The Steroids in the Hall of Fame Debate Verdict

January 13, 2011

Read the opposing arguments from Loyal Homer and Babe Ruthless.

If ever the game of baseball found itself in a lose-lose situation, this would be it. Let me once again sarcastically thank the dirtbags who introduced steroids into the game for ruining it for EVERYONE!

Thanks to greed, egotism, and self-service over fair play and competition, an entire generation of baseball is forever sullied. And what angers me the most about the whole thing is that it was MY era that was ruined!

Ignorance Was Bliss

Our fathers got to grow up watching Hank Aaron, Willie Mays, and Reggie Jackson. Their fathers grew up watching Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, and Walter Johnson. These were titans. They were larger-than-life baseball stars turned legends.

Yes, there were “bad guys” back then, too. Ty Cobb was no saint on the base path, and the Black Sox made sure to leave a mark on history. But the actions of those few did not destroy the luster of an entire generation. In fact, for some players (like Cobb), it actually added to their legend.

I, on the other hand, grew up watching cheaters and drug users. The players I idolized during my youth – Canseco and McGwire, Strawberry, and Gooden… and now even more recent stars like Manny and A-Rod – have one-by-one toppled from grace.

At first, it hurt. It was the death of my innocence as a boy. I used to imagine myself in the same dugout as The Bash Brothers, or The Killer B’s. Now the curtain has been pulled back on those moments of herculean accomplishment that I witnessed, and with that action, the illusion of greatness vanished.

At one time I celebrated with these legends. I carried with me what I thought were indelible images, like those of McGwire and Sosa crossing home plate during their great 1998 homerun chase, or Roger Clemens’ twenty strike-out night against the Mariners in 1986, or of rookie sensation Wally Joyner winning the 1986 homerun derby.

Those have all been replaced by images of sad and broken men, none of whom are celebrating now.

Instead of wearing baseball uniforms they are now clad in business suits, standing before Congress or the cameras. Some are making tearful apologies, others making impassioned pleas. But they are all addressing the same problem – destroyed legacies.

The Time for Debate is Over

It is time for history to officially begin passing judgment on the actions of these athletes. Accomplishments that surely would have otherwise merited immediate induction into Cooperstown are now besmirched with an ugly (albeit implied) asterisk. Like a good pair of concrete shoes, no one with an asterisk has managed to break through the barrier that is the collection of HOF voters yet. None have been able to overcome the stigma of being a cheater.

So why do I include Roger Clemens in the same ranks as McGwire, Sosa, and Joyner? He has never been PROVEN to have cheated, and he vehemently denies any and all accusations.

The problem that faces Clemens, Jeff Bagwell, and many other players who are sure to follow after them comes in the form of a very simple question – Do I believe them? My answer is “not really.”

Here is where we find that lose-lose situation. Should the voters of baseball’s Hall of Fame ignore accusations and allegations of cheating and vote players like Roger Clemens into the Hall, knowing that there is a possibility of their being proven guilty after induction? Or do they preclude anyone shrouded in suspicion from ever being inducted, knowing that there will surely be innocent players unfairly denied an honor that they truly deserved?

In defense of those players still only suspected of steroid use, Babe Ruthless calls upon a predictable, but no less valuable, defense. The insistence that a player is “innocent until proven guilty” is one that is hard to deny, and Babe Ruthless wastes no time in applying it to this situation.

As much as I hate the overuse of that adage, I cannot deny its value. While a comparison to McCarthyism or the Salem Witch Trials may be a bit extreme (we are just talking about baseball), the notion that mere accusation could bar someone an otherwise deserved honor is very unpleasant to consider.

But that is nonetheless where Loyal Homer chimes in with hi argument.

There is already a cloud of unpleasantness surrounding this infamous era, and so avoidance is an impossibility. According to Loyal Homer, it is the integrity of the hall itself, not the integrity of the athletes, that is really at stake. Fairness to a player is secondary when you consider the virtues that the Baseball Hall of Fame embodies.

Induction into the Hall is a privilege, not a right. The voters each year want to ensure that only the greatest of baseball’s ambassadors are the ones chosen for immortality.

