November 06, 2010

NFL Top 100 Players: Do You Agree With NFL Network's List?.: "NFL Top 100," the ongoing series by the NFL Network counting down the league's best players of all-time as determined by a "blue-ribbon panel," concluded Thursday.

posted by gfinsf to football at 08:22 AM - 9 comments

Some very good video links are in the article.

posted by gfinsf at 08:23 AM on November 06

I'm not sure Deion Sanders should be ranked down to 34th. But at the same time, compared with some of those other names on the list, he shouldn't go too far up.

Certainly he had great numbers, but not adequately counted was the threat he provided in the backfield. I wonder how many quarterbacks threw the other way because they didn't want to throw into Sanders' area.

posted by roberts at 08:35 AM on November 06

Favre at 20? Really? How many votes did John Madden actually have?

posted by dyams at 09:33 AM on November 06

The fact that Joe Namath makes the top 100 is a sure sign that the "blue-ribbon panel" was letting their heart make more decisions than their brains.

Namath shouldn't be in the Hall of Fame, never mind a serious discussion for the top 100 list.

Any quarterback who finishes his career with 47 more interceptions than touchdowns is NOT a HOF/Top 100 NFL player.

posted by grum@work at 10:09 AM on November 06

Having watched the whole series, I think they did a good job, but it's hard to say because you only care at the edges. No one really thinks "#54? He should have been 45". But the arguments come from who got left off and the sorting of the top 10 or 20 (the summary show where some of the writers talk about the selections was a little slow, but enjoyable). I can't get past Jerry Rice over Jim Brown, but it's not particularly important.

The thing I walked away asking myself is how you could possibly tease pure talent ratings out of football players. Montana and Rice were both in the top 4, but would they have even made the list without each other? Or without playing in Bill Walsh's system? If they both got drafted by Tampa Bay in the '80s, I think Tampa Bay would have been decent. But would it have even been a playoff team? They had Steve Young for a while and didn't do anything. In fact, Young's entry on the 100 Greatest list suggests he wasn't that great a QB until Walsh got a hold of him.

And then the real question: if only one of Montana/ Rice was drafted by Tampa Bay, would they have been any good at all? They're each great examples to use because they fulfill one of the story tropes we look for in sport, The Underdog to King, The Cinderella Story. Montana was drafted in the 3rd round in spite of being a QB at Notre Dame when that meant something. Rice played at a I-AA school. And yet them turned into 2 of the best 4 of all time by this reckoning. While they are both clearly talented athletes, is it possible they weren't simply the victims of blindness, that some of their underdog status was deserved and the situation they found themselves at brought out the best in them? If so, how do we account for that? Do we need to?

I think an interesting game to play would be to take the list of 100 and treat it as a draft. Break it into 5 sections, 1-20, 21-40, etc and take one pick from each round. It would be interesting to see if there were any surprise consensuses.

posted by yerfatma at 10:23 AM on November 06

Nope, it's too hard to weight 20 players against each other. But I don't want to pick 10 guys.

posted by yerfatma at 10:24 AM on November 06

yerfatma, you make some great points, and I certainly agree that a player's final career ranking is very dependent on where they play their career(coach/teammates/etc).

Your Montana/Rice is but one of a long list. Would the Cowboys' "Triplets" have had the same results if they had only been the "Twins"? Does Alan Page make the list if he didn't have the rest of the front four of the "Purple People Eaters"?

As to the list, I'm not so sure on Gale Sayers at 26, nice story and all, but the guy only played 5 years.

posted by dviking at 12:32 PM on November 06

Montana and Rice were both in the top 4, but would they have even made the list without each other? Or without playing in Bill Walsh's system?

I agree with your overall point. But Montana had already won 2 super bowls and two super bowl MVPs before they drafted Rice. So it's clear that Montana did not need to Rice to make the list.

I'd say the same about Rice as well who had his best seasons with Young, not Montana (and played more seasons with him).

As far as Walsh, I think he's the best football coach ever (apart from maybe Lombardi, but I much prefer Walsh's style) so I would agree that Montana, Young and Rice all benefited greatly from having Bill Walsh as a coach.

posted by cjets at 01:06 PM on November 06

I can pretty much tell the age of the panel based on what players were selected. There are a lot of players from the 60s and 70s.

posted by bperk at 07:30 PM on November 06

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