Football 101, if you do not think your kicker can make the field goal in this situation, you punt.  Simple.  You see it every week.

I have friend who suggested that the reason the Patriots went for it was that they had a greater than 50% record of going for it on 4th and 10 yards plus.  My take on this is that all those successes did was to reinforce stupid, arrogant behavior.  If you race to beat a train at a railroad crossing, and you beat it the first three times, it does not mean that you should go with the odds and try a forth time.  Trying to beat trains is stupid and arrogant each and every time you try to do it.

And, it was arrogant.  Belicheats decision showed a total lack of respect for a team that had made it to the Superbowl, had dominated his team on defense, and would end up dominating his team on defense. 

This is where I turned on the Patriots, and I was especially thrilled when they lost by three points (giggle).  Thank you, karma.  And later when news of the planned parade route (see the Mavs for what happens to teams when mayors make this announcement before the game), the copy writing of “19-0”, the sending to press of the book “19-0”, and the new allegations of cheating in previous Superbowls came out, it only served to make me happier that the Pats lost.  I will say this once before I go back to hating them, “Thank you, Giants.”

I just hope that the NFL actually follows up on these new rumors and, if they are true, takes real action against the Pats and Belicheat this time.