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Top 100 Players: Our Ballot

Top 100 Players: Our Ballot
Photo: USA Today Sports Images

by Aaron Schatz

Tonight, the NFL Network is showing the first episode in a ten-part series on the Top 100 Players in NFL History. Much like the network did with the America's Game series a few years ago, the list was chosen by a blue-ribbon panel of including both current and former NFL coaches, players and front office personnel, as well as noted NFL media members, Hall of Fame voters and league historians.

I'm very proud to say that I was included as part of the blue ribbon panel this time around. It was quite an honor and recognition of how far FO has come since we launched in 2003. With the show starting tonight, I want to share my Top 100 ballot with all the readers.

The vote did not involve actually picking 100 players in order. We each got a ballot that listed all Hall of Famers along with a list of about 40 current and recently retired players. For each player, we voted between 1 and 10, giving the top players 10 and players who shouldn't be on the list 1.

With a list of so many good players, it was really impossible to narrow it down to just 100. I finally decided to limit myself to 120 players. I gave those players a rating between 2 and 10, and every other player got a 1. Even with that limit, I had to made some really hard choices. The last two players I cut from my list were Walter Jones and Ozzie Newsome, and if you believe I should have had them higher, well, I'm not going to argue with you.

Part of my problem came from "write-ins." The ballot left space for us to add players who were not on the list otherwise, and I thought there were some rather egregious omissions. The most important missing name was Junior Seau, who made 12 Pro Bowls and was first-team All-Pro six times. I have no idea how he was left off the list. I ended up adding four other write-ins along with Seau: Champ Bailey, Drew Brees, Antonio Gates, and Willie Roaf. I also considered Nnamdi Asomugha, Rodney Harrison, Troy Polamalu, and Richard Seymour, but in the end they didn't make the cut. If any of these players don't make the NFL Network's Top 100, you can blame whoever forgot to add them to the official ballot, although I'm sure guys like Seau and Brees garnered at least a few other write-ins.

One problem with a list like this is that all our advanced play-by-play data isn't going to help much with players before 1993. In the end, there are only two players who I really put on the list solely due to DVOA. Tight ends have been more important in the last 20 years than ever before, and Antonio Gates has four of the top ten seasons in that span, so it would be hard to leave him out. The other player was Michael Irvin. Considering that Irvin had more DYAR than Jerry Rice in two of Rice's best years, I figured I at least had to make sure he was one of my 120 players, even if he wasn't that high.

Without DVOA to use for players from before 1993, I ended up making a table with four different stats: Pro Bowls, First Team All-Pros, P-F-R's career Approximate Value, and number of years as a starter.

I also considered the rankings from when Sporting News did a Top 100 NFL Players of All-Time list a couple years ago. You'll find that here. I used that primarily to help with earlier, pre-merger players. (I'll fully admit to having very little knowledge about guys who played before 1950.)

Finally, I took my final list and ran it past both Mike Tanier and Bill Barnwell for their opinions.

Here is the result, my ballot for the NFL Network's Top 100 Greatest Players series. Players from the single-platoon era are listed with their offensive positions.

Quarterbacks

10: Sammy Baugh, Tom Brady, Otto Graham, Peyton Manning, Joe Montana
9: John Elway, Dan Marino
8: Sid Luckman, Johnny Unitas
7: Brett Favre
6: Steve Young
4: Drew Brees
3: Bobby Layne, Bart Starr, Roger Staubach
2: Dan Fouts, Fran Tarkenton

By the way, Terry Bradshaw was 44th on that Sporting News list mentioned earlier, and he was the only player from the Top 50 of that list who I left off my list of 120 players.

Running Backs

10: Jim Brown
9: Walter Payton, Barry Sanders
8: Marshall Faulk, Marion Motley
7: Eric Dickerson, Bronko Nagurski, Emmitt Smith
6: Earl Campbell, O.J. Simpson, Steve Van Buren
5: LaDainian Tomlinson
4: Red Grange, Jim Thorpe
3: Lenny Moore, Gale Sayers
2: Marcus Allen, Thurman Thomas

Tony Dorsett was the hardest player to leave off here.

Wide Receivers

10: Don Hutson, Jerry Rice
7: Raymond Berry
6: Randy Moss
5: Marvin Harrison
4: Terrell Owens
3: Elroy Hirsch
2: Lance Alworth, Michael Irvin, Steve Largent

Tight Ends

6: Tony Gonzalez
4: Antonio Gates
3: John Mackey
2: Kellen Winslow

A very modern group, but it was really hard to stick guys like Mike Ditka and Charlie Sanders ahead of all the great linemen and defensive players.

Offensive Tackles

10: Anthony Munoz
7: Forrest Gregg, Jim Parker
4: Orlando Pace, Jon Ogden, Art Shell, Ron Yary
3: Lou Creekmur, Willie Roaf
2: Ron Mix

As I said above, I probably should have added Walter Jones. I guess I could have gone with 121 players.

Interior Offensive Line

7: John Hannah
6: Mel Hein, Jim Otto
5: Larry Allen
4: Gene Upshaw
3: Danny Fortmann, Bruce Matthews, Jim Ringo, Mike Webster
2: Dermontti Dawson, Randall McDaniel

Hmmm. I don't think I noticed that I had one offensive lineman three points ahead of any other offensive linemen. Oh well.

Defensive Tackles

10: Alan Page
9: Joe Greene, Bob Lilly
8: Merlin Olsen
6: Randy White
4: Leo Nomellini, Warren Sapp
3: Buck Buchanan, Henry Jordan

Merlin Olsen started for 15 NFL seasons and made the Pro Bowl in 14 of them, which is pretty remarkable.

Defensive Ends

10: Reggie White
9: Gino Marchetti
8: Deacon Jones
7: Bruce Smith
5: Carl Eller, Andy Robustelli, Michael Strahan
4: Willie Davis
3: Jack Youngblood

Linebackers

10: Lawrence Taylor
9: Dick Butkus, Ray Lewis
8: Jack Lambert, Joe Schmidt, Mike Singletary, Junior Seau
7: Chuck Bednarik, Bill George, Jack Ham
6: Derrick Brooks
5: Willie Lanier, Ray Nitschke
3: Bobby Bell, Sam Huff
2: Ted Hendricks

Surprise: Derrick Brooks made more Pro Bowls than any of the five linebackers I have listed below him, and more All-Pro First Teams than any of them except Bell.

Defensive Backs

9: Deion Sanders
8: Night Train Lane
7: Ronnie Lott, Rod Woodson
6: Herb Adderley, Mel Blount
5: Emlen Tunnell, Willie Wood
4: Willie Brown, Ed Reed
3: Champ Bailey, Jack Christiansen
2: Darrell Green, Ken Houston, Larry Wilson

Special Teams

I think that kickers and punters have a place in the Hall of Fame, but no kicking specialists are worthy of being on a list of the 100 players in NFL history.

Comments

300 comments, Last at 03 Sep 2011, 4:50pm

1 Re: Top 100 Players: Our Ballot

Champ Bailey ahead of Darrell Green? Also, I think Peyton Manning is so far ahead of any other quarterback to play football that he would have been my only 10 at the position.

"Just look at that pumpkin."
-John Madden, looking at the moon.

2 Re: Top 100 Players: Our Ballot

Brady at 10, the same score as Montana, Baugh and Graham? That's one man-crush you've got there, I'd have given him a 2 or a 3. (I thought that the irrational debate had subsided because everyone has realised that Manning is the superior quarterback. Am I just assuming that?)

I reckon Emmitt Smith is too high and Sayers is too low.

In terms of production, I'm not sure how easy it is to say Randy Moss is better than Terrell Owens.

Allen over Upshaw? Not sure how you can make that case stick. How on earth is Dermontti Dawson not in the Hall of Fame?

I think that when his career fades into the distance Strahan will start to look less like a top ten end all time (I don't think he's close now but he played for a big club and does a lot of adverts). Seymour might be the worst player on this list, he was a brilliant player for about 3 1/2 years, he hasn't been that guy for a while. I can think of quite a few better players than those two. Doug Atkins? Jared Allen is probably better than those two.

Sapp seems to be a sap to stats compilers at DT, I always thought that Bryant Young was the better player. A comparable pass rusher and far more accomplished run defender. I don't know if I'd push for BY on the list (probably would as a niners fan) but I wouldn't have Sapp on it.

You seem to be very light on 4-3 outside linebackers. If you strip away the hype is Ray-Ray really better than Lambert or Singletary?

If there's a name missing at DB then where is Jimmy Johnson? Dr Z used to say he was one of the best three he'd ever seen. Was Sanders the best corner ever? I know his publicist thinks so but even in his own time Rod Woodson might have been better.

On the whole, it's a pretty good list, which is probably quite tough to put together out of a very large number of players.

5 Re: Top 100 Players: Our Ballot

This is the problem with everyone's argument when it comes to Brady vs Manning.

On on the one hand, every fan and pundit agrees that Montana is one of the greatest QBs of all time. That's obviously based off his playoff success. But look at this regular season numbers. He didn't put up numbers like someone like Dan Marino did.

So when Tom Brady has one of the highest playoff winning percentages of all time, won 3 rings, and took at team to an undefeated season, that suddenly doesn't matter cause Manning put up MVP regular seasons. Even though Manning has a 500 record in the playoffs and his teams have been bounced in their first round games (whether it be a bye or not) 6 times. Despite winning 1 super bowl, the Colts were arguably the biggest underachiever in the playoffs the last decade.

So you can't have it both ways.

Either being the greatest ever is decided by your playoff performances and Super Bowl rings, in combination with the regular season as a factor, obviously, or not.

