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Old 02-14-2010, 11:10 PM   #31
bachslunch
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And one more article citing complete LB game stuff on Rickey Jackson:

An article by Brian Allee-Walsh. It quotes Jim Mora as follows:

"“He had it all. He could do it all. He was tough against the run, he could cover the pass and he could rush the passer. He was there every day, every week. You could depend upon him every week for giving his best effort. He was tough as nails, a good team leader. He was just one heck of a player.’’

And from Steve Young, same article, praising Jackson's pass coverage and maybe more depending on how it's seen:

“Rickey had two things – he had the moves and he could run you over, and he could also drop back into coverage. He had it all. At the end of his career, when he was with us in San Francisco, he was still very effective. He’s a great Hall of Famer. He’s a good friend. I couldn’t be happier for Rickey Jackson.’’

Rickey Jackson receives call to the Hall on truly special Who Dat weekend
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Old 02-15-2010, 02:34 AM   #32
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Whew! Lots to respond to. I'll start with RBs.
Quote:
Originally Posted by bachslunch View Post
--Frank Gifford doesn't strike me as an especially strong HoF-er, but my impression was that his basically just OK rushing stats got a strong boost from his skills as a receiver.
Gifford was a good receiver, and I actually do like him in the HOF. His '59 season was great, and his '56 was exceptional. Little wasn't quite as good a receiver, but he was above-average, plus he was a more accomplished rusher and an elite returner. Gifford played on great teams and Little on terrible ones.

Gifford, IMO, ranks solidly behind Jim Brown, Joe Perry, Hugh McElhenny, Lenny Moore, and probably Ollie Matson. I have Little well behind Simpson and Sayers, a little behind Kelly and Csonka, and roughly equal with Larry Brown. They occupy equivalent spots in their respective eras, and I just don't see a lot of ground between them. Again, the argument here is "comparable".

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Originally Posted by bachslunch View Post
--Doak Walker was a real jack-of-all-trades who looks like he was a decent PK for the time, added some very healthy pass catch stats to what looks like some so-so rushing numbers, did some punting, was none too shabby as a KR, and also played DB. In fact, he may be hard to compare with anyone from the 50s and later.
I agree that most pre-Jim Brown RBs are hard to compare to Brown-and-after RBs. Walker finished his career with 1,520 yards and 12 rushing TDs, which puts him behind Chris Johnson's 2009 season alone. Using a purely statistical methodology -- the system I mentioned earlier, Walker ranks 95th all-time, between J.D. Smith and Don Perkins. Was Walker's punting and placekicking the difference between Smith/Perkins and Chuck Foreman/Lydell Mitchell, who rank on either side of Little? If so, they're comparable. Or at least, they would be comparable if Little played with a HOF QB and Walker had the worst blockers in the league. Walker played on very good teams and was a Heisman Trophy winner, and it's my feeling that his reputation rather exceeded his performance in the pros.

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Originally Posted by bachslunch View Post
Not sure about the earlier folks, especially since I'll bet several of these were two-way players -- again, pretty tough to compare to Little if so. Gives me something to take a look at, though.
McAfee, Canadeo, and Dudley have very similar careers. All had one great season, all missed time because of the war, and all were more than just running backs. Trippi played a little QB, but he was something close to a modern running back, not a meaningful defensive contributor.

McAfee had a legendary 1941 season: 2nd in the NFL in rushing, 7.3 ypc, great returner, tied Don Hutson for the league TD lead, and intercepted 6 passes on defense. Then he went to war for three years. He came back and had a couple more good seasons, nothing that really stood out.

Canadeo is basically in the Hall because he was the 3rd player to officially rush for 1,000 yards in a season. He played a little defense, punted early in his career, was a pretty good returner. He's the weakest of the group, IMO.

Dudley was a do-everything guy. He had an exceptional rookie season, then missed two years because of the war. He led the NFL in rushing twice, he was a good returner, and in 1946 he intercepted 10 passes. He punted throughout his career and did a little placekicking at the end of it. Admittedly, he's tough to compare to contemporary RBs. Maybe his defensive contributions make him equal to someone like Little. Purely as an offensive player and returner, I don't see him in the same league.

Trippi was probably the 2nd-best RB in the NFL in the late '40s (Steve Van Buren was easily #1). He was a good runner (5.1 career ypc), capable receiver, and standout punt returner. He was also a good punter. He played a little defense, but wasn't a regular two-way player. Trippi had two great seasons (48-49) and helped lead the Cardinals to their only contested Championship in '47, with two long TDs in the CG.

I don't see any of those players being clearly better than Little. I think most of them are about his level, a couple maybe even a little lower.

On to LBs...

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Originally Posted by bachslunch View Post
Patriot Tippett put in the work for his Fame - The Boston Globe

The American Spectator : A Ballot for Rickey Jackson
The Globe piece has one throwaway line, based on a single anecdote, about Tippett playing the run and the pass.

The Spectator piece is garbage.

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Originally Posted by bachslunch View Post
"An outstanding pass rusher who also could handle coverage, Tippett was a force against the run after a stint in junior college and a standout career at Iowa." (AP)
This is the sort of documentation that interests me.

Quote:
Originally Posted by bachslunch
Another one on Tippett, apparently a quote from Irving Fryar:

“Anything LT (Lawrence Taylor) could do, Andre could do it just as well,” said former Patriots teammate Irving Fryer. “He could rush the passer just as well, stop the run just as well, (and) cover backs out of the backfield just as well. He just never got the notoriety of LT because we played up in New England.”
I don't consider quotes from friends and teammates reliable. Sure, Irving, the only reason LT was more famous is because you were in Boston.

"Fryar" is misspelled in the article.

Quote:
Originally Posted by bachslunch
And something pro-Tippett-as-complete-linebacker from Mike Vrabel quoted in an article from the Worcester Telegram and Gazette, though I have no idea if Vrabel actually saw him play or not:

“It’s more than deserving, it’s long overdue,” Patriots linebacker Mike Vrabel said this week. “You can’t really talk about outside linebackers without saying Lawrence Taylor and Andre Tippett. To me, this is a guy that rushed, covered, played against the run and put up a lot of great numbers when linebackers really weren’t doing those types of things in the ’80s.”
Mike Vrabel was 9 years old when Tippett had his best season. I bet Vrabel knows him as the Patriots' director of community affairs, though.

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Originally Posted by bachslunch View Post
An article by Brian Allee-Walsh. It quotes Jim Mora as follows:

"“He had it all. He could do it all. He was tough against the run, he could cover the pass and he could rush the passer. He was there every day, every week. You could depend upon him every week for giving his best effort. He was tough as nails, a good team leader. He was just one heck of a player.’’

...

And from Steve Young, same article, praising Jackson's pass coverage and maybe more depending on how it's seen:

“Rickey had two things – he had the moves and he could run you over, and he could also drop back into coverage. He had it all. At the end of his career, when he was with us in San Francisco, he was still very effective. He’s a great Hall of Famer. He’s a good friend. I couldn’t be happier for Rickey Jackson.’’
Can we get the coach of somebody else's team to agree with him? Can we get someone who wasn't a teammate to say he could do these things? Of course Mora has good things to say about his star linebacker. Young explicitly calls Jackson "a good friend." I just don't see them as impartial judges of his talent.

Can you find opponents who will say that they had problems getting open against Tippett? Coaches who complain admiringly that they had to change the gameplan because Jackson dropped into coverage as well as rushing the QB? Non-hometown sportswriters who thought they were good at these things?

I realize these kinds of quotes are not easy to find, and what I'm asking you to prove is not easy to do. But so far, you've shown me a bunch of friendly teammates and partisan fans who say, "Oh yeah, he was great. Did it all," when my impression of their reputations is otherwise and the available statistics don't support the argument.

My perception of Tippett has always been exclusively of a pass rusher. I'll allow that Jackson's responsibilities were a bit more balanced, but I see him basically as a great pass rusher.

