Friday, December 6, 2019

Come on Guys—You Can Do Better Than This

By John Turney
Looking through Twitter this morning there was a Tweet with a link to a podcast that purported to have a take on the NFL 100 team, so I dutifully followed.

In it, Dave Dameshek and  Matt "Money" Smith had these thoughts on the subject.
Dameshek aired his views that Dutch Clark and Bill Hewitt shouldn't be on the All-Time team and that the NFL was a "minor league sport".  Smith, while supposedly agreeing with Dameshek actually stated the exact reason players like Clark and Hewitt (and there will be others) should be on the team.

Sometimes people get going on a take or rant and actually undermine their whole premise. You see, everyone who follows football knows of the evolution of the game and that the players of the 1920s, 1930s, and 1940s and so one couldn't play today.

This guy knows that—

But the NFL's point of having an All-Time team is to celebrate the history of the game and honor those who have come before and that is done in the context of rating players in the era they played, i.e. "All those guys could do is play in their decade and absolutely dominate". Thank you, Mr. Smith.  My point exactly.

Of course, I have some quibbles with the All-Time team selections made so far, but I certainly have no issue with Clark or Hewitt or Mel Hein who will likely be one of the centers and others.

It gets kind of old hearing the same, tired complaint by those who know little of the pre-WWII era. That complaint is "those guys couldn't play today". It's just something we all know, especially those who have taken the time to study the era and even watch what film is available.

Actually, I would like to see a discussion about taking Peyton Manning or Tom Brady back to, say, 1960. Have them contend with blockers who could not extend their arms. Defensive linemen could beat the crud out of the helmets of the blockers, and then hit the quarterback from the top of his head to the bottom of their feet and get to hit them hard.

It would be fun to see them contend with the fact their receivers could be "axed" on the line of scrimmage. And their receivers could be bumped after five yards and until the ball was in the air. And on those crossing routes they run with impunity? Nope. They are not there because it the receivers would be in the hospital after the first couple. And if a defender gets close are they are rules for intentional grounding? No. If you ground your ground, no out of the pocket or back to the line of scrimmage.

Sure, the defenses would be less sophisticated but it would be a tough game because the protections given to the quarterbacks and receivers would be gone and much of what teams can do now couldn't be done then. So, to a smaller degree, the "could play today" works both ways. Again, to a smaller degree. And that is not even asking if Manning or Brady could play both ways in the "iron man" era.

Heck, how about this? Eric Dickerson, Earl Campbell, and Barry Sanders are three of the best running backs ever. Bar none. But, could they play today? In an era that does not value pure runners? They were awesome, off-the-charts runners. But none could help you on third down. They were average or fair to poor pass blockers. Fair, to average, to poor pass catchers. Sanders had to be taken out on goalline quite often. What about that? And some of them fumbled a lot. Too much to be able to stay on the field today.

So come on Mr. Dameshek and Mr. Smith it is far more complex to choose an All-Time team than you are suggesting and one cannot just rattle off the names of players from their favorite team on the one hand and then rip the Blue Ribbon Committee choices for honoring pre-WWII players on the other.

Again, criticizing a choice here or there, fine. But dismissing a class of players because they "couldn't play today" is silly. They are part of the game and they dominated in their era the way LT dominated his era.

Put your backs into it, study the subject, then comment. If you do that then your comments can be taken seriously.

The bottom line is the members of the NFL's 26-person blue-ribbon panel are doing a great job. And the presence of Clark and Hewitt are the proof of that good work.


  1. My main critiques so far:
    There should be a 2 way player group. Dutch Clark gets removed from the HB and is on the All Time Team in a new group. Same with Hewitt and Bednarik. They all 'deserve' to make the team but comparing Dutch to Barry Sanders is bizarre.

    So 12 Rbs to 11. 6 Olbs to 5. 7 DEs to 6.

    Sayers probably didn't play enough games for a RB slot, either Faulk/Tomlinson/Peterson takes his spot.

    Sayers should have been nominated as a returner. Just add a 5th finalist, Sayers.

    Aaron Donald should have been a DT finalist. It's fine if they want to use his games played against him to keep him off the team, but he should be a finalist. Can swap him with Sestak, similar games played with Donald having a higher peak.

