Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

20 Jul 2005

Which Career Would You Want?

FO reader Adam has a post on his blog listing an eclectic mix of professional football players and then asking, "Which Career Would You Want?" This certainly isn't a list I would've come up with, but it does make you think. I would've said Jason Sehorn until I actually heard Angie Harmon speak, so instead, I'm going with Timmy Smith.

Posted by: P. Ryan Wilson on 20 Jul 2005

56 comments, Last at 25 Jul 2005, 2:41pm by Richie


by Harris (not verified) :: Wed, 07/20/2005 - 10:21am

Why do I get the feeling that this guy's biggest problem with Tim Brown is that he was a Raider? Kurt Warner is a HOFer and Marcus Allen is overrated? Both of those statements are too stupid to even consider seriously. And the Raiders don't retire jerseys.

I'd like to be Bernie Casey, but then, I loved "Hammer, Slammer and Slade."

by Sophandros (not verified) :: Wed, 07/20/2005 - 10:25am

Methinks that the author would have a different opinion regarding Tim Brown if Brown had played elsewhere.

by S (not verified) :: Wed, 07/20/2005 - 10:38am

For 10 seasons from 1993-2002, Brown averaged 87 catches for 1192 yards and 8 touchdowns per season (see link). Hardly "pedestrian." To me, Brown is the Rafael Palmeiro of NFL receivers. Both will probably wind up in their respective HOF's.

Also, the Pro Football HOF in Canton only recognizes the careers of players in the United States. Hence, as great as Damon Allen was in the CFL, he'd never be eligible for Canton. Isn't there a seperate CFL HOF though?

by B (not verified) :: Wed, 07/20/2005 - 1:04pm

I think I'd take Tim Hasslebeck. He gets paid a lot of money to sit on a bench. The only time he has to play is when his team is up by a lot, down by a lot or the starting QB is injured. In any case, he's not expected to do much. Plus his wife his hawt and he gets plenty of oppurtunities to make fun of Star Jones at office parties. And should he gets fired and divorced, he can always move to Seattle and pick up girls by pretending to be his brother.

by Björn (not verified) :: Wed, 07/20/2005 - 1:28pm

RE: #3

What is the past tense stuff about Damon Allen? He is still playing. In my mind, he is the third best quarterback in the CFL this season. And the guy is like, 80 years old. Jesus, next time the "most underrated player in football" question comes up, Damon Allen is my answer.

by Johonny (not verified) :: Wed, 07/20/2005 - 1:35pm

Damon and Marcus played forever. Man they got some good genes. Imagine if a Mathews married an Allen. The children could play football until they were 170 years old.

by dedkrikit (not verified) :: Wed, 07/20/2005 - 2:16pm

Johonny -
LOL That is awesome. :)

I would choose Tim Brown's career of those listed. Played well above average, moderate fame, huge fan-base in main city... what else do you want?

by geoff (not verified) :: Wed, 07/20/2005 - 2:20pm

I'd pick Don Hutson; as the NFL in general (and sites like this in particular) get more popular, his stature is only going to grow.

Except for, you know, the whole part where he's dead. That part I wouldn't like.

by Richie (not verified) :: Wed, 07/20/2005 - 2:39pm

I like how he claims that the St. Louis Rams had only been in existance for 5 years when they won the Super Bowl. Does he remember Los Angeles? It's not like they started from scratch in 1995.

I think that Brown is a borderline/probable HOF candidate, but I also think he was more than just solid. For most of his career he was probably considered one of the top-10 WR's in the game.

I am a bit of a Warner fan, but I wouldn't call him the most dominant QB of his era. His era is entering it's 7th season, but only 3 or 4 of those were any good for Warner. I'd rather not name two of the prime candidates to be the top QB of Warner's era.

I'd take Brown's career. Winning a Super Bowl is overrated when you talk about true life happiness.