Quote:
Originally Posted by bachslunch View Post
Remember, I'm a healthy skeptic regarding the significance of INTs. Re Tippett: his single career INT might indeed mean he was poor in pass coverage or never did this, but could also mean that nobody ever threw against him when he played coverage, or maybe more likely that Tippett could cover okay but had bad hands. In fact, I'd guess that if any of these guys had good hands, they would have been TEs instead of LBs.
We certainly don't want to put too much faith in INTs, but one interception in an 11- or 12-year career is an extraordinarily low number. Among HOF OLBs, Jackson (8) and Taylor (9) are the next-lowest. Kevin Greene was not good at playing the pass and rarely dropped into coverage, but even he had 5 picks. Joey Porter has 12. Bob Brazile had 13. Dave Wilcox had 14.

The one career INT for both Thomas and Tippett is such an outlier compared to their peers that I think it's enough to draw conclusions from, even if we remain skeptical about the general usefulness of the statistic. I mean, this isn't close. When Kevin Greene has 5 times as many picks as you, I'm sorry, you couldn't play the pass. Lawrence Taylor had almost no cover responsibilities. When he has 9 times as many picks as you, I'm sorry, you couldn't play the pass. One interception is a remarkably low total even for a rush linebacker.

In NFL history, there are six LBs who have been to multiple Pro Bowls but only have 1 INT: Peter Boulware, Ken Harvey, Shawne Merriman, Thomas, Tippett, and DeMarcus Ware. Merriman and Ware are still active, probably only halfway through their careers, and likely to get more. So basically, you're looking at Boulware, who only played 9 seasons, plus Harvey, Thomas, and Tippett.

To me, the simplest and most likely explanation for Tippett having only 1 career INT is that he was almost never used in pass coverage and/or wasn't very good at it. Absolutely don't buy that he was so good he never got thrown at, and bricks for hands only goes so far. Even if we throw all skepticism out the window and assume he was a good pass defender, there's a big difference between knocking down a pass and picking one off. A guy who can't create turnovers in the passing game isn't much use in defending the passing game, IMO.

Last edited by Brad O.; 02-15-2010 at 08:12 AM. Reason: grammar and flow
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Old 02-15-2010, 10:55 AM   #33
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Found one more on Tippett and positives about his work in pass coverage. This one is a contemporary account and not from what looks like a grossly biased source (not Pats based, not a testimonial from a teammate or coach, not in a New England based paper); it's from John McClain, an NFL beat writer for the Houston Chronicle about the upcoming Super Bowl vs. the Bears. A quote:

"Tippett is unique in that he plays outside linebacker on the left side, but in passing situations, he moves down to defensive end. Many of his sacks actually come as a lineman. And yet Tippett still manages to excel when pass coverage is required."

SUPER BOWL XX/Tippett is a quiet, raging bull 01/24/1986 | Archives | Chron.com - Houston Chronicle

There's no doubt one needs to read sources with care, and I did say that earlier. And yes, it can be hard to find the best sources in print on this stuff. But I'm thinking this article above and the AP one mentioned earlier are harder to explain away than the "Fryer" one -- who believes a talking chicken.....?

The best thing, of course, would be to study film and lots of it. Wish I had that luxury.

I'll see if I can find more things that might be seen as "more reliable" on Tippett and Jackson. Will post if and when I find.
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Old 02-15-2010, 05:46 PM   #34
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Brad, just a couple more thoughts:

--if we're giving Floyd Little credit for playing on bad teams, am hoping we're giving Rickey Jackson at least partial credit as well.

--for whatever reason, I hadn't thought of Little as an "elite" KR. Abe Woodson, certainly. Gale Sayers (kickoffs) and Travis Williams (kickoffs) for brief periods, sure, that's okay too. Hadn't thought of Little in these terms, though he did indeed do some kick returning and apparently did pretty well his rookie year with punts. Maybe my standards are too strict? I'm happy to be convinced of the "elite" status for Little if it's there.
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Old 02-15-2010, 07:57 PM   #35
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No idea if this is damning with faint praise or not, but found an interview with ex-Bills guard Joe DeLamielleure where he specifically says Andre Tippett played the run better then Lawrence Taylor. He also says that Tippett was "better all around" than Taylor, though specifics beyond the running game statement are lacking -- and there's a chance such a statement may undermine DeLamielleure's credibility here:

DeLamielleure picks Tippett over L.T. - AFC East Blog - ESPN

Quote from this article:

"I thought he [Tippett] was better all around [than Lawrence Taylor]," DeLamielleure told ESPN.com by phone from Canton. "A lot of guys thought he was better."

"He played the run better than Lawrence Taylor. They never asked Lawrence Taylor to put his hand down on the ground. Lawrence Taylor was just a standup rusher."

"I always said if Tippett would have put his hand down on the ground every down, he probably would have been one of the top rushing defensive ends to ever play."
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Old 02-15-2010, 11:21 PM   #36
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There's no mention of run or pass protection prowess, but I was surprised at how vehemently Peter King supports Jackson's candidacy here, especially the part where he cites Joe Montana as saying Jackson and LT were the two players he "feared" and had to game plan against. King does ramble and fumble a bit while answering, however:

It Is What It Is King on D&H: Colts as ‘business-like as the Patriots in 2001′

A partial quote:

"Who is going to get into the Hall of Fame tomorrow, and who are you going to fight for?

[King] "I’ll answer the second question first. I’ll be fighting for Rickey Jackson, hard. He is my pet guy this year, not in a negative way that I don’t speak up for other guys. I will speak up for six or seven guys, but Rickey Jackson will be my guy because I think you line him up, even statistically — people are not going to want to hear this, they’ll roll their eyes — but I think you line him up next to Lawrence Taylor, he is the closest to Lawrence Taylor in a 15-20-year period in the ’80s and ’90s. I think what has happened over the years is that he sort of got lumped into, “There was that great New Orleans linebacker group. There is not one guy who really stood out.”

"I beg to differ. Here is a guy who had 42 forced fumbles in his career. Here is a guy who if you add up his sacks, forced fumbles, interceptions, all those things, got better numbers than Lawrence Taylor. And believe me, I’m not saying he is better than Lawrence Taylor. I’m saying that, and don’t ask me — Joe Montana told me the other day that [Jackson] and Lawrence Taylor were the two guys the 49ers really feared, that when they played those guys they game-planned around him. He is going to be a guy I am really going to support."
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Old 02-15-2010, 11:50 PM   #37
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Re Rickey Jackson: Dr. Z says in this article that he thinks Jackson did decently against the run.

Excerpt:

"J.P. from New Orleans makes an impassioned plea for OLB/rush specialist Rickey Jackson of the Saints. The trouble is that he's coming up against a mob of sackers, primarily Kevin Greene, the No. 3 man of all time, Chris Doleman, the No .4, and Richard Dent, the No. 5. Jackson is at No. 9, and although I share your feeling that he was a decent run-stopper as well, it will be the sacks by which he'll be measured."

SI.com - Writers - Dr. Z: Broncos' blocking technique is legal, but it's dirty and unnecessary - Friday October 29, 2004 1:28PM
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Old 02-16-2010, 04:31 AM   #38
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bachslunch View Post
Found one more on Tippett and positives about his work in pass coverage. This one is a contemporary account and not from what looks like a grossly biased source (not Pats based, not a testimonial from a teammate or coach, not in a New England based paper); it's from John McClain, an NFL beat writer for the Houston Chronicle about the upcoming Super Bowl vs. the Bears. A quote:

"Tippett is unique in that he plays outside linebacker on the left side, but in passing situations, he moves down to defensive end. Many of his sacks actually come as a lineman. And yet Tippett still manages to excel when pass coverage is required."

SUPER BOWL XX/Tippett is a quiet, raging bull 01/24/1986 | Archives | Chron.com - Houston Chronicle
This is certainly the most convincing evidence I've seen on the subject.

Quote:
Originally Posted by bachslunch
The best thing, of course, would be to study film and lots of it. Wish I had that luxury.
Likewise.

