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View Full Version : Football Football Immortality: who's going to have it in this generation?


Rain Man
02-11-2010, 08:57 PM
The quarterback thread got me thinking about football immortality.

My theory is that there's a threshold of "immortal buoyancy" that's really important. If you're famous in your day, but fall below this threshold, you eventually sink into oblivion. But if you rise above this threshold, you continue rising even after retirement until you achieve immortal status.

For example, Joe Montana has immortal status. So does Jim Brown. Anthony Munoz. Dick Butkus. These are guys whose reputations (in my opinion) continue to rise after retirement, and I think at this point they'll never be eliminated from the discussion of greatness. If anything, their considerable achievements may even get magnified.

At the same time they played, there were other great players. Steve Young. Jim Taylor. John Hannah. Mike Curtis. These guys were great too, but I don't think they made it past the point of buoyancy. (Note that I'm not saying they deserve it or don't deserve it, but these are guys who are going to eventually fade out of the discussion of great players.)

The same is true on a team by team basis. Willie Lanier is an immortal. So is Buck Buchanan and Bobby Bell. Derrick Thomas. For some reason, Jim Tyrer is not an immortal, nor is Emmitt Thomas.


Who do we think are the immortals of football? How many are there? And is anybody among today's group going to rise to that level?

Off the top of my head, I would call these guys the immortals:

Jim Thorpe
Sammy Baugh
Bronko Nagurski
Don Hutson (maybe, should be)
Jim Brown
Dick Butkus
Deacon Jones
Lance Alworth (maybe)
Johnny Unitas
Joe Montana
Anthony Munoz
Dan Marino
O.J. Simpson might have been there, but ... you know.
Mean Joe Greene
Jack Lambert
Lawrence Taylor
Barry Sanders (borderline, but I think he makes it)
John Elway (sigh...f****r)
Vince Lombardi
Ronnie Lott
Night Train Lane (maybe, should be Emlen Tunnell in my opinion)
Walter Payton (maybe)
Kellen Winslow

Guys who are close might include:

Forrest Gregg
Jim Otto
Deion Sanders
Willie Lanier (maybe I'm biased here)
Otto Graham
Sid Luckman
Tom Landry
Don Shula
Reggie White (maybe)
John Hannah (probably not, but I'm adding him since he should be)
Larry Allen (do any guards make this list?)
Roger Staubach
Eric Dickerson (not sure about that)


Modern guys who have a chance?

Peyton Manning?
Randy Moss?
Tony Gonzalez?

SNR
02-11-2010, 09:03 PM
Rich Scanlon

Mecca
02-11-2010, 09:04 PM
Manning and Moss are easy calls, they will be spoken of extremely fondly once they aren't playing any longer.

ClevelandBronco
02-11-2010, 09:05 PM
Modern guys who have a chance?

Peyton Manning?
Randy Moss?
Tony Gonzalez?

Maybe, not a chance and you're kidding. In that order.

Reaper16
02-11-2010, 09:07 PM
Maybe, not a chance and you're kidding. In that order.
Dumb.

Mecca
02-11-2010, 09:07 PM
Randy Moss is going to be talked about extremely well once he's out of the public eye, he truly is a player that changed his position, there will probably never be another one of him.

SNR
02-11-2010, 09:08 PM
Something I didn't realize.

Andre Johnson
Larry Fitzgerald
Randy Moss
Terrell Owens
Chad Johnson
Reggie Wayne

These are the elite guys of the past 5 years or so. Only one of them has a ring.

Something to be said about the importance of an elite receiver on good teams?

ClevelandBronco
02-11-2010, 09:08 PM
Dumb.

I know you guys love you some Tony, but get real. Immortal?

ClevelandBronco
02-11-2010, 09:10 PM
Randy Moss is going to be talked about extremely well once he's out of the public eye, he truly is a player that changed his position, there will probably never be another one of him.

That was true. When he wanted to play.

Rain Man
02-11-2010, 09:10 PM
I was torn on Moss because of the attitude thing, but at the same time I think he rises to the level of immortality. He made too many spectacular plays.

And maybe ClevelandBronco is right about Tony for the opposite reason. Tony is arguably the best ever at his position, but he's been more steady than spectacular. I'm not sure that will win him immortality.

Walter Jones? Probably not enough visibility.

Oh. Vinatieri. I bet Vinatieri is the first immortal kicker. Other than Ray Guy, who I think is probably an immortal punter.

SNR
02-11-2010, 09:11 PM
I know you guys love you some Tony, but get real. Immortal?He's in the discussion when it comes to the greatest of all time at his position.