I'd rather play for 16 years as one of the best at my position, with a handful of seasons on good teams.

by Basilicus (not verified) :: Wed, 07/20/2005 - 3:00pm

If I could choose any football player's career, I suppose I'd choose to be Brett Favre, with Tom Brady a close second. Come on, have you seen Deanna Favre? I mean, there's the Super Bowl win and the 3 league MVPs, too, but have you seen Deanna Favre? And Bridget Moynahan...I mean, that's a no-brainer. Of the choices given, though, I'd take Tim Brown, I suppose...I think he's a first ballot hall of famer and, Raider or not, he would be considered the best of his era if not for that pesky Jerry Rice character overshadowing him his entire career.

by MDS (not verified) :: Wed, 07/20/2005 - 3:41pm

So, Basilicus, is it safe to say if you could choose any basketball player's career, you'd take Wilt Chamberlain?

by Carl (not verified) :: Wed, 07/20/2005 - 4:40pm

Well, maybe some in here might not consider Brown one of the best WRs of his generation, but his peers certainly did.

He appeared as a Pro Bowl representative in 1988, 1991, 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 1997, 1999 and 2001.

If I recall, the highest number of previous invitations for Raiders since the merger was eight (Long and Shell).

I can't remember how many Steve Wisniewski had, but he has to be up there, too.

Long and Shell are, rightfully, in the HOF, and Brown should be, too.

Whereas Palmeiro is currently playing 1B on my Yahoo Fantasy Baseball team (don't ask; I traded Dunn for a few great SPs), I would never compare him (a very good 1B, but never one of the best) to Brown, who had a long career that showcased one of the best WRs and special teams players in football.

Oh, yeah, and he only lost one fumble (one!) in all of those years.

Not shabby.

by Gaynell Tinsley (not verified) :: Wed, 07/20/2005 - 4:44pm

RE: #3 I hit the masthead at the top to go to thise clown's site and there is a story comparing Palmeiro to Brown.

And if I didn't know any better, I would say this guy isn't much of a Raiders fan. But that's only a hunch. I'm also starting to get the impression he doesn't think much of the St. Louis Rams, either.

I don't think this guy takes football seriously enough and I'm kind of miffed that somebody would go to this much trouble to make a site like this. It's piss, poor.

by Carl (not verified) :: Wed, 07/20/2005 - 4:46pm

We also let this pass:

"Hutson is, without question, the greatest player to ever play in the NFL."

Ahem... I have a few questions...

by Gaynell Tinsley (not verified) :: Wed, 07/20/2005 - 5:22pm

True. I looked around this site and I'm trying to figure out if this guy is a Packers fan or not.

by Fanboy (not verified) :: Wed, 07/20/2005 - 5:59pm

If Keenan McCardell averages 61 receptions over the next four years, he could reach 1,000.

Is he a Hall of Famer? All of you that claim that Brown is a Hall of Famer must admit that McCardell would be if he did this.

by Pat on the Back (not verified) :: Wed, 07/20/2005 - 6:07pm

I would amend that to:

"Hutson is, without question, the greatest player to ever play in the NFL who nobody outside Wisconsin has heard ever of."

Granted, I'm biased, but the guy put up Ruthian numbers on championship teams and invented passing routes. I don't have a problem with people saying Rice is the best WR ever, but I do think that Hutson should be in that conversation a lot more than he normally is. Seriously, how often will some yahoo on ESPN say, "Rice is the best receiver in NFL, and 2nd isn't even close. In fact, Rice is the best two WRs in history, and 3rd place isn't close. Can I get a boo-ya?"

by MDS (not verified) :: Wed, 07/20/2005 - 6:13pm

I agree with PotB, and unlike him, I have no bias because I'm not related to Hutson. I think it was Rich Eisen who once said on SportsCenter that Jerry Rice was obviously the best receiver ever and Cris Carter was just as obviously the second-best receiver ever. But I'd bet Eisen only has a vague sense of who Hutson is and has no idea how far superior Hutson was to all other pass-catchers of his era.

by Adam (not verified) :: Wed, 07/20/2005 - 6:40pm

There is indeed a CFL hall of fame. It's in Hamilton, Ontario.