You can't say Montana is great cause of the rings, but Brady isn't.

Be consistent, that's my problem. People attribute different factors of success to different QBs to rationalize their own biases.

7 Re: Top 100 Players: Our Ballot

And not to mention, Brady does have the greatest single season performance of any QB of all-time in 2007 with the 50 TDS and undefeated season.

One more thought...

I think Manning is the more skilled QB than Brady, but that doesn't make him "greater" on a list like this.

Being the greatest of all time doesn't mean you were more skilled than everyone else. It means you achieved greatness (duh) on a level other players didn't.

I'm sorry, Manning hasn't done that. People forget even in Manning's Super Bowl year, he didn't actually play that well for the first 2 and a half games of the playoffs.

He had a 70 QB rating, which was his 3rd worst playoff performance ever. He threw 3 interceptions in round 1 against the Chiefs. In Round 2, he threw 2 picks, no TDS and only 150 yards in a close win against the Ravens. And in the AFC championship, he played terrible in the 1st half, throwing a pick six. Obviously, he led the great 2nd half comeback. Even in the Super Bowl, he only threw 1 TD, 1 pick and for 247 yards.

Point being, look at the playoff numbers, not impressive.

The perception of Manning in the playoffs is alot different than the reality.

So define success whatever way you want, but don't get butt hurt when people actually think Brady is one of the greatest. Cause the only justification for Manning over Brady is regular season numbers and the perception in the media and from fans.

22 Re: Top 100 Players: Our Ballot

Bobby W, time to re-start that old thread.

You said: "Being the greatest of all time doesn't mean you were more skilled than everyone else. It means you achieved greatness (duh) on a level other players didn't."

Agreed. You argue that Manning did not, which I think is wrong.

Manning's SB run in the playoffs was poor statistically, no question about that. They owe that trophy to their D and O balance as much as anything.

But you also said "The perception of Manning in the playoffs is alot different than the reality."

I am not sure what your perception is, but the general one is that he's a choker. However, did you know that his passer rating and Brady's in the post season are virtually identical? That in the Colts' high-profile playoff losses to the Steelers, Chargers, and Chargers from the 05-08 seasons, he had HIGHER ratings than the winning QBs in those games? So while the losses might tarnish his rep, they were not exactly on account of him. In other playoff losses, one OT loss
involved the D allowing a 200+ yd rushing performance (that ever happen in new England? no...) and the winning score in another was a late-game 68-yard romp by Eddie George (Manning's 1st playoff game in which he was decidedly average, but did not "lose" the game). That's five losses that contribute mightily to his rep and his .500 average, but were not lost by him.

Please don't go on about Brady's 2007 season: He played a different game than Manning ever did and he played at least six more quarters to get those numbers. Manning sat out the final quarter (in some cases a quarter-plus) of 3-4 games and all but three plays of the finale. How can you compare countig stats whenone guy plays nearly two more games than the other. By that logic, Jamal Lewis's 2,006 yard season was way better than anything Jim Brown, Gale Sayers, etc every produced. And it just ain't so.

Here's a good example of Brady's 2009 that is often overlooked: Against two teams, the Jags and Titans, he had (rough numbers) 10 TDs, 0 INTs, and a rating over 130. Against the rest of the league, he was decidedly mediocre. I know he was recovering from injury and don't mean to say he's mediocre, but when you just take a handful of stats without context, you lose the true meaning.

"Brady wins post-season and Manning doesn't" is one of those simplistic arguments that does not hold water.

Okay, FO staff, I'm prepared for this to be deleted. But HE started it....

166 Re: Top 100 Players: Our Ballot

A couple of quick comments:

Did you count all the playing time comparing Brady's 50td season to Mannings 49td season? I thought it was a lot closer then you would think since Brady had the opportunity to sit down for quite a few fourth quarters.

As for Brady's 2009 season, can we do the same for Mannings playoff season? Lets take away those wild card round games where he is playing teams like Denver. I think you would find a similar context.

The reality is that Brady has had a better DVOA then Manning since 2007 and 2009 and may have in 2008 as well if he wasn't out the whole season with injury.

170 Re: Top 100 Players: Our Ballot

The reality is that both are truly outstanding quarterbacks, the best of their generation. Trying to decide whose outstanding is more outstanding, or whose best is the bestest, is little more than argument for argument's sake.

This is especially true when it's almost always being debated by people who have an irrational preference for one over the other and will choose whatever conditions (statistics or otherwise) they feel will justify their preference. If Brady played for the Colts and Manning played for the Patriots, most of the same people would be using the exact polar opposite arguments for their positions. There's nothing necessarily wrong with that - irrational love for one team above all others is one of the foundations of professional sports - but let's not pretend we're actually going to get anywhere by arguing whose best is better.

256 Re: Top 100 Players: Our Ballot

Just to nitpick 1 point. Peyton's QB rating (90.9) for the game against the Steelers was not higher than Ben's (95.3), though it would not shock me if FO stats favor Peyton, given the defences involved.

23 Re: Top 100 Players: Our Ballot

Quick, what's Brady's yards/attempt in the playoffs? What's Manning's? What's Drew Brees's? What's Jake Delhomme's? Matt Hasselbeck? Kurt Warner? Brett Favre?

Would it surprise you to find out that Brady is the worst of that list? Would it surprise you further to find out that it's not even close?

37 Re: Top 100 Players: Our Ballot

A. They're both really good QBs, the two best in the league right now and for the past several years.

B. Arguing historic greatness when it gets to that unfathomable, overwhelming level requires grasping at straws. The debate is far, far past the point of diminishing returns and any conclusions drawn will be immediately suspect in nature, their acceptance fleeting at best.

C. Therefore, any decisions as to greatness between two players at that historic level do not depend on stats or playoff wins, but really just come down to personal preference.

D. In conclusion, Brady's way better.

274 Re: Top 100 Players: Our Ballot

Manning's really good, Brady's just good. You state it as a fact that Brady is the second best in the league right now, but I'd have him at 6 behind Manning, Brees, Roethlisberger, Rivers, and Palmer. 10 is a major stretch. 1 or not-on-the-list would be reasonable.

275 Re: Top 100 Players: Our Ballot

Roethlisberger? Bit of a stretch I'd have thought. Rivers too, he's good but I don't think it's fair to say he's that good just yet.

Palmer though? Seriously? When's the last time you watched Carson Palmer play? I wouldn't even have him in the top 10 at the position. I'd have Peyton Manning, Brees, Brady, Rivers, Rodgers, horned-helmet-wearer-who-must-not-be-named, Eli Manning, McNabb, Romo, Flacco, Ryan, and Schaub all ahead of Palmer at the moment. I rank Palmer in the same band of quarterbacks as Garrard, Orton, Cutler, and Henne - middle of the league, solid contributors, neither terrible nor awful. Palmer used to be brilliant, but he simply hasn't been the same player since his knee injury.

288 Re: Top 100 Players: Our Ballot

I haven't used any justification for Brady's greatness, so if your reply's actually to me that's a bit of a silly statement. I will, however, point out in response to your statement that Brady has three (not two) Super Bowl wins and playoff YPA is hardly the only other justification people use for saying Brady's great.

I do, however, look forward to seeing Roethlisberger break the single-season passing touchdown record (surely he has to in order for "Every justification you use for Brady's greatness [to] also elevate Ben."). I like the Steelers generally so that is something I would genuinely enjoy.

12 Re: Top 100 Players: Our Ballot

By that same logic, shouldn't Bradshaw be on the list?

Montana won with a team that most people remember for having a prolific offense while Bradshaw won with a team known for having a prolific defense. I think Brady is more Bradshaw than Montana. Defensive coach, best corner in the game, best front 3 in football, excellent special teams, ball control offense in 2 of the 3 super bowl years. Heck, the first super bowl is probably the Jets blueprint this year. On top of that, Montana won big games with touchdowns and Brady won big games with field goals.

Brady should not be placed on that top level. A low 9(maybe) or a high 8 seems reasonable, but I would put a 6 or 7 before I put 10. It is just too high a plateau to reach when half of your career was spent being a game manager.

15 Re: Top 100 Players: Our Ballot

Montana's stats, both in the playoffs and in the regular season, absolutely steamroll Tom Brady's.

Montana has an adjusted yards/attempt career average of 7.4. That includes his twilight years with the Chiefs.

Since the end of his career, the passing game in the NFL has taken gigantic leaps, first in around 1995, and then in 2004. The passing game in the NFL is stronger than it has ever been.

Brady's adjusted yards/attempt career average is 7.3.

But what about the playoffs, where Brady becomes superhuman and stuff? Montana's figure is 7.8, which was absolutely incredible for his era. As a playoff QB, Montana might never be topped.

Brady? 6.27. That is not a typo. Brady has been an average QB in the postseason. His three championships came on the backs of Richard Seymour, Ty Law, and Tedy Bruschi.

Montana isn't the best QB of the modern era because of the rings. He is the best because he dominated the game offensively in a way that nobody else could, with the possible exceptions of Dan Marino or Peyton Manning.

25 Re: Top 100 Players: Our Ballot

Where was I comparing Montana to Brady? I didn't say Brady was better than Montana.

If you wanna compare Brady to Manning, go ahead, cause that's what I was doing.

Reading comprehension...

And...
"Montana isn't the best QB of the modern era because of the rings. He is the best because he dominated the game offensively in a way that nobody else could."

If you think Montana would be considered the greatest ever without the rings, then you're disillusion.

And LOL at you thinking Bruschi and Seymour were the deciding factors in the super bowl wins. Ty Law, I'll give you. Keep reaching.

