FanDuel - WFBC

February 12, 2007

Peyton's won his. Phil Mickelson has won his. Who's next?: The Sports Prof wonders which athlete now assumes the title of "Best Player Never to Win it All", and then asks if it really matters.

posted by Ufez Jones to general at 06:18 PM - 31 comments

How did he go through that entire piece without once mentioning Alex Rodriguez? (Or even better, Barry Bonds himself?) (And if you feel the need to keep it in the NFL, how about Mike Vanderjagt?)

posted by chicobangs at 06:57 PM on February 12

My take on, going from the second question up: Does it really matter? Not to me. I'm too invested rooting for my teams or finding reasons to root against most of the people in his example (Peyton's ubiquity, Phil's man-boobs, Barry's (and yes, he does mention Barry, briefly, chico) er....issues). However, the public enjoys the lovable loser story, so whether there's available at the moment or not, it will come back into the running. As far as who? I don't follow every sport well enough to speculate, but A-Rod would be blindingly obvious (however unlovable he may be to a good chunk of the baseball fan-world). Going with the sport I follow most actively (NBA) - I think his positing LeBron is absolutely absurd given the fact that he's all of 22 years old, and I'd bet dollars to doughnuts that King James will retire with at least a ring or two. I can't quite wrap my head around why, especially considering he's made the NBA Finals once, but I don't buy into AI either. The best option I can think of at the moment may be KG. He's headed directly to the hall of fame, but has yet (IIRC) to even win a single playoff round. Granted, his team has built around drunk-driving jackoffs and pricks that intentionally miss baskets on their own end to get triple-doubles, but he seems to be the most glaring example I can think of. That said, KG's only 30 and has quite a few good seasons left in him. I'm unsure of his contract status, but he could easily find himself on a contending team before he's put out to stud. Beyond KG, I think if either Nash or Dirk wind up championship-less in the next 3-4 years, they could easily be the next Malone/Barkley/Stockton. I'm a huge fan boy for both, and it's not exactly news-breaking that they both have a *very, very* good chance at a ring this year, but it'd be a pity if they don't eventually wind up with one.

posted by Ufez Jones at 08:01 PM on February 12

A.I., how about our friend, ron mexico??

posted by bavarianmotorworker at 08:01 PM on February 12

Colin Montgomerie's double bogey from the middle of the 72nd fairway in last years US Open may have earned him all-time status as best golfer to never win a major. I personally don't see how this moniker can be applied to a player in a team sport, but if Big Ben doesn't make the tackle after Jerome Bettis' fumble in last years AFC Chamionship game, he (Bettis) may have been on that list of NFL greats that never won one, and his gaffe was just as bad as Monty's.

posted by mjkredliner at 08:06 PM on February 12

In baseball, going on talent alone, it's clearly A-Rod or Bonds. But if you want to add sentiment to the equation, I would put up Trevor Hoffman and Craig Biggio. Class guys and among the best at their positions. If we can open this up to managers, Buck Showalter built two championship teams, then got ousted before they got their rings. Individual sports, how about Elena Dementieva?

posted by The Crafty Sousepaw at 08:33 PM on February 12

I hate questions like this. Best Player Never to Win [/Loss x, y, or z] isn't something we should have to sit back and think about. If he/she were THE best, then we wouldn't even need to debate the issue. However, the need to even debate it tells me that there is no best. In the case of Peyton, he was a consensus best player to have never won a SB over a stretch of time. Now, I don't think there's a clear-cut case like we've had in the past at times. Just more of necessarily creating drama and news when there isn't any.

posted by jmd82 at 10:46 PM on February 12

Well, in the spirit of the thing, I'd have to go with KG and Montgomerie. But I agree it's mostly an exercise in masturbation.

