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Old 10-20-2002, 10:48 PM   #1
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Post Sports Central Newsletter - #88 - Favre, One of a Kind

The Sports Central Newsletter
October 20th, 2002 - Issue #88

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|-- IN THIS ISSUE... --|

- Words From the Editor
- The O-Files: "The Great(est) Quarterback Controversy"
- Reader's Showcase (Sports Trivia)
- What's new at Sports Central?
- Feature Article: "Admire Favre, You Won't See Another Like Him"
- Marquee Matchups (MLB, NFL, NHL)



Hello folks,

This issue is packed with NFL and World Series material. In the O-Files, Brad examines the never-ending controversy over who is the greatest NFL quarterback of all-time. You may or may not be surprised with the result, read on to find out. And in the Feature Article, Mike recalls his summer trip to New Orleans in which he visited Brett Favre's hometown of Kiln, Mississippi and says football fans better appreciate and admire Favre while he's still playing, because you may never see another one like him.

Finally, we've got a whole plate full of previews for you all. Mike previews Game 3 of the World Series which shifts back to San Francisco and gives his pick and analysis on the matchup. Then, Brad gives you his in-depth preview of this week's Monday Night Football game between the Steelers and Colts. And with the NHL season underway, Lee Manchur is back with his NHL Marquee Matchup.

Don't forget to participate in this issue's trivia question in the Reader's Showcase which asks who pitched in all seven games of the World Series. No matter what sport you're a fan of, this issue has something for you! Enjoy.

Until next time,

- Marc James
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|-- THE O-FILES--|

"The Great(est) Quarterback Controversy"

By Brad Oremland

The death of legendary Colts QB John Unitas last month has reignited The Debate That Will Never End: who was the greatest quarterback of all-time? Sports Illustrated fueled the fire with its absurd "U Ratings," a numerical assessment of a quarterback's greatness based on seven statistical categories and five somewhat arbitrary miscellaneous categories selected by Paul Zimmerman (aka Dr. Z). All the categories were weighted equally.

For those who missed the piece, the U Ratings came up with Unitas, Joe Montana, Steve Young, Brett Favre, and Dan Fouts as the top five quarterbacks of all-time. There were several problems with the U Ratings, though. First of all, the subjective categories were ridiculous. Is "two-minute drill" really as important as passing yards per attempt? Is it fair to rank "toughness" and accuracy as having equal importance?

The most important flaw with the U Ratings -- and I'll just skip over the questionable objectivity Zimmerman displayed in his rankings -- was the lack of context. Terry Bradshaw, for all his faults, was at his best in big games. In four Super Bowls, his passer ratings were 108.0, 122.5, 119.2, and 101.9. The U Ratings don't take postseason play into account, and Bradshaw is 19th out of 22.

Fran Tarkenton played in three Super Bowls and never recorded a passer rating over 70.0, but he was an exceptional scrambler who held a number of NFL records in the pre-Dan Marino era. The U Ratings make Tarkenton 18th.

Marino set the tone for a record-shattering career in 1984, when he threw for 5084 yards and 48 TDs, breaking the previous records by 282 and 12, respectively. Both records still stand, but Marino's career figures are even more daunting. He leads all of the following career passing categories: completions (by 844), yards (by 9,886), and touchdowns (by 78). Put another way, if Brett Favre averages 300 completions, 3500 yards, and 20 TD passes for each of the next five seasons, he'll still trail Marino in every category. The U Ratings don't take sustained production into account, either. Marino is sixth.

Most importantly, the ratings ignored the eras in which the quarterbacks played. Modern quarterbacks tend to look much better statistically. Bobby Layne's career passer rating was 63.4; Kordell Stewart's is 71.2. Unitas finished his career at 78.2; Jeff George finished his at 80.4. In all fairness, Zimmerman's rankings definitely leaned toward the older guys, but it gets worse.

The NFL has existed for over 70 years; how likely is it that three of the four best QBs of all-time played during the '90s? Fifth place (Fouts) was active into the '80s, sixth-place Marino retired in 1999, and the other top player, Unitas, benefited enormously from Zimmerman's ratings (1, 1, 1, 2, 7).

Comparing quarterbacks across eras is an exercise in futility. Even if the statistics were comparable -- and they most certainly are not -- the game has simply changed too much. A fair method might be to select one QB from 1978-present, when significant rules changes opened up the passing game; one who played primarily before 1946, generally accepted as the beginning of the modern era of pro football; and one whose career took place in between, from 1946-1978.