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Originally Posted by bachslunch View Post
--if we're giving Floyd Little credit for playing on bad teams, am hoping we're giving Rickey Jackson at least partial credit as well.
What makes you think he deserves it? Jackson's teams had a collective record of .556 (129-103). Most guys play a couple of seasons for bad teams. I don't see his case and Little's (.397) as nearly equivalent.

Jackson played for 6 playoff teams, Little for none. What's more, Jackson's teams often were good defensively even when the offense held them back. He spent the majority of his career -- 9 seasons -- playing for a top-10 defense. In fact, he spent nearly half his career (7) with a top-5 defense, including four seasons for the #1 or #2 defense in the league. Little had miserable offensive teammates for most of his career, whereas Jackson had very good defensive teammates for most of his.

Furthermore, there is a causal relationship between bad teams and depressed stats for RBs. Not only do bad teams usually have poor blocking (which everyone agrees Little's Broncos did), they don't run as often as good teams. I don't think that kind of direct link has been established for LBs. I'd be interested to hear if you disagree, but to my way of thinking the teammate issue is much, much bigger for Little than for Jackson. I suspect there are only about half a dozen HOFers who played on teams as consistently bad as Little's.

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Originally Posted by bachslunch View Post
--for whatever reason, I hadn't thought of Little as an "elite" KR. Abe Woodson, certainly. Gale Sayers (kickoffs) and Travis Williams (kickoffs) for brief periods, sure, that's okay too. Hadn't thought of Little in these terms, though he did indeed do some kick returning and apparently did pretty well his rookie year with punts. Maybe my standards are too strict? I'm happy to be convinced of the "elite" status for Little if it's there.
Well, it depends how we define "elite". I didn't mean to imply that he was Abe Woodson or Gale Sayers. As a rookie, Little led the AFL in PR avg (16.9) and TDs (1), with 942 KR yds and a 26.9 average. I certainly see that as elite. The next year, he had another PR TD, with averages of 10.9 and 25.0, both far above the league averages (8.6 and 21.6).

If he had continued in that role, it seems likely to me that he would have become one of the great returners of all time. Like many fine returners, though, he was too valuable on offense to risk with regular special teams assignments. For the rest of his career combined, he totaled only 41 punt returns and 43 kick returns, about one every other game.

He ranks 2nd in AFL history in PR avg and 4th in KR avg. He's top-10 in league history in both KR and PR yards, and is one of 12 AFL players with multiple return TDs, despite only three seasons in the league, one of which he did almost no returning (combined 9 KR/PR in '69). He's pretty clearly one of the 5 best returners in AFL history. He was seldom used as a returner after that, but when he was active in that role I think his performance qualified as elite. Eye of the beholder, I suppose. Didn't mean to imply that he was Travis Williams back there.

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Originally Posted by bachslunch View Post
[King] "Rickey Jackson will be my guy because I think you line him up, even statistically — people are not going to want to hear this, they’ll roll their eyes — but I think you line him up next to Lawrence Taylor, he is the closest to Lawrence Taylor in a 15-20-year period in the ’80s and ’90s. I think what has happened over the years is that he sort of got lumped into, “There was that great New Orleans linebacker group. There is not one guy who really stood out.”
I agree with this. As far as career statistics, Jackson matches up about equally with Taylor. He had basically as many sacks and INTs, with more forced fumbles and fumble recoveries. His statistics are very impressive and a significant part of the reason that I think he's a legit HOFer.

It seems like King is only looking at the bottom line, though. Jackson played longer, but Taylor's season-by-season numbers leave him in the dust. LT had three 15-sack seasons, Jackson none. LT had 7 straight seasons of double-digit sacks; Jackson's longest streak was 3. LT had twice as many INT return yards and scored 2 TDs to Jackson's none. All that said, I understand King's point and agree that the stats are relevant even if the comparison to LT is misleading.

I know I've already said this several times, but I don't have a problem with Jackson in the HOF and I'm not arguing against him. I question how well-rounded he was (not that I have anything against pure pass rushers; I mean, I want Kevin Greene to get in) and I don't believe he was the strongest candidate at his position. I think he is the weakest non-Senior member of this HOF class. Then again, in my mind Grimm was a slam dunk. I get the impression that you value longevity more than I do, and I put more value on peak performance. At the risk of opening another can of worms, how do you feel about Tombstone Jackson and Terrell Davis?

Quote:
Originally Posted by bachslunch
"Joe Montana told me the other day that [Jackson] and Lawrence Taylor were the two guys the 49ers really feared, that when they played those guys they game-planned around him."
During his career, Montana faced Rickey Jackson 20 times and Andre Tippett three (in 1983, '86, and '89). I'm inclined to disregard this and the DeLamielleure quote for similar reasons.

The Dr. Z quote -- "he was a decent run-stopper" -- is not confidence-inspiring. I came into this feeling that Jackson was a decent run-stopper. It seems to me that Zimmerman's "decent" description supports my position ("not liabilities, but not 'very good' "). If Jackson was a standout run defender, wouldn't he have used a stronger word than "decent"?
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Old 02-16-2010, 07:35 AM   #39
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Purely by coincidence, found this old excerpt from Dr. Z's 1992 All-Pro Team:

Quote:
The OLB spot opposite Cox came down to the Eagles' Seth Joyner, my Player of the Year in 1991, versus the Rams' Kevin Greene. I picked Greene. He had more coverage responsibility than ever before, and he did just fine. He was a consistent pass rusher. Joyner, a strong performer who had his moments this year, played hurt part of the way. Saint linebacker Rickey Jackson made the roster as a pure pass rusher, which is a separate position on my team.
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Old 02-24-2010, 09:31 PM   #40
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Brad O. View Post
What makes you think he deserves it? Jackson's teams had a collective record of .556 (129-103). Most guys play a couple of seasons for bad teams. I don't see his case and Little's (.397) as nearly equivalent.

Jackson played for 6 playoff teams, Little for none. What's more, Jackson's teams often were good defensively even when the offense held them back. He spent the majority of his career -- 9 seasons -- playing for a top-10 defense. In fact, he spent nearly half his career (7) with a top-5 defense, including four seasons for the #1 or #2 defense in the league. Little had miserable offensive teammates for most of his career, whereas Jackson had very good defensive teammates for most of his.

Furthermore, there is a causal relationship between bad teams and depressed stats for RBs. Not only do bad teams usually have poor blocking (which everyone agrees Little's Broncos did), they don't run as often as good teams. I don't think that kind of direct link has been established for LBs. I'd be interested to hear if you disagree, but to my way of thinking the teammate issue is much, much bigger for Little than for Jackson. I suspect there are only about half a dozen HOFers who played on teams as consistently bad as Little's.
Jackson played for 15 seasons, 9 of those for very good teams, true enough. But his first 6 years (better than one third of his career) were spent on teams that were at .500 or below. Specifics, year and W-L record:

1981, 4-12
1982, 4-5
1983, 8-8
1984, 7-9
1985, 5-11
1986, 7-9

I don't see how these Saints squads could be seen as being good, which is why I suggested partial (not full) credit for Jackson here. I don't think they're equivalent, of course, as it's clear Little played pretty much exclusively on sub .500 squads. Thought I was clear on that by saying "am hoping we're giving Rickey Jackson at least partial credit as well."

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Originally Posted by Brad O. View Post
I know I've already said this several times, but I don't have a problem with Jackson in the HOF and I'm not arguing against him. I question how well-rounded he was (not that I have anything against pure pass rushers; I mean, I want Kevin Greene to get in) and I don't believe he was the strongest candidate at his position. I think he is the weakest non-Senior member of this HOF class. Then again, in my mind Grimm was a slam dunk. I get the impression that you value longevity more than I do, and I put more value on peak performance.
It's interesting looking at Grimm's career in pro-football-reference for the few stats there are. He played a total of 11 years, with the first six being full seasons as a starter -- and clearly at least the last four of these six were at elite level (from 1983 through 1986 he had 4 pro bowls, 3 AP 1st team all pro teams and one additional one via NEA). But then he missed most of the next two years because of injury (only 6 games in 1987 and 5 games in 1988) and finished up playing three more seasons at what might be seen as at a lower capacity -- note the number of games played (and number of starts in parentheses) for these last three years: 12(9), 15 (11), 16(1). Essentially that's a moderate length career with a relatively short though likely very high level peak. And until I actually went back and checked the numbers, I was under the impression that Grimm was a long career, long peak kind of player -- maybe I was blinded by the postseason success and the "Hogs" nickname, who knows?