posted by WeedyMcSmokey at 11:29 PM on February 12

Career playoff stats Allen Iverson Position: G Height: 5' 11'' Weight: 160 G---PPG--FGP FTP -3PP RPG APG STLSPG 62 30.6 .402 .765 .333 4.2 . 6.1 2.4 Kevin Garnett Position: F Height: 6' 11'' Weight: 220 47 22.3 .458 .761 .333 13.4 5.0 1.2 AI has been passed the first round 4 times and reached the finals in 01' , KG has been passed the 1st round once. KG has played 1 more year than AI. I'd say AI is the best (current) player to never win it (yet) in the NBA.

posted by Bishop at 04:55 AM on February 13

I hate questions like this. Best Player Never to Win [/Loss x, y, or z] isn't something we should have to sit back and think about. I agree. Other than for golf or tennis or boxing (where you are rarely considered "great" unless you actually do win it all), this kind of thing is a bullshit creation by sportswriters who don't have enough to do. It takes a great team to win a championship, not one great player.

posted by psmealey at 06:35 AM on February 13

These stories are more about sports writers, than athletes. Every athlete worth his salt is trying his best to win every contest s/he enters. And the results are what they are. I think athletes hate labels like 'best tiddly-winks player never to have beaten the Russians" etc.... But it makes life easy for a writer to have such a story running. Piscator

posted by Fly_Piscator at 06:58 AM on February 13

The only two that I can think of is Donovan McNabb or Alex Rodriguez. Those two need to win a championship at least once in their respective careers. Both are great players and athletes but nothing says "proven winner" like a championship ring on your finger.

posted by BornIcon at 07:01 AM on February 13

I agree. Other than for golf or tennis or boxing (where you are rarely considered "great" unless you actually do win it all), this kind of thing is a bullshit creation by sportswriters who don't have enough to do. It takes a great team to win a championship, not one great player. Even with individual sports, though, you can have those who win against the best in the world, but never at the big events.

posted by lil_brown_bat at 07:08 AM on February 13

Mickelson kept coming so close at the majors. And it was usually a heart-breaking (or bone-headed) shot that knocked him out of contention. That's notable, even for the "bullshit sports writers". So, for Mickelson, the monicker had meaning. You can't just pick some guy and slap the label on him if he barely cracks the top ten. Football, you're only as good as the worst guy on the field so I've always had an issue with that.

posted by SummersEve at 07:52 AM on February 13

Even with individual sports, though, you can have those who win against the best in the world, but never at the big events. Of course, but until you do (like Agassi, Lendl and Mickelson at earlier points in their careers), you are not truly considered "great", only merely having great potential... or, more pejoratively, a "choker".

posted by psmealey at 08:04 AM on February 13

In my estimation Dan Marino or Alex Rodriguez would really fit that bill, but I think it's a matter of heart and refusal to be defeated. Tom Brady is a marginal quarterback that has the heart of a race horse in full stride. Simply, he will not be defeated. I think players like Vince Young and Reggie Bush are the future of this philosophy of heart. Vince will when a chamionship. Even if the Titans aren't the best team he will force them to be a championship team. In the case of A-Rod, he will in time. Dan Marino will,... when an emmy or something,... maybe.

posted by OneLbRibEye at 08:23 AM on February 13

When you say Payton got his we are referring to Gary right? I think in about 5 years we will be having this argument or discussion about King James.

posted by warstda at 08:58 AM on February 13

Tom Brady is a marginal quarterback that has the heart of a race horse in full stride. Makes for a nice story, but I have to disagree. Brady is a HoF QB with plenty of tools. He's anything but marginal. Just check out the career stats.

posted by WeedyMcSmokey at 09:18 AM on February 13

Actually, Weedy, I would love to hear what OneEye thinks Brady's weaknesses are that makes him marginal. His mechanics? His ability to throw intermediate passes? Short passes, long passes? Maybe it's his accuracy? Or his play in the clutch? I would love to hear the breakdown of a "marginal" QB like Brady.

posted by bperk at 09:42 AM on February 13

Tom Brady is a marginal quarterback that has the heart of a race horse in full stride. Don't forget about the 4-5 thoroughbreds chasing him down at full speed every play.