The pre-modern era question is a no-brainer. Sammy Baugh effectively introduced downfield passing and made the quarterback position something today's fan would recognize. He led the league in passing six times, tied with Steve Young for the most ever, and completion percentage seven times, more than anyone but Len Dawson. He excelled on offense, defense, and special teams (his punting average is the best of all-time), and won three NFL championships. Many who saw him play argue that Baugh was the best quarterback ever.

The middle period is loaded with good quarterbacks, but it's hard to argue against Unitas. Such an argument would probably note that only two players threw more interceptions, and that Unitas' passer rating is lower than those of several contemporaries. I'd entertain arguments for others, but people who saw all of those players seem to almost universally agree on Unitas, and I'm not prepared to argue solely on a statistical basis.

The most recent era presents perhaps the most difficult choice of all. Joe Montana is generally accepted as the best of the group -- young fans almost universally identify him as the greatest QB of all-time -- but persuasive arguments could also be made for Young, Favre, or Marino. John Elway gets some nods, too, but I don't think he matches up to the others. My vote goes to Marino, the most prolific passer of all-time and the best at his peak.

It's a silly argument, and it will never end, but I hope my take on things made some sense. So do I call this the O-Ratings?


Brad welcomes your feedback on his column: mailto:[email protected]?subject=O-Files



Each issue, the Reader's Showcase features either challenging sports trivia or sports rant entries from readers on a rotating basis. For the Sports Trivia questions, we will randomly choose trivia questions ranging from baseball to hockey to golf. As for the Sports Rant, you, the readers, have the opportunity write-in with your opinions and thoughts and have your thoughts published in front of thousands of interested eyes,.

In this issue, we're featuring another sports trivia question. Answer correctly, and we'll mention you in a future issue.


Who pitched in all seven games of one World Series?

A) Darold Knowles
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B) Dan Quisenberry
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C) Rollie Fingers
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D) Jack Quinn
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Note: If the text below each choice is not a clickable link, you may reply to this newsletter with your selection.


[ Next Issue ]

We're always looking for new sports rants from readers. Have something on your mind? We might publish it! Let us know: mailto:[email protected]?subject=Readers_Showcase



Revisiting the new articles for the week of 10/14/02 - 10/20/02:


MLB: Let the best man win
By David Hettrick

Are you trying to figure out who to root for during this year's World Series? SC's David Hettrick gives you three reasons why both the Giants and Angels are deserving to win the Fall Classic.



NHL: Early goings in hockey
By Glenn McCready

It's about two weeks into the season, so let's see where we are. It's fun to see who's doing what early, and project out to the end of the season. Of course, if things actually worked this way, it'd look like Arthur Andersen did the stats, says SC's Glenn McCready.



NFL: Higher scoring? It's the ball
By Jeff Moore

Why does it seem like so many points are being scored in the NFL this year? It isn't the evolution of the West Coast Offense or that the athletes are better today than the past. The answer lies in a similar situation in another sport not that long ago, SC's Jeff Moore says.



COLUMN: Bulls and Bears - Week 7
By Komments.com Staff

Find out what who's hot and who's not for your fantasy teams in this week's Bulls and Bears by the staff at Komments.



MLB: World Series preview
By Peter Friberg

SC's Peter Friberg correctly picked both World Series participants. Check out his in-depth analysis and his pick for the 2002 World Series which features two California teams for the first time since 1989.



COLUMN: Amico Report: Cavs, Blazers, More

In case you missed it, the Cavs announced they'll be switching to their original color scheme of wine and gold. Actually, the Cavs are calling it "a new expression of wine and gold," but Cavs fans don't seem to care. Sam Amico discusses how the Cavs may lose more games, but entertain fans even more in the Amico Report.



COLLEGE FOOTBALL: Florida should make a change
By Steve Goldstein

Florida Gators head coach Ron Zook is finding out why it's never a good idea to follow a legend into a head coaching job. Zook is a measily 4-3 at Florida, and the 2002 season may end up being Zook's only season in Gainesville, says SC's Steve Goldstein.



NBA: The gospel according to Magic (Pt. II)
By Brian Ault

This Tuesday, SC's Brian Algra granted SC privileged access to the first half of his one-of-a-kind Magic Johnson faith diary. Today -- after taking some time off to collect his thoughts on Magic as a basketball god, on Larry Bird as the Great Satan, and on much else besides -- he has returned with the diary's second and final installment.