I think you're right that I'm placing value on the longer career here. Eye of the beholder, I guess.

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Originally Posted by Brad O. View Post
At the risk of opening another can of worms, how do you feel about Tombstone Jackson and Terrell Davis?
I can see a case for either if you like guys with high and very short peaks with very brief careers. Myself, I won't gripe unduly if they get in, but won't consider it a travesty of justice if they're kept out. A big problem here is that the HoF voters tend not to like these kinds of players that much, with a few exceptions. They've voted down Dick Stanfel and Mac Speedie as Senior candidates and shown no love thus far for Sterling Sharpe or Tony Boselli.

If we consider Gale Sayers a borderline short career player, that won't make things easy for Terrell Davis. Both played seven years, with Sayers having 5 excellent seasons and two useless ones, while Davis had 4 excellent years, one okay season, and two useless ones. And that already puts Davis a bit behind Sayers before factoring in that Sayers was an elite KR and Davis didn't do any of this.

Tombstone Jackson played a total of 7 seasons, 3 of these at what was from all reports at remarkably elite level. His first year is shortened and his sixth was curtailed because of injury. He's not the only AFL d-lineman with a brief career and short but big peak, though -- that also describes Tom Sestak and Earl Faison, for two. I'm not necessarily sure they were better than Jackson in peak level, of course.

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Originally Posted by Brad O. View Post
The Dr. Z quote -- "he was a decent run-stopper" -- is not confidence-inspiring. I came into this feeling that Jackson was a decent run-stopper. It seems to me that Zimmerman's "decent" description supports my position ("not liabilities, but not 'very good' "). If Jackson was a standout run defender, wouldn't he have used a stronger word than "decent"?
Thanks for clarifying, as I was under the impression you thought Jackson was a one-dimensional pass rusher. I'm happy to trust Dr. Z here and downgrade my description of Jackson's run play from "excellent" to "decent." Myself, I always thought "decent" was a positive adjective when describing someone or something -- am guessing we're not seeing this word in quite the same way.
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Old 02-26-2010, 04:14 AM   #41
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bachslunch View Post
Jackson played for 15 seasons, 9 of those for very good teams, true enough. But his first 6 years (better than one third of his career) were spent on teams that were at .500 or below. Specifics, year and W-L record:

1981, 4-12
1982, 4-5
1983, 8-8
1984, 7-9
1985, 5-11
1986, 7-9

I don't see how these Saints squads could be seen as being good, which is why I suggested partial (not full) credit for Jackson here. I don't think they're equivalent, of course, as it's clear Little played pretty much exclusively on sub .500 squads. Thought I was clear on that by saying "am hoping we're giving Rickey Jackson at least partial credit as well."
Two points here:

The first is specifically about Jackson vs. Little. Jackson's .556 and Little's .397 are not comparable. One guy spent most of his career on good teams and the other spent all of his career on bad teams. Little played on six teams that finished under .400, Jackson on two. Jackson played for six playoff teams, Little for none. That's not even the same neighborhood.

I also remain unclear on what sort of disadvantage you think Jackson was at because he played on bad teams. There is a direct correlation between team success and rushing attempts, so an RB on a bad team has fewer opportunities to establish himself statistically or impress fans. I'm not aware of anything like that affecting linebackers, and if such exists, I hope you'll bring it to my attention.

Given these factors, I don't see anything incongruous about mentioning lack of team success as an important factor in our evaluations of Little, but not of Jackson.

The second point... Rickey Jackson played for 15 seasons. In 13 of those seasons, his team was 7-9 or better. Almost anyone who plays 15 years will have a couple seasons on a bad team. Your list of bad Saints teams...
Quote:
1981, 4-12
1982, 4-5
1983, 8-8
1984, 7-9
1985, 5-11
1986, 7-9
...includes a .500 season and three more within a game of .500, basically four average teams. I agree that the '82 and '85 teams left something to be desired, but I don't see that deserving any kind of extra credit. 15 years and only 2 on bad teams? That's practically a charmed life. Jackson played for teams that were collectively .556, which is well above average.

I could show the same thing you did for Jackson with lots of other players. Here's Dick LeBeau:

1963, 5-8-1
1964, 7-5-2
1965, 6-7-1
1966, 4-9-1
1967, 5-7-2
1968, 4-8-2

That doesn't even count his worst season, 3-8-1 (.273) as a rookie in 1959.

Or Emmitt Smith...

1999, 8-8
2000, 5-11
2001, 5-11
2002, 5-11
2003, 4-12
2004, 6-10

That's more than half of this HOF class -- Jackson, LeBeau, Little, and Smith -- who would get extra credit for playing on bad teams. You know who has exactly as many seasons as Jackson on teams more than one game below .500? Peyton Manning. Does he deserve extra credit? Joe Montana had more seasons than Jackson on decidedly subpar teams, a combined 11-30 in three of his first four seasons. Does he deserve extra credit? I think you're ascribing a characteristic to Jackson's career that simply doesn't exist. It is not unusual, in no way remarkable, to play for a couple of bad teams in a long career.

Quote:
Originally Posted by bachslunch
It's interesting looking at Grimm's career in pro-football-reference for the few stats there are. He played a total of 11 years, with the first six being full seasons as a starter -- and clearly at least the last four of these six were at elite level (from 1983 through 1986 he had 4 pro bowls, 3 AP 1st team all pro teams and one additional one via NEA). But then he missed most of the next two years because of injury (only 6 games in 1987 and 5 games in 1988) and finished up playing three more seasons at what might be seen as at a lower capacity -- note the number of games played (and number of starts in parentheses) for these last three years: 12(9), 15 (11), 16(1). Essentially that's a moderate length career with a relatively short though likely very high level peak. And until I actually went back and checked the numbers, I was under the impression that Grimm was a long career, long peak kind of player -- maybe I was blinded by the postseason success and the "Hogs" nickname, who knows?
So there was a season when he wasn't a starter? I just don't see that as a big deal. A lot of guys don't start as rookies and/or in their final seasons. I realize that statistics are a convenient framework for a discussion like this, and I've relied on them just as much as you have, but I'm curious how much football you watched in the 1980s. I've never gotten the impression that you're actually judging Grimm on his play.

Quote:
Originally Posted by bachslunch
I think you're right that I'm placing value on the longer career here. Eye of the beholder, I guess.
Yeah, and I understand your position. I think this difference between us is easily enough to explain the (pretty small) difference in our opinions of Little and Grimm.

Quote:
Originally Posted by bachslunch
I can see a case for either if you like guys with high and very short peaks with very brief careers. Myself, I won't gripe unduly if they get in, but won't consider it a travesty of justice if they're kept out. A big problem here is that the HoF voters tend not to like these kinds of players that much, with a few exceptions. They've voted down Dick Stanfel and Mac Speedie as Senior candidates and shown no love thus far for Sterling Sharpe or Tony Boselli.
You're right that the voters seem pretty unfriendly toward most players with short careers, but I would suggest that none of the players you named are in the same category as Tombstone or TD, except for maybe Stanfel.

Speedie, I think, suffers more from having his best years in the AAFC than from a short career per se. I guess we could view it as a short NFL career. Sterling Sharpe is definitely hurt by his short career, but if he had dominated the league, really distanced himself like a Don Hutson or Lance Alworth, I think he would be in. Unfortunately, he was part of a group that was clearly at the top (himself, Rice, Irvin, Rison, Ellard, Clark, Reed), but he didn't really stand out, and all of those guys had longer careers. Besides, the Hall doesn't enshrine WRs. Boselli probably was the best OT in the NFL for a couple years, but he was never Art Shell or Anthony Muñoz.