Useless/worthless fact of the day.

by dedkrikit (not verified) :: Wed, 07/20/2005 - 6:41pm

RE #16:
Why must those admit that? What's your logic?

by Carl (not verified) :: Wed, 07/20/2005 - 6:50pm

Again, as I have argued elsewhere, it's important to remember that various positions are more highly valued in different eras.

While Hutson might be one of the best ends ever, I won't call him "the greatest player to ever play in the NFL," especially if I don't think he was even the best player of his age.

I'd give it to Otto Graham or (later) Jim Brown.

I give Hutson all the credit for his two-way play, his innovative pass patterns, the way he changed the game.

Some caveats:

He played in a discriminatory league that barred African-American players from competing, thus keeping equally good competitors out of the NFL. Had he lined up against earlier versions of "Night Train" Lane, he might have had a very different career. I doubt that because he was truly a special player, but we'll never know, will we?

He played at a time when the NFL wasn't really the league of excellence we know today. The college game was far more popular (and many of the players far better paid), and the better athletes could be found in baseball or boxing.

While he was an innovator, and was dominant AT HIS POSITION, he wasn't so dominant as some who came before him (Bronco Nagurski, Red Grange) and after him (Jim Brown, Marion Motley, et al).

Don't get me wrong. I really believe sportswriters and broadcasters should always bring up Hutson's name when discussing how great Rice or others are.

But they should probably also mention the color ban that would have kept Rice, Brown and the men who routinely defend them now out of the league then.

by Carl (not verified) :: Wed, 07/20/2005 - 6:58pm

And for those who will mention that Hutson was league MVP twice, I should like to add that the honor came in 1941 and 1942, when many of his colleagues had either joined the Army or found themselves conscripted.

His best years came from 1941-1945.

Year Team Gms Rec RYds RAvg TD Int IYds ITDs
1941 Green Bay 11 58 738 12.7 10 1 32 32.0 0
1942 Green Bay 11 74 1211 16.4 17 7 71 10.1 0
1943 Green Bay 10 47 776 16.5 11 8 197 24.6 1
1944 Green Bay 10 58 866 14.9 9 4 50 12.5 0
1945 Green Bay 10 47 834 17.7 9 4 15 3.8 0

I should like to mention that most of his peers were in uniform when he managed these gaudy numbers.

That would be like playing Rice or Brown against a bunch of scabs during a strike and saying they were the best WRs of all time, based on their records.

I know Green Bay purists are going to tell me where to go, but had Hutson been playing for Uncle Sam instead of Uncle Lambeau, we probably wouldn't be having this discussion now.

by Carl (not verified) :: Wed, 07/20/2005 - 7:07pm

And while I'm on my soapbox, I would like to reiterate my (so far vain) call to have George Preston Marshall removed from the HOF.

Any man who toils so diligently to bar men of color from equal participation in sport deserves no reward from halls of fame.

by Richie (not verified) :: Wed, 07/20/2005 - 7:13pm

I think it's pretty difficult to fairly compare Hutson to Rice. Even comparing Jim Brown to Emmitt Smith may not be fair.

I'll pick Rice over Hutson. I think becoming a great receiver at a time when nobody cared much about passing the ball isn't nearly as impressive as dominating at a time when coaches spend hours watching film of you before the game each week.

Hutson was great. Rice is greater.

by Carl (not verified) :: Wed, 07/20/2005 - 7:19pm

For a sobering reminder of what Hutson's colleagues were doing while he set records, click on my name.

by Theo (not verified) :: Wed, 07/20/2005 - 7:32pm

I'd choose Rod Woodson. He was just a great champion with a lot of flair.

Or a position definer. It's Shannon Sharpe!
He IS what TE is today.