MLB: The All-Californian World Series
By Mason Williams

The Giants and Angels square off on Saturday to battle for the World Series title. One thing is for certain: baseball's 2002 champion will not be an East Coast team. This diversity is good for the game of baseball and good for those fans who live west of the Rockies, says SC's Mason Williams.



NBA: The gospel according to Magic (Pt. I)
By Brian Ault

SC's Brian Algra has never been a great believer in sporting Halls-of-Fame. But Magic Johnson's induction ceremony at Springfield? Now that's another story. Follow Brian as he keeps a daily "faith diary" of his thoughts on Magic's role in his life as a lad.



NFL: Week 6 power rankings
By Brad Oremland

When an 0-5 team (the Rams) beats a 4-0 team (the Raiders), you know there's going to be a shakeup in the Power Rankings. Rankings and analysis for all 32 teams plus Five Quick Hits from SC's Brad Oremland.



NFL: Ugly football in New York
By Piet Van Leer

Los Angeles has it correct. They don’t have an NFL team, and they don't want one. Why would they? New York has two, equally unwatchable, says SC's Piet Van Leer. And it has been that way for as long as most can remember.



MLB: Baseball in a nutshell
By Eric Maus

Warning: This article contains very random baseball discussion. Inside, SC's Eric Maus covers everything from the Yankees to the size of Barry Bonds' head, along with some thoughts on the disappointing A's and a World Series pick. Enjoy.


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"Admire Favre, You Won't See Another Like Him"

I have very few modern-day sporting heroes. Maybe that's because I'm a grumpy old man who can't relate to the present day, where losers like Anna K earn millions, middle-aged men trample over children to fight over a Barry Bonds homerun ball, and people actually watch The Best Damn Sports Show Period. Thankfully, there's still Brett Favre around. Sports is still worth risking a row with the wife while Number 4 is in cleats.


By Mike Round

I spent a long period of this past summer in New Orleans, staying with old friends whilst my wife supervised the construction of our new home in South Carolina. I'm not allowed near builders, decorators, architects, plumbers, electricians, or interior designers. It's alleged I'm impatient, critical, rude, and completely lacking in all aspects of taste when it comes to home décor. I can't disagree with most of that assessment, to be honest.

The elongated stay in Nawlins suited me, my wife, the kids, and the people building my house. I got to watch the World Cup with appreciative Eurotrash friends, ate large quantities of some of the world's best cuisine, watched some great minor league baseball at Zephyrs home games, fished on beautiful Grand Isle, lounged around on the best beach in North America at Pensacola, and made a trip to watch the Saints at training camp in Thibodaux.

The single greatest moment of the summer came on a beautiful day in late June whilst on a road trip to Mississippi to fish, drink, and top up the tan. I saw a sign for Kiln, pronounced Kill, just across the Louisiana -- Mississippi border. Ten minutes later, we were there, driving through the birthplace of the greatest quarterback of the modern era.

There's not much to Kiln, Mississippi. There's a couple of small stores, some nice houses, some small shacks, lots of trucks, and a traffic light. I'm not positive about the traffic light, though. It might have been a stop sign.

What is in Kiln is a huge sign saying, "Welcome to Kiln, Home of Brett Favre." We all dutifully got out the Explorer and stood in front of it for a group photo. I was the only one of the five with tears in my eyes, though.

Generally, I despise the modern sportsman. I recognize there are at least 10 good guys for every Kenny Lofton, Terrell Owens, Ray Lewis, Latrell Sprewell, Barry Bonds, AI, Randy Moss, Bob Knight, Bobby Valentine, et al. Sadly, it's the chip-on-their shoulder, me-first, malcontents that take the headlines from the real men. Men like Marshall Faulk, Kurt Warner, Sean Casey, and Garret Anderson. Without the presence in sports of men like these, and Brett Favre, I'd have given up on professional sports years ago. I suspect many others would have, too.

Brett Favre came into the NFL in 1991 with the Atlanta Falcons, with the reputation of being a party guy with a poor work ethic and a cannon of an arm. Jerry Glanville, head coach of the Falcons at the time, knew he had talent, but wasn't sure it could ever be harnessed. Ron Wolf, the legendary former GM of the Green Bay Packers, suspected it could be. He traded for him, despite having fan-favorite and comeback-kid Don Majkowski as his starting QB. Majkowski was injury-prone, so the kid from Southern Miss was worth a gamble.