It's not like he's a punter or a long snapper. The TE is a skill position. That deserves immortality, IMO.

ClevelandBronco
02-11-2010, 09:12 PM
I was torn on Moss because of the attitude thing, but at the same time I think he rises to the level of immortality. He made too many spectacular plays.

And maybe ClevelandBronco is right about Tony for the opposite reason. Tony is arguably the best ever at his position, but he's been more steady than spectacular. I'm not sure that will win him immortality.

Walter Jones? Probably not enough visibility.

Oh. Vinatieri. I bet Vinatieri is the first immortal kicker. Other than Ray Guy, who I think is probably an immortal punter.

Tight end is problematic. Winslow defined the modern tight end and I wouldn't even put him on the "immortal" list.

stevieray
02-11-2010, 09:13 PM
I'd say Jerry Rice.

ClevelandBronco
02-11-2010, 09:15 PM
I'd say Jerry Rice.

That's immortal. Moss? Not so much.

Mastashake
02-11-2010, 09:16 PM
Trying to think about defenders, mostly the ones who get talked about a lot:

Ray Lewis for sure

Maybe:
Champ Bailey
Ed Reed
Brian Dawkins
Dwight Freeney

BTW, Rain, is there a reason your list omitted DT and Seau?

Oh. Vinatieri. I bet Vinatieri is the first immortal kicker.

What about Stenarud? I'd say he's fairly immortal, if as a kicker people still talk about him.

Reaper16
02-11-2010, 09:17 PM
Tight end is problematic. Winslow defined the modern tight end and I wouldn't even put him on the "immortal" list.

It depends... immortal to whom? Dedicated football fans should and would consider Winslow, Sharpe and Gonzalez amongst the immortals. Casual football fans will not. But the opinion of fame amongst a casual fan of football is something that I truly couldn't give a fuck less about.

ClevelandBronco
02-11-2010, 09:19 PM
It depends... immortal to whom? Dedicated football fans should and would consider Winslow, Sharpe and Gonzalez amongst the immortals. Casual football fans will not. But the opinion of fame amongst a casual fan of football is something that I truly couldn't give a **** less about.

I think that's adorable.

Rain Man
02-11-2010, 09:22 PM
I'm thinking immortality among reasonably serious fans who have some knowledge of the game.

And yeah, I think Rice makes the cut. Oops. Honestly, I'm not sure about Seau and DT. I don't think they hit the buoyancy threshold. Close, though.

Rain Man
02-11-2010, 09:23 PM
I think that Winslow is immortal to a reasonably serious football fan. Tony is more productive, but it's questionable whether he makes it, which is odd.

Mecca
02-11-2010, 09:24 PM
Favre has a good chance, once he's gone he'll be remembered a lot better than he's thought of today.

ClevelandBronco
02-11-2010, 09:25 PM
I think that Winslow is immortal to a reasonably serious football fan...

I'm sure he is to some. Weird thing is that reasonably serious football fans often disagree.

ClevelandBronco
02-11-2010, 09:26 PM
Favre has a good chance, once he's gone he'll be remembered a lot better than he's thought of today.

He'd be on my slam dunk list.

Rain Man
02-11-2010, 09:27 PM
Yeah. Yeah. Favre is on there, I agree.


Linebackers are more sparse on all of these lists than they should be. But I can't really put others on there. Maybe Nitschke? The weird thing is that I think he only made one all-star team in his career. But maybe that means he makes the list if we still would consider him.

Ray Lewis might make it from this era. I'm not sure.

Mecca
02-11-2010, 09:30 PM
Lewis is probably the only LB, as of now since his career is largely complete.

There might be a few guys who come in there in the years to come if they keep rolling up big years like Ware etc.

ClevelandBronco
02-11-2010, 09:31 PM
Can I get Raymond Berry on the guys who might be close list? At least on the guys who might be close to the guys who might be close?

Rain Man
02-11-2010, 09:37 PM
Can I get Raymond Berry on the guys who might be close list? At least on the guys who might be close to the guys who might be close?

That's a good one. He should be, but I'm not sure. I don't think younger fans would think of him when asked to start naming great receivers. He might be a victim of the modern passing circuses and stat inflation.

It does seem like there should be more older receivers, though. I'm biased with Otis Taylor, and begrudgingly admit that Fred Biletnikoff warrants consideration. Berry, of course, and Don Maynard. But will these guys live beyond our generation? I'm not sure of anyone but Hutson and maybe Alworth.

