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Old 09-08-2010, 10:30 PM    (permalink
scottyboy
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Warner and Reed above Strahan?
my lord, 20 players in and it's already utter garbage
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Old 09-08-2010, 10:35 PM    (permalink
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I'm trying to grasp what your point may be, but I truly cannot. Are you saying that historical respect is ******** Bingo! and that the list of the greatest 100 players in NFL history should be a grab bag of All-Pro players from the last decade or two and just leave it at that? Not at all.

Or are you maybe failing to grasp that the idea of "greatness" has basically nothing to do some strange idea of comparing skills if all the players were in their prime today and everything to do with paying homage and celebrating the truly large figures in the history of a game? Are you getting bent out of shape over a list that both educates those of us who never got to see these guys (with input from those who either have watched the tapes or were alive to see them live) and immerses us in a rich tradition? I would say that someone who was alive to see Jim Brown play, a 60-70 year old man, probably isn't the best source of analysis. Just like you wouldn't want that same man discussing who was the superior band: Metallica or Led Zeppelin.

The game of football was archaic in the 40's, 50's, and 60's. So was the athletic standard and the basic understanding of athletic training. Certain guys were able to dominate in that environment, just as certain guys are able to now. That doesn't make the professional football 50-70 years ago any less professional football, it just makes it not our contemporary professional football? Why does such a simple and understandable observation raise such ire from you?
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My main point is simple: these "all-time" lists are stupid.
If you want to talk about who was by far the best player from the 1950s, sure go ahead. You think Jim Brown was the most dominant player in the 1960s? Great, let's have that chat. Comparing players across decades is arbitrary, contrived, completely subjective and based on nothing more than conjecture.

It's like the Dead-Ball and pre-African American Baseball years; the no-defense, 120 possessions per game 1960s NBA. At a certain point the difference is so staggering that you cannot make a fair evaluation in comparison to today's game. Technically it may have been "professional football," but it wasn't the NFL (still the AFL/NFL...) and it definitely wasn't this NFL.
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Old 09-08-2010, 11:43 PM    (permalink
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If you want to talk about who was by far the best player from the 1950s, sure go ahead. You think Jim Brown was the most dominant player in the 1960s? Great, let's have that chat. Comparing players across decades is arbitrary, contrived, completely subjective and based on nothing more than conjecture.

It's like the Dead-Ball and pre-African American Baseball years; the no-defense, 120 possessions per game 1960s NBA. At a certain point the difference is so staggering that you cannot make a fair evaluation in comparison to today's game. Technically it may have been "professional football," but it wasn't the NFL (still the AFL/NFL...) and it definitely wasn't this NFL.
Except you've already admitted you have no clue about football from the 50's and 60's, so you have no way to say what NFL it was or wasn't.

You can't gut any ounce of credibility you might be able to bring to a discussion and then try to make a credible argument and expect anyone to give it the time of day.

You don't like all time lists. Great. I can understand that. But you already made one incredibly idiotic argument based on absolutely nothing. At this point, it would appear prudent to exit the conversation at least as far as it concerns any players from the era you acknowledge you have no clue about. Just because you don't does not mean others don't. There are plenty of experts involved in this list that saw these guys play. You should probably watch... you might learn something.

EVERYTHING about these lists is arbitrary and subjective.
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Old 09-09-2010, 02:01 AM    (permalink
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If you want to talk about who was by far the best player from the 1950s, sure go ahead. You think Jim Brown was the most dominant player in the 1960s? Great, let's have that chat. Comparing players across decades is arbitrary, contrived, completely subjective and based on nothing more than conjecture.

It's like the Dead-Ball and pre-African American Baseball years; the no-defense, 120 possessions per game 1960s NBA. At a certain point the difference is so staggering that you cannot make a fair evaluation in comparison to today's game. Technically it may have been "professional football," but it wasn't the NFL (still the AFL/NFL...) and it definitely wasn't this NFL.
I'm still not sure I get it. Are you suggesting that the NFL Network is capable of releasing a list of the 100 best players of all time that wouldn't be significantly arbitrary, contrived, and completely subjective? It's a stupid little list and it's very existence is made possible by people's ability to be arbitrary and subjective in the first place. Recognizing that, if it's very existence is stupid to you, then why object? It obviously can't accomplish what you assume it's trying to, so why even invest anger in it? Personally, I enjoy watching old football footage and hearing about old and great football players. It's entertainment, not some sort of sacramental declaration. So is the HOF (at its core) by the way, and this list doesn't even begin to approach the kind of responsibility that Hall places on itself.