Favre has paid back Wolf's faith in him a hundred times over and more. Forget the three consecutive MVP accolades, the Super Bowl win, the NFC Championship, the divisional titles, the Pro Bowls, or the numerous comebacks engineered by Number 4. Brett Favre has given his body, every fall and winter Sunday, to the Green Bay Packers for over 10 years. The Packers might lose games, but they lose them with Brett Favre under center, whether he's healthy or not.

Brett Favre is in his 10th season of starting all 16 of the Green Bay Packers' regular season games. He hasn't missed a playoff game, either. He's been injured, but he suits up, whether his fingers' broke, back hurts, legs are in pain, or he has a mild concussion. And for three hours or so, he gives absolutely all he has. He makes mistakes, sure. But he picks himself up and tries again. He tries too hard sometimes, forcing passes into lanes that just don't exist, all in a supreme effort to win the game for his team. When things go wrong, he dusts himself down and tries even harder.

Cal Ripken, Jr. started a million consecutive baseball games for the Orioles and was universally hailed as a hero, the last representative of a long-gone era when sportsmen were tough and ready to sacrifice themselves for the team. To some extent, that was always true of Cal, and I, like almost everyone, admired Ripken for his toughness.

But his streak hurt the team in the end. Cal was the best player on a good Baltimore team that regularly contended in the late '80s and early '90s. They needed him at his best in September, when titles were on the line. He was often burnt out by then, which he wouldn't have been if he'd rested like every other player at occasional times during the season. The Orioles were never the sum of their parts while Cal was at his prime, and I believe part of that reason was the streak. It took on a life of its own, to the detriment of the team.

Favre's streak of consecutive starts, currently at over 160 and counting, has never done anything other than benefit the team. Favre is the Packers and will be until he hangs it up.

History will probably judge Favre as inferior to Joe Montana. Maybe he is in some aspects. Montana surgically picked opposing defenses apart, with the low-risk, Bill Walsh-inspired offense that relied on short completions to fleet-of-foot receivers like John Taylor and the incomparable Jerry Rice. He could go deep, sure, but didn't rely on the bomb. He didn't need to. He had Roger Craig and Tom Rathman behind him and one of the leagues finest (and dirtiest) O-lines in front of him to assist. Everything was in place to allow Montana to do his thing supremely.

The Favre era has coincided with free agency, ever changing personnel, the salary cap that breaks up good teams, parity, and the end of dynasties. Favre never had the benefit of a Roger Craig to hand the ball off to, or Jerry Rice, John Taylor, or Brent Jones to throw to. He made do with Edgar Bennett, Dorsey Levens, Robert Brooks, Antonio Freeman, and an end-of-his-career Keith Jackson. All good, solid pros, but in no way Hall of Fame candidates.

The Green Bay Packers, like at least 10 other teams, have a better than good shot at a Super Bowl this season. If they do it, Favre may retire. He's talked openly of the grind of the modern day game and his longing to return home to his 460-acre estate in Hattiesburg, Mississippi to mow his lawn, play with the kids, spend time with his childhood sweetheart wife, and watch the fishing and hunting channel on TV. Whenever he retires, Favre is at least worthy of consideration as the greatest quarterback since Unitas.


Mike welcomes your feedback on his column: mailto:[email protected]?subject=Feature_Article


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--> Major League Baseball

By Mike Round

Anaheim Angels at San Francisco Giants
World Series, Game 3; Tuesday, Oct. 22, 8:30 PM EST; San Francisco, CA; TV: FOX

The purists are choking on their cornflakes this morning as we look forward to an all-wildcard Fall Classic. Hey, Bob Costas, these are two teams worthy of an appearance in baseball's season finale. FOX isn't best pleased, either, as this matchup is unlikely to keep the neutrals on the East Coast out of Home Depot or away from the remote this week. Anyone who misses this will regret it, as these are two closely-matched teams that have solid pitching, great hitting, solid defense, and are expertly managed by two of the best in the game.

Game 3 is unusually trumpeted as the pivotal game in either a five- or seven-game series. I'm not sure I buy into that theory. Any game can be pivotal, whether it's a Game 1 opener or Game 5 or 7 decider. The next game is always a momentum changer or gatherer.

This particular Game 3 at Pac Bell features the Angels' Ramon Ortiz against the Giants' Livian Hernandez. "