30 Re: Top 100 Players: Our Ballot

I am disillusion? I take delight in the idea of being an abstract concept (and one that means something very different than what you think it means.) The word you're looking for is "delusional."

What you wrote was that "You can't say Montana is great cause of the rings, but Brady isn't."

And I said that yes, I can, because Montana was the best playoff quarterback ever, while Brady put up mediocre statistics and forced his amazing defense to eke out close wins.

56 Re: Top 100 Players: Our Ballot

I just wanted to point out the fact that Brady's name comes before Manning's in Aaron's list, which clearly demonstrates the disgusting pro-Patriots bias of 1) Aaron, 2) this entire website, and 3) the Roman alphabet.

172 Re: Top 100 Players: Our Ballot

Never trust the Romans, man. Sure they come to your neighborhood and improve the roads and sewers, but soon they are enslaving your people and putting Brady ahead of Manning. It's just wrong man. Go with the Visigoths, instead. While it's odd for them to put Lyle Alzado, Jack Lambert, and Karl Mecklenburg ALL ahead of Brady and Manning at QB, their alphabet correctly puts "Arrgh!" "ahead of "Grrrrrr!"

201 Re: Top 100 Players: Our Ballot

One of the many, many reasons I love this site is that you can have references to Brady, Manning, and the ancient Romans all going on in the same thread. It's a geek girl's paradise!!!

282 Re: Top 100 Players: Our Ballot

All right ... all right ... but apart from better sanitation and medicine and education and irrigation and public health and roads and a freshwater system and baths and public order ... what have the Romans done for us?

167 Re: Top 100 Players: Our Ballot

Funny that Mannings single championship comes on the back of Bob Sanders.

The rest of your points are equally flawed. Montana played in an innovative offense that the rest of the league had to catch up to. Montana played in a non-free agency era. Montana played in a much warmer climate and most of Brady's playoff games were in cold and snow. I mean really, damn him for not throwing for higher YPA in that Oakland Snow Bowl.

Seriously it is a shame you are missing out on watching one of the greatest quarterbacks of our generation (along with Manning) just because he isn't "your guy".

19 Re: Top 100 Players: Our Ballot

I think you're taking a very simplistic approach to the numbers. Montana's regular season numbers are superior to Marino's when it comes to efficiency, and having several high-efficiency seasons. Marino's numbers were off the charts his first 5 seasons, but he didn't really continue that the rest of his career.

277 Re: Top 100 Players: Our Ballot

I would disagree that "every fan and pundit" agrees that Montana is one of the very best ever. I certainly don't, for the same reasons I think Brady is overrated. Fouts Tarkenton and Anderson are horribly underrated for the same reasons. I think Marino actually has finally gotten the credit he deserves. Manning has, both by sheer weight of his greatness and the one ring somewhat become accepted for the great player he really is. (In my opinion he's a solid 10 on this list. I would give Marino and Elway 10 points as well.)
Certainly fans form a list of their favorites and then rationalize backwards to find reasons that "prove" the greatness of those players, it's the fun part of these debates, although when you try and have a serious conversation about these things it rapidly becomes annoying sometimes.

Also shouldn't Singletary be on that linebacker list? He was always truly amazing to me, the anchor of a defense that was for a while utterly dominant. Maybe I'm wrong.

Can we really all name 100 players who were better than Cornelius Bennet? I'll admit to substantial ignorance of everything before about 1983.. Other than what I've learned from the record books and NFL films...

3 Re: Top 100 Players: Our Ballot

I always considered Green a little overrated. Both by the eyeball test and the data. He certainly played a long time and his exceptional base physical skills along with his ability to maintain them contributed to that - and that should be recognized.

But, he had 4 seasons in which he was recognized as All-Pro in 20 seasons.

Of those here are the details - and i think this is important:
1986: All-Pro NEA
- However Hanford Dixon was all-pro NEA, TSN, AP, PFW, PFWA - unanimous
- LeRoy Irvin AP, PFWA and TSN
- Raymond Clayborn PFW
So all in all i'd consider Dixon and Irvin the All-Pro's

1987: All-Pro NEA
- Hanford Dixon was all-pro AP, NEA, PFWA, PFW, TSN
- Frank Minnifield was all-pro PFWA, PFW, TSN
- Barry Wilburn all-pro AP
It was a strike shortened season and again Dixon and Minnifield were the lead candidates with Dixon being unanimous

1990: All-Pro PFW
- Rod Woodson was all-pro AP, NEA, PFWA, PFW, TSN - unanimous
- Albert Lewis was all-pro AP, NEA, PFWA, TSN
Again, Green clearly not the first team guy by mostaccounts

1991: Unanimous All-pro
- His best season by far, a young Deion Sanders took over after this

Essentially i see him as a one time all-pro and never the bestplayer at his position at any point in his career. The late 80's were Hanford Dixon's era, the early 90's Rod Woodson and Deion owned essentially the entire decade of the 90's.

4 Re: Top 100 Players: Our Ballot

The other player was Michael Irvin... even if he wasn't that high.

Are you sure he wasn't high?

6 Re: Top 100 Players: Our Ballot

It may be sacrilege to some fans, but Bobby Layne and Bart Starr should be left off. Good call on Bradshaw.

If Brady is a 10, then Marino should be one as well, Super Bowl wins be damned.

Ridiculous list of RBs. The DB list is also quite sick. Ed Reed and Darrell Green should probably be flip-flopped, but whatever.

Not enough love for the great o-linemen. No Jackie Slater, Jim Langer, or Dan Dierdorf?

8 Re: Top 100 Players: Our Ballot

All in all a good list. I don't know enough to say otherwise.

I probbaly would have ranked Brady lower

I probably would have ranked Starr higher, but that could just be my Green and Gold Glasses.

I originally thought that Sayers was ranked too high, but upon further review, I think he may be a little low.

I wonder where Derrick Thomas is.

57 Re: Top 100 Players: Our Ballot

Without a doubt. Thomas' inclusion on this sorts of lists is nothing short of a joke. NFL Network actually showed his 7 sack game versus the Seahawks a couple months ago and I couldn't believe how unimpressive he was even in that game. Just a bunch of bad blocking from the Seahawks and Thomas completely ignoring the running game. And that game is what his legacy boils down to: a bunch of sacks against a mediocre (4-5) opponent with absolutely no run support. Plus, the Seahawks won the game and Dave Krieg threw for over 300 yards. It was the very essence of meaningless stat compiling.

Also, the man had only 2 All-Pros, which is a joke compared to the LB's on this list. He only broke 12 sacks in a season 4 times in his career. And he only had more than 60 tackles 6 times and never broke 80. 60 tackles and never broke 80 for an LB! It's a goddamned joke.

10 Re: Top 100 Players: Our Ballot

I'm a big Marion fan, but let's be fair, his playoff performances were not outstanding over his career. Yes, he never had a good running game or even a decent defense...and the Bills always crushed the Fins dreams in the playoffs...but his playoff numbers speak for themselves.

He only won more than 1 game in a playoff year once, that was in the 84 Super Bowl year. Every other year was either one and done or one win and a loss.

Goes back to my previous statement. By stats and regular season numbers, Marino is obviously a 10. But is that the deciding factor here or on this list?

Need to be consistent.

Can't say Marino is a 10 even though his failures in the playoffs, and Brady is a 2 just because he didn't put up regular season numbers like Marino.

14 Re: Top 100 Players: Our Ballot

You most definitely can say "Marino is a 10 even though his failures in the playoffs, and Brady is a 2 just because he didn't put up regular season numbers like Marino". How is that inconsistent, if you don't weigh playoff numbers very heavily?

In my opinion, you're weighing playoff performance and number of rings way too heavily. Brady has three rings because of a combination of his ability, the excellent defenses built by the Patriots, and some favorable situations in Super Bowls.

18 Re: Top 100 Players: Our Ballot

The Pats defense only won their first super bowl against the Rams.

The whole perception that the Pats only won with defense and Brady was some game manager is a myth.

Pats defense gave up almost 400 yards and 29 points against the Panthers. Meanwhile, Brady threw for 354 yards, 3 TDS, and a then record 32 completions.

Pats defense against Philly gave up 357 yards passing to McNabb.

And is anyone really going to make the argument that the 07 Pats defense was any good? Their pass defense with Hobbs as the No. 2 corner was terrible.

Brady sure was a game manager in 07 with 50 TDS, right, right?

63 Re: Top 100 Players: Our Ballot

I'll agree with this.

I don't have all the 03 Pats game tape or anything, but it seems to me that Brady really made the leap at some point in the second half of 2003 during their long win streak.

In the 11/03 RCA Dome game (Where McGinest faked the injury) he was completing every pass when they didn't really ask him to do much, but when he actually had to start slinging it around and making his own decisions later in the game, it went to sh-t. He was a capable and accurate QB that might fit that dreaded "game manager" label for sure. He certainly wasn't a game changer or team carrier.

I don't know what changed, or when, exactly, it happened, because by that Super Bowl, that was very obviously no longer the case. And obviously it hasn't been since then.

In 11/2003 one QB on the field was very clearly superior to the other (and yet obviously inferior to his 08-09 self, even in an MVP season), which was when these debates were really full of ridiculousness. It's a hell of a lot closer now. Brady has come a LONG way. I think he's fully earned that 10 rating and the superstar rep that he was handed perhaps a bit earlier than he deserved it.

28 Re: Top 100 Players: Our Ballot

"Need to be consistent.

Can't say Marino is a 10 even though his failures in the playoffs, and Brady is a 2 just because he didn't put up regular season numbers like Marino."

Actually, that would be perfectly consistent. It would say that you're valuing regular season performance much more than post season performance. Not inconsistent at all.

