Monday, August 18, 2008

ESPN's Sports Nation: A republic of idiots and stoners

Franchise Players: Best all time for every NFL team - NFL

So ESPN asks their viewers to pick the best player ever for all 32 NFL teams. Most are unobjectionable. Others are laughable and portray a profound ignorance on the part of the voters/drooling viewers.

For Pittsburgh, they picked Terry Bradshaw instead of Joe Greene, Jack Lambert, or Franco Harris. Probably because they see Bradshaw on TV each Sunday in football season.

Anyone who ever saw those Steelers teams play knows that the only choice is Greene. The Steel Curtain starts with Greene and his freakish talent. Jack Lambert could play middle linebacker as a 225 pound rookie (the first Superbowl year) because Greene played in front of him. Lambert sat out most of the second half of Superbowl IX, yet the Greene-led defense set records for dominance.

Bradshaw was a great big game QB, but he only got to the big games because the defense made the Steelers a perennial playoff contender. Moreover, Bradshaw made quite a few mistakes in those big games. The defense bailed him out many times.

The clincher, to my mind, is that Greene was the acknowledged leader on that team. As Rocky Blier puts it: "If Joe didn't like something, none of us liked it. If Joe says we should do this, we all did it." It was Greene who kept the Bradshaw/Gilliam controversy from becoming a black-white issue in the locker room. Greene's ferocious desire to win helped Chuck Noll change the culture of losing that surrounded the franchise. Joe's influence kept the team together when the WFL started raiding players.

The selection of Joe Greene in 1969 changed the fortunes of the franchise. Other great players followed, but Joe was first then, and he is first-among-almost-equals today.

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