Something like that.

by Carl (not verified) :: Wed, 07/20/2005 - 7:39pm

While Hutson remained at Green Bay during WWII, 638 of his peers joined the military or were drafted. Nineteen died. Two players -- Detroit Lions end Maurice Britt (who lost his right arm, ending an NFL future) and NY Giants end Jack Lummus (KIA) -- received the Medal of Honor for battlefield heroism.

Eight of Hutson's peers fought in WWII and were later enshrined in the HOF.

And while it's impossible to even imagine such civic mindedness today, six NFL owners also gave up commerce and joined the war effort: Bud Adams, Tennessee Titans; Tom Benson, New Orleans Saints; Wellington Mara, New York Giants; Art Modell, Baltimore Ravens; Alex Spanos, San Diego Chargers; and Ralph Wilson, Buffalo Bills.

Because of their experiences in the war, the league has continued to this day an annual "Heroes Fund" to assist the families of men and women serving overseas.

The NFL doesn't promote it much, but it means a lot to a great many families out there. I don't see many reporters writing about it, but the NFL has given more than $2 million to the families who lost a loved one in Iraq or Afghanistan, $10,000 at a time.

In this age of hyped materialism and outrageous promotion for commercial gain, the NFL has quietly performed this charity, and that's a reflection of the humility inherited from the men mentioned above.

by Gaynell Tinsley (not verified) :: Wed, 07/20/2005 - 7:50pm

Hutson did not play during the same era as Otto Graham and Jim Brown.

I think we should diminish the accomplishments of today's players because they are not fighting in the War on Terror.

by Gaynell Tinsley (not verified) :: Wed, 07/20/2005 - 7:54pm

Carl, what would Hutson's numbers had been like if NFL players had been paid like today's superstars, or if they had today's advances in modern medicine.

Plus the NFL had fewer teams, fewer players, etc. What would Rice have done against 14 teams featuring the best players, or if he had to play defensive back.

Sorry, you are misleading the witnesses.

by Carl (not verified) :: Wed, 07/20/2005 - 8:07pm

Otto Graham's career began the year Hutson retired. As far as I'm concerned, that's close enough when it comes to "eras."

As I spelled out in parentheses, Brown came later, in a desegregated league, and I believe he was even more dominant.

I thought that was pretty clearly explained, if not so obvious as to not bear correction.

You might now notice that I mentioned several other players who came before and after Hutson who I believe to have been more dominant, including Red Grange, Bronco Nagurski and the incomparable MM.

I have no idea why you're bringing up the WoT and today's players. I didn't post anything of the sort. Rather, I mentioned that Hutson's numbers magically increased upon the loss of nearly 700 of his fellow players to the draft or enlistment during WWII.

If, say, 3/4 of today's league gave up the game to enlist in the Army, one could say that the resulting great numbers from, say, Wayne Chrebet might be put into question.

I'm not saying Hutson wasn't an outstanding, innovative player. But it helps to be so great when your rivals are fighting at Guadalcanal and you're not.

by Carl (not verified) :: Wed, 07/20/2005 - 8:14pm

What is most certainly not misleading, of course, is that Rice or Brown wouldn't have been allowed to play with or against Hutson because they didn't share his pigment.

As I believe I've argued strongly elsewhere, the lack of African-American players in the NFL during Hutson's years further calls into question his "records," which also were helped greatly by the loss of his best defenders to WWII.

Is this even debatable?

by Richie (not verified) :: Wed, 07/20/2005 - 8:40pm

Is that correct - Tim Brown only lost one fumble his entire career?

That's amazing.

by Richie (not verified) :: Wed, 07/20/2005 - 8:42pm

And while it’s impossible to even imagine such civic mindedness today, six NFL owners also gave up commerce and joined the war effort:

I don't know about that. Pat Tillman had it.