11 Re: Top 100 Players: Our Ballot

Maybe it's my Bears homerism, but I thought Payton, and probably Butkus, should have been 10s. Of course, I think Nagurski and Singletary are ranked a little too highly (though they obviously should stay on the list).

I also think you have too many 10s at QB, though I understand wanting to force QBs to be ranked as high as possible on the final list. I'd probably switch Brady and Marino, and Elway and Unitas. Maybe even bump Elway down to a 7. Staubach and Starr seem too low, as well.

All that being said, this is pretty damn good list, Aaron. I don't envy the difficulty in putting it together.

And of course, congratulations on being chosen for this.

51 Re: Top 100 Players: Our Ballot

Agreed that Payton and Butkus should be 10s. There shouldn't even be a question with Payton, although I can see the argument for Butkus being "only" a 9.

I think Brady is too high at 10 and Favre is too low at 7. Favre should be a 9, while I think Brady should be an 8.

How can the list include Strahan and Youngblood, but omit Dan Hampton? Hampton should be a 5 or a 6.

I also thought the WR rankings left much to be desired. TO should not be ranked at all. The WR list seems far too biased in favor of present or just retired players.

86 Re: Top 100 Players: Our Ballot

Farve should be a 9??? How so? The guy has thrown more horrible INT's than anyone alive. If it were not for Reggie White and Desmond Howard, he would have no rings. I am sorry but for a QB to be the leader in career INT's - no thanks. He should be no higher than a 4. He has been lucky he has not really been hurt over his career but please, he is not even in the top 10 all time sorry

97 Re: Top 100 Players: Our Ballot

How much of Favre's career have you seen? By the way, I'm in no way a Favre homer. I'm a die-hard Bears fan, so I've rooted against him for almost his entire career. He routinely destroyed the Bears while playing for their biggest rival, and he is now ending his career playing for the Bears' second-biggest rival. I've seen enough of him to know he is more than just someone who threw a lot of INTs. If you think he isn't even one of the top 10 all-time QBs, then I don't know what to tell you.

212 Re: Top 100 Players: Our Ballot

I have to agree about Walter Payton. If this list is for the top 100 football players in the NFL and Payton should be number 1 on that list and everyone else can argue about the next 99. He had all of the skills as the best running back in the game, he may have not been as dominate as Brown or as dynamic as Sanders but in terms of effectiveness the difference on an every play basis is nominal. What he has going for him as an all around football player is that he had top level skills in all aspects of the game. Though he doesn't have enough kick-off returns to qualify his average was 31.7, he was an excellent receiver, and a tremendous blocker. That kind of well-rounded play was unusual at the time and is a lost art in today's NFL. There are probably some players of the early era of the game that are getting short changed here. (I am thinking guys like Thorpe and Grange who were all-around players and exceptional athletes of their time.)

Running backs have an advantage in this type of list as the position gives an opportunity to demonstrate a broader range of football skills. (It is hard to imagine Manning or Brady blocking and in terms of their relative value to their teams they shouldn't be.) Still if the question is to determine the best football player based on demonstrated skills I will take Walter Payton every day of the week, and certainly twice on Sundays.

250 Re: Top 100 Players: Our Ballot

No odubt about it. Payton was a terrific runner, outstanding reciever, devastating blocker, competent passer, pretty good tackler (as he sadly had ample opportunity to demonstrate) and even a competent kicker IIRC. The only knock on his game would be his propensity to fumble, but that was far more common back then than it is now.

Jom Brown may be the better pure runner, but Walter Payton is the best FOOTBALL PLAYER who ever played the game. Him not being at 10 is outrageous.

- Alvaro

286 Re: Top 100 Players: Our Ballot

I rest my case.

In my ind there are only two people in teh conversation of who should be #1 on the Top 100 players in NFL history: Jerry Rice because of his utter dominance and longevity and Walter Payton because of his dominance at his position and excellence at nearly all facets of the game.

And I personally would give it to Sweetness. You can even use the fact that the NFL Man of the Year award bears his name for a reason as a tie-breaker.

- Alvaro

13 Re: Top 100 Players: Our Ballot

I don't think Elway is a 9. Can anyone explain to me why it's just taken for granted that he's better than players like Brees and Favre?

He has the worst sack rate ever for a guy playing behind multiple Hall-of-Fame linemen.

29 Re: Top 100 Players: Our Ballot

At the risk of sounding like a cheap carnival medium (and alienating my Colts brethren and sistren) Elway had "it." There could be a 3-INT game where a dwarf was sitting on his shoulder pads hittimg him in the head with a hammer and if they were within one score late, I'd be saying "watch this SOB pull it off."

I suspect his sack rate has more to do with his mobility--you know how mobile QBs tend to rack up more sacks because they try to make stuff happen with their feet but get caught behind the line part of the time.

36 Re: Top 100 Players: Our Ballot

The mobile dudes usually have high yards per attempt figures (see guys like Romo, Rodgers, etc) but Elway never did. Elway sits at about 7.1, while Romo and Rodgers are way up in the 8 range.

DVOA takes into account sack rate, which brings those guys (and Elway) down a lot. DVOA usually had Elway around 9th or 10th in a typical year. That's certainly valuable, but it's not exactly Johnny Unitas-level. I suspect if we had DVOA for Unitas or Graham, they would lead the league year after year.

Elway's best seasons for FO stats are 1993 (1st in DYAR, 7th in DVOA) and 1998 (4th in DYAR, 3rd in DVOA).

Sure, he's good. But I think guys like Johnny U steamroll him, and guys like Favre and Marino and Brees, Brady, and Manning are pretty clearly a bit better.

99 Re: Top 100 Players: Our Ballot

It's all about context.

Elway had a pretty poor supporting cast most of his career, and Dan Reeves ran an outdated offense that didn't suit the players he did have.

The only QB in modern times I can think of who looked legitimately great with a poor offensive supporting cast is Brett Favre. I think people tend to underrate him these days because of his media shenanigans. As this is a Bear's fan who wants nothing more than to see Favre end his career throwing a pick which ends his team's season.

113 Re: Top 100 Players: Our Ballot

You're right about Elway, tuluse, but when did Favre look great with a poor offensive cast around him? Hell, when did Favre ever have a poor offensive cast around him?

I think you're severely underrating the teams Green Bay surrounded Favre with; they didn't have a lot of stars or all-time greats, but they were solid at just about every position.

126 Re: Top 100 Players: Our Ballot

I'd argue that Drew Brees's cast this past year was made up of "merely" solid players, with the possible exception of Jhari Evans (and he's a guard, which is arguably the least important offensive position).

Antonio Freeman is probably on the same level as Marques Colston, for example.

You're right that Favre's average supporting cast hasn't been as good as Manning's, Brady's, Young's, Montana's, or most recent QBs'. But I don't think it was significantly worse than Marino's or Elway's, or even someone like Warren Moon's (though he obviously wasn't as good).

128 Re: Top 100 Players: Our Ballot

You maybe right. I think Marino usually had better receivers than Favre, but a worse running attack, so maybe it balances out. My main point however, was that he put up significantly better stats than Elway with similar talent around him.

Edit: also with the Saints this year they had the running back with the best DVOA in the league, and I would say Henderson and Meachem are a lot better than Beebe and Brooks.

136 Re: Top 100 Players: Our Ballot

If Elway ever had a wide receiver as good as Antonio Freeman, I can't remember him. No less Donald Driver.

And Sterling Sharpe, had he not had his career cut short, would have been eventually known as a great, IMO.

173 Re: Top 100 Players: Our Ballot

Rod Smith & Ed McCaffrey were at least as good as Freeman & Driver.

Favre may wind up playing 20 years without the benefit of a single hall-of-famer on offense alongside him. (If anyone is elected, it will probably be one of Faneca, Hutchinson and Peterson — ie, from the very end of his career.) While the Packers mostly surrounded him with capable players, the likes of Dorsey Levens, Bubba Franks, Frank Winters and William Henderson would never have made the ProBowl on an offense led by, say, Anthony Dilweg.

Another factor is coaching. Elway gets the "Dan Reeves exemption", but Favre surely deserves the same for the years he played under Ray Rhodes, Mike Sherman and Eric Mangini (and Brad Childress?). Marino, Montana and Brady were elite players who played for elite coaches.

177 Re: Top 100 Players: Our Ballot

Not even Sterling Sharpe?

I realise that WR is over-represented and there's a LOT of good WRs from the past couple of decades who might qualify, but leading the league in either receptions or receiving touchdowns in four out of six seasons (1989-1994, both in 1992) and being a five-time all-pro (1989,90,92-94) despite only playing seven seasons has to count for something surely?

Having said that, I suppose if he was getting in he'd be in by now. The HoF isn't something I follow closely, so I don't know if he's even been considered.

184 Re: Top 100 Players: Our Ballot

Rod Smith wasn't on the team until 1995 and had a total of 22 catches in his first two years. He started with Elway for a whopping 2 years.

Ed McCaffrey also joined in 1995, though he became a full-time starter in 1996, so he started with Elway for 3 years.

The entire list of Elway's Hall of Fame teammates (and there is zero possibility of any others joining them): Gary Zimmerman for five years (though he really was no longer an elite player in 1997), who was at the end of Elway's career as well.