I'm also not clear why someone dominating their competition back whenever is less impressive than someone dominating their competition now. You can point to broad spectrum shifts that cause definitive breaks in a sport (or league), but there's a pretty objective way to figure out whether and how by much a player dominated the players he played against. Do we give them less credit simply by our historical distance? Is doing so even remotely fair or logical? Jim Brown's dominance of 1960's NFL football is just as impressive as Barry Sanders dominance of 1990's NFL football. Sanders may be more relevant to the game I watch today, I may be better able to imagine him having success than I can Brown, I may even (subjectively) like his game more because it makes sense to evaluate in regards to the kind of football I have always watched, but none of that makes Jim Brown worse.

To lambaste subjectivity and then rest your whole argument on your temporal location, something that pretty much defines what it is to be subjective, honestly feels really silly and pointless to me. Granted, so does arguing that point, but so be it.
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Old 09-09-2010, 02:09 PM    (permalink
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I don't have a problem with including these players on the list. However, I do have a problem with a couple of different elements that go into those rankings:

1) Margin. In the old days of the NFL (and AFL) the margins of the game were much bigger. As the parameters of any given game are formed, and the evolution of the sport commences, with the popularity of said sport dictating the sheer numbers of people who play it and, thus, dictating the talent pool available to the sport and, by extension, the level of play offering at its apex, the margin of play--that is, the difference between the best players and the worst players, the best teams and the worst teams, etc--is very large. For a major American sport, these margins slim down and become minute once the evolutionary process has run itself near to its asymptotical termination. All meaning this: the difference between Jim Brown and Joe Schmoe RB--or Joe Schmoe tackler, for that matter--was much larger because of the times. Because of the limited number of people playing football as compared to today, and because of the lack of medical and technical advancements that allow for players to develop their bodies to peak condition. As a result, Jim Brown dominates on a level that isn't possible in today's NFL, and as such he is over-valued on an All Time basis. Not because of his own skill, not because of the work he did to be great, but because of the wade variance in talent level across the league.

2) Time bias. As time goes on, players that you saw become greater and greater in response to all the modern advancements of today's players. Suddenly a guy that was 6'0" 220lbs becomes 6'2" 240lbs in the retelling of the story. A guy with 4.5 speed now has 4.3 speed, etc etc. People have a tendency to make legends out of historical figures, and this leads to misinformation and the skewing of their abilities and places in the game.


If those two factors could be legitimately mitigated, I would be fine with including old players. Its impossible to do, obviously. I cannot buy that Jim Brown was the best player in NFL history. I cannot buy that he was the greatest. But he certainly dominated his competition more than any other player ever has....so, how do you reconcile all this together and make a coherent list? The John Clayton way: just start writing **** down and submit it to your editors when you're done.
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Old 09-10-2010, 02:05 AM    (permalink
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Where there any clues on the credits who is on next week's 71-80 programme?
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Old 09-10-2010, 03:00 AM    (permalink
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80 names still to come:

I'll start who I think will be candidates on offense.

QB: Montana, Marino, Unitas, Graham, Baugh, P.Manning, Brady, Favre, Elway, Staubach, Starr, Bradshaw, Luckman, Layne.

RB: Brown, Payton, Sanders, Sayers, Emmitt, Dickerson, Tomlinson, Faulk, Campbell, Dorsett, Franco, Simpson (will he be penalised though?), Motley, Nagurski, Van Buren, Thorpe, Grange.

WR: Rice, Hutson, Alworth, Moss, Largent, Warfield, Berry.

TE: Mackey, Winslow, Gonzalez, Sharpe, Ditka.

OL: Munoz, Hannah, Matthews, Shell, Upshaw, Otto, Webster, Ogden, Parker, Gregg, R.Brown, Little, W.Jones, Groza, McDaniel.