posted by jmd82 at 09:56 AM on February 13

Hasn't won a Super Bowl. In two years.

posted by yerfatma at 09:59 AM on February 13

Even though I probably fell into the "Manning needs to win a championship" crap more than I should have, it is really ridiculous trying to pin a team's ultimate success all on one person's shoulders. When the person goes out and plays absolutely horribly in a huge game, then it becomes a bit more understandable. Players like Peyton and A-Rod tend to be really big contributors to a team even making the post season, but when A-Rod doesn't come through in the playoffs, on a consistent basis, with runners in scoring position, that's what everyone will tend to remember. I don't see that ever changing. I look more at sports where individuals are performing, such as golf. Colin Montgomerie and Sergio Garcia top my list of pros who need to get a major championship trophy in order to completely validate their careers. But even then, is it fair to say their careers are worthless without those wins? Montgomerie has always been huge in Europe, and he and Garcia have been big reasons for their Ryder Cup success. So, in golf, when people can accept that a person like Tiger Woods in a freak of nature, and not indicative professional golf as a whole, you understand for things to fall into place for "normally-great" players like Monty or Sergio will never be a given. And as for the on-going debate about Tom Brady being overrated or without a lot of talent, all I can say is, Please! Give me a freakin' break (or at least pay attention a bit more).

posted by dyams at 10:15 AM on February 13

How come no one has mentioned Tiki Barber?

posted by yay-yo at 11:59 AM on February 13

Barry was mentioned in the piece,but how could anyone ignore the most deserving baseball player in history?The Great Ernie Banks??? Just my opinion,but Peyton wouldn't have stood a chance w/out the fieldgoal kicker!& the running back?Either one of those 2 deserved Super Bowl MVP more!!!

posted by mdavidsf at 12:07 PM on February 13

How come no one has mentioned Tiki Barber? What does a NBC analyst need to win?

posted by dyams at 01:42 PM on February 13

An Emmy.

posted by Ying Yang Mafia at 01:58 PM on February 13

There really isn't one right now. The key attribute to the title is a recurrence of finishing as runner-up. McNabb may be the closest because of the success he has had, but I don't think it would be deserved because he doesn't receive the criticism a player like Manning always did. Maybe it's Andy Reid if you expand it out to coaching. Not to worry someone will rise up within 5 years. Glad we had that tiki comment...two outstanding responses.

posted by YukonGold at 06:06 PM on February 13

First off, I think that before someone is labeled as "can't win the big one", I think they should have played for at least 5 or 6 years. To say a player can't win the big one when he has only been in the league 2 or 3 years is absurd, especially in a team sport. There are many great players in every sport who hasn't won the big one, or even been there. Dan Fouts, Barry Sanders, Kevin Garnett to name a few. That doesn't define greatness. Now maybe in Tennis, it would matter or golf but in a team sport, one player doesn't win a championship. Jordan wasn't even close his first few years until they got better players around him.

posted by bry66 at 06:22 PM on February 13

Bry I agree that championships do not solely define greatness, but they have a large impact on it. Dan Marino holds many, many passing records but when he is discussed the fact that he never won a Super Bowl is often discussed.

posted by Ying Yang Mafia at 08:56 PM on February 13

A-Rod will never win a championship unless he stays in NY because any team that picks up his salary won't be able to afford any other top-tier players!

posted by cheftad at 09:54 PM on February 13

Mats Sundin?

posted by tommytrump at 10:16 PM on February 13

I'm going to agree with dyams and others on the thread re: individual sports. This designation works for golf and tennis players, but it's completely irrelevant for individuals who play team sports. Who can argue that Ernie Banks, Andre Dawson, Ryne Sandberg, Don Mattingly, Jim Kelly, Fran Tarketon, etc weren't true greats whose hearts were as big as all outdoors. Either you have the supporting cast or you don't. His Airness never won a title without Scottie Pippen on his side.

posted by psmealey at 08:15 AM on February 14

You're not logged in. Please log in or register.