1993 (with Zimmerman): 602 passes, 117 ANY/A+, 1200 DYAR (1), 20.1% DVOA (7)
1994 (with Zimmerman): 550 passes, 105 ANY/A+, 557 DYAR (18), -0.7% DVOA (23)
1995 (with Zimmerman): 570 passes, 118 ANY/A+, 1109 DYAR (8), 19.7% DVOA (11)
1996 (with McCaffrey & Zimmerman): 498 passes, 114 ANY/A+, 694 DYAR (7), 10.6% DVOA (9)
1997 (with McCaffrey, Smith, & Zimmerman): 550 passes, 116 ANY/A+, 739 DYAR (7), 10.2% (10)
1998 (with McCaffrey & Smith): 379 passes, 123 ANY/A+, 1139 DYAR (4), 37.3% DVOA (3)
Total: 115 ANY/A+ (3), 5438 DYAR, 15.2% DVOA

Antonio Freeman started with Favre for six years, Sterling Sharpe did for three years, Donald Driver did for six years, and pre-injury Robert Brooks (even though he had one good season after his injury, I don't think anyone would argue he was even close to the player he had been) did for two years.

1992 (with Sharpe): 471 attempts, 106 ANY/A+
1993 (with Sharpe): 561 passes, 90 ANY/A+, -70 DYAR (29), -13.1% DVOA (27)
1994 (with Sharpe and Brooks): 613 passes, 111 ANY/A+, 1045 DYAR (4), 15.7% DVOA (9)
1995 (with Brooks): 602 passes, 130 ANY/A+, 1572 DYAR (3), 29.2% DVOA (4)
1996 (with Freeman): 588 passes, 121 ANY/A+, 967 DYAR (1), 14.7% DVOA (4)
1997 (with Freeman): 552 passes, 120 ANY/A+, 936 DYAR (4), 14.5% DVOA (9)
1998 (with Freeman): 597 passes, 110 ANY/A+, 735 DYAR (10), 10.9% DVOA (16)
1999 (with Freeman): 643 passes, 100 ANY/A+, 520 DYAR (9), 1.9% DVOA (17)
2000 (with Freeman): 627 passes, 102 ANY/A+, 622 DYAR (9), 4.6% DVOA (12)
2001 (with Freeman): 553 passes, 125 ANY/A+, 833 DYAR (5), 12.1% DVOA (5)
2002 (with Driver): 591 passes, 107 ANY/A+, 600 DYAR (14), 4.2% DVOA (18)
2003 (with Driver): 496 passes, 107 ANY/A+, 551 DYAR (10), 6.1% DVOA (12)
2004 (with Driver): 555 passes, 119 ANY/A+, 1344 DYAR (5), 26.1% DVOA (8)
2005 (with Driver): 642 passes, 88 ANY/A+, 590 DYAR (10), 3.2% DVOA (19)
2006 (with Driver): 637 passes, 97 ANY/A+, 408 DYAR (14), -1.2% DVOA (19)
2007 (with Driver): 556 passes, 121 ANY/A+, 1437 DYAR (3), 28.0% DVOA (5)
Total: 109 ANY/A+ (14), 12 090 DYAR, 8.3% DVOA

As to the coaching situation, Elway threw 74.3% of his career attempts under Dan Reeves (59.9%) or Wade Phillips (14.4%) (the rest being under Mike Shanahan), while Favre threw 50.1% of his career passes under Rhodes, Sherman, Jerry Glanville, Maginini, or Childress (the rest being Holmgren (38.2%) and Mike McCarthy (11.7%)). Hardly the same.
Also, it's important to note that the reason to bring up Dan Reeves's presence with Elway is not that Reeves was a bad coach. It's that he was an offensive coach who ran an offense that depressed Elway's passing numbers and did not play to his strengths. It's not that he deserves extra points for having played under a bad coach, it's that the bad coach is a mitigating factor in his relatively unimpressive numbers (compared to Marino, Young, Montana, etc.).
Ray Rhodes was a defensive coach, so I'm not sure how much he even affected the offense, he only coached Favre for one year, and his numbers were down under him but not much. Mike Sherman was an offensive coach and Favre's numbers under him were much the same as they had been under Holmgren. Mangini is fair (even though he is a defensive coach), but that's only one year. We're really going to say that Favre's numbers last year were depressed by Childress?

188 Re: Top 100 Players: Our Ballot

Rod Smith had two seasons as a starter with Elway-- Elway's last fifteenth and sixteenth seasons in the NFL.

McCaffery? Seriously? He had only one kinda decent season with Elway. His career was a string of average/below-average years with three good ones. Freeman's best three years were better than McCaffery's best three, and Freeman's next 5 best seasons are significantly better than Easy Ed's. The GB receiver that makes a better comp for McCaffery in overall quality is, imo, Robert Brooks. Either way, if McCaffery is supposed to be an example of the superior quality of receiver that Elway had to work with in comparison to Favre, I don't think it makes the case.

Until Elway was in his 30s, his receivers were guys like Steve Watson, Butch Johnson, Vance Johnson, Mark Jackson, Ricky Natteil. That is a particularly uninspiring bunch.

222 Re: Top 100 Players: Our Ballot

"As this is a Bear's fan who wants nothing more than to see Favre end his career throwing a pick which ends his team's season."

He keeps doing that but then he rises from the dead like a Ghoul and plays another year.

134 Re: Top 100 Players: Our Ballot

If Elway ever had even league-average starting receivers, I am forgetting them.

There may be no such thing as being 'clutch'.

Except for Elway.

I know you can't prove it with stats. But the dude was awesome, and I am not a Broncos fan. I think he was better than Favre, better than Brady, better than Brees, better than any QB in the league right now will be over the course of their careers, other than Peyton.

I wish I had seen Otto Graham (my memory goes back to the early 70s), but to me the top 4 QBs I have seen are Manning, Montana, Elway, and Marino.

41 Re: Top 100 Players: Our Ballot

To be fair, only 1 player who ever blocked for John Elway is in the Hall-of-Fame, and he only protected Elway for 5 seasons. Tom Nalen may also find his way to the hall-of-fame one day, but he was a rookie in 1994, and didn't become a full-time starter until 1995. And yes, Elway's sack rate was substantially lower during the seasons that he had both Zimmerman and Nalen blocking for him.

193 Re: Top 100 Players: Our Ballot

Which 'multiple Hall of Fame linemen' played for the Broncos? They only have three players in the HOF at all, which is a joke in itself, and Zimmerman is the only lineman-and he only played for Denver for a few years at the end of his career.
Elway was a great player on a, for years, mediocre team. Look at his leading rushers before TD showed up...it's a rogue's gallery of mediocrity. The defense was always decent, never dominant. His offensive line was always average, until Alex Gibbs showed up and taught them how to legally chop block..and Elways was in his mid-30's by then. I'm not saying Elway is 'underrated' or 'undervalued' or whatever, but this particular criticism is beyond idiotic.

278 Re: Top 100 Players: Our Ballot

Because he was a far far superior athlete? The best "running QB" of his generation, had all the late game heroics and playoff mojo fans of lists like this are so fond of and could probably have been a decent running back or slot receiver if he hadn't had a rocket launcher arm?

He didn't have those wheels when they won the two super bowls, because he was old, but as that dive over the top in the first one showed he was still pretty athletic for 36? and in his prime he was usually the biggest most athletic bronco in the backfield.

294 Re: Top 100 Players: Our Ballot

Steve Young was the best "Running QB" of Elway's generation. Assuming you exclude guys like Randall Cunningham...

When they won their Super Bowls, the biggest, most athletic Bronco in the backfield was Terrell Davis.

(I also like the Eagles)

16 Re: Top 100 Players: Our Ballot

sorry but no way in hell is Favre better than Young. Young should be higher than 6 and was at least equal to Marino in th eregular season and won a ring.

17 Re: Top 100 Players: Our Ballot

I'm a big fan of the RB rankings. I think few writers put Faulk as high as he deserves. The dude was the most efficient receiver ever, period. In his first year with Warner, they had an 85% completion rate, and 10.0 yards per attempt. That's absurd.

But the thing is, that wasn't even unheard-of for Faulk. With a rookie Peyton Manning, he pulled off 82%, and 8.65 yards per attempt.

The best possession receivers of our time aren't even close to those sorts of numbers.

I think OJ Simpson kind of got hosed, though. He's really not too different from Barry.

20 Re: Top 100 Players: Our Ballot

10: Sammy Baugh, Tom Brady, Otto Graham, Peyton Manning, Joe Montana
9: John Elway, Dan Marino
8: Sid Luckman, Johnny Unitas
7: Brett Favre
6: Steve Young
4: Drew Brees
3: Bobby Layne, Bart Starr, Roger Staubach
2: Dan Fouts, Fran Tarkenton

If this were my list, and this is just subjective and in no way based on anything other than gut feeling, I'd bump Brady and Elway to 8, Unitas to 9, Brees to 5, and Staubach to 4.

The problem with rating quarterbacks in the modern era is that it always ends up in a Manning/Brady argument. Tom Brady won three championships on the back of his defense and running game and Adam Vinatieri's right leg. Peyton Manning puts up eye popping numbers in the regular season but is pedestrian in the playoffs, and has played with superior offensive talent.

There is, unfortunately, no easy way to settle the argument now. Since they're both still playing, ultimately we have to wait for them to retire to sort it out.

That being said, they're both better than Favre or Brees, and its not close.

38 Re: Top 100 Players: Our Ballot

Why don't you think Brees is close?

I suppose it depends on how much you want to punish him for, well, "taking a while to get really good." Brees only hit "good quarterback" in 2004, but then he suddenly hit "candidate for greatest ever" type performance in 2005 or so.

Brees's performance over the last 4 years is really, really close to perfect. If someone called him the best QB in the league right now, I would have absolutely no complaints about that.

He sucked for 3 years, while Brady just didn't play for 1 year, and Manning sucked for maybe 2/3 of his rookie year. That's a legitimate knock. But that's not really enough for me to say he isn't close to the other two.