So do you risk the integrity of the Hall, or sacrifice good faith at the expense of the individual athlete’s legacy?

Preserving the Institution

I am awarding this verdict to Loyal Homer for one reason – the Baseball Hall of Fame is the last piece of the game not yet tainted by steroids.

Records may be called into question and athletes’ resumes may be cheapened, but the Hall remains a bastion where the very best that baseball has to offer can still be respected and honored without question. As Loyal Homer states, the Hall must remain free from the cloud of suspicion.

Do I feel for the wrongfully accused? Absolutely. They are innocent victims, simply caught in the cross-fire of a witch hunt to clean up baseball. But that is not the concern of the Hall of Fame.

Cooperstown does not have to solve the problem of steroids. It does not have to pass judgment on players like Clemens or Bagwell. The only function which the Hall and its voters must perform is to honor the game’s greatest.

Unfortunately for players like Clemens, suspicion is all it takes. How can voters confidently induct him into the Hall of Fame if there are very real doubts as to the legitimacy of how he accomplished many of the things which would have made him great?

Let’s be honest, this would not be the first time that suspicion deprived someone from induction into the Hall (e.g. Shoeless Joe Jackson).

Voters for the Baseball Hall of Fame have demonstrated an ongoing commitment to preserving the purity of the game. If there is even a shred of doubt as to the validity of a players’ accomplishments, the voters cannot let him in. To do so would irresponsibly risk the legacy of the entire history of the game.

If just one Hall of Famer is found to have cheated AFTER the fact of his induction, the integrity of the entire Hall is lost forever.

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The Steroids in the Hall of Fame Debate

January 11, 2011

Read the opposing arguments from Loyal Homer and Babe Ruthless.

Boy is it nice to be back! (A huge thanks to everyone here at TSD for picking up the slack while I was gone!)

What better way to get back into the swing of things than to tackle a debate that has probably been a long time coming – steroids and the Baseball Hall of Fame.

Although it feels like we have been talking about steroids in baseball for ever, the issue of steroids in the Hall of Fame is really a problem that is still in its infancy. We are just now at a point where players from the notorious “Steroid Era” such as Mark McGwire and Rafael Palmeiro are eligible for Hall of Fame candidacy.

With each year of voting, it becomes clearer – steroids are a black mark that simply cannot be erased from an athlete’s resume. Voters are sending a message loud and clear that they will not reward any steroid-tainted player with baseball’s highest honor.

I think it is safe to assume that most people are in agreement with those voters when it comes to an athlete who has either admitted to steroid use, or some other form of proof has been provided to definitively confirm that fact.

But what about players who are only SUSPECTED or ACCUSED of steroid use? Should a player who has never admitted to using or been a proven user of steroids be shunned from the Hall of Fame by voters?

The cloud of suspicion around steroids can itself be a powerful influence in how the public perceives an athlete. Loyal Homer believes that suspicion alone should be enough to justify banishment for HOF voters while Babe Ruthless feels that mere suspicion should have no bearing whatsoever on a HOF vote.

How will history look back on the Steroid Era? It’s time to find out…

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The Steroids in the Hall of Fame Debate… The Steroid Era: Innocence Abandoned

January 11, 2011

Read the opposing argument from Loyal Homer.

Steroids are dangerous, self-destructive, and unethical. Society has become well aware of these facts, and has thoroughly – and appropriately – vilified known steroid users. While professional sports as whole have been slow to deal with the issue of how to punish steroids users, at the urging of society and Congress leagues have taken active steps over the past half decade to address the problem. But America’s great steroid purge has also created new problems of its own.

The purge has transformed an entire generation of fans into skeptics, doubting Thomas-es that scrutinize and distrust any and every above average athlete out of fear that success might be the result of a bottle and not hard work. The MLB Hall of Fame has mirrored fan skepticism, essentially locking the door to anyone who was even accused of using steroids. While I understand the HOF’s need to make wise decisions in order to protect its integrity and validity, banning every player with even a modicum of unsubstantiated accusation against them is simply an act of unabashed paranoia. The MLB Hall of Fame should allow in worthy players who have not been proven guilty.