I am guessing that WWII was roundly considered to be a necessary war, and most felt that the US involvement was the right thing. I don't think there's been a conflict since then that was so obviously the "right thing" to do. If such a war came again, there would surely be plenty of people who would serve (and give up commerce for civic mindedness), if needed.

by Ryan Mc (not verified) :: Wed, 07/20/2005 - 11:15pm

A couple of questions:

The article says about Hutson: "Imagine a receiver in today's NFL averaging 185 receptions for 2,245 yards, and 35 touchdowns every season. Would there be a question of his greatness?"

Where is the guy getting these numbers from???

Second question: how many people out there think Kurt Warner is a HOFer based on what he's done so far? I must admit I'd never even considered that, and I'm still not giving it serious consideration now (I confess to a HOF bias towards guys who had long, consistent careers like Brown rather than guys who displayed short-term brilliance)

by Zac (not verified) :: Wed, 07/20/2005 - 11:45pm

I don't know about some of this.

Is there any doubt that Babe Ruth is the greatest baseball player of all time, even though he didn't play against blacks?

Is Stan Musial any less of a player because he played baseball from 1941-1944?

I will assume that the Army had some reason for not drafting him. I can't find any information online about it.

Shall I list Hutson's war accomplishments as well, as irrelevant to the game as they are:

"Those who weren't overseas supported the war effort at home by selling war bonds. People connected to the NFL sold bonds that generated $4 million worth of sales in 1942 alone. At one rally in Milwaukee, three Green Bay Packers sold $2,100,000 worth of war bonds. For their efforts, hall-of-fame coach Curly Lambeau, Cecil Isabell and hall-of-famer Don Hutson received Treasury Department citations."

by Björn (not verified) :: Thu, 07/21/2005 - 12:52am

i bet some people would argue it. Besides, Carl isn't trying to take anything away for playing when he did, he is just putting an asterisk beside the numbers, which is fair. His Wayne Chrebet example is a good analogy.

by MCS (not verified) :: Thu, 07/21/2005 - 9:03am

I recall reading that Hutson also led the league in receiving from 1936-1939 as well. I think that makes Hutson the only player to lead the league in receiving for both 5 years in a row and 4 years in a row.

Correct me if I am wrong, but the USA wasn't part of WWII until late 1941.

Carl, it sounds to me that not only are you diminishing his accomplishments as an NFL receiver, you are denigrating the man because he wasn't fighting in WWII.

A point I want to make is that there was NO PASS INTERFERENCE penalty when Hutson played. DBs were allowed to do whatever they wanted in order to stop the succussful completion of the pass.

Hutson dominated his era when there were no people of color in the league, but the rules were not set-up for the passing game.

Rice dominated his era when there were people of color in the league, but the rules were more relaxed, promoting passing.

Enough of my rant. I appreciate your reading this.

Aaron, I renew my plea for a WR comparison similar to the outstanding work you did last season for Page 2 regarding the QBs.

by C (not verified) :: Thu, 07/21/2005 - 10:16am

Getting back on topic, I'd be Seahorn. Angie Harmon is beyond hot.

by MDS (not verified) :: Thu, 07/21/2005 - 10:40am

Does anyone know why Hutson didn't serve during WWII? I always thought just about every able-bodied man served in some capacity.

by Johonny (not verified) :: Thu, 07/21/2005 - 5:37pm

Packer NFL website speculates flat feet.

by Carl (not verified) :: Thu, 07/21/2005 - 6:28pm

"I don’t know about that. Pat Tillman had it."

But Tillman wasn't an owner. It seems to me one thing to leave a lucrative career to serve one's country, and quite another to abandon a family-owned enterprise and a staple of a community to risk getting killed.

That six scions of NFL families decided to do that, voluntarily, seems impressive to me, and most unlikely today.

"Is Stan Musial any less of a player because he played baseball from 1941-1944? I will assume that the Army had some reason for not drafting him. I can’t find any information online about it."

The Army had a very good reason for not nabbing him in 1944, when his waiver (he had four kids and a wife) expired at the St. Louis draft board --
the Navy got him first.