124 Re: Top 100 Players: Our Ballot

Guys, if you are talking about Brees, well, Big Ben is way more appealing candidate as a player for being enlisted as a write in...and do not even bother to say that the first SB was won thanks to the D and the running game...re-watch the playoffs and see how great he played...

204 Re: Top 100 Players: Our Ballot

You are correct. Big Ben won his first Superbowl on the back of hiD, running game AND officiating.

Are you seriously trying to argue he was a positive factor in that SB? That was the worst performance by a SB-winning QB ever. And it's not even close. And that's a lost that includes Trent Dilfer and Brad Johnson...

- Alvaro

207 Re: Top 100 Players: Our Ballot

That's not what he said. He's talking about Ben's overall playoff performance, which that year was outstanding. He played poorly in the Super Bowl, but his outstanding performances in the previous games are one of the major reasons (if not the major reason) they were in Detroit in the first place.

221 Re: Top 100 Players: Our Ballot

I think Brees deserves a little slack for his fist three years in San Diego. He basically didn't play his rookie year and then he had a very solid campaign in 2002 that was right around league average (-1.4% DVOA). Schottenheimer didn't really let him rip the ball around the same way that he's allowed to in New Orleans, and Brees is very much a rhythm passer. And the offense was completely focused around LT, with a pedestrian O-line that was much better at run blocking than pass blocking.

I think it's very telling that Brees' breakout season (2004) coincided with a complete revamp of the Charger's o-line (drafting Nick Hardwick and Shane Olivea, signing Mike Goff, and trading for Roman Oben). Oh yeah, and having Gates become a starter helped a little too.

Brees has only had one bad year, in 2003, for a team that ended up picking first in the draft. My most vivid memories of that year are of Brees constantly having to check down to LT because he never had any time to throw the ball. That was the year LT amassed 100 receptions.

I really wish the Chargers had kept Brees and used their 2004 pick in another fashion. I love Rivers, but man they could have put together a kick ass team if they had used that pick well. Many fans were arguing that Brees only needed a decent WR and that the team should draft Fitzgerald. I'm pretty sure a Brees/LT/Fitzgerald/Gates offense would have managed to win a championship, at least in 2006.

And then Manning still wouldn't have a championship.

21 Re: Top 100 Players: Our Ballot

Congrats again on getting the nod to contribute a ballot. Hopefully the other selectors use the same care and attention that you did, but somehow I doubt it (as evidenced by Spike Lee hyping Joe Willie Namath in the commercials).

32 Re: Top 100 Players: Our Ballot

Not enough of a student of the history of the game to comment on most of this, but it does make me smile to see Reggie White considered to be the greatest DE of all time.

33 Re: Top 100 Players: Our Ballot

11 Running backs rate a 6 or high. Just 4 WRs do?

I think something is out of balance there. I have no problem with the order of your WRs, but I think you have them ranked too low in general.

62 Re: Top 100 Players: Our Ballot

Actually, I liked the decision to have Hutson and Rice head-and-shoulders-and-torso ahead of any other receivers. Any other receivers' career really pales in comparison to what they accomplished.

69 Re: Top 100 Players: Our Ballot

That's fine, but to say there are 11 RBs better than the 5th best WR of all time...that seems like a stretch to me. It seems like the position is underrepresented. I would have bumped tier 2 from 7 to 8, and moved everyone else up a notch, to start with at least.

72 Re: Top 100 Players: Our Ballot

I'm not saying this is the "right" way to see things, but...

One way of thinking about a player's "greatness" is to consider how close he came to reaching the fullest potential of his position -- that is, dominating a game to the greatest extent possible, given where he was deployed. Since there's no great way to come up with a satisfactory picture of a hypothetical "as dominant as possible" for each position, the next-best way to judge would be to measure every player against the production of the best player (or in this case, two) at that position. That is, the greatest player at each position serves as a proxy for "what can be accomplished."

In this view, the tier of receivers below Hutson and Rice probably should be at 7, or maybe even lower. And the "under-representation" of receivers might be fully appropriate. If, say, there are more runners that have had 85% of the career of Jim Brown than there are receivers who had 85% of the career of Rice or Hutson, then the list should have more backs than receivers.

Again, this isn't necessarily the criterion I would use for making a list like this, but I think it would be a fairly reasonable one.

96 Re: Top 100 Players: Our Ballot

I see your point, but that's not how the exercise was constructed. A 5 is a 5 regardless of whether it goes to a RB, QB, or WR. I just don't buy that there were 11 RBs better than all but four WRs in history. The exercise isn't to determine the best at each position, but rather the 100 best regardless of position. You can' use a position specific metric to do that.

119 Re: Top 100 Players: Our Ballot

Please give me a specific list of credentials for a few positions that you think a merits a "5" without using any position-specific metrics. I'm pretty curious to see how you'll judge QBs without using attempts, completions, yardage, passing TDs, etc., or any stats derived from those categories. And if you choose to primarily use team metrics like wins and championships, is that your primary way to measure linebackers, too? My guess is that you do use position-specific metrics to figure out who you think are the best players, but you just don't think of it in those terms. And if you don't use "position-specific" metrics, then what are you using? I can't think of any metrics that measure individual performance that aren't at least somewhat position-specific. (Even something like "tackles," which is something that any defensive player accumulates, has different meanings for different positions.)

And what is so strange about the notion that performance at the very far right-end of the distribution might look substantially different for different positions?

141 Re: Top 100 Players: Our Ballot

Again, fair point, but isn't the point of the exercise to TRY and develop some way to compare players across positions?

Just answer the simple question: Do you think there were 11 RBs better than all but the four best WRs? Are you ok with a top 100 player list that has more total running backs in the top 60 than there are WRs in total?

Because of the way Schatz scored RBs and WRs, that's what would happen. These ballots are going to be added up and the list presumably made from the totals.

I think there are too few wideouts on Schatz list (or too many running backs). I think his list would produce a disproportionate amount of RBs in the top 60, and I think that's a weakness.

146 Re: Top 100 Players: Our Ballot

Sure, that's the point, but I think doing so by comparing "within-position" is a legitimate way of trying to accomplish that. After all, we compare players across eras by evaluating their performance relative to their within-era peers, right?

I don't know if there were "11 RBs better than all but the four best WRs." Depending on the methodology and selections, I would probably be fine with a list that had more backs in the top 60 than total WRs.

Basically, you're putting a premium on getting certain results, rather than on the process to generate results. I don't see why that should be the case; if anything, "regardless of position" should mean that there will be some disparities between positions. Deciding that there ought to be about as many receivers on the list as there are running backs is the exact opposite of constructing the list "regardless of position."

Finally, if you're really concerned about positional totals, then I would find it much more concerning that the number of "skill position" players more than doubles the number of offensive linemen, despite their near-equal on-field representation. Of course, it's likely that the list Aaron was given was like that...

147 Re: Top 100 Players: Our Ballot

"I don't know if there were "11 RBs better than all but the four best WRs." Depending on the methodology and selections, I would probably be fine with a list that had more backs in the top 60 than total WRs."

Fair enough. We disagree then. Given the importance of passing to winning, I think running backs have been overvalued.

I generally like Aaron's list though, because he throws Faulk some well deserved love.

168 Re: Top 100 Players: Our Ballot

If that's how you'd make your list, that's fine, but you stated that you think the list should be "the best 100 regardless of position." I don't think having quotas for certain positions constitutes a list of players chosen "regardless of position."

I do, however, strongly agree with you about Faulk.

183 Re: Top 100 Players: Our Ballot

No one's talking about quotas. I'm just saying I don't believe there were 11 Running Backs who were better at football than the fifth best receiver. I think all the WRs are graded too low, and I'd raise them all at least a point. That still ensures separation from Rice/Huston, and balances the scales with the RBs at least a little.

35 Re: Top 100 Players: Our Ballot

just a thought i noticed maybe fran tarkenton should be higher then a 2 when he finished his career he had the record for most passing yards and rushing yards for a Qb that has to stand for something right?

42 Re: Top 100 Players: Our Ballot

Was no one else surprised by Kellen Winslow's inclusion here? I'm not looking at DVOA data, so maybe I'm missing something, but I never thought of him as that impressive. Someone correct me, please.

46 Re: Top 100 Players: Our Ballot

If you never thought of him as that impressive, you were wrong. He's pre DVOA so you'll have to look at conventional stats. But when you do, don't forget the blocked FG in the '81 double OT game.

49 Re: Top 100 Players: Our Ballot

OK, I'll bite. I think Kellen Winslow absolutely deserves to be there. You do realize that this is the Kellen Winslow who played for the Chargers, not his son who hasn't really lived up to the hype? Winslow should be ranked much higher here.

In fact, out of all the positions, I disagree most with the TE rankings. Tony Gonzalez and Antonio Gates are the two best TEs ever? Really? I think not. They both are ranked way too high. Ditka, Mackey, Winslow and Ozzie Newsome should be the top 4 in some order.

59 Re: Top 100 Players: Our Ballot

Ranking TE's is tough because the position has changed so much, especially in the last decade. It's essence went from being tackles who could catch to be WR's who could maybe sometimes block. It's just too hard to judge Gates against Ditka because the position changed so much. I'm not sure what the resolution is...

74 Re: Top 100 Players: Our Ballot

I completely agree that ranking TEs is tough because the postion has changed so much. I tend to favor the pioneers in the transformation (Ditka and Mackey) and those who took it to another level (Winslow and Newsome) over players such as Gates and Gonzalez, who are good players but don't stand out to me in comparison to their peers. Maybe that's penalizing them because there are so many good receiving tight ends now.

