posted on Oct, 31 2005 @ 08:18 PM
I disagree that, in the context of pro football, a career of nine very full seasons is "too short."
The greatest running back I have ever seen, hands down, was Earl Campbell. Yeah, he couldn't catch a pass to save his life, but so what? He had my
high school quarterback, Dan Pastorini, who could throw the ball 3 light years, but certainly was no great NFL quarterback, and he carried that team
into the AFC title game at least twice, losing once in large part due to blind zebras. God knows how many former linebackers and strong safeties are
wracked with permanent pain because they had Campbell run full speed into them. And, of course, Campbell himself is tragically wracked-up, too, from
all those high-speed truck wrecks.
But CAMPBELL is someone who, despite his phenomenal peak, may be dismissed from this pool of candidates due to an insufficiently long career. BROWN
is not. Nine years as a star running back, getting a zillion carries per game, is akin to how many years in Major League Baseball? Maybe 15? 17?
Most baseball historians I know feel, as do I, that Lefty Grove is the greatest pitcher ever, not counting active pitchers. He pitched 17 years,
winning a mind-boggling 9 E.R.A. titles in the hitter-friendly 1920's and 1930's, all the while pitching in hitters' parks. He won his four E.R.A.
titles after his 35th birthday, as a left-handed pitcher in Fenway Park. (Read that last sentence a few times.)
Joe DiMaggio is regarded by many, though not me, as the greatest of MLB's five legendary center fielders (Cobb, Speaker, Joe D., Mays and Mantle, in
that chronological order). Joe D. played 13 years.
Sandy Koufax pitched only 12 years, during 3 of which he played only part time, and during 6 of which he was a mediocre pitcher. Yet, on the basis of
his last 6 years, ESPN selected him as the ONLY pitcher worthy of inclusion in their Top 50 Sports Figures of the Century. (Never mind that his
E.R.A. in spacious Dodger Stadium was a full run better than on the road....)
If Joe D. and Koufax can be considered as the greatest ever, how can Brown be disqualified from the same distinction in his sport on the ground he
didn't play "long enough?" I'd like to hear the thoughts of linebackers and safeties who had to tackle Brown, if they heard it suggested Brown had
too short a career.
Baseball History Nut