Nothing runs quite so deep as the passion of football fans. Had a chance to read over all the comments posted on NFL.com in regards to my all-time top-20 list, and it was great to see the visceral reactions many of you had to it.
Like I wrote in the preface to the list, I hoped it would spark some debate and was not claiming it to he the best list for everyone. And I definitely see where a lot of you guys were coming from in terms of the three things that most took issue with:
1) Joe Montana was too low. As I wrote, I fully expected this. I braced for it. Heck, I welcomed it. I thought about having John Elway or Montata in the spot I put Otto Graham, and maybe I went overboard with old-school love, but I often feel like those who didn’t play in the age of the internet or 24/7 sports cable channels go far too overlooked, and I hoped that maybe some in the younger generation might see some of these names, hit their search engines — or look up old NFL Films clips — and learn a little something about the history and origins of the game.
2) Where’s Barry Sanders, silly? He was definitely on the cusp (along with John Mackey, Raymond Berry and Bart Starr (more on him later), and someone I gave great consideration to. The man did unreal things, and just because any Hall of Famer didn’t make the list, it’s no slight to them. It was a difficult assignment, and no two lists would ever be alike (that’s the beauty of it all). If there had been a top 25, he would have been on it. And no argument to those who say he should be here, regardless. With trying to spread things around by position, I didn’t want to load up with all skill players, thus some very worthy candidates at quarterback and running back in particular would end up left off.
3) No Bart Starr? Are you crazy? This came down a lot like Montana/Elway. I went with Otto Graham over Starr, and again, some may have put eight quarterbacks or more in their top 20, and to each their own, but I didn’t want to get too bogged down with them and had to make some tough calls. Again, a top 25 would have seen Raymond Berry, Starr, and Sanders included.
But more than anything else, thanks for taking the time to read the list, and especially for responding to it. Looking forward to catching up my emails tomorrow — firstname.lastname@example.org — where I’m sure plenty of you will have jumped all over me.
Gonna make some calls and then get over to Fawcett Stadium for the Hall of Fame Game tonight between the Bills and the Titans. Expect the starters for each team to play about two series, and, given that these teams are playing five preseason games rather than four, the second half is going to be comprised of the nether regions of the rosters. I doubt it will be enough time for T.O. to make any waves, but you never know.