216 Re: Top 100 Players: Our Ballot

You could argue back and forth about a lot of these guys, but the thing to remember is that most TEs, even the great ones, had relatively short peaks and short careers. Tony Gonzalez has had a ridiculously long and productive career. Sure, other players might have pioneered the position but it is virtually impossible to argue that any TE was "greater" over the course of his entire career than Gonzo.

195 Re: Top 100 Players: Our Ballot

When Winslow came in with the Chargers, he was a force of nature, and completely unlike any other player at his position at that time. In Coryell's offense, he was essentially a third wide receiver, and seemed uncoverable ( at least it seemed that was as a young Broncos fan in 1980 ).
His playoff game against Miami was one of the great performances many had ever seen at that time.
Sadly, his genes didn't translate to his son, unless Kellen Sr. was fond of popping wheelies on his motorbike, too.

43 Re: Top 100 Players: Our Ballot

I guess I have a problem with Barry Sanders being there with Walter Payton. Walter Payton was the whole package, while Barry Sanders was freakish, but not full-spectrum. But I live in Chicago now and may be biased the the local views, but I think not.

47 Re: Top 100 Players: Our Ballot

There are 3 backs, then everyone else. Those 3 are Brown, Payton, and Sanders. If it were any other back, I'd say your concern was legit. But Barry Sanders really was that good. The only back in my lifetime who compares to Payton (with the caveat that I think Bo Jackson would have if he'd stayed healthy).

44 Re: Top 100 Players: Our Ballot

Brady shouldn't have a 10. You can keep his 07 season, they never beat a decent defense which actually had its best players playing in it and as far as I am concerned all the Pats Superbowls have an asterisk next to them (plenty of folks may not agree with me but it is genuinely how I feel about it). Saying he is better as good as Montana and Brady and better than Marino seems strange (and a little bit homeriffic).

I am also not sure what exactly Messrs Payton and Butkus would have to do to get '10's because they did just about everything else. Or is Payton getting penalised for not scoring in a Superbowl?

Where's Doug Atkins? He was 6'8" how could you have missed him? Probably at least twice the player Strahan was.

Sanders ahead of Woodson and Lott seems odd. I would say Woodson was the best I have seen as a guy who predominantly played corner and Lott was as good as it gets at safety.

Tough lists to do though. Congrats on the invite.

80 Re: Top 100 Players: Our Ballot

OK, I'm putting a stop to this right now. I deleted a comment from "Jimmy" and I'm putting you all on notice. This is not going to descend into more arguments about "Spygate." Knock it off.

45 Re: Top 100 Players: Our Ballot

Steve Van Buren should be a 7, if not an 8.
Emmitt Smith should be a 2.
I would have included Ozzy Newsome at TE as well.
Hog Hannah is at least an 8.
Dwight Stevenson should be on the list and rated around a 5 or so. You probably meant to type his name and somehow included Larry Allen by mistake.
I agree that Seau was a glaring omission, but I think an 8 is a bit generous for him.
A CB who can’t/won’t tackle shouldn’t be a 9.

122 Re: Top 100 Players: Our Ballot

He wasn't better - he just got a lot more carries. If you compare their first 10 seasons Sanders gains more yards on significantly less carries. The only stat where Smith is superior to Sanders is TDs. At that is about the most overrated stat there is when judging RBs since it is based almost entirely on playcalling. If you want your RB to break NFL records it isn't that difficult - just ask Vermeil, Holmgren, and Schottenheimer. Hell, last season Tomlinson scored double digit TDs because Turner was giving him pity carries.

125 Re: Top 100 Players: Our Ballot

I wasn't comparing their ten best seasons, I was comparing their peaks, and Emmitt's was just as high (actually higher, given that he was the most important player on a three-time champion)

131 Re: Top 100 Players: Our Ballot

Even the first 6. Emmitt needed 240+ carries to gain 280 yards more than Sanders. Sanders never had really a peak or decline. If you take their best 6 consecutive years Sanders gains 300 more yards on 200 less carries.

140 Re: Top 100 Players: Our Ballot

If Aaron and co. manage to continue to acquire play-by-play data at a steady rate, then we'll have some more info (DVOA and DYAR) with which to judge their careers. Here's what they had from 1993-1998; I chose this period because it's as far back as we have FO metrics, and I didn't feel like rewarding Smith for accumulation after Sanders's retirement, nor punish him in the "per-play" metrics for those later years. It's worth mentioning that using 1998 as a cutoff meant that one elite year (1999) and one slightly-above-average year (2000) of Smith's were not included.

So when Sanders and Smith were playing simultaneously, here are their advanced metrics.

Sanders, 1993-1998:
Rush DYAR: 1164
Rush DYAR/carry: 0.62
DVOA/carry*: 7.1%
Receiving DYAR: 102
DYAR/pass: 0.32

Smith, 1993-1998:
Rush DYAR: 1481
Rush DYAR/carry: 0.77
DVOA/carry*: 8.8%
Receiving DYAR: 136
DYAR/pass: 0.40

Since this encompasses a significant-but-far-from-encompassing portion of their careers, I see this as an "update" as we "progress" retrospectively through their advanced stats.

_____
* Since I don't have DVOA for individual players across seasons, I created a weighted average of each players' DVOA. (It's each season's DVOA multiplied by that season's number of carries, summed across all seasons, and divided by the "total" number of carries.)

142 Re: Top 100 Players: Our Ballot

A few notes:

*Sanders and Smith each had below-average (negative-DVOA) seasons during this time period. Sanders' came in 1993 and 1998; Smith's, in 1996 and 1997. It's worth noting that Smith's down seasons came after two years of very high use; Smith had 368 and 375 carries in 1994 and 1995, respectively.

*Interestingly, both backs' receiving DYAR has so far mirrored their rushing DVOA; each back had negative receiving DYAR in the same seasons he had a negative rushing DVOA, while seasons with positive rushing DVOA uniformly had positive receiving DYAR.

*Smith had about a season's-worth more work (317 carries) on the ground during this time period, and was the target of 18 more passes.

Add subjective contextual analysis (support from passing game, offensive line, etc.) at your pleasure. FO and P-F-R have both had pretty good posts doing so, so I suggest looking those up, too.

165 Re: Top 100 Players: Our Ballot

Emmitt got hurt in the first game of the 1996 season, and he was never quite the same player again. (up until that time, one of his signature plays was a head first leap into the end zone, but this time he landed wrong, and they had to cart him off of the field on a stretcher)

171 Re: Top 100 Players: Our Ballot

Well, Smith was 4th in DYAR (5th in DVOA) in 1998, and 3rd in DYAR (9th in DVOA) in 1999. His yards per carry for each season from 1997 through 2000 was between 4.1 and 4.2, which was lower than his pre-1996 average, but also far more consistent (he had seasons of 3.9 and 4.0 yards per carry prior to 1996). So it seems like there is some support for this, but it doesn't seem like the effects were drastic beyond 1996 and possibly 1997, particularly when you consider that Smith was 29 years old in 1998, and was likely starting to experience a little age-related decline by then. However, 1996 and 1997 really do stick out as a sore thumbs in both conventional and FO metrics, so it seems very plausible that the injury significantly affected his production in what could have been peak years.

149 Re: Top 100 Players: Our Ballot

And DYAR and DVOA are poor way of measuring individual players. As I posted in another thread:

FO system severely penalizes players that make big plays and ALY and DYAR conflict with one another.

RB A starts on his 20 and rushes for 3 consecutive 10 yard runs resulting in 1st downs. The team stalls on the 50 yard line and punts. The end result is a total of 6.45 success points for that RB.

RB B starts on his 20 and takes the handoff for 79 yards and is tackled at the 1. This is worth 5.7 success points for the RB.

Now, when judging a *team's* performance and predicting future outcomes, RB A may be in a better situation since ripping off 3 consecutive 10 yard runs probably means RB A is decent and his line is decent. RB B's run is more of an outlier that doesn't correlate well with his team winning (not that he didn't contribute more than RB A) due to the inability to predict long plays. However, the play itself *should* describe how good the player actually is - ideally with a different metric like "individual success points". It does not. With success points RB A > RB B.

---

Barry's best season depending on how you judge is either 1994 or 1997.

In 1994, he rushed 1883 yards and 266 DYAR which in FO terms means a *replacement level* RB would be expected to rush for around 1617 yards on those same 331 carries. Do you really think a replacement level RB would have a 1600+ yard season for the Lions?

In 1997, he rushed for 2053 yards with 390 DYAR. Again, in FO terms the replacement level RB would be expected to rush for 1663 yards on those same 335 carries.

Both of those seasons would be top 50 all time. Using DYAR doesn't even pass the eyeball test when measuring individual performance.

If you factor in ALY the issue is even worse. FO hasn't gone back to 1994 but in 1997 Detroit's ALY is 4.16 YPC. Barry's YPC was 6.13 - Barry averaged nearly 2 more yards than his OL was giving him. Now let's compare him to Terrell Davis that season (who was #1 in DYAR while Barry was #2).

Davis rushed for 1743 yards with 478 DYAR. Which means FO estimates a replacement RB with those same 369 carries would only rush for 1265 yards. This seems a little low since Droughns, Gary, Anderson, and Portis all would shatter 1265 yards with 369 carries (granted Portis is far from a replacement level RB but the other 3 are pretty much the exact definition of one). Combine that with the fact that Denver's ALY was 4.90 while Davis' YPC was 4.72 the comparison is even more ridiculous. ALY shows that Davis wasn't even getting what his OL was giving him.