Musial served as a Seaman First Class from 1945-1946. Upon his discharge, the 1943 MVP returned to the game.

It should be noted that Stan the Man went on to pick up MVP awards in 1946, 1948 and 1957 -- after the war and after MLB allowed Negro League players to compete for roster slots.

So it's not an apt metaphor in any way. Musial was a great player during the war, after the war and after desegregation swept the league. One can't say that about Hutson.

His entire career transpired in a league devoid of some of the nation's best athletic talent, both because of the color barrier and, later, because more than 75 percent of his white peers were drafted.

"Correct me if I am wrong, but the USA wasn’t part of WWII until late 1941. Carl, it sounds to me that not only are you diminishing his accomplishments as an NFL receiver, you are denigrating the man because he wasn’t fighting in WWII."

The draft began in 1940. In fact, the majority of the men killed at Pearl Harbor were draftees awaiting the end of their statutory duty. The NFL began to lose its youngest, unmarried players more than a year before the Dec. 7 attack.

Some might believe that I denigrate Hutson. I don't. In 1943 he lost his youngest brother, who was killed fighting the Japanese in the South Pacific and, according to his Packer teammates, "never recovered" from the tragedy, although Curley Lambeau convinced him to play a few more years.

He already had announced his retirement in 1943 and likely never would have been drafted for a key reason -- he was the sole breadwinner for his family, once his brother was KIA, and therefore exempt from the draft.

MCS raises an important point about the post-1978 reforms to the rulebook that opened up the passing game and boosted the role of the WR, changes that certainly helped men like Rice and Brown.

But it's also important to add that Rice and Brown had to compete for roster positions against men far more talented than those ends of yesteryear, in a desegregated league, with no global wars tossed in to winnow the talent against which they competed.

Again, Hutson was one of the greatest players to ever suit up in the NFL, a titanic talent who deserves to be mentioned anytime Rice is brought up.

But despite my admiration for the man, both on and off the field, his "records" need to be held against two brutal realities: (1) He never played against African-Americans; (2) His best years came in a league that lost most of its best players to the war effort.

by Carl (not verified) :: Thu, 07/21/2005 - 6:37pm

While I believe I am right about all of this, Will Carroll and Joe Horrigan have both spoken eloquently about the unchallenged greatness of Hutson in other forums, and I'm not going to say they're wrong.

Just my opinion.

by Carl (not verified) :: Thu, 07/21/2005 - 6:43pm

In the same vein, I might suggest that baseball minds far more sophisticated than mine have declared Ty Cobb the greatest player of all time (he beat Ruth in the vote count for the HOF in its inaugural year), or Rogers Hornsby (the opinion of Ted Williams) or Honus Wagner (John McGraw).

When in doubt, I say JAMES WILDER.

by Carl (not verified) :: Thu, 07/21/2005 - 6:57pm

Since this forum usually defers to sorts such as Bill James, he's said that Ruth was the finest player, but that "Mays may have been as good, Honus Wagner may have been as good, Bonds may be as good. But Ruth had more impact."

Hutson had an impact, but was it greater than Red Grange's? Bronco Nagurski's? Otto Graham's? Jim Brown's? Or even Jerry Rice's?

I don't think so.

by Johonny (not verified) :: Thu, 07/21/2005 - 8:33pm

Not to get to deep into the whole race issue. That while Hutson played against "white" DBs due to racism, I might as well point out that Rice play against predominately African American DBs. Of course one could argue that ability not racism is the reason why this is true... but the impact of socio-economics and race is an issue beyond the interests of this website.

by Richie (not verified) :: Thu, 07/21/2005 - 8:49pm

Off Topic Comment:

To the left of the screen, I see that Aaron was on the radio a few minutes ago. I just missed his appearance. Has anybody ever caught any of his radio appearances? Are the hosts/callers receptive to his ideas? Is he able to get very deep into DVOA, etc?

by Jason (not verified) :: Fri, 07/22/2005 - 2:25am

When mentioning Rice, rarely do people mention he had 2 Hall of Fame Quarterbacks throwing to him. It's much easier to dominate when a receiver has Montanna and Young throwing to him. Heck Favre turned Bill Schroeder into a 1,000 yard receiver (not that I am comparing them, but rather just showing the benefit of having a great qb throwing to you)

by NFL Adam (not verified) :: Fri, 07/22/2005 - 4:12am

Thanks for those that took the time to read the story and respond to it. We read every one that was complimentary.

