Wednesday, September 9, 2015

The greatest wide receiver in NFL history

So I was watching Californication for the first time tonight and got a little inspiration. Well, to be perfectly honest, I got inspiration and the definition of what a blog is supposed to be so I figured I'd write a little more here. 

The greatest receiver of all time. Most people I've encountered think this is an easy one. Jerry Rice. If you haven't already formed the opinion of me that I live in the moment let me dispel that here. Jerry was great. Mostly because he played along time but I do still think he was great. Here's a couple issues I have though. Ever wondered why we have a combine? Let me put it a different way. Notice how Lebron is pretty universally considered the greatest basketball player on the planet? He also just happens to be one of the greatest athletes. How about Serena? Jordan? Deion? Bo Jackson? See where I'm going with this? It's not a coincidence that a lot of the greatest players to ever play the game just so happen to be the greatest athletes as well. Yes, you have your exceptions. Most of the time though there are reasons for those exceptions and those players aren't really the greatest anyway, they're just great. Two of those exceptions are Steph Curry and Chris Paul. Two of the best point guards in basketball right now but not two of the best athletes. Reason being that you don't really have to be a great athlete to play point guard. It's a position that relies more on court vision and dribbling than it does athleticism. Don't get me wrong though, Westbrook is a beast and just so happens to be one of the best athletes in the league. So back to Rice. 6'2" 200 pounds and ran a 4.71 40. Now if you look at the top ten receivers in the league today you'd notice that none of them run it slower than right around 4.5 and most of the top ten run it right around 4.3 - 4.4. But that must be a coincidence or Jerry Rice was just that good right? On top of that, he just so happened to have two first ballot hall of famers throwing him the football and was basically the first stud receiver to play in Bill Walsh's west coast offense. 

So who do I think is the best. Let me elaborate a little on what I consider the best. I don't think about it as who did the best compared to their competition because that would just be unfair. Who would dominate anytime is the best. Look at it this way. Who is the best sprinter? The one who runs it that fastest. Not the one who dominated a certain era. It's easy. Well other sports are just as easy if you carve all the fat off and get to the meat of the situation. My pick is Randy Moss. Complete and total domination of the sport unlike any other. Look it up, that's not what this is about for me to give you statistics. Yes, I understand that Jerry had better overall numbers. But he played for two decades. He didn't play the position the best, he just had the greatest balance of skill and longevity. Moss was 6'5" 215 pounds and ran a 4.25 40 with a 51" vertical. For a reference, Jordan's was 48". Moss was also the leading scorer on two of the top three scoring offenses of all time.  Brady just so happened to have one of the greatest statistical years of all-time with Moss and has been a stat beast ever since. Daunte Culpepper had the highest quarterback rating of all-time playing with Moss until he left to Oakland. Not so great after that. Chad Pennington was the 18th overall pick after playing with Moss in college and had one "decent" year in the NFL without Moss. These aren't coincidences. 

So that's who I think is the greatest. While I'm at it, I'd take Calvin Johnson over Rice as well but maybe that's for a different blog. Fell free to comment. I'm a firm believer in making new decisions based off new information and I'd love to hear an argument why you'd take Rice. Thanks for reading. 

Friday, September 4, 2015

Comparing eras

I want to talk about comparing era's in sports. A lot of people tend to give way too much credit to previous generations especially when it comes to thinking how well those players would do today. There are many variables you have to take into consideration when comparing these players. I'll try to hit the one's I think are the most important below.

1. Money. I've read that money isn't actually the best motivator but it's a good one. If you look up Champ Brown on youtube you'll kind of get an idea of what the amount of money football players command can do to motivate people. The more popular the sport, the more money it makes, which attracts the best athletes. An example of how much money is there; Donald Sterling bought the L.A. Clippers in 1981 for 12 million dollars and just sold it for 2 billion dollars.

2. The pool of people to pick from. Anytime you have a larger pool of people to pick from you'll increase the odds of getting better people. A good example of this is in basketball. The Dream Team went a long ways in popularizing basketball around the globe. There's never been the amount of non American players in sports period that there are now. So in basketball, we now have a much larger pool of players to pick from than we did even in the 90's so the odds are greater that we have  better players now than we did at any other time.

3. Genetics. It's common knowledge that athleticism continues to get better. I'm under the assumption that yes, we'll continue to improve but I do believe we're close to as fast as we're ever going to get. Think about this; humans will never be able to run a one minute mile. The fastest mile so far has been 3:43.13. That record will probably be broken in the future but at some point someone will run a mile that can't be beat. 

4. Popularity. This one is pretty much the same as my first point about money. The more popular the sport, the better athletes it will attract. If Randy Moss type athletes were attracted to the long jump, we probably would've seen that record broken by now which was made in 1991. 

So taking all of these things into account I will give you an example. Walter Payton is widely considered one of the greatest running backs to ever play the game. Now before I get too far I want to make clear that when we talk about the greatest of all-time, we're not talking about greatest relative to their competition because then they would not be the greatest of all-time. This gets easy if you just think of a sprinter. The greatest sprinter would be who runs the particular sprint the fastest. It's cut and dry because there's nothing to it other than how fast it was done. The same thing applies to any sport but they're harder to examine because of the other variables involved. Back to Payton. He was 5'10" and weighed 200 pounds.  He averaged 1,286.61 yards a year for 13 years. Now I'm going to give you an extreme example of a player that would've been responsible for trying to tackle Payton, Lawrence Taylor. L.T. was 6'3" 237 pounds. Let's hypothetically say that L.T. was the average height and weight for his period. Now let's look at a one of the greatest linebackers of the 00's in Demarcus Ware. He was 6'4" 247 pounds. Now even that example, because LT was a freak of nature and Demarcus Ware, although he is too, is not head and shoulders above the average linebacker like LT was. Here's a chart to show the growth of players So Payton was playing against smaller, slower guys and averaged almost 1300 yards. How could anyone possibly expect him to run the same average against bigger, faster players? If Payton played today, it would only be logical to assume he'd not have the same success as he did then. Let's look at Adrian Peterson. He's 6'2" and weighs roughly 217 pounds. Bigger, stronger, and faster than Walter Payton. If Peterson played against smaller, weaker, slower people, wouldn't the logical assumption be that he'd perform better? 

I can probably do this all day for all sports. Larry Bird is another example I like to give. I don't even think he'd make a roster today but I hear plenty of analysts claim him to be better than Lebron or that they'd take Bird in a hypothetical draft over Lebron. That's absurd. There's a reason basketball and football have combines. That people rise and fall in those combines because of height, weight and speed issues. Bird was 6'9' 225 pounds and one look at him actually playing will show you how unathletic he actually was. Lebron is 6'8" 250 and light years ahead of Bird athletically. I just don't see how Bird would even be able to get a shot off being guarded by Lebron. 

Anyway, I love this debate and welcome anyone who has a comment.