I can do this all day with RBs. Guys like Barry Sanders and recently Chris Johnson get severely penalized for being good enough to break long runs while guys that get more or less what their OL gives them but not much more are heavily favored. FO says RBs would have a hard time rushing in Denver compared to Davis - history showed otherwise and that any replacement level back should be breaking 1500+ yards for the Lions - again history showed otherwise.

Hell, Barry's last season he was supposedly *worse* than replacement. He was replaced the next season and the entire *team* didn't break 1500 yards rushing much less a single player.

210 Re: Top 100 Players: Our Ballot

You bring up several issues here...

*First, I certainly agree that FO's individual metrics are far from perfect indicators of individual performance. However, conventional stats for the two players are widely available, and as discussed below, I do think that FO's stats provide additional info that's useful. Personally, I wouldn't conclude much of anything about the relative value of the two players based on FO metrics alone, but I also think that relying too heavily on yards per carry is also very flawed, particularly with a player like Sanders, whose output could vary particularly wildly.

*Hypothetical running backs A and B: It's true that DVOA might reduce the value of long plays for individual players too much. But I think that the exact yardage of very long plays is probably random for individual players, not just teams. (For example, does it make sense to deem a 60-yard touchdown as significantly more valuable than a 30-yard score, considering that the latter could very well have been a 60-yard run had the play not started on the 30 yard line?) But more to the point, despite DVOA and DYAR's very real flaws for evaluating individual players, they do make several contextual adjustments that conventional stats don't. Down, distance, and game situation are variables that seriously affect whether the outcome of a play is successful, and using metrics that take this into account seems like a wise way to supplement those that don't. (I probably should've also included success rates for both Smith and Sanders, but I don't really want to spend the time on it now...)

*

217 Re: Top 100 Players: Our Ballot

Relying just on YPC is flawed but YPC (with a certain number of carries) I value far more than DYAR. DYAR doesn't *want* you to run for long runs. As far as success rate, that stat is a little biased as well - since if your team is winning late it is easier to have a successful run and if you are losing late it is more difficult (at least that is how it used to be - FO isn't very good at keeping their definitions current on all their pages). When someone has a 50% success rate vs. 45% success rate that means in the FO world in a 20 carry game the 50% guy had one more successful carry.

Also, the logic behind the 30 yard TD run likely being a 60 yard TD run if the play started 30 yards back is flawed. If this sort of thing was true then we could say there is really no difference between an 80 yard run and a 30 yard run. However, I would hazard to guess that there are far more 30-40 yard TD runs each season than there are 70-80 yard TD runs despite the fact many drives start at their own 20 yard line and RBs get more carries there than in their opponents 30-40 yard line.

236 Re: Top 100 Players: Our Ballot

Whether yards/carry, by itself, is more useful than DVOA and DYAR, by themselves, is irrelevant. The point is that taking a look at both yards/carry AND FO metrics is much more useful than only looking at one of those. (And your argument against success rate is strange... if you're worried about metrics being influenced substantially by game situation, then I would think that you'd want to include DVOA/DYAR in your evaluation. And season-long success rates vary from player to player by much more than 5 percentage points...)

As for long runs, I wasn't arguing that all 30-yard TD runs could just as easily be 60-yard TD runs. Quite frankly, that would be stupid. But the distance of long runs can be cut off "artificially" by field position, not to mention the unlikelihood that a 80-yard run required substantially more skill than, say, a 60-yard one. Basically, there's no perfect way to quantify the exact value of longer runs; FO errs in one direction, while yards/carry err in another. That's why, again, it seems prudent to look at both.

(And I haven't even mentioned that adjusting for the quality of opponent would be a worthwhile endeavor...)

231 Re: Top 100 Players: Our Ballot

In 1997, he rushed for 2053 yards with 390 DYAR. Again, in FO terms the replacement level RB would be expected to rush for 1663 yards on those same 335 carries.

You're logic is flawed here because a replacement wouldn't end up in the same situations as Barry. So if Barry ran for 6 yards on 1st and 10 to make it 2nd and 4, you would expect the replacement to only gain 4.8 yards making it 2nd and 5.2.

So if you did a real replacement back the 2nd run from that replacement is not from the same situation that Barry actually had. Running backs are not expected to get the same gains from 2nd and 4 as they are from 2nd and 5.2 it's a different situation.

However if the Lions with the replacement back were magically given 1.2 more yards so the replacement back could start from the same place Barry did and they were then given all those lost yards on every rush then the replacement back would do what you say because only then would they be in the exact same situations. But since the real replacement back couldn't create the situations Barry created because they aren't as good you can't do what you are doing with the numbers.

As for the issues with the long runs. I understand the FO logic. If you manage to get past all the defenders after the first 15 yards and there is only 15 more yards of open field was that run really that much worse than if you get past all the defenders after 15 yards and there happens to be another 50 yards of open field? You should get more for the 2nd situation sure because defenders have more time to catch you and you have to be that much faster to make sure they don't but I think that is the logic FO is using.

That being said I've seen some of your arguments on this before and I think that there are some valid points on you side that even factoring in the clock and such that the longer runs for 50 yards can certainly be more valuable to producing a win than five 10 yard runs with 10 zero yard runs. But I haven't actually looked at if 1 rush for 50 yards is worth more or less than 20 rushes for 50 yards and 5 first downs since that would be the more fair way to compare backs that got the 50 yards all by themselves you would need those 0 yard runs on 1st and 2nd. Or in a team context is the 2 passes for 0 yards then a 10 yard run five times in a row going to be better or worse than the one 50 yard run? I would think the 50 yard run should be better than those combos if it's not then the values should be tweaked.

I do think there are some issues with the numbers but I also think you are willfully misstating some things about the stats to try and drive home your point.

232 Re: Top 100 Players: Our Ballot

I am not willfully misstating anything. It doesn't matter that the replacement RB wouldn't put himself in the same situations as Barry. What I am describing with the numbers is *exactly* what FO is describing with the numbers. The *only* thing FO can say in rebuttal is "the numbers aren't as exact as that" - but that doesn't mean that what I am stating is incorrect. DYAR says that a replacement level RB would rush for around 1600+ yards with the Lions in both of Barry's best seasons despite Barry dramatically outperforming his Oline. There hasn't been a RB for Lions to rush for over 1200 yards since Barry retired despite the fact that every season of Sanders' that FO has compiled stated that a replacement level back would rush for 1200+ yards for the Lions. I don't know how confident FO is in their DYAR stats but I don't think they are that valuable *when judging individual players*.

235 Re: Top 100 Players: Our Ballot

No it doesn't.

It says a replacement level back with the same carries, in the exact same situations, would be expected to rush for around 1600 yards. The fact is, a replacement level back wouldn't get in those same situations in the first place by virtue of being replacement level. Barry's outperforming of the replacement level gives him both more and better chances to be successful, thus generating improved DYAR in a virtuous cycle. That's a fact you choose to ignore, but is actually key to the entire example.

238 Re: Top 100 Players: Our Ballot

Sigh, I will say again that doesn't matter. Look, when Barry breaks off a 50+ yard run FO says a replacement level back would break off one nearly as long. FO metrics don't care what happened the prior carry. Each carry is an independent measurement. Also, since Barry was supposedly a below average RB his last year in the league, your argument would mean that the replacement level back would rush for quite a bit more than Barry.

245 Re: Top 100 Players: Our Ballot

I hate to insert myself into the middle of a discussion here, but this needs to be said:

Average and replacement are not the same thing.
Since Sanders was below replacement in 1998 (-17 DYAR), the argument would mean that a replacement level back would rush for more than 17 yards more than Sanders.

Also, here's everyone who carried the ball for the Lions in 1998: http://www.pro-football-reference.com/play-index/tiny/w9k3E

Sanders averaged 4.35 YPC. Everyone else combined averaged 4.73 YPC. If we take out the QBs, the non-Sanders ball carriers averaged 4.59 YPC.

247 Re: Top 100 Players: Our Ballot

Mistype. But you point out exactly what I am saying. A replacement RB would be expected to rush for over 1500 yards with a rookie Charlie Batch QBing the squad. That would mean that you expect a "good" RB to probably break 1600 yards with that Lions squad.

237 Re: Top 100 Players: Our Ballot

1200 yards is an awfully convenient arbitrary cutoff point, since there was a season with 1100. But more importantly, it's pretty disingenuous to make that argument when only one Lions back has had more than 300 carries during that time. (Sanders had more than 300 carries in 7 of those seasons.) The next-highest single-season carry total by a Lions' back since Sanders' retirement is 241 ... lower than the number of carries Sanders had in any season.

Also, you brought up earlier that Sanders' successors should have been more successful if FO metrics were accurate, but I don't think that's the case at all. Those backs had excruciatingly bad FO metrics. So arguing that their conventional metrics don't make them look like replacement-level is nonsensical, since by FO standards, they weren't replacement-level. (Literally every Lions' back had negative rushing DYAR in 1999! The "leading" carrier that year, Greg Hill, had a DVOA of -23.6% and -88 DYAR.)

239 Re: Top 100 Players: Our Ballot

Even if you sum up team rushing stats only 3 times has the entire *team* rushed for more yards than Barry's average season since retirement.

You are using circular logic though. You are saying a player is below replacement level because FO's metrics states they are below replacement level and then saying that validates the metrics. You are using the metric that I am saying is flawed and saying the flawed metric is a good measurement.

I contend Barry is *much* better than a replacement level back and much better than what the FO metrics would lead you to believe. When you actually put other RBs in the Lions offense they perform horribly. It isn't that they are all worse than a replacement level RBs - they are replacement level RBs put in a horrible offense. Using Sanders' metrics you would think they would be cranking outstanding seasons when in fact they don't even come close - not even as an entire team.