Everyone is a Suspect

In the wake of the Steroid Era EVERYONE is a suspect. I’m sure some readers are trying to qualify that last statement thinking, “He can’t really mean everyone is a suspect,” but that is indeed actually what I meant. Every single MLB player that was in the majors from the 1990s through the mid 2000s can uniformly be lumped into the Steroid Era, and is thus viewed through a lens of doubt that opens them to accusations of guilt. Isn’t this doubt an accusation in and of itself?

Sure not every player is mentioned by name in the Mitchell Report or by informant testimony, but what if they were? Suppose in Jose Conseco’s next tell all book he boldly claims that no one in baseball is clean (after all, Jose has been right about a lot of guys in the past – McGwire, A-Rod, and more). Would that be cause enough to ban the entire player universe during this dark age for baseball?

My opposition in today’s debate, Loyal Homer, would say “Yes!” He would believes that anyone who is accused of steroid use should be banned from enshrinement in the Hall of Fame, regardless of evidence or credibility of the testimony. Banned, remind you, not because of an admission of guilt or proof, but because of an allegation. I don’t know about you, but I find something patently un-American about finding someone guilty until proven innocent.

Loyal Homer’s steadfast rule of zero tolerance for the accused would not just target the usual suspects like the big and bulky Barry Bonds and Mark McGwire. It also accuses the slim and nimble players, too. We know that designer PEDs exist that help players build lean muscle, the way A-Rod did, so even small guys like Ichiro Suzuki, Dustin Pedroia, and Derek Jeter could have used them (although I HIGHLY doubt it). But Loyal Homer’s zero tolerance policy would ban these guys solely based off of accusations. Even if they vehemently deny the charge and there is no hard evidence to prove otherwise, Loyal Homer would exclude guys who revolutionized the sport simply because they playing in baseball’s darkest hours.

A New McCarthyism

The worst part about this rise in skepticism is the fact that it actively encourages abandoning the American principle of innocence of the accused until proven guilty. This is not a new phenomenon, however, as we have seen it at least twice before in America – once in colonial Salem, Massachusetts and again in Congressional Red Scare of the 1950s. Each time Americans were prone to hysteria over unsubstantiated claims, and each time the lives and reputations of the innocent were ruined. It should not be allowed to happen again.

I realize that someone not completely sold on my argument will think I am haplessly appealing to patriotic rhetoric (subliminal message – USA! USA! USA! Bald Eagle, Constitution, Statue of Liberty), but we should give players the benefit of the doubt. Certainly it is not an unalienable right to play professional baseball, much less be commemorated in its holiest shrine, but it should not be so difficult of a task that even unproven accusations of guilt keep an individual out either.

Take Roger Clemens, for example. The man has already lost most popular support in the fight to clear his name, yet he maintains his innocence. If current trends continue, this seven time Cy Young winner will never see Cooperstown without buying a ticket. But his case highlights the most ludicrous aspect of this whole episode of paranoid skepticism – it has become impossible to prove a person’s innocence.

Just for argument’s sake, re-examine the Clemens saga with a fresh, unbiased perspective. A man faces 30 years in prison and a $1.5M perjury charge simply because he maintains innocence. This man could have admitted to wrong doing, if any existed, and been forgiven as he has seen former friends Jason Giambi and Andy Pettitte successfully do, yet he continues to tell anyone that will listen that he did not use PEDs. Still the man’s reputation and legacy are defamed because the accusations of an admitted HGH user (Pettitte) and a guy accused of sexual assault with the date-rape drug (former trainer Brian McNamee). Does that sound fair? While Clemens specific guilt or innocence is immaterial, it highlights the greater need to give people a fair chance, which Loyal Homer’s stance does not.

Guys like Clemens should be let in, at least until they are proven to be guilty. Then, you can Reggie Bush-Heisman them all you want.

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The Sly Stallone Boxing Hall of Fame Debate Verdict

December 16, 2010

Read the opposing arguments from Loyal Homer and Babe Ruthless.

