NFL Debate: The Death of Ranks and Listing?

Eddie FiascoContributor IOctober 22, 2009

DETROIT - SEPTEMBER 20:  Running back Adrian Peterson #28 of the Minnesota Vikings warms up for the game against the Detroit Lions at Ford Field on September 20, 2009 in Detroit, Michigan. The Vikings won 27-13.  (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)

(Will AD be the best ever ?)

Aren't you just a little bit sick of all these Top 10 Quarterbacks lists? The audacity some writers out there have, to place Bart Starr above Brett Favre in an all-time ranking, or to take their weak attempt at ordering Walter Payton, Jim Brown, and Barry Sanders.

Think about it. Stats aside, who is the best receiver in the NFL right now ? Who is the best (stats aside, again) of all-time?

If the numbers are truly being ignored, are you still painting a vivid picture of Jerry Rice? Or are you thinking about Randy Moss, Marvin Harrison, Steve Largent, or Don Huston?

You can rack your brain with any of these lists, any of these players, and come to a thousand different conclusions on who end sup at your "number one" slot in the end.

In fact, here's a challenge for you:

For three consecutive Sundays, write a list of the top ten quarterbacks, running backs, and receivers of all-time, ranking them in specific order. Do them all separately and never refer to them again, as you re-write them two more times after the initial lists.

Odds are, you will find that the order changes. The reasons change. Your opinion and perspective changes.

A huge part of the whole "list process" and our general perception of whom and what is "great" in sports comes down to our environment, our favorite team, and stats.

The time we live in also plays into it, but for the most part, we give-way to the players that came before our time.


Because our fathers and grandfathers told us so. "Jim Brown was the best running back I have ever seen. And if he'd played another 3-4 years, he would have all the records."

Yeah, pops, well so would have Barry Sanders.

So would have Walter Payton.

So forget about the records. I mean Brett Favre has all the records that matter at the quarterback position, yet I rarely see him in an all-time top-five, and haven't even seen him in a top-10 in years.

But if Peyton Manning wins another Super Bowl and breaks all of Favre's records, which he inevitably will, can you tell me he won't crack the top-five, or even be regarded as the best quarterback to ever play the game?

The fact is, lists are almost all opinion, and the way we (as fans) decide to view team records, supporting casts, statistics, and situational/environmental information cuts into the real core of what it means to break down a player.

The truth is, it's nearly impossible to be accurate when making these lists, when ranking all-time greats. We will always remember the first "great one", "chosen one", and "prodigal sons."

Because they were the first to be special. They were original, and because they were the first, they will forever be left out of a list or ranking last .

That means, whether you want to admit it or not, you will always mention Joe Montana and Johnny Unitas when discussing the greatest quarterbacks of all time.

Even if you're 13. Because all it takes is a book to show you those numbers. Those vintage pictures. And all those other opinions from people who were actually there to see their greatness.

But don't let this stop you from writing, reading, and engaging in day-long arguments over which players rank where.

Because, while it's impossible to ever be "right" with a ranking, they're still so damned entertaining to read.