And stop trying to convince us that 75 other CFB players were better than Tim Tebow.
By: Buddy Martin
This being a new decade in a fairly new century and the 150th year of college football, many media outlets felt compelled to declare best-ever teams and players. And I get it. I even participated in three parts of the seven-part series “Saturdays In The South” in which I reflected on the backstory of players and teams at Florida. I never ranked the Gator players or Gator teams, although I probably would have if asked.
I’m done reading and talking about these “GOAT” references, however, and I’m coming around to the way of thinking by my good friend Terry Bradshaw, who says: “You really can’t compare players from different eras.” And he brings up the name of Otto Graham, who won seven NFL Championships before the league adopted Lamar Hunt’s nickname “Super Bowl,” but is never even mentioned among greatest NFL quarterbacks.
Let’s stop right here and remember that without mid-course narrative correction, the future and current crop of talkers, writers and story tellers could be unintentionally distorting history and passing along half-hearted opinions disguised as authentic.
We all think we know greatness when we see it, but the arrogance of self-importance skews the reality of what it was, what it is, and what it should be. The purpose of the mission should be clarity and context for the future. That is, if they wrote it down somewhere for somebody to find one day. Pretty soon, at the current rate of media mortality, we’ll be going back to chiseled stone and papyrus.
With all due respect to my media friends, many of them long-suffering and hard-working for peon’s wages, we need to pull up a chair and find a new way of having conversations about distinguishing The Greatest from the Flavor of the Moment. Or not.
Only part of the fractured journalism/media contingent that has survived the Hedge Fund Media Slaughterhouse, back when journalists’ lives mattered and they cared very deeply about getting it right, is still hanging on to the modicum of credibility. They are the last bastion of the colony where integrity is still valued and words are your bond. That narrative is weakening, however, and the parameters for comparing teams and athletes is being skewed. The vehicles of communication are decimated or crippled. Newspapers, magazines and radio stations and networks are dying or on the endangered species list.
I’m not a “Get Off My Lawn!” guy trying to discredit other generations, but this “Greatest of All” stuff has got to stop.
I’m not going to diss ESPN’s Top 150 Player list, because I know people like my friend Ivan Maisel, a fine college football scholar, played a major role in it. I didn’t vote in it, but several of my friends did, including Tony Barnhart and Paul Finebaum. Tony said we shouldn’t take it seriously. Paul really couldn’t remember who he voted for.
Here’s the Top 11:
1. Jim Brown (RB, Syracuse, 1954-56)
2. Herschel Walker (RB, Georgia, 1980-82)
3. Bo Jackson (RB, Auburn, 1982-85)
4. Archie Griffin (RB, Ohio State, 1972-75)
5. Jim Thorpe (RB, Carlisle, 1907-12)
6. Red Grange (RB, Illinois, 1923-25)
7. Earl Campbell (RB, Texas, 1974-77)
8. Dick Butkus (LB, Illinois, 1962-64)
9. Barry Sanders (RB, Oklahoma State, 1986-88)
10. Gale Sayers (RB, Kansas, 1962-64)
11. Roger Staubach (QB, Navy, 1962-64)
I could argue that Jim Brown may have been the greatest NFL player I ever saw, he was NOT the best college player. Brown didn’t even go to Syracuse on a football scholarship – he was a lacrosse star – but became an All-American in football. And I really am not qualified to comment on No. 5. Jim Thorpe or No. 6 Red Grange, because contrary to popular opinion, I was not around back then.
You can call me a Florida homer with orange and blue glasses, but I never saw a list of greatest players without Tim Tebow among the Top 15 that was credible. Finebaum says Tebow was the best college player he ever saw and I’m inclined to agree, without disrespecting those Top Five on the ESPN list.
Tebow, by the way, finished at 76th’ on the ESPN Top 150, six spots ahead of fellow Gator Emmitt Smith, and 15 ahead of Steve Spurrier.
Sounds a little low.
I guess what I’m saying is that I disagree with the old apples-and-oranges comparison and the don’t like the process.
So why do we do it?
We have this measuring stick mentality as sports fans. We want to compare everything to gauge magnitude of historical significance. That is the very essence of sports: Who can run the fastest or the farthest? (Although the Good Book points out that the race doesn’t always go to the swiftest.)
Who can strike out the most batters, give up the fewest hits and runs, score the most points, most yards, most home runs? Who can take the fewest strokes, jump the highest, skate the fastest, lift the most weight, punch the hardest or give up the fewest goals or points or runs or yards?
Finally, which team can do it best against top competition on the most consistent basis as precisely the right time, under pressure when it counts the most?
Ultimately somebody will want to judge it, rank it, rate it, opine about it and convince us why it was The Greatest of All Time.
Who and What is the Greatest of All Time? I am sick and tired of the so-called GOATS term. The designation is pure poppycock based on bias. Please stop telling us who we should honor and trying to convince that you are smarter than us, or that you had an Uncle Looie in Brooklyn who saw everything, knows everything and told you so.
You saw this athlete or this team at the time in this era and he or she were The Greatest of All Time. That’s all we need to hear from you. Save your lists for your Facebook Page. If we value it we’ll let you know.