Rocky Balboa has triumphed against seemingly insurmountable odds many times. But I don’t think anyone saw this coming.

Sylvester Stallone, creator of boxing’s most recognizable figure of the past 30 years (despite being fictional), has been honored as one of the newest inductees into the International Boxing Hall of Fame.

There are many people out there like Loyal Homer who feel that this honor is not deserved. They do not deny the cultural impact that the series of Rocky films has, but there have been many great movies about sports. From The Natural to The Mighty Ducks, sports films make for one of the great film genres. That does not necessarily mean that Robert Redford and Emilio Esteves should receive similar inductions.

In many senses, I agree with that sentiment. The idea that Matt LeBlanc could receive Cooperstown honors for his role as sidekick to a baseball playing monkey in the film Ed is ludicrous. But I am awarding this verdict to Babe Ruthless for pointing out a very critical piece of information – it is Sylvester Stallone, not Rocky, that is receiving induction. Stallone’s contributions to the sport of boxing greatly supersede simply producing a movie.

In many ways, Stallone has been as influential in promoting the sport of boxing as Don King, Bob Arum, Lou DiBella, and many other promoters over the years. As Babe Ruthless mentions, Stallone’s creation of Rocky helped attract maintain fan interest during a transition period when legends like Muhammad Ali were making their exit from the sport.

If we were talking about the MLB or NFL, that contribution may not have meant much. Those organizations have been able to maintain consistent growth without any outside help. But boxing is not in the same successful boat as professional baseball or football. Boxing has been struggling desperately for many years, and is starved for real, sustainable publicity.

Sure, guys like Evander Holyfield, Lennox Lewis, and Roy Jones, Jr. did their part to keep boxing relevant, but who has stepped up to carry the torch since their exit from the game? Names like Floyd Mayweather, Manny Pacquiao, and Joe Calzaghe have simply not been enough to sustain the viability of the sport the way that Ali and his counterparts did during boxing’s golden age.

Boxing NEEDED Rocky. You can’t say that about Rudy.

It should also be noted that Stallone’s contributions to the sport of boxing go beyond the Rocky series. He has stayed very close to the sport, including working as producer for The Contender television series, a real-life boxing competition that offers working-class prospects an opportunity to make the leap into boxing stardom. That program has helped to launch the careers of several world-class fighters, including Sergio “The Latin Snake” Mora, who went on to claim the WBC Super Welterweight World Championship.

Movie characters do not belong in sports’ halls of fame, but Stallone is not a movie character. His professional career as a Hollywood star should not be considered a black mark against him when you are considering the invaluable contributions he has made to the sport of boxing.

Congratulations, Sly, on receiving the honor of being named to the International Boxing Hall of Fame. It is well-deserved!

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The Sly Stallone Boxing Hall of Fame Debate

December 15, 2010

Read the opposing arguments from Loyal Homer and Babe Ruthless.

The International Boxing Hall of Fame has announced its inductee class for 2011.

“Iron” Mike Tyson, Julio Cesar Chavez, Kostya Tszyu, Referee Joe Cortez, and Ignacio “Nacho” Beristain were (and still are) legends during their time in the ring. Each will be entering the hall to join the greatest in boxing history. But they were not the only people named this year.

Joining the newest batch of legends in boxing’s hall will be Sylvester Stallone.

In reality, Sylvester Stallone has the exact same professional boxing record that I do. But on the silver screen, his creation – Rocky Balboa – is among the most recognizable figures in all of boxing. Who amongst us hasn’t imagined ourselves running up the steps at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, or screamed ”Yo, Adriaaaaaaaaan!” at the top of our lungs AT LEAST once in our lives?

But are Hollywood catch-phrases and musical montages enough to warrant induction into the same fraternity as Muhammad Ali, Rocky Marciano, Sugar Ray Leonard, and Sugar Ray Robinson?

Does Sylvester Stallone deserve induction into the International Boxing Hall of Fame?

There are plenty of reasons why Loyal Homer feels that Stallone should NOT be receiving this honor, while Babe Ruthless feels that the honor is absolutely deserved.