Terrell Davis, while he was healthy, was the best RB in the NFL, at a historic level. Who else has had a three-year run like his 1996-98 seasons? Jim Brown, O.J. Simpson, Emmitt Smith, and Marshall Faulk. Maybe LaDainian Tomlinson or Leroy Kelly? Davis was probably the best RB in the league in '96, and that's his worst season in the trio. His '97 and '98 seasons are among the greatest in history, really historic in a way that Boselli and Sharpe's best seasons were not. Davis is also one of the very best postseason RBs in history: he's tied with Emmitt Smith for most 100-yard rushing games in postseason history.

Regarding Tombstone... at the top of his game, he simply blew people's minds. I've already posted this at PFR, so I'll try to keep it brief. Rich Jackson was one of three DEs chosen by Dr. Z for his all-century team. Zimmerman called him "one of, if not the best DE I've seen". In an NFL Films feature on the AFL, Steve Sabol called him the best player not in the Hall of Fame. In 2006, Al Davis called Jackson "the best player [the Broncos] ever had". Ron Wolf's infamous Class of 2008 rant is not publicly available, but John Turney reports that Wolf's memo was "100% in favor of Rich Jackson". Art Shell said that Jackson "could turn a game by himself."

No one with those credentials has spoken so strongly about Stanfel or Speedie or Sharpe or Boselli. They were great players, but they never inspired that kind of praise. Think of it this way: Chris Johnson and Adrian Peterson were both first-team all-pro RBs this year. Peterson had a great season, but Johnson had a historic one. Not all great years are created equal. Sterling Sharpe and Tony Boselli were great in short careers; Terrell Davis and Tombstone Jackson were brilliant in short careers. That's how I look at it.

You pointed out that "the HoF voters tend not to like these kinds of players that much, with a few exceptions." Davis and Jackson fit into that group of exceptions, or at least they should. Gale Sayers and Dwight Stephenson weren't just lucky. They were much better at their peaks than Sharpe and Boselli, et al. Not all short peaks are created equal. Sayers and Davis and Stephenson and Jackson reached magnificent heights.

Quote:
Originally Posted by bachslunch
If we consider Gale Sayers a borderline short career player, that won't make things easy for Terrell Davis. Both played seven years, with Sayers having 5 excellent seasons and two useless ones, while Davis had 4 excellent years, one okay season, and two useless ones. And that already puts Davis a bit behind Sayers before factoring in that Sayers was an elite KR and Davis didn't do any of this.
How closely have you studied this? The Sayers comparison is the argument that Davis should be in, not vice versa.

Both players had 4½ healthy seasons. Sayers played in 68 games, Davis in 86 (including the postseason). Most importantly, you seem to have an extraordinarily generous definition of what constitutes an excellent year. Did Ryan Grant have an excellent year this season? I think his 2009 was roughly equivalent to Sayers in '68 and Davis in '95. To me, excellent is at least Peterson or Ray Rice or MJD, maybe no one except Johnson this year. Certainly not those four plus Jamaal Charles, Frank Gore, Thomas Jones, Steven Jackson, and Grant. That's more than ¼ of the league.

I rate Sayers in '68 almost exactly the same, statistically, as Ed Podolak in 1970.

Sayers: 856 yds, 6.2 avg, 2 TD, 117 rec, 27.1 KR, 7 fmbl
Podolak: 749 yds, 4.5 avg, 3 TD, 307 rec, 13.5 PR, 6 fmbl, rec TD

Sayers had 100 more rushing yards, Podolak had 200 more receiving yards. Sayers had a terrific rushing average, Podolak had more TDs and fewer fumbles. Sayers was a great returner on 19 attempts, Podolak a very good one on 40 attempts. I don't think anyone has ever suggested that Ed Podolak's 1970 season deserved the same descriptive term -- whether it's "excellent" or something else -- as Terrell Davis in 1998. You've got to differentiate between disparate levels of above-average.

The way I see it, Sayers had three very good seasons (1967-69), one exceptional season ('65), and one legendary season ('66). Davis had one very good season ('95), one great season ('96), and two legendary seasons (1997-98), plus substantially more contribution than Sayers in his injured years (1,194 yards from '99-'01, compared to 90 for Sayers in '70-'71) and a thoroughly awesome postseason résumé.

I believe that Sayers was a better player than Davis. Statistically, however, I think the data suggests otherwise. Including his postseason career, Davis rushed for almost twice as much yardage as Sayers (8,747-4,956), an enormous gap of nearly 4,000 yards. He also played his best in big games. It is unlikely that the Broncos would have won Super Bowl XXXI without Davis' heroic MVP effort. Unless you place an enormous value on returning, or none on the postseason, I don't see a statistical argument for Sayers > Davis.

Quote:
Originally Posted by bachslunch
Tombstone Jackson played a total of 7 seasons, 3 of these at what was from all reports at remarkably elite level. His first year is shortened and his sixth was curtailed because of injury. He's not the only AFL d-lineman with a brief career and short but big peak, though -- that also describes Tom Sestak and Earl Faison, for two. I'm not necessarily sure they were better than Jackson in peak level, of course.
I'd support Sestak, too, but what separates Jackson in my mind is the degree of admiration he has garnered from people who are very authoritative voices on the history of the game. I'm not aware that anyone with the credentials of a Zimmerman or Sabol has ever called Sestak the best player not in Canton. In fact, I think Tombstone is totally unique in this respect, having such strong support from so many titans of NFL history.

Quote:
Originally Posted by bachslunch
Thanks for clarifying, as I was under the impression you thought Jackson was a one-dimensional pass rusher. I'm happy to trust Dr. Z here and downgrade my description of Jackson's run play from "excellent" to "decent." Myself, I always thought "decent" was a positive adjective when describing someone or something -- am guessing we're not seeing this word in quite the same way.
You'll find my original assessment of Jackson and Tippett in this post, down a ways: I'm not aware that they had a particular reputation one way or the other on run defense; not liabilities, but not "very good", either.

It does seem that we view the word "decent" differently: to me, it means something akin to "not bad". The third entry at thesaurus.com: acceptable, adequate, competent, passable, sufficient, tolerable. I guess we can't really know how Dr. Z meant it, but I have a tough time seeing "decent" as high praise.

Finally, on a mostly separate note, Sports Central recently published something I wrote up on the greatest LBs in NFL history. I'd be interested in your take on my conclusions.
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Old 02-27-2010, 01:50 AM   #42
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Good points made, as always.

One of the major things we'd need to have any kind of continuing discussion on the first issue is to decide what constitutes a "bad team" and what doesn't. We likely may not have much common ground here.

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Originally Posted by Brad O. View Post
I also remain unclear on what sort of disadvantage you think Jackson was at because he played on bad teams. There is a direct correlation between team success and rushing attempts, so an RB on a bad team has fewer opportunities to establish himself statistically or impress fans. I'm not aware of anything like that affecting linebackers, and if such exists, I hope you'll bring it to my attention.
There are folks who in arguing Roger Wehrli's HoF case made a good sized deal of his playing on bad defenses with little help while still putting forth excellent play as if that was something to be counted in his favor. If that's an appropriate thing to do, one can say that Jackson played for teams that (for example) in 1983 went 8-8 and was 12th in points allowed, in 1984 went 7-9 and was 19th in points allowed, in 1985 went 5-11 and was 22nd in points allowed, and in 1986 went 7-9 and was 7th in points allowed. And during that time, Jackson went to the pro bowl every year and received his two NEA 1st team all pro selections, so one can guess he was playing at a high level no matter what.

But regardless, Jackson apparently didn't have much help around him at the time. In 1986 he had rookie LB Sam Mills as a teammate and a pro bowl level season from DE teammate Bruce Clark in 1984. Otherwise, he was surrounded by players like Jim Kovach, Frank Wattelet, and Scott Pelluer. Of course, things got better around Jackson after that.