..and the defense

DL: Reggie White, Deacon Jones, Mean Joe Greene, Olsen, Lilly, B.Smith, Marchetti, Page, Buchanon, Randy White, Sapp.

LB: LT, Butkus, Lambert, Ham, Lewis, Singletary, Lanier, Bell, Nitschke, Bednarik, George, Seau.

DB: Lott, Deion, Night Train Lane, Blount, Woodson, Wilson, Willie Brown, Adderley, Houston, Tunnell, D.Green.

58 on offense
34 on defense

Anyone I've missed? I have a feeling this Top 100 will be harsh on WRs just like Canton. If Cris Carter, Marvin Harrison or Tim Brown were going to make the cut I think they would have been named already. Same for Troy Aikman who I'm praying isn't voted higher than Steve Young.
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Old 09-10-2010, 05:54 AM    (permalink
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Warner and Reed above Strahan?
my lord, 20 players in and it's already utter garbage
Reed shouldn't be on the list in my opinion.
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Old 09-10-2010, 09:25 AM    (permalink
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Reed shouldn't be on the list in my opinion.
WHAT!?!?!?
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Old 09-10-2010, 10:37 AM    (permalink
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WHAT!?!?!?
Ed Reed's probably the best DB I've ever spent extensive time watching. Not to mention, his playoff performances are absolutely ridiculous.

Seven playoff games, seven picks, two defensive touchdowns. It's really a shame that Baltimore could never get a legitimate quarterback during that defenses heyday...
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Old 09-10-2010, 10:45 AM    (permalink
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Originally Posted by DMWSackMachine View Post
I don't have a problem with including these players on the list. However, I do have a problem with a couple of different elements that go into those rankings:

1) Margin. In the old days of the NFL (and AFL) the margins of the game were much bigger. As the parameters of any given game are formed, and the evolution of the sport commences, with the popularity of said sport dictating the sheer numbers of people who play it and, thus, dictating the talent pool available to the sport and, by extension, the level of play offering at its apex, the margin of play--that is, the difference between the best players and the worst players, the best teams and the worst teams, etc--is very large. For a major American sport, these margins slim down and become minute once the evolutionary process has run itself near to its asymptotical termination. All meaning this: the difference between Jim Brown and Joe Schmoe RB--or Joe Schmoe tackler, for that matter--was much larger because of the times. Because of the limited number of people playing football as compared to today, and because of the lack of medical and technical advancements that allow for players to develop their bodies to peak condition. As a result, Jim Brown dominates on a level that isn't possible in today's NFL, and as such he is over-valued on an All Time basis. Not because of his own skill, not because of the work he did to be great, but because of the wade variance in talent level across the league.

2) Time bias. As time goes on, players that you saw become greater and greater in response to all the modern advancements of today's players. Suddenly a guy that was 6'0" 220lbs becomes 6'2" 240lbs in the retelling of the story. A guy with 4.5 speed now has 4.3 speed, etc etc. People have a tendency to make legends out of historical figures, and this leads to misinformation and the skewing of their abilities and places in the game.


If those two factors could be legitimately mitigated, I would be fine with including old players. Its impossible to do, obviously. I cannot buy that Jim Brown was the best player in NFL history. I cannot buy that he was the greatest. But he certainly dominated his competition more than any other player ever has....so, how do you reconcile all this together and make a coherent list? The John Clayton way: just start writing **** down and submit it to your editors when you're done.
Great post. I agree completely.
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Old 09-10-2010, 11:38 AM    (permalink
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Where there any clues on the credits who is on next week's 71-80 programme?
Troy Aiman was in there quite a bit
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Old 09-10-2010, 11:42 AM    (permalink
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My question to all the people who are so intent on downplaying the greatness of older players is this: What year did football begin to count?
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Old 09-10-2010, 11:43 AM    (permalink
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Troy Aiman was in there quite a bit
**Shudder**
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Old 09-10-2010, 11:50 AM    (permalink
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DMW and Shiver, I still don't get why the fact that the game has better athletes today changes anything. I'm not trying to be obtuse, nor do I think you guys are wrong in saying the general talent pool is much better now, but I do not get why it matters.