No matter what the verdict, though, John Goodman should not get his hopes up for a similar honor in Cooperstown!

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The Sly Stallone Boxing Hall of Fame Debate… Rocky, Rocky, Rocky!

December 15, 2010

Read the opposing argument from Loyal Homer.

“Yo Adrian, he did it!”

Sylvester Stallone will soon be inducted in the Boxing Hall of Fame (BHOF), and I for one am not surprised. In fact, I think it’s about time that the boxing world finally recognized the man who did more than most world champion boxers to epitomize all the best the sport has to offer.

Rocky Balboa, the title character of the film series both written by and starring Stallone, has become one of if not the most iconic figures not just in boxing but the sports world. Stallone’s undeniable contributions to boxing, through the Rocky movie franchise, span decades and have permanently interwoven him into the sport’s history forever. His exclusion from the Hall would be criminal.

More Than a Movie

The name Rocky Balboa is known the world over. It actually transcends the sport of boxing. It is probably safe to assume that more people know the name Rocky Balboa than do the last 15 heavyweight champs.

Don’t believe me? Ask your friends how many of they can name. If they don’t rattle off David Haye, Vitali Klitschko, Nikolay Valuev, Ruslan Chagaev, Samuel Peter, Wladimir Klitschko, Sultan Ibragimov, Shannon Briggs, Oleg Maskaev, Sergei Liakhovich, Hasim Rahman, Lamon Brewster, John Ruiz, Corrie Sanders, and Roy Jones, Jr., don’t be shocked because they are not exactly household names. I would be shocked if most not diehard fight boxing fans could name more than two (Roy Jones, Jr. being the gimmee).

But it becomes a very different story if you ask them, “Who beat Apollo Creed or Ivan Drago?” because I’m willing to bet they know exactly who accomplished those feats.

For many red blooded American males like myself, the Rocky movies served as our introduction to the sport of boxing. Long before I ever owned a copy of Mike Tyson’s Punchout, worked my first heavy bag, or bought my first pay-per-view fight, I was running up stairs pretending to be the Italian Stallion, Rocky Balboa. Like me, whole generations of sports fans grew up with Rocky as well. While I was saddened when I learned that real boxing matches usually don’t end with a dramatic rope climbing scene (like in Rocky II) the Rocky movies fostered a spark of hope within me – and I’m sure others like me – that would keep them coming back to boxing in hopes of one day seeing a remarkable knockout or dramatic finish like the ones Stallone brought to the screen.

But more importantly than just being a pop culture icon, Sylvester Stallone helped keep the sport alive in a time when boxing needed a hero. With the revolving door of champions failing to fill the “unfillable” shoes of Muhammed Ali, Rocky kept the sport alive. He kept interest up and brought new fans to the sport during a time when its popularity was waning. Stallone’s Rocky was there to carry the torch until another electrifying champion, Mike Tyson, revitalized the sport’s popularity in the mid 1980s.

Rocky was more than just a movie. It was a truly special film. It merged Slyvester Stallone’s identity with that of Rocky Balboa forever. It was a film that’s lasting legacy benefited the sport of boxing immeasurably, and the man responsible for those films has every right to be recognized alongside the greatest in the sport he immortalized.

Yo, Who You Callin’ A Bum?

Some critics mistakenly think that Stallone’s inclusion into the Hall somehow cheapens or disgraces the sport of boxing. This claim is completely ludicrous! Look no further than the rest of this year’s induction class to understand that is not the case.

This year boxing bad boy “Iron” Mike Tyson will join Stallone in receiving the sport’s top honor. While Stallone is far from squeaky clean himself, in comparison with Tyson he comes out smelling like a rose. Tyson, while no doubt a record-breaking undisputed champion, has a legacy marred by high profile screw-ups and controversy. If a convicted rapist who was once disqualified for biting off a portion of his opponent’s ear doesn’t hurt the legacy of the Boxing Hall of Fame, then certainly the inclusion of the Italian Stallion won’t hurt either.