And that's of course not down to the level of sustained season-to-season ineptitude Floyd Little had trying to buttress his efforts. I'm not saying it was.

Whether the Saints teams we're talking about here are indeed bad enough, or whether the level of player around Jackson at the time was sufficiently bad enough to be a hindrance is another question. Maybe not.

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Originally Posted by Brad O. View Post
I could show the same thing you did for Jackson with lots of other players....[snip of examples] Does he deserve extra credit?
One might argue that if the player performed well in bad circumstances with minimal teammate help, they may be entitled to it. Am thinking it's the fair thing to do if it's done for one player.

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Originally Posted by Brad O. View Post
So there was a season when he [Grimm] wasn't a starter? I just don't see that as a big deal. A lot of guys don't start as rookies and/or in their final seasons. I realize that statistics are a convenient framework for a discussion like this, and I've relied on them just as much as you have, but I'm curious how much football you watched in the 1980s. I've never gotten the impression that you're actually judging Grimm on his play.
That last year (1991, one start in 16 games) is the most extreme example of Grimm not being a starter, but one wonders if there weren't problems the previous two years: in 1989 he played in only 12 of 16 games with 9 starts and in 1990 15 of 16 games with 11 starts. Prior to his two injury shortened seasons, that wasn't his usual pattern of play; between 1982 and 1986, he only missed one game total and started all but one game -- and that's when he got all his postseason honors. I'm wondering if something happened to affect his game during those last three seasons. Why did he miss more starts than usual, and what's the significance of this?

I did indeed watch football when Grimm was active, almost exclusively on television. And while observation can be valuable in deciding how good a player was, it has limitations just as stats do. We're assuming that:

--we are indeed focusing on the player in question while we watch, and with an o-lineman, that can indeed be a good question. Unless one's a savvy football watcher, one may be looking a whole lot at the skill position guys and not a lot elsewhere. I likely was back then.

--we know what to look for in terms of good or bad play when we're watching the game. Do we know if the player's doing a good job even if we're looking at him? How good are our evaluation skills?

--we aren't being unduly swayed by prattling sportscasters if we're watching on TV. If I believed everything I heard out of John Madden's mouth in the 90s and late 80s, I'd be sold big time on Charles Haley being the greatest thing since sliced bread. And the 'Skins o-line of that time is pretty thickly wrapped in "Hogs" mystique -- and please let me add maybe rightly so.

--observation without documentation at the time for memory-jogging reference can get hazy and inaccurate over time. It's been a while since the 1980s.

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Originally Posted by Brad O. View Post
Yeah, and I understand your position. I think this difference between us is easily enough to explain the (pretty small) difference in our opinions of Little and Grimm.
I agree, there's some thin hairs being split here. Like I've said, I'm okay with Grimm being elected.

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Originally Posted by Brad O. View Post
I believe that Sayers was a better player than Davis. Statistically, however, I think the data suggests otherwise. Including his postseason career, Davis rushed for almost twice as much yardage as Sayers (8,747-4,956), an enormous gap of nearly 4,000 yards. He also played his best in big games. It is unlikely that the Broncos would have won Super Bowl XXXI without Davis' heroic MVP effort. Unless you place an enormous value on returning, or none on the postseason, I don't see a statistical argument for Sayers > Davis.
While I can see the prior points on Sayers vs. Davis, I'm uneasy about some things here:

--my impression of Sayers was that he was an elite level KR, and that indeed adds good value. Or at least I believe it does.

--comparing raw yardage across eras is a concern. If there's a problem comparing Floyd Little and Chuck Foreman in a straight line, I don't see how we can do so unadjusted for era for Sayers and Davis.

--I'm not diminishing Davis's postseason accomplishments, which are indeed impressive. But here are two things to consider. First, Sayers never got a chance to play in the postseason, and we can't say how he might or might not have done if he had. And historically -- fairly or not -- it's normally QBs who get a leg up from edge status into the HoF from voters because of postseason success -- and in fact, guys like Bob Hayes got in despite poor performances under these circumstances.

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Originally Posted by Brad O. View Post
I'd support Sestak, too...
I'd heard Sestak was indeed impressive in the short time he played, if maybe not to Tombstone level. Was wondering just for the heck of it, how was Earl Faison as a player? He appears to have been an integral part of those early good Charger teams and got a ton of postseason recognition in his few years -- 4 first team all pro selections along with 5 pro bowls in a 6 year career is pretty impressive.

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Originally Posted by Brad O. View Post
Finally, on a mostly separate note, Sports Central recently published something I wrote up on the greatest LBs in NFL history. I'd be interested in your take on my conclusions.
Yup, I read this, and thought it was really good. The player assessments seem well considered and I can't quibble substantially with the ordering or who you put in the top 30. The only possible switch-out I could think to make might be to substitute Maxie Baughan instead of Joe Fortunato in the top 30 (I'm still suspicious of Fortunato making the 50s all decade team when nearly all his good years appear to have been in the 60s), though either way am thinking the one from this pair not in that top 30 crust would likely be number 31. But heck, that's almost quibbling for its own sake.

The Floyd Little article is also well argued.
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Old 02-27-2010, 07:42 PM   #43
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Originally Posted by bachslunch View Post
One of the major things we'd need to have any kind of continuing discussion on the first issue is to decide what constitutes a "bad team" and what doesn't. We likely may not have much common ground here.
Good point. Indeed, it seems like several of our disagreements are more about different definitions than anything. In my mind, anything within a game of .500 is average. I'd have a tough time categorizing this year's Dolphins or 49ers as a "bad team". I guess in my mind the key word here is extra, as in the extra credit we've been talking about. To me, "extra" necessitates "out of the ordinary". A 4-12 record is really bad, and that would qualify. If we're counting 7-9 or 8-8 as so bad as to be deserving of extra credit, then more than half the league will get "extra" credit in a given year. That's not extra credit for bad teams, it's punishment for a handful of good ones.

Quote:
Originally Posted by bachslunch
There are folks who in arguing Roger Wehrli's HoF case made a good sized deal of his playing on bad defenses with little help while still putting forth excellent play as if that was something to be counted in his favor. If that's an appropriate thing to do...
This is the second time, the first being the LeBeau discussion, that you've tried to make me take responsibility for a bad argument advanced by someone else. I disagree with the people who made that point about Wehrli, and I disagree with someone who says it about Jackson. There is no inconsistency on my part here.

For the record, Wehrli's teams had a collective record of 90-104-5 (.465), far below Jackson's .556. Wehrli was on three playoff teams and seven teams that finished under .400. That said, I don't know how being on bad teams is supposed to hinder a cornerback. I remain curious how you think Jackson not playing on the '72 Dolphins every year held him back, or why that would merit some sort of extra credit. For RBs like Little, I think there is a clear and statistically provable reason.

Quote:
Originally Posted by bachslunch
--my impression of Sayers was that he was an elite level KR, and that indeed adds good value. Or at least I believe it does.
I agree completely. I believe Gale Sayers was probably the greatest return man in NFL history, and it's a huge part of his HOF case.

It seems to me, though, that you're assuming Davis and Sayers were equal as running backs, and Sayers' returning gives him the advantage. I don't think that's accurate. Davis was a much more accomplished offensive player than Sayers.

In 1965, Sayers was almost certainly the best RB in professional football not named Jim Brown. But I think that's only true if we account for his immense special teams contribution. Otherwise, what separates him from Timmy Brown or Paul Lowe?

In 1966, with Brown retired, I believe Sayers was the best RB in football. But without his returning, would you really rank him ahead of Leroy Kelly? Honestly, yes, you probably would. But not from a statistical standpoint. Sayers had about 100 more yards, but Kelly had 6 more TDs and a better rushing average.

In 1967 and '68, I'm skeptical that Sayers is a top-10 RB statistically without credit for his special teams work. In '69, he did lead the NFL in rushing, but he didn't have a fantastic average, didn't score double-digit TDs, did almost nothing as a receiver, and developed a fumble problem. Purely on his work out of the backfield, I don't see how you'd rank him ahead of Tom Matte, Calvin Hill, or Kelly.

