Fantasy Football News

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Greatest Player of All-Time Tournament: Sweet 16 Match-ups

Time to speed up the process a bit. With the NCAA basketball tournament entering the Final Four this weekend, it's about time we get down to business with the Greatest Player of All-Time tourney.

The Round of 32 had several very close match-ups and, unfortunately, there will be a couple of solid Hall of Famers (and future Hall of Famers) going home today. We'll be cutting the field in half once again and will enter the Sweet Sixteen.

Prior to revealing the Sweet 16 match-ups, I'll remind you all once again how to cast your votes:

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Here are the next round's match-ups:

Region 1

1 Jerry Rice vs. 5 Tom Brady

Rice: By far the greatest wide receiver this game has ever seen. His numbers are incomparable to the rest of the wideouts both current and past. With 22,895 career yards, Rice is nearly 7,000 ahead of the second-place Terrell Owens. Going to 13 Pro Bowls and named to 10 First-Team All Pro squads over his 21 seasons, there's no doubt Rice's records will stand for years to come. Have I mentioned that the Hall of Famer has 208 total touchdowns and won three Super Bowls with the San Francisco 49ers.

Brady: Tom is one of three active players on this list of all-time greats––one of two active QBs. At the age of 35, Brady still appears to have plenty of gas left in his tank. His New England Patriots have won three Super Bowls, as well as gone to two additional Super Bowls and lost. His resume includes: 334 touchdown passes, nearly 45,000 yards, eight Pro Bowls, 37 game-winning drives, two MVP awards, two Super Bowl MVP awards and 17 postseason wins in his 13 seasons.
2 Walter Payton vs. 3 Dick Butkus

Payton: "Sweetness" is arguably the greatest running back of all-time. Though his all-time rushing record (16,726 rushing yards) was surpassed by Emmitt Smith, there's still no doubt that Payton is one of the smoothest rushers we've ever seen. There are two other guys (Brown, Sanders) in this debate, but you could argue that they weren't as smooth with their feet as Payton. Walter was as graceful as they come, and he was the guy to make the jump-over-the-pile-into-the-end-zone wildly popular for running backs. Not to mention he did it the best. Mention the name Walter Payton, and it's likely that even non-football fans––especially in Chicago––would recognize the name.

Butkus: Dick is still known by some as the most intimidating defender––not just linebacker––that this league has ever witnessed. During his hey days, defenders literally close-lined opposing players. And Butkus was known to rip off a running backs head and eat it for dinner. Voted to the Pro Bowl in all but one of his nine professional seasons in Chicago, Butkus clearly had the respect of his peers and even intercepted 22 passes over 119 games.

Region 2

1 Lawrence Taylor vs. 5 Emmitt Smith

Taylor: Despite what LT does with his personal time, he's certainly the best linebacker of all-time, arguably even overall defender. He talked the talk and walked the walk during his prime with the New York Giants in the 1980s. With seven seasons of double-digit sack totals (132.5 throughout his 13-year career), the 10-time Pro Bowler was a feared man on the field. Chasing down ball carriers from behind and knocking off quarterback's heads, Taylor surely wreaked havoc all over the football field. Perhaps he is best-remembered for ending Washington quarterback Joe Theismann's career after he suffered a broken leg. FYI: if you're the least bit squeamish, I don't advise looking up the footage of the LT/Theismann play on Youtube. It's ugly.

Smith: It's tough putting the league's all-time leading rusher (18,355) at the No. 5 seed, but looking at his numbers being spread out over 15 seasons makes it a bit easier. His 1991-1995 seasons eats up a majority of his yardage (led league in rushing four of those five seasons) as the final five or six so seasons of his career appear to be just above average. But there's no doubt he's still a top 5 talent when it comes to all-time backs. Especially considering he was a touchdown machine, leading the league in rushing TDs three times and destroying his competition in career rushing TDs (164, 19 ahead of second-place Tomlinson). His yardage and touchdown totals put him in discussion for best-ever despite also having the most career attempts by far (4,409, 571 more than second-place Payton).
2 Reggie White vs. 3 Joe Greene

White: The Reggie White story is a sad one, as his life was cut short and he passed away at the age of 43 in 2004, just four short years after his career with Philadelphia, Green Bay and Carolina had ended. White, known as the "Minister of Defense," a reference to his faith and domination on the football field, was said to be one of the most gentle people off the field. But, on the field, White destroyed opposing offensive tackles coming off the edge, sacking 198.0 quarterbacks throughout his 15-year career. He is just two sacks shy of Bruce Smith for most all-time.

Greene: This could obviously be argued, but Greene was, in our opinion, the heart and soul of the Pittsburgh Steelers' Steel Curtain in the 1970s. Leading one of the most dominant defensive runs ever, Greene anchored a Steeler defensive line that feature himself, L.C. Greenwood, Ernie Holmes and Dwight White. The 10-time Pro Bowler and Hall of Fame D-tackle could shed two or three blockers at once and still get to the quarterback or running back. He wasn't referred to as "Mean Joe" for nothing. Named to the Pittsburgh all-time team, the towering 6'4" Greene helped Pittsburgh win four Super Bowls in the 1970s.

Region 3

1 Jim Brown vs. 5 Brett Favre

Brown: The bruising 6'2"/232 pound fullback was unstoppable, especially when you consider most defensive ends and tackles were about Jim's size back in his day. There were no 260-270 pound defensive ends to put him in his place. This led to an unstoppable force in what we call today "Jim Brown." He played just nine seasons with the Cleveland Browns, but he was selected to a Pro Bowl each of those seasons and broke 1,000 yards in all but two of those seasons, for a grand total of 12,323 yards and 106 TDs in a career that lasted less than a decade. His 5.2 yards per carry is eye-popping. It's clear that Jim Brown was football in the 1950s and '60s. The only season of his career that he did not lead the league in rushing yardage was when he ran for 996 and 13 TDs in 1962. The three-time MVP won a championship in 1964 and his nine-year reign will forever go down as one of the most dominating runs this league has seen.