It is not unheard of for sports announcers and broadcaster to be honored by their franchise and hall of fames for contributions to their respective sports, and Stallone’s impact on boxing can be characterized as having eclipsed that of others in the aforementioned professions. So why deny him this honor by the BHOF?

Although, I’m sure plenty of Rocky fans probably supported the decision to put Stallone in the hall it is important to remember that this decision was not made by the fans. Instead this was a heavily weighed decision made by the Boxing Writers Association of America. They had every right to exclude him if they thought he truly didn’t belong, but they didn’t. They recognized that Stallone belongs, and so should we.

As I square off against toe to toe against Loyal Homer in the ring of intellectual debate, it won’t be pretty. Like Clubber Lang, my prediction for this fight is PAIN. And though Loyal Homer and I may be friends, I’ll hold nothing back because in the words of Ivan Drago, “I must break you!”

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The Undeserving NFL Hall of Famer Debate… Lynn Swann Catches A Lucky Break

September 8, 2010

Read the opposing arguments from Babe Ruthless and Loyal Homer.

Without looking at names, who is this Hall of Famer?

Player One has 13,899 receiving yards and 130 receiving TDs. Player One has also been named to eight Pro Bowls.

Player Two has 13,198 receiving yards and 87 receiving TDs. Player Two was named to seven different Pro Bowls.

Then there is Player Three.

Player Three has 5,462 career receiving yards and 51 TDs. Player Three was also named to only three Pro Bowls.

This wouldn’t be a debate about the LEAST deserving Hall of Famer if the answer to the question above was either Player One or Player Two.

So who are these mystery receivers? Player One is Cris Carter, Player Two is Andre Reed, and Player Three is Lynn Swann.

Can someone please explain to me how Lynn Swann is in the NFL Hall of Fame?!

His statistics barely qualify as average. His role on the Steelers was secondary. In a recent poll it was even determined that 60 percent of the people in the state of Pennsylvania, where “his” Steelers play, don’t like him. So I will ask the question again, can someone PLEASE explain to me how Lynn Swann is in the Hall of Fame?!

Statistically, he is an embarrassment to the rest of the legends in the hall. In his so-called Hall of Fame career, he has only 5,462 career receiving yards, and 51 receiving TDs. In terms of career standing those totals place him at 184th and 91st all time, respectively.

Putting that into perspective, there are 25 active players in the NFL today who ALREADY have more receiving yards, and 14 active players with more receiving TDs.

In his eight years in the NFL Lynn Swann was named to only three Pro Bowls. If he wasn’t even perceived as the best in his position compared to his contemporaries around the league, how could he be one of the greatest to ever play the game?

Here is another interesting little nugget of information for you. Lynn Swann wasn’t even the top wide receiver on his own Pittsburgh Steelers teams for half of his career! So forget about comparing him to his contemporaries around the league, how could Lynn Swann be one of the greatest to ever play the game when he wasn’t even the greatest on his own roster?

Of course, the great response in defense of “Swanny’s” Hall of Fame credentials is that “he played big in big games.”

I don’t buy that for a second.

There have been a lot of players who played big in big games, but do not receive any consideration for Hall of Fame candidacy.

For example, where is Dwight Clark? His name has never even been brought up for the Hall of Fame, yet he is responsible for a catch that was so monumental that it has forever been dubbed as THE Catch. *As a side note, in his career, Dwight Clark had 6,750 receiving yards (a full 1288 MORE than Lynn Swann) and 48 receiving TDs (only three LESS than Swann).

And what about Santonio Holmes? Would ANYONE consider Holmes a Hall of Fame worthy receiver at this point in his career? I didn’t think so. Yet, he performed HUGELY in big games for the Steelers. Plus, when you compare the first four years of Holmes’ career to the first four of Swann’s, they are almost identical in terms of statistics.

Sure, Swann had one more Super Bowl ring, but in fairness, Holmes wasn’t playing on a team coached by Hall of Famer Chuck Noll, and surrounded by a host of other Hall of Famers like Terry Bradshaw, Franco Harris, Jack Ham, Jack Lambert, and Joe Greene.