Remember kids, it's just football. This story was supposed to be fun and light-hearted. Sorry that some took one throw-away paragraph to discuss the socio-economic impact of the NFL. That was not the intent, and we hope that you can take the time to someday and relax.

Thanks again, and be sure to check the website for other irreverance in the NFL.

by Carl (not verified) :: Fri, 07/22/2005 - 11:44am

"That while Hutson played against 'white' DBs due to racism, I might as well point out that Rice play against predominately African American DBs. Of course one could argue that ability not racism is the reason why this is true… but the impact of socio-economics and race is an issue beyond the interests of this website."

This is too easy.

Joh, by the time Rice joined the league, it had been desegregated. As a raceless meritocracy, African-American players compete for the same roster slots as white athletes. Over the course of the last 50 years, this has meant the virtual replacement of caucasian players at many positions, including WR and CB.

Rice also played at a time when there were no major wars to divert manpower from the highly competitive NFL.

While you might argue that such issues have no place on the FO website, I would argue quite to the contrary for one fundamental reason: Statistics don't exist in a vacuum. When a league discriminates against a sizable portion of the American talent pool by blocking employment due to race, or when a global war removes more than 75 percent of a league's best athletes from the mix, these variables must be considered.

If they won't be considered on this site, then who will do it?

That's why NFLAdam is so very wrong about the relative unimportance of race, labor issues and other concerns he blithely parodies on his website. To understand the game, to illuminate the statistics of the game, one must come to terms with these issues, which is why I have to spend too many hours every year sitting down with agents, NFLPA reps and the league hashing out the intricacies of salary cap revisions, changing demographics of the draft pool and other things most fans don't consider.

Since NFLAdam is aiming for parody and laughs, that's fine for his website. But on this one, which attracts a wide array of very smart number crunchers and historians of the game, his jokes and throw-away statements can become, here, points of departure for a serious analysis of statistics.

In this case, I simply submit that in the case of Hutson, we should remember that his "records" come with two asterisks.

by MDS (not verified) :: Fri, 07/22/2005 - 12:14pm

Although I think I'm more pro-Hutson than Carl is, I agree with every word of Post 49.

by Carl (not verified) :: Fri, 07/22/2005 - 5:32pm

If anyone still cares about the topic, MDS has written about some of these issues in other publications, including The New Republic.

He and I both agree that the Veterans' Committee should work more diligently to put (now long-dead) African-American athletes where they belong, in Canton.

I also have argued that Marshall should be removed from the HOF. This will never happen, but I make the argument about this time every year. I have no doubt he orchestrated the "gentlemen's agreement" that effectively barred outstanding black players from professional football.

No matter what else he did during his HOF career, this sin is too great to be forgiven.

It's one thing to be a racist. It's another to use your very great power to deny others the right to freely think for themselves about the matter.

To learn more about these arguments, check out the archives at PFRA (click on my name).

While Aaron loves to disparage the Big 10 on draft day, remember that it was this conference (and, especially, my alma mater, Indiana) that refused to bow to the common practice in the South, Ivy League and other regional associations of barring black players.

Caveat: Brown and Cornell weren't so bad. Neither were most teams in the Pac-10, especially UCLA.

It wasn't Bernie Jefferson's fault that his stellar career at Northwestern wasn't rewarded by a NFL draft pick until 1947, long after his prime.

It wasn't Oze Simmons' fault that no NFL fan was allowed to compare his abilities with Red Grange's.

by Carl (not verified) :: Fri, 07/22/2005 - 8:32pm

Usually at this point Senser will arrive to try to convince me that I'm completely wrong.