Rain Man
02-11-2010, 09:41 PM
Lewis is probably the only LB, as of now since his career is largely complete.

There might be a few guys who come in there in the years to come if they keep rolling up big years like Ware etc.


It's funny about linebackers. There was the era of middle linebackers where several are close to immortality - Lanier, Nitschke, Curtis, LeeRoy Jordan, Nobis, etc., but not many OLBs achieved lasting fame from that era, if any. And there are a lot of great OLBs out there - Tippett and Kevin Greene spring to mind immediately. But I don't think anyone will remember Tippett and Kevin Greene in the long run. DT was already mentioned, and I think he's close, but for all I know I'm biased on that. Derrick Brooks won't be remembered, I don't think, and as was mentioned earlier, I'm not sure if Seau will even last. It's as if linebackers are destined for fleeting greatness.

Rain Man
02-11-2010, 09:41 PM
Singletary might make it from the modern era, though I never really thought of him in that light.

chiefzilla1501
02-11-2010, 09:49 PM
I know people don't like him, but how is Brady not in the mix?

Brady and Manning. Easily. If Big Ben can stay healthy, which I doubt he can, he's in the mix too.

Ray Lewis probably will be, even though it's Ed Reed who should be.

LT is an interesting wildcard.

Ebolapox
02-11-2010, 10:00 PM
lawrence taylor
reggie white
bruce smith? he's borderline to me.

Rain Man
02-11-2010, 10:02 PM
Yeah, Brady should be in the discussion. I think he's borderline right now and could get in with a couple more years. I also realize that I tend to underrate him for some reason.

Tomlinson is an interesting one. For reasons I can't really identify, I don't think he's immortal. Maybe it's because he doesn't have a lot of uniqueness. He's not Payton with the stiff legs and jumps, or Brown with the power, or Sanders with the quick cuts. He's more like Curtis Martin, but one level up. I could be wrong, but I don't think he's immortal.

KCrockaholic
02-11-2010, 10:03 PM
Um did you just put a (maybe) next to Walter F'n Payton?

Maybe I don't understand the thread topic...

Rain Man
02-11-2010, 10:04 PM
I think Smith is borderline, too. Oddly, I think his odds would've been better if he hadn't hung on those last couple of years. If he had retired as a Bill he might be over the threshold.

Rain Man
02-11-2010, 10:05 PM
Um did you just put a (maybe) next to Walter F'n Payton?

Maybe I don't understand the thread topic...


I know. I'm kind of ashamed of that, but at the same time I see him fading from discussions even on this board. He's on there, but he's not mentioned as quickly as Brown and Sanders are.

Reaper16
02-11-2010, 10:06 PM
Um did you just put a (maybe) next to Walter F'n Payton?

Your 2034 recipient of the Walter Payton Man of the Year Award is...

"Daddy, who's Walter Payton?"

"I dunno, son."

I don't see that happening much. And if it does: Shame.

keg in kc
02-11-2010, 10:18 PM
Aaron Curry, when he breaks the career sacks mark next season.

KCrockaholic
02-11-2010, 10:18 PM
I know. I'm kind of ashamed of that, but at the same time I see him fading from discussions even on this board. He's on there, but he's not mentioned as quickly as Brown and Sanders are.

It is sad. I loved Walter. He is still and will probably forever be my favorite football player of all time. He was the man that every person should strive to be as a human being. I was pissed the day that Emmitt broke his record, it took me a while to understand that Payton wanted it that way. He always wanted Emmitt to break his record.

cdcox
02-11-2010, 10:22 PM
If your not a first ballot HOFer, your not immortal. It's a subset of those guys.

cdcox
02-11-2010, 10:27 PM
Eric Dickerson was a guy that a lot of people thought was the bees knees for a few years, but you hardly ever hear him discussed as a great all time back anymore. LT is the modern day Eric Dickerson, IMO.

KCrockaholic
02-11-2010, 10:31 PM
Eric Dickerson was a guy that a lot of people thought was the bees knees for a few years, but you hardly ever hear him discussed as a great all time back anymore. LT is the modern day Eric Dickerson, IMO.

Thats true, and the man still holds the records for most rushing yards, rookie year. And most rushing yards in a single season, 2,105.

Ebolapox
02-11-2010, 10:49 PM
yeah, dickerson has always been way underrated to me. never met a sideline he didn't love though.

another reason we do these lists after the guys retire: the drew bledsoe effect.

come out firing, both barrels blazing, then fall off the face of the earth.