In fact, even Hall of Fame voters questioned Swann’s candidacy for the Hall of Fame, as he was denied entry not once, or even twice, but a full 13 times before he was finally granted entry into the Hall.

The REAL reason that Lynn Swann has a bust in Canton is because he rode the coattails of better men. He was a role player on a team that won four championships, and he had a couple of key plays that helped to accomplish that impressive feat.

Those individual plays may have been legendary, but Lynn Swann’s career was far from it.

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The Best NFL HOF Class of All Time Debate… Out With the Old, In With the New

August 13, 2010

Read the opposing arguments from Sports Geek and Loyal Homer.

Officially is has only been six days, but in that short time the most recent inductees have already stolen the title of the greatest class ever to enter the Professional Football Hall of Fame.

The class of 2010 includes a hog, a franchise, a dome patrolman, a motor mouth, a defensive genius, and is capped off by the league’s all time leading rusher and receiver. But before we get to the accomplishments of the group’s headliners, let’s take a look at the contributions of its supporting cast.

On the defensive side of the ball, John Randle, Rickey Jackson, and Dick LeBeau wreaked havoc on the field.

In their respective careers, Randle and Jackson combined for 265 quarterback sacks (they rank seventh and tenth respectively on the all-time career sack list). To put that into context, that two-man sack total is more than the entire Jacksonville Jaguars defense could record in the last eight seasons combined (the Jags amassed only 259 sacks as a team since the 2002 season).

While Randle and Jackson were legendary for their play in opposing offenses’ backfields, it was LeBeau’s presence in the defensive secondary that set him apart. Despite the fact that he retired more than 35 years ago, he still claims the eighth most career interceptions in NFL history, with 62 picks to his credit. But, as impressive as that statistic is, it is not the legacy that LeBeau leaves.

LeBeau’s greatest contribution to the NFL was the invention of the Zone Blitz (that’s right, he invented it).

As for the offensive side of things, Russ Grimm was the key player in one of the greatest offensive lines of all time – the Washington Redskins legendary “Hogs” line. Along with his fellow linemen, Grimm helped lead his team to three Super Bowl championships during the 1980s and 1990s.

Then there is Floyd Little, a player that the entire city of Denver should be thanking DAILY. If not for Little, the Broncos would likely have packed up and left town decades ago. Instead, Little helped bring the Broncos back to relevance, and although he played nine seasons for a struggling franchise that never reached a single playoff game during his career, Little managed to earn five different Pro Bowl selections and became the first player ever to lead the league in rushing while playing for a losing team.

While that group of five players is strong enough on its own to stake a claim among some of the greatest classes ever to enter the Hall, this year it is actually the B-side of the 2010 class.

What propels the 2010 class of Hall of Fame inductees into the status of being the greatest class ever is the fact that they are led by Emmitt Smith and Jerry Rice, the most accomplished running back and wide receiver in the history of the league.

Smith and Rice own just about every rushing or receiving record in the league. They have won a collective six Super Bowl championships, 21 Pro Bowl invitations, and both have earned Super Bowl MVP recognition.

From a production standpoint, Rice has caught more passes for more yards and more touchdowns than any player to put on an NFL uniform. Smith owns the same credentials, having rushed more times for more yards and more touchdowns than any player in the history of the NFL.

Emmitt Smith ranks second all-time in total touchdowns scored and total yards from scrimmage. Do you know who the one man is that he sits behind on both those lists? Jerry Rice.

Over the course of their respective careers Smith and Rice combined for a total of 45,119 offensive yards and scored a combined 383 touchdowns. By comparison, that is more production from two men than the combined total of the seven most productive offensive TEAMS in the league last season (New Orleans, Dallas, New England, Houston, Minnesota, Green Bay, and Pittsburgh).

Rice and Smith serve as the icing on the cake for this class of Hall of Fame enshrinees.

On both sides of the ball, and now on the sidelines, the contributions of these seven newest HOFers to the NFL are unsurpassed. Their contributions do not just influence the outcome of the games they played in, but instead influenced the entire NFL. From top to bottom this newest batch of legends comprises the greatest single collection of players ever to be inducted into Canton at one time.