    Yale Lary could be a 2 way player finalist but not convinced he should be a punter or safety.

    The Kicker and Punter finalists in general are devoid of statistical comprehension.

    Who were the voters that submitted a list with 7 DEs better than Reggie White and Bruce Smith? That's derelict of duty and grounds for probation.

    What was Junior Seau doing with the ILB/MLBs? And the 34 edge rushers got a bit of a bum deal (Von and DT) as they had to fight off radically different players in Brooks and Ham.

  2. Lastly, JJ should have been on the Team. Likely over Atkins, as this journal outlined.

  3. ahhhhh, "those guys couldn't play today"....that kind of stuff drives me completely crazy....John, you mention a number of things that these knuckleheads never's a couple more: 1960ish: 33 men on a team, 12 teams so 1. nobody gets to play against #31 or #32 "best" at his position, 2. forced multi-tasking (can Brady or Peyton punt?)….how would today's players like to play with leather facemasks?....going back a bit farther....who playing in 2019 would have the endurance of going both ways?...of course they could adapt (some could, but there's no way a 300lb belly bumper is going to hold up over a full game....)…...oh...and with respect to Pierce: "the three guys you mentioned lasted longer than Sayers because he got hurt....his first 3+ years were the most dominant open-field running in NFL history (comparable in a way to Grange's last college year)…..he DEFINITELY belongs in the top 100....just look at the film....

    1. I agree Sayers should be in the top 100. As a returner.

    2. These kids doing this on Twitter don't even know the players they are ripping. "Willie Brown? Darren Huitt? Steve Van Barren? Who are these guys?"

      If you are bold enough to attack this team with comments like "ok boomer" and that Tomlinson not making it is a "travesty" and "old people clown show", then you must be able to identity 20th century players outside of Lawrence Taylor, Jim Brown, and Dan Marino.

      I am already seeing young people upset that Otto Graham, Sammy Baugh and Roger Staubach may make the team.

      When I was a kid I learned about the older players. I did not automatically think, "They played before I was born. They therefore suck and are not worth my time."

      Worse than anything else is that I have seen this act from three people who get paid or used to get paid (one was fired from a prominent football site) to write about the NFL. If your job is to write about the NFL, then you should not be lumped in with the average 20-year old clown on Twitter who is saying crap like, "Mel Blount made it over Asante Samuel? What a joke!"

  4. John is right about Dickerson, Campbell and Sanders, great runners who weren't complete backs. I am okay with Sayers as a runner or receiver, but surprised McElhenny didn't make the list. As dazzling a runner as you can find and I believe, could have been a wide receiver like Moore as well. Moore gets a lot of scrutiny being on this list because he was primarily a wide receiver, who kept defences honest by running out of the backfield, before switching permanately later on. His Touchdown totals though, can't be denied.

    Very surprised Green was selected in, ahead of Revis amongst corners. Very close, though Revis hurt himself with his last three seasons of play.

    It will be kinda odd, if finalists Sestak, Lipscomb or Donnie Shell are unable to make this Centennial Class, after the promotion of this all time team. Hopefully, one of them can get voted in.

    1. Sorry, Sayers as a running back or returner...

    2. Revis was good in 2015. In 2016 he played poorly. It was 2017 when his play made one think of Namath with the Rams, Unitas with the Chargers, Franco Harris with the Seahawks, etc.

      Green was good to okay for about his final seven years.

  5. if we're talking "top 100" of all-time, where is Bronko Nagurski going to be placed or have I somehow missed his name?

    1. Nagurski is out. Dutch Clark got a spot over him at RB and all defensive spots have been taken.

  6. Lots of buzz about Gronk getting in over Witten, because though both were great blockers, Wittens durability and numbers exceed Gronks, while Gronk has the championships.

    I put both in my five, but think Casper was the best TE...

    My Five All Time


    All my choices were blocker/receiver hybrids, though Jackie Smith, Jerry Smith, Pete Retzlaff, Novachek, Gonzalez, Gates, Sharpe, Newsome, Coates, Walls, Chester, Christiansen and others were excellent huge receivers, listed at tight end.

    How is Jackie Smith not a finalist ?

    1. Except Winslow...he was my huge receiver, non blocker choice who followed up Jackie Smith