How many Americans, even non-baseball fans, do you think have heard of Babe Ruth? How many non-basketball fans in America have heard of Michael Jordan? Probably a lot and many could probably tell you at least one team they played for.
How many non-football fans in America have heard of Johnny Unitas? Probably a decent amount. But how many could tell you that he played for the Colts? Not too many. In fact, some football fans don't even know that.
It's a problem with most young NFL fans like myself. The NFL simply does not do a good job of glorifying its history.
Football history never really interested me until recently. It was when I read a book called The Blind Side by Michael Lewis when I started thinking a lot about it.
Part of the book is about linebacker Lawrence Taylor, one of the greatest players in NFL history. It discussed how it took at least a tackle, a guard, and a tight end to guard him. It talked about how his pass rush changed the game forever, such as making the left tackle a premium position to guard the quarterback.
I knew who Lawrence Taylor was before, but I couldn't have told you a lot about him. It's kind of sad that the NFL and the media doesn't talk much about most of the all-time greats anymore.
What should the NFL do?
Even though the team is more important than the player, let's be realistic. People are more interested in Michael Jordan than his supporting cast.
With the rise of fantasy football, people have been watching entire games just to see one player.
We all know what the '72 Dolphins did, but fans now want to know who was on the team.
To take it a step further, they can make an official list of the all-time greatest players, like the NBA did in 1996. The NBA made an official list of the 50 Greatest Players in NBA History.
The NFL could easily do that. Best of all, it would cause controversy.
You usually never hear arguments about who was better than who in the NFL. Quarterback being the exception.
You always hear in basketball about Russel vs. Wilt, Bird vs. Magic. How about Walter Payton vs. Barry Sanders? Bill Walsh or Vince Lombardi? How often do we really hear discussion about who was the greatest in NFL history?
Most fans don't hear a lot about NFL players of the past and that needs to change.
The NFL has a fascinating past with many groundbreaking coaches, players and teams. The NFL and the media simply don't talk enough about it.
Most baseball fans could tell you the big names on the Hall of Fame ballot and what they think of the voters. We rarely hear about who is voted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
History is one of the most fascinating aspects of any sport and the NFL needs to let fans know who to know about.
Other sports are great at it. The NFL should be, too.
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