Minus his return work, Sayers was never clearly the best RB in the league, and there's really only one season ('66) when he was even close. Terrell Davis was unquestionably the best RB in 1998, and arguably in '96 and '97, as well. His offensive contributions far outstripped Sayers'. The returning makes this a valid comparison. Otherwise it's like comparing Davis to William Andrews or Alan Ameche.

I do believe Sayers was a better player than Davis, but Sayers is not a borderline HOFer. He's almost invariably ranked among the top 10 or 12 RBs in history, and there are 27 modern-era RBs in the Hall. Davis is the best, or maybe second-best, eligible RB not in the Hall. Certainly he's better than some of the guys who are in there.

Quote:
Originally Posted by bachslunch
--comparing raw yardage across eras is a concern. If there's a problem comparing Floyd Little and Chuck Foreman in a straight line, I don't see how we can do so unadjusted for era for Sayers and Davis.
You're entirely right, of course, that this is something we need to be careful with. I can assure you, however, that the best RBs of the late 90s did not typically rush for twice as much yardage per season as the best RB of the late 60s. I stand by my comparison as an imprecise but clear illustration of the difference in their respective production.

Quote:
Originally Posted by bachslunch
--I'm not diminishing Davis's postseason accomplishments, which are indeed impressive. But here are two things to consider. First, Sayers never got a chance to play in the postseason, and we can't say how he might or might not have done if he had.
That's true, and we don't want to punish Sayers for not getting that opportunity. But that doesn't mean we shouldn't reward Davis for what he really did do. He is perhaps the greatest postseason RB in history, and we can't possibly evaluate his career fairly without acknowledging that.

Quote:
Originally Posted by bachslunch
And historically -- fairly or not -- it's normally QBs who get a leg up from edge status into the HoF from voters because of postseason success -- and in fact, guys like Bob Hayes got in despite poor performances under these circumstances.
I would never deny the role postseason success plays in a QB's HOF chances, though that's usually about wins and losses rather than individual performance. I also wonder if we're talking about two disparate issues. I thought we were discussing whether Terrell Davis deserves to be in the Hall of Fame, but it seems like you're talking about whether or not he is likely to get in. I think the answer to the former is yes and the latter is no.

I also get the impression, and maybe I'm wrong, that you're implying postseason success isn't normally a factor for RBs, but it absolutely is. Do you really think John Riggins would be in Canton without his postseason heroics? What about Larry Csonka? Paul Hornung? It's more of a factor for QBs, but I think it comes into play for everyone. I'm not sure what you're getting at with Bob Hayes.

Quote:
Originally Posted by bachslunch
I'd heard Sestak was indeed impressive in the short time he played, if maybe not to Tombstone level. Was wondering just for the heck of it, how was Earl Faison as a player? He appears to have been an integral part of those early good Charger teams and got a ton of postseason recognition in his few years -- 4 first team all pro selections along with 5 pro bowls in a 6 year career is pretty impressive.
Well, let's clarify something. Faison didn't have 4 first team all pro selections along with 5 pro bowls. He had 4 first team all-AFL selections along with 5 AFL all-star games, when the AFL clearly was not yet the equal of the older league, especially on defense. I've never seen much of his play, and he was obviously very good, but that doesn't scream Canton to me, especially in such a short career. I'd be open to his nomination if he had the kind of support Tombstone does, but I'm not aware that anyone thinks Faison was ever the best at his position.

Sestak played only a year or two later, so we want to put his honors in context, as well. But Sestak had the standout reputation Faison didn't, a unanimous All-AFL selection in three years and first-team on the AFL All-Time Team.

Faison had fewer effective years (73 games to Sestak's 96) and a lower peak, I think. It's probably a bit like the Chris Johnson/Adrian Peterson comparison I made earlier. Both all-pro, but not at the same level. Sestak was the one who really impressed people.

Quote:
Originally Posted by bachslunch
Yup, I read this, and thought it was really good. The player assessments seem well considered and I can't quibble substantially with the ordering or who you put in the top 30. The only possible switch-out I could think to make might be to substitute Maxie Baughan instead of Joe Fortunato in the top 30 (I'm still suspicious of Fortunato making the 50s all decade team when nearly all his good years appear to have been in the 60s), though either way am thinking the one from this pair not in that top 30 crust would likely be number 31. But heck, that's almost quibbling for its own sake.

The Floyd Little article is also well argued.
Thanks, I'm glad you think the rankings make sense. Similarly, I wouldn't argue with Baughan in the top 30 or Fortunato slipped down a couple of spots. Glad you thought the Little piece was well-done, as well.
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Old 02-27-2010, 10:18 PM   #44
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Originally Posted by Brad O. View Post
That said, I don't know how being on bad teams is supposed to hinder a cornerback. I remain curious how you think Jackson not playing on the '72 Dolphins every year held him back, or why that would merit some sort of extra credit. For RBs like Little, I think there is a clear and statistically provable reason.
There aren't stats to prove this, of course, but here's what I'm thinking.

--In Rickey Jackson's case, if you're the one top flight defensive player on the squad, the offense can gang up on you and then take their chances beating the lesser players -- it's kind of like picking on the weak CB in a defensive backfield. With Jackson supported by LB teammates Glen Redd, Whitney Paul, and Scott Pelluer, it's easy to double team and/or direct play away from Jackson and challenge the lesser guys. Put Jackson with Sam Mills, Vaughan Johnson, and Pat Swilling, and you can't do that.

--In Roger Wehrli's case, you have a couple things possibly at play. If you're the one great CB with Norm Thompson as your left corner counterpart and Jim Tolbert and Clarence Duren as the safeties behind you, QBs likely won't throw anywhere near you and will pick on the other folks. Plus if you make a mistake in coverage, it's less likely someone will cover your butt. And if the QB does try to throw on you, if you've got a crummy bunch on the defensive line and in the linebacking corps (which was often the case with Wehrli), they won't get good pressure on the QB and it's more likely a throw will be made -- in other words, less chance of "coverage sacks."

Despite this, one might argue that in Jackson's case, he still distinguished himself significantly, enough so to get significant postseason honors. And one might perhaps argue the same regarding Wehrli.

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I do believe Sayers was a better player than Davis, but Sayers is not a borderline HOFer. He's almost invariably ranked among the top 10 or 12 RBs in history, and there are 27 modern-era RBs in the Hall. Davis is the best, or maybe second-best, eligible RB not in the Hall. Certainly he's better than some of the guys who are in there.
I'll agree that Sayers is not borderline in terms of peak quality, but there aren't too many short career modern era running backs in the HoF either -- Sayers, Doak Walker, and maybe Earl Campbell are pretty much it. I'm thinking Sayers is borderline in the sense that there aren't many RBs like him in the HoF, and except for Walker, no one with lesser stats of this type. Of course Walker is an unusual throwback type of player, as mentioned before.

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Originally Posted by Brad O. View Post
I also get the impression, and maybe I'm wrong, that you're implying postseason success isn't normally a factor for RBs, but it absolutely is. Do you really think John Riggins would be in Canton without his postseason heroics? What about Larry Csonka? Paul Hornung? It's more of a factor for QBs, but I think it comes into play for everyone. I'm not sure what you're getting at with Bob Hayes.
Yes, I think Riggins and Csonka would have gotten elected even if they never got to a Super Bowl. Remember that Riggins was fourth all time in rushing yards when he retired in 1985, only behind Walter Payton, Jim Brown, and Franco Harris. And when Csonka retired in 1979, he was fifth all time in rushing yards, behind Brown, O.J. Simpson, Joe Perry, and Jim Taylor. HoF voters seem to put a lot of weight in those kind of accumulation counting stats.

I can see the case for a "rings boost" for Paul Hornung, though. But he's the only RB one could say this for, and Lynn Swann is the only WR. All the rest are QBs. It's still an outlier for "rings" to make a difference in the HoF case for a non-QB at this point.