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The All Time Greatest Colts Quarterback Debate

August 10, 2010

Read the opposing arguments from Babe Ruthless and Loyal Homer.

Unitas or Manning?

Johnny Unitas led the Colts in Baltimore for 17 years. Peyton Manning is preparing for his 13th season (with no end to his career in Indianapolis in sight).

Unitas is a Hall of Famer, and Manning will be a Hall of Famer. Both are NFL record-holders, as well as championship quarterbacks.

Both will be remembered in history as two of the most dominant quarterbacks of their era, but…

Between Peyton Manning and Johnny Unitas, who was the greatest Colts quarterback of all time?

Johnny Unitas gets Loyal Homer’s vote, while Babe Ruthless believes that Manning has supplanted Unitas as the Colt’s gunslinger extraordinaire.

If you could choose only one to lead your team, which would it be?

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The Greatest Defensive Back of All Time Debate… In Rod We Trust

August 6, 2010

Read the opposing arguments from Bleacher Fan and Loyal Homer.

Rod Woodson is an absolute beast. He is undeniably one of the greatest ball hawks in NFL history and the undisputed master of the pick-six. His game-changing ability is unmatched not just by any other defensive back, but by any other defensive player in NFL history, securing his legacy as the greatest DB of all time.

Although Rod Woodson had been wreaking havoc on NFL offenses for years, I first took notice of him toward the end of his career, during his days as an Oakland Raider. And no, I did not notice this stellar defensive star for the reasons one might think – Because of his outstanding 2002 season, or for leading the Raiders defense in Super Bowl XXXVII. I became a fan of Rod Woodson because he was killing my Madden gaming.

Every time I threw a pass it seemed to be picked off by Rod Woodson. Every time I rolled out with my quarterback he was sacked by Rod Woodson. I always knew Woodson was a good defensive back, but the skill of his video game counterpart made me do a little research, and learned that as good as the virtual Woodson was, the real deal was even better. I soon discovered that the former college standout from Purdue was one of the best defensive players of all time. I learned that the former Steeler, 49er, and Baltimore Raven was a terrific all around ball player. He could return kicks and make tackles, but most importantly, he could catch interceptions.

Roderick Kevin Woodson was an above average ball player to begin with—generating more than his fair share of tackles, fumbles, and sacks—but where he really shone was in his ability to generate turnovers, specifically interceptions, as he currently sits third on the all time interception list with71.

Pick after pick, Woodson proved himself to be lethal to the opposing offenses’ game plan, and he was even deadlier after making an interception.

Throughout his career, Woodson racked up 1,483 interception return yards. That is not just impressive, it is the NFL record. That means that throughout his career he ran the length of nearly 15 football fields after making a pick. While a great wide receiver might be lucky enough to accumulate that much yardage after the catch, you have to remember that none of these passes were ever intended for #26.

But most impressive of all is the number of interceptions that Rod Woodson returned for touchdowns in his career. With a grand total of 12 picks returned for scores, Rod Woodson sits atop the stats sheets with yet another NFL record. While not necessarily recorded, who knows how many more scores were the direct result of a possession that began with a turnover created by Woodson. Defenders aren’t supposed to score that many touchdowns, but apparently no one ever told that to Rod Woodson. The term game-changer gets thrown around a lot in football, but what else can you call a player like Woodson? On any down he could not only force a change of possession, but could put points on the board in the process.

Woodson’s impressive pedigree ultimately earned him a spot in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Despite an incredible career highlighted by numerous individual accolades and records, Woodson remained exceptionally humble in his induction speech (it was both articulate and engaging – well worth the watch). He attributed his success to teamwork and the Lord. He could have bragged or been cocky because he certainly had the resume to back it up, but time and time again he credited others with his development and success.

Rod Woodson was a hero on the field and off. He was a one of a kind defender who had an uncanny nose for the ball. His records may not stand forever, but they are impressive nonetheless, and at least for now remain as one of the lasting legacy of the greatest DB in NFL history. 

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