To this, I will recommend for him to look at the boxscore for the 1943 All-Star game played in Chicago. Featuring the league's best team, the Redskins, the NFL stars lost to a bunch of college kids 27-7.

The 'Skins had lost 37 men to the service and couldn't compete against a squad of college boys who, themselves, would soon be in uniform.

The AP All-American list at the end of the season went:

E Don Hutson, GB 1 1 1 1
Ed Rucinski, Cards 1 1 2 2
George Wilson, Bears 2 2 1 2
Joe Aguirre, Was - - - 1
Walt Masterson, Was 2 2 - -
Bill Fisk, Det - - 2 -

Again, there is a huge drop off in talent after Hutson. It's not exactly similar to the Pro Bowl roster 50 years later:

Tim Brown
Irving Fryar
Eric Metcalf
Andre Reed
Webster Slaughter
Steve Tasker
Cris Carter
Michael Irvin
Jerry Rice
Andre Rison
Sterling Sharpe

Colleges -- including Notre Dame, Purdue, Michigan, Duke and Navy -- fielded better teams than anyone in the Pros during the war years.

Probably the best squad in the country, however, was the Great Lakes team. Their coach? Paul Brown.

by Dave (not verified) :: Fri, 07/22/2005 - 11:42pm

Re: #43 & #44: Ruth was a one-of-a-kind player, unmatched- HOF caliber both as a hitter and as a pitcher.

by Linus (not verified) :: Sat, 07/23/2005 - 12:15pm

OK, Dave, but what about the points Carl brought up? The sportswriters of the day thought Cobb was better. That says something because he was universally hated while Ruth was beloved.

His peers also named Hornsby and Wagner, both of whom played for smaller market teams out of the NY limelight.

Bill James said Mays and Bonds were as good as Ruth.

by VarlosZ (not verified) :: Sat, 07/23/2005 - 8:45pm

Regarding the original question, I'd choose Tim Brown, and it's not even close. You get all the respect (and money) that comes from a long, productive career, but you're not so ridiculously famous that you can't leave the house without a disguise.

You also get to be in the Hall of Fame, and rightfully so. I can't believe anyone could look at Brown's resume and think he shouldn't be in.

9 Pro Bowls. That should be the end of the debate. He was not merely good for a long time, he was one of the best for about a decade. Is there anyone with that many selections who is not in the Hall?

His career totals are extremely impressive, especially considering that he never had great QBs working with him. 2nd all time in Receiving yards, 3rd in Receptions, 3rd in Receiving TDs, 11th in total yards, 12th in the total TDs.

The comparison to Keenan McCardell is very weak. McCardell has only 2 Pro Bowls, to Brown's 9. He's never been in the Top 5 in receptions (Brown has been twice, and led the league once), nor in yards (Brown has been four times). McCardell has never been in the Top 10 in TD receptions, while Brown has been eight times.

And, finally, if not Brown, then who? How many receivers from the modern era are we going to let in? Rice, Carter, Irvin, Lofton, Largent (and how, exactly, are Lofton and Largent more deserving than Brown?). If Brown isn't in the Hall, then there can't be any new WRs elected until Randy Moss (or maybe Marvin Harrison) retires.

I think it's slam dunk. YMMV.

by Richie (not verified) :: Mon, 07/25/2005 - 2:41pm

OK, Dave, but what about the points Carl brought up? The sportswriters of the day thought Cobb was better. That says something because he was universally hated while Ruth was beloved.

Is it possible the sportswriters of the day were old codgers, who came up watching Ty Cobb play, and loved his game, thought he was the greatest, played hard, etc. Then Babe Ruth came along, hit HR's like crazy, made it look easy, was fat, etc. Maybe the old sportswriters looked down on him.

Like today, when sportswriters talk about how great Mickey Mantle and baseball in the late 1950's were.