For Bob Hayes and the post-season, his numbers are unimpressive. He only had two big games (the initial conference games in 1967 and 1968) in 12 appearances, otherwise being pretty much neutralized in the other ten. And during the Ice Bowl game against Green Bay, Hayes kept his hands in his pockets while lining up on running plays and out of his pockets while lining up on passing plays the entire day, which apparently helped tip off the type of play to Green Bay, giving them an advantage and likely contributing to Dallas's loss there. Whatever other merits Hayes may have had regarding the HoF, his postseason play wasn't a contributing factor.

Last edited by bachslunch; 02-27-2010 at 10:30 PM. Reason: Riggins was 4th, not 3rd all time at retirement.
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Old 03-01-2010, 12:29 AM   #45
Brad O.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bachslunch View Post
There aren't stats to prove this, of course, but here's what I'm thinking.
Before we get to the substance of your argument, I'll point out again that there are stats to prove this for RBs. I can show conclusive proof that RBs on losing teams get fewer opportunities. I see that as an important distinction.

Quote:
Originally Posted by bachslunch
--In Rickey Jackson's case, if you're the one top flight defensive player on the squad, the offense can gang up on you and then take their chances beating the lesser players -- it's kind of like picking on the weak CB in a defensive backfield. With Jackson supported by LB teammates Glen Redd, Whitney Paul, and Scott Pelluer, it's easy to double team and/or direct play away from Jackson and challenge the lesser guys. Put Jackson with Sam Mills, Vaughan Johnson, and Pat Swilling, and you can't do that.
If I'm understanding you correctly, you're arguing that someone with bad teammates will face double-teams, basically? That seems plausible. Does this work both ways? So that when Jackson was playing with an LB corps NFL Films named the greatest of all time, he likely faced many fewer double-teams than other elite LBs? If so, we should point out again that Jackson spent the majority of his career playing for a top-10 defense, and probably had an advantage compared to most LBs.

Quote:
Originally Posted by bachslunch
--In Roger Wehrli's case, you have a couple things possibly at play. If you're the one great CB with Norm Thompson as your left corner counterpart and Jim Tolbert and Clarence Duren as the safeties behind you, QBs likely won't throw anywhere near you and will pick on the other folks.
This might limit opportunities for interceptions, but I think it often artificially inflates a CB's reputation. We have a great example of this in the league right now, as people are just starting to realize they should throw at Nnamdi Asomugha more often. He's a good corner, sure, but he's not Lester Hayes.

Quote:
Originally Posted by bachslunch
Plus if you make a mistake in coverage, it's less likely someone will cover your butt.
That certainly hurts the team, but I'm skeptical that it affects the defender's reputation much. I just don't think most people notice, except for those who pay enough attention to know the difference anyway.

Quote:
Originally Posted by bachslunch
And if the QB does try to throw on you, if you've got a crummy bunch on the defensive line and in the linebacking corps (which was often the case with Wehrli), they won't get good pressure on the QB
Agreed that this is a relevant factor, worthy of consideration. On the other hand, CBs are judged more than anything else on their INT totals, and a DB who faces more passes has more opportunities.

What's your opinion of the opposite (and much more common) adjustment, in favor of those who played on championship teams? Are Charles Haley's five rings a mark in his favor, or against him? Is being part of a great LB corps reason for positive recognition, or does it mean that your job was easier and your accomplishments shouldn't be taken at face value?

Quote:
Originally Posted by bachslunch
I'll agree that Sayers is not borderline in terms of peak quality, but there aren't too many short career modern era running backs in the HoF either -- Sayers, Doak Walker, and maybe Earl Campbell are pretty much it.
What do you consider "short career"? Does Marion Motley count? Jim Brown? I think Floyd Little needs to be in there. I might argue for Steve Van Buren, too, since most of his career was spent in the modern era.

Quote:
Originally Posted by bachslunch
I'm thinking Sayers is borderline in the sense that there aren't many RBs like him in the HoF
I wonder if we're using the word borderline in different ways. To me, it means someone who almost isn't a Hall of Famer, who came close or will come very close to getting left out. Sayers doesn't fit this definition. He was a first-ballot inductee and is regarded as a better player than most of the RBs in the Hall.

Quote:
Originally Posted by bachslunch
Yes, I think Riggins and Csonka would have gotten elected even if they never got to a Super Bowl.
I'll have to disagree with this. Without the postseason, Riggins is Ottis Anderson and Csonka is Floyd Little.

Quote:
Originally Posted by bachslunch
Remember that Riggins was fourth all time in rushing yards when he retired in 1985, only behind Walter Payton, Jim Brown, and Franco Harris.
He got passed by Tony Dorsett the following season and was 6th when he was elected, and I think it was already obvious that Barry Sanders, Emmitt Smith, and Thurman Thomas were all likely to pass him.

Quote:
Originally Posted by bachslunch
And when Csonka retired in 1979, he was fifth all time in rushing yards, behind Brown, O.J. Simpson, Joe Perry, and Jim Taylor. HoF voters seem to put a lot of weight in those kind of accumulation counting stats.
When ____ retired, he was ____ all-time in rushing yards.

Leroy Kelly, 4th
Don Perkins, 5th
Rick Casares, 6th
Floyd Little, 7th
Bob Hoernschemeyer, 4th (incl AAFC)

Ultimately, I think you're confusing cause and effect. It's true that most players with high rushing totals like that get in pretty easily, but most players with high rushing totals were elite performers, multiple all-pro guys. As opposed to Riggins, with his 1 Pro Bowl and no all-pros.

This is like when tv announcers say, Team X is 43-1 when RB-Y has 25 carries, implying that they win because Y is getting the ball, when in fact Y is getting the ball because his team is winning. RB-Z didn't get into Canton because he rushed for all those yards, he got into because he was a great back. He also got all the yards because he was a great back.

Riggins, prior to the '82 playoffs, was seen as a good player and a headcase. Then he had the greatest postseason of any RB in history, capped by one of the most famous runs ever, maybe the most famous ever. It totally changed the perception of him going forward.

Csonka was a more accomplished regular season back than Riggins, with a few standout seasons and regular all-star selections. But if he had played on a perennial doormat instead of a minor dynasty, I don't think he would have been seen the same way. People looked at the Dolphins and said, "This is why they win." He was the first RB to win a Super Bowl MVP Award.

Quote:
Originally Posted by bachslunch
I can see the case for a "rings boost" for Paul Hornung, though. But he's the only RB one could say this for, and Lynn Swann is the only WR.
Swann but not Stallworth?

Quote:
Originally Posted by bachslunch
All the rest are QBs. It's still an outlier for "rings" to make a difference in the HoF case for a non-QB at this point.
It's not rings, though. It's performance. I'm not suggesting that Csonka and Riggins were rewarded just for playing on a couple of championship teams. I'm saying they were given a great deal of credit for performing at a high level in front of a national audience, when the stakes were highest.

People may not have seen much of Riggins when he was averaging 3.1 yds/att during the regular season, but they saw him rush for 100 yards every week against playoff teams, and they certainly saw that run on 4th-and-1 in the Super Bowl. People may not have noticed Zonk when he was splitting time with Mercury Morris, but they saw him rush for 100 yards in back-to-back Super Bowls, with a 7.5 average in VII and 2 TDs the next year.

Quote:
Originally Posted by bachslunch
For Bob Hayes and the post-season, his numbers are unimpressive.
Other than QBs a little bit, poor postseason performance is seldom a major factor in HOF induction. This is a logical fallacy: yes A does not necessarily imply not B. Just because positive postseason performance does help players get votes doesn't mean that negative postseason play hinders vote-getting. That said...

Quote:
Originally Posted by bachslunch
Whatever other merits Hayes may have had regarding the HoF, his postseason play wasn't a contributing factor.
Uh, are you sure? Wasn't he passed over more than 20 times, including once as a Senior candidate, where there's practically a rubber stamp?
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