Saturday, April 6, 2013

Greatest Player of All-Time Tournament: Elite 8 Match-ups

It's about time we eliminate eight more participants in the "Greatest Player of All-Time" March Madness tournament, considering it is now April 6 and the NCAA college basketball tournament will wrap up on Monday evening.

It's been a tough road, as some guys were sent home a little earlier than expected last round. We likely wont have that same issue this time around, though. In fact, all four match-ups are between the No. 1 and No. 2 seeds in the tournament. But that's to be expected, and that should just say something about how the seedings were set up. Perhaps we actually did do a good job at ranking the top eight players of all-time.

Prior to revealing the Elite 8 match-ups, I'll remind you all once again how to cast your votes:

1. Leave your picks in the comments section below this article (you can do so anonymously if you would like).

2. Leave your picks on our Facebook or Tumblr page.

3. Tweet us your picks @AllOutBlitz1

4. Email us your picks at

5. Or you may even send us a text message at 443-988-8597.

Here are the next round's match-ups:

Region 1 Championship

1 Jerry Rice vs. 2 Walter Payton

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.

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.
Region 2 Championship

1 Lawrence Taylor vs. 2 Reggie White

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.

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.

Region 3 Championship

1 Jim Brown vs. 2 Johnny Unitas

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.

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.
Region 4 Championship

1 Joe Montana vs. 2 Barry Sanders

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.

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 between Payton and Brown 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.

- - - - -

Cast your vote and tell your friends to do the same ASAP! Voting will likely only be open for about a day.

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

No comments:

Post a Comment

Tell us what you think!