COLUMN by Matthew Toffolo
Column about the TOP 100 GREATEST NFL PLAYERS OF ALL-TIME LIST - CLICK below and see the list
First off, I'll admit that this list of TOP 100 GREATEST NFL PLAYERS of all-time list is ripped off completely from the NFL Network's list done in early 2011. They did such a fantastic job with the list, I decided there was no way anyone should change it now. So it has remained the same.
I've always been a sucker for NFL Films videos, and there are plenty of videos to watch with the links on this list. It really did get me into becoming a fan of the game and actually play it myself when I was in high school. I loved the musical score and god-like voiceover driving the visuals of pure athleticism with a major touch of brutality and chess playing from the coaches point of view.
At age 10, I knew nothing about football. I didn't even know 90% of the teams. The only players I knew were Joe Montana and Dan Marino, because they were always in the commercials I saw in between my TV programs. But at age 11, I decided I wanted to be an expert.
1988 was the perfect time for a boy from Niagara Falls to become a football fan. I immediately became a Buffalo Bills fans at the start of their pretty incredible 12 year run of excellent teams. And I learned a whole lot about heartache from them by experiencing their four straight Super Bowl losses. Life wasn't fair in Western New York in the 1990s. Their team was great, but not great enough. To top off the pain, their #1 hero OJ Simpson, the greatest Buffalo Bill ever, kind of got into some trouble with the law. Murder of his ex-wife and her boyfriend. A white bronco car chase. 13 months of a televised murder trial. Maybe you heard about it.
It did get me thinking a lot about what was better : To be just average and not go to the Super Bowls and lose. Or be the great teams that they were, have a lot of terrific fall Sundays seeing them win, but in the end be disappointed. What was better?
The Buffalo Bills were like a great love that always left you at the alter year after year. You kept having a fantastic year with her and everything that goes with being in love, but in the end she left you and broke your heart. Would you have rather loved and lost or not loved at all?
If the Bills win just one of those Super Bowls, then Jim Kelly, Thurman Thomas, Andre Reed, Kent Hull and perhaps even Cornelius Bennett are on this Top 100 list. But all the great Bills players from that era were snubbed with the exception of Bruce Smith, which I find interesting because if you were really paying attention to those teams, Kelly and Thomas were much more valuable players then Bruce was. Bruce Smith didn't even play the 1992 season and the Bills got to the Super Bowl just fine without him. But if you took either Jim or Thurman off any of those teams and the Bills were a .500 team at best.
And that's why these lists will always be flawed. They look at stats more than how valuable a player is to their team.
Jerry Rice is #1, which won't cause any controversay at all. But if you were building a team in the 1980s, who would you rather have - Jerry Rice (#1 on list) or John Elway (#25 on list)? Elway is the obvious choice, and he's not even in the top 10. Elway was definitely more valuable to the Broncos than Rice was to the 49ers. Do the 49ers win the same 3 Super Bowls if Rice wasn't on the team? Problably not, but they win at least 2 of them (1988 is the only year that you would dispute). But do the Broncos even make the playoffs, much less go to 4 Super Bowls (winning 2) with Elway? No.
So if you add that up, wasn't Elway the better player than Jerry Rice? And that's why lists are always flawed. But they are always fun to make and read. At least they are for most of us.
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