I don't get why you feel that this list is attempting abstracting these guys from history basis; that ranking Jim Brown above Barry Sanders implicates that Brown was the better athlete or would fare better in today's NFL. In fact, I have no idea why it's logical to use today's NFL as any kind of standard for past players or to assume that today's NFL is the pinnacle of quality we'll see from professional football. I'm not even clear that anyone has actually established the right to use "best" and "greatest" are the same term here.

This is a list of historical respect towards the impact and dominance players exhibited in their own era of football. You guys are so quick to point towards today's NFL as some peak of football quality, but if we're trying to pick out which era's were the hardest on their players, shouldn't we recognize 1940's NFL football for not even having solid helmets, much less padded and shock absorbing ones? Should we look at all the dangerous and highly effective defensive techniques that are simply no longer allowed?

It doesn't make any sense to me to define sport greatness as anything other than degree of superiority over your peers. Comparing Jim Brown to Eric Dickerson is pointless. Comparing Jim Brown's relative level of play in his era to Dickerson's isn't.
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Old 09-10-2010, 11:56 AM    (permalink
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Fast forward to the year 2040 where the next generation of sports fans think that the greats of our era would get destroyed in the leagues of the future. Hell, it's already starting. I know tons of kids who think Kobe is better than MJ because MJ allegedly played against worse players. That's right, the 1990s, an era in which basketball was much, much better than it is right now, was full of weak players that MJ dominated. This is something I've actually heard from someone. 30 years from now, we'll tell them what they're saying isn't true and we'll be called old farts overrating past greats because of our delusional nostalgia.
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Old 09-10-2010, 12:01 PM    (permalink
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And you can't ignore the era of hatchet men in the NFL either. Guys who were literally out there to hurt players on the other team... the NFL finally outlawed their use when they ended the career of Gale Sayers.

People were doing **** after the play and in the pile that would make players in today's NFL blush. Late hits, clubbing the opposing player's head, facemasks on non ballcarriers, etc were all legal.

The medical technology argument works both ways, because while players are slightly bigger, stronger, and faster now, many careers would have also ended much sooner.

One of biggest "What if's?" in NFL History has to be What if Greg Carr never never tore his rotator cuff? The NFL might be a completely different game.
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Old 09-10-2010, 12:08 PM    (permalink
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Who's Greg Carr?
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Old 09-10-2010, 12:16 PM    (permalink
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Who's Greg Carr?
Greg Carr was the quarterback of the Cincinnati Bengals when Paul Brown was running their offense. According to Walsh, he was the most physically talented quarterback he's ever worked with and felt he was going to be an absolute stud and he was... for one year.

Unfortunately, the guy tore his rotator cuff and in those days, they had no idea what to do about it, so what did they do? Had him throw his arm back in shape, which only served to further destroy his shoulder and end his career.

The result was Bill Walsh forced to try to make a functioning offense around former BYU quarterck, Oliver Carter. Carter was smart, mobile, and relatively accurate, but he had a weak arm and the Bengals couldn't protect him. So, he developed the Walsh offense (he hated the name West Coast) which focused on quick throws, timing, and taking advantage of all 53 1/3 yards of the field's width.

So, if Greg Carr never tears his rotator cuff, does the Walsh offense ever get created? Or would someone else have come up with it? No way to know, but an interesting thing to think about
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Old 09-10-2010, 01:07 PM    (permalink
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My question to all the people who are so intent on downplaying the greatness of older players is this: What year did football begin to count?

When there was, you know, some event called THE SUPER BOWL. It was THE NFL, not the AFL. Just like Baseball players from the pre-integration, dead ball era shouldn't be ranked with the modern players. Just like it is stupid to judge players like Wilt and the Big O and their stats out of context with the NBA of the 80s, 90s, 00s. Players from the pre-NFL, pre-Super Bowl era should be highlighted. They should be praised and people should know about them. But they shouldn't be ranked together on some arbitrary list.
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Old 09-10-2010, 01:32 PM    (permalink
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First, you say this.
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I'm tired of people elevating these players from the 50s and 60s. In basketball and football.
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I bet Steven Jackson would have put up 20,000 career yards in the 1960s NFL.
Then you say this...
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Originally Posted by Shiver
When there was, you know, some event called THE SUPER BOWL. It was THE NFL, not the AFL. Just like Baseball players from the pre-integration, dead ball era shouldn't be ranked with the modern players. Just like it is stupid to judge players like Wilt and the Big O and their stats out of context with the NBA of the 80s, 90s, 00s. Players from the pre-NFL, pre-Super Bowl era should be highlighted. They should be praised and people should know about them. But they shouldn't be ranked together on some arbitrary list.
Superbowl I happened in, you know, 1967, which you know, is part of the 60's, which you know, you attempted to disqualify from this discussion based on your admitted vast ignorance on the subject.