Favre: No. 4 is the true definition of a gunslinger. In fact, I think he may have even copyrighted the term? Well okay, no not really. But not only does Favre hold the record for most career passing touchdowns (508), but he also holds the record for interceptions (336), yards (71,838), attempts (10,169), completions (6,300) and times sacked (525). Now, if that isn't the definition of a sure-fire gunslinger, then I don't know what is. His career postseason record is 13-11 in 24 starts, including a Super Bowl championship in 1996, and the 11-time Pro Bowler, whether they like to admit it or not, is still loved by Packer nation.
2 Johnny Unitas vs. 6 Dan Marino

Unitas: Johnny U is another player that you can't really look at the stat sheet and expect to pull results from it. I, unfortunately, never got to actually see him play, but his former teammates say he was one of the best leaders they've been around. He's been voted by numerous polls as the one quarterback that would be best to have for one game-winning drive, beating out the likes of Montana in the process. In a game completely different than today's game, Unitas was one of the most effective passers the league had seen, and he led the Colts to two NFL championships in addition to a Super Bowl V victory. Unitas stuck around until he was 40 years old and was selected to 10 career Pro Bowls.

Marino: Certainly the best quarterback to never win a Super Bowl during his 17-year career with the Miami Dolphins. A pure pocket passer, Marino could make plays with his legs if he absolutely had to. The nine-time Pro Bowler put up a 147-93 regular season record and led the league in passing five different times. Before Peyton Manning, Tom Brady and Drew Brees came along, Dan Jr. held the single-season TD record (48) and passing yards record (5,084), which were both set during the 1984 season. It was also that season that Marino's Phins made it to the Super Bowl, only to fall to Montana's Niners, 38-16.

Region 4

1 Joe Montana vs. 5 Jack Lambert

Montana: Tough to argue one of the winningest signal callers in league history, and possibly the best pure pocket passer. His numbers are there, especially in terms of postseason and Super Bowl wins, and he had total control of Bill Walsh's West Coast Offense. It didn't hurt that he had Jerry Rice and John Taylor to throw passes to, but there's no doubting the long list of accomplishments that "Joe Cool" has in his back pocket. Four Super Bowl victories, including 3 SB MVPs, eight Pro Bowls, two AP MVP awards, 16 postseason wins and a career 95.6 QB rating in the postseason.

Lambert: The final member of the 1970s Steelers squad on this bracket, Lambert is by far the best one of them all. A top 5 linebacker of all-time, Lambert was best-known for his ferocity and aggressiveness. There are famous photographs of Lambert showing that, like a lot of hockey players, Lambert was often missing some of his front teeth. If that doesn't strike fear in an opponent on a football field, I'm not sure what else would. In his 11 seasons as a Steeler, Lambert racked up nearly 1,500 total tackles, 23.5 sacks and 28 interceptions. He was an all-around impressive linebacker who was also the emotional leader of the Steel Curtain defense in the '70s.
2 Barry Sanders vs. 3 Ronnie Lott

Sanders: In our humble opinion, we'd say Sanders is the greatest running back of all-time. Though historians would likely argue against that statement and say it's Payton and stat geeks would say it's Emmitt Smith (solely based on his all-time yards and TD numbers). But, looking at the bigger picture: Is there really anyone who can compare? Barry has the best highlight reel-worthy runs, played behind one of the worst offensive lines in the league at the time, meaning he had little talent around him. Not to mention he's likely run for the most negative yardage in NFL history, but still managed 15,000+ yards for his career. You add together that he played just 10 seasons and walked away from the game completely healthy, and you have the recipe for greatest production ever, right? Sanders made the Pro Bowl all 10 of his seasons and ran for under 1,300 yards just once. With a YPC average of 5.0 for his career, you give him two or three more seasons and he probably could have come close to 20,000 yards...which shatters Smith's record. Rant over.

Lott: A Niner for a majority of his 14-year career, Lott was known around the league as one of the hardest hitting defensive backs in league history. The 10-time Pro Bowler won four Super Bowls while suiting up for the Niners from 1981-1990, and recorded over 1,100 combined tackles, 63 interceptions and 16 forced fumbles. He wreaked havoc all over the football field and wasn't afraid to get a little physical. The best free safety the NFL has ever seen play the game.

Best Players eliminated in Round of 32:

3 Don Hutson
4 Anthony Munoz
4 Deacon Jones
4 Otto Graham
6 Ray Lewis
7 John Elway
7 Deion Sanders
8 Gale Sayers
8 Merlin Olsen
11 Rod Woodson

Perhaps we ranked Ray Lewis and Gale Sayers a tad low in our seedings, and as a result they failed to crack the Top 16. Comes as a bit of a surprise, personally, to see Ronnie Lott top the final 16...but that could also be his competition in the first two rounds.

Agree? Disagree? Let me know what you thought of the players in the Sweet 16 in the comments section (along with your votes for this round, of course)!

We'll keep the Sweet 16 voting open for a couple of days. Vote away and tell your friends!

Note: We do not own the above images. No copyright infringement intended.

2 comments:

  1. jerry rice
    walter payton
    LT
    reggie white
    jim brown
    dan marino
    joe montana
    barry sanders

    ReplyDelete
  2. Rice, Payton, Taylor, Greene, Brown, Unitas, Montana, Sanders.

    ReplyDelete

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