Friday, February 27, 2015

Simeon Rice Denigrates Michael Strahan's Career While Promoting His Own

By John Turney
Digital art credit: Pro Football Journal
On occasion, a player will grow frustrated with the Pro Football Hall of Fame process and lash out against the voters or other players who are already in the Hall of Fame. A few days ago, Simeon Rice did both. In a YouTube video channel called "JRSportsBrief" Rice pulled few punches when making his case for his own Hall of Fame induction while questioning Strahan's career. To see Rice and hear his full remarks, click here.

Rice, referring to the so-called "phantom sack" that gave Strahan the post-1982 single-season sack record in 2001, said, "I didn't have nobody falling down to help me get sacks. I didn't have that. I had to earn everything I got."

He also referred to the 1999 season when Strahan had "four sacks" (actually 5.5) and he was All-Pro (actually Second-team All-Pro) and was not voted to the Pro Bowl, but had to be added by Tony Dungy. There is actually merit to bothto a degree. In 2001, Chicago Tribune columnist Don Pierson asked my thoughts on that sack and I told him it shouldn't have been scored a sack since no effort to throw a pass was made by Favre. As for the 1999 Pro Bowl, it would be a good year to take a look at who should have made it, as Pro Football Journal did for 1979 for the AFC. All things considered, Rice did have a better season than Strahan.

Leaving Rice's invective aside, it is useful to look at Rice's claims to his own career. He certainly had a career to be proud of, from 1996 through 2005, his era of "dominance", Rice had 119 sacks, 2.5 more than the aforementioned Strahan. He was All-Pro in 2002 and 2003 (2002 consensus First-team All-Pro) and Second-team All-Pro in 1999 and Second-team All-NFC in 1996. He was also a Pro Bowler in 1999, 2002 and 2003 as well.

However, does Rice's career match with other right defensive ends in the Offical sack era of 1982-present. Two are in the Hall of Fame, Chris Doleman and Richard Dent. Bruce Smith is a different category due to his unparalleled success (200 sacks (or 201?)) and his nine First-team All-pro selections.

So, here are Simeon Rice's career stats:
Games, starts, solo, assisted and total tackles, stuffs, sacks, interceptions, pass defensed, fumbles forced and recovered.
Rice had a rookie season that set official sack-era records for sacks by a rookie (since broken) then had an excellent run in sacks from 1998 through 2005. He had a high number of passes deflected and also a high number of fumbles forced. However, his stuffs (tackles for loss on running plays) were relatively low compared to other defensive ends.

Here are Michael Strahan's stats:
Strahan was a five-time First-team All-Pro and a seven-time Pro Bowler (six if you leave out the 1999 Pro Bowl which Rice and Warren Sapp didn't approve of. Strahan was the NFL Defensive Player of the Year in 2001 and the NFC Defensive Player of the year in 2001 and 2003. He didn't force as many fumbles as Rice but had more than double the number of stuffs.

It really seems incredulous that Sapp and Rice are so critical of Strahan and his Hall of Fame candidacy. Sapp even called Strahan a failed blind-side rusher in 2013. While it's true Strahan began at right defensive end and protested to the move initially, it paid dividends over the years with Strahan's dual skills of getting pressure and stopping run plays directed at him.

Now, looking at Richard Dent and Chris Doleman's careers, both of whom are in the Hall of Fame.

Doleman was a First-team All-pro three times and a Second-team selection twice more. He was named to eight Pro Bowls. In addition to his 150.5 sacks he had 71.5 stuffs.

Dent, had 137.5 sacks and 41 stuffs, and like Doleman picked off eight passes. He also forced a high number of fumbles and deflected away a high number of passes for a defensive end. He was First-team All-pro in 1984 and 1985 and was Second-team All-pro in 1988 and 1990.

It's fairly easy to see why Dent and Doleman earned Hall of Fame induction. They were excellent pass rushers over a long period of time and played on very good defenses most seasons in their careers and received more honors than did Rice.

In fact, when talking about blind-side defensive ends, one who scouts and coaches may have appreciated as much as, if not more than Rice, was Clyde Simmons. Simmons played the right side but was a good run defender, stout at the point of attack and also could chase plays from the backside. He was First-time All-pro twice (same as Rice) and was voted to two Pro Bowls and likely deserved a couple more, especially in 1989.

Clyde Simmons' stats:
Simmons had 62.5 stuffs to go with his 121.5 sacks, and his 663 tackles. However, the classy Simmons isn't one to get on television or radio to promote himself and criticize others. He simply went out and did his job and let the praise come from others and let his career speak for itself. His 55 sacks from 1989-92 were more than any defensive lineman in the NFL for that four-year span, which is saying something in a league populated by Reggie White, Bruce Smith, Chris Doleman, and Richard Dent among others.

So, to answer Rice's comment "There's no Hall of Fame without me in it. There's just not. I dominated when I played. There was nobody better at my position. Nobody." Well, as the above research shows, there likely were a handful of Rice's contemporaries that were better at his position, and that's just the post-1982 era. Blind-side sackers like Al "Bubba" Baker (128.5 sacks) and Coy Bacon (130.5) would head a list of those who played all or part of the career pre-1982. It it's possible Rice rushed to judgment?

NOTE: Pro Football Journal research provided by Nick Webster and John Turney PFJ research uses tackle numbers, solo, assists and totalsfrom NFL play-by-play sheets to ensure an apple-to-apples comparison from player to player and team to team. PBPs are also source for all other stats. 

1 comment:

  1. Spot on John.

    Leaving aside whether or not Sapp, or Rice maybe, are loudmouths'. The stats support that Strahan was a multidimensional player and they Rice was rather one dimensional. The question is, was he good enough at that dimension to be HOF worthy? I think maybe. But I have no question in my mind that a pass rusher of Rice's ilk, who was as good against the run as Strahan - that player would be in tomorrow.