You should really just stop at this point. You probably have a lot to offer in other discussions, but in this one, it's frankly becoming sad.
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Old 09-10-2010, 01:36 PM    (permalink
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First, you say this.


Then you say this...
About the Jackson comment. It's called satire. Learn what that is and get back to me. Because evidently everyone says that about old players like Jim Brown, Johnny Unitas, etc.

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Superbowl I happened in, you know, 1967, which you know, is part of the 60's, which you know, you attempted to disqualify from this discussion based on your admitted vast ignorance on the subject.

You should really just stop at this point. You probably have a lot to offer in other discussions, but in this one, it's frankly becoming sad.
Jim Brown's career: 1957-1965

Super Bowl I: 1967

Yeah, completely ignorant.
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Old 09-10-2010, 01:38 PM    (permalink
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You can't judge players from different eras in a black and white comparison.

What you can measure them on, is how they dominated their era. Obviously, Gino Marchetti can't hold a candle to Julius Peppers in a black and white comparison of athleticism, but when you compare how he was in his era, it was remarkable how much bigger and stronger he was then everyone else. He was a freak athlete of his time. He was a 244 lb DE in an era where most DEs were 210 lbs. He was unblockable in his era.

Emphasis on era. Julius Peppers might be a freak by today's standards, but 30 years from now your kids are gonna tell you he's a scrub (athletically). But you know better than that bc you understand eras when you get older, and understand that its foolish to make a blanket statement that the guys from yesteryear don't count bc they don't carry the same athleticism as the guys of today.

Lawrence Taylor is the greatest defensive player of all time. He would be an average player in today's league. Does that make him a scrub? Of course not.

When you compare players of different eras, you have to observe and measure how they dominated the game at the time they played it. Thats the only way. We can talk hypotheticals all day long. If Jim Brown played today's game blah blah blah.

Well what if Peppers played in Jim Brown's era? He wouldn't have the PEDs he has today, or the equipment, or the workout routines etc. So its an irrelevant point. Imagine how big/strong/etc Jim Brown would be today with the current advancements in medicine and supplements.

To completely ignore an era just bc we don't know much about it is ignorant. It's like somebody telling you 20 years from now that Michael Jordan doesn't count.
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Old 09-10-2010, 01:41 PM    (permalink
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I don't know if we can't get physically bigger than today's game.* It may end up being like Baseball, when they root out the PED and everyone's size returns to "natural" levels.


* "Mario Williams is a chump, a 290-lbs DE that ran a 4.7, pst.. Steve Jones is 330-lbs and ran a 4.3!"
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Old 09-10-2010, 01:43 PM    (permalink
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And another point I want to make.

Everyone says "Zomg, Peyton Manning calls his own playez. Best qb everrrzz"

That's such an ignorant statement. In the 60s and 70s, qbs would call the entire game. They were the offensive coordinator.

Johnny Unitas's brilliance wasn't just his ability to throw the football better than anyone before him, but his ability to call a great game as well. I don't care if the game was "simpler" then (it really wasn't, this is a lame statement made by those who don't know any better), calling your own game is bad ass. The preparation that goes into it can't be quantified.

For example, Phillip Rivers has said himself that if he were allowed to call his own plays or make audibles, he'd just call the same 12 plays all game.

Now imagine him in that era. Would he be a successful qb? Obviously not.


Qbs of the old era don't get the credit they deserve. They went against defensive lines that didn't go against the same blocking schemes of today's game, they went against CBs who could absolutely maul their WRs, they had to call their own gameplan, and they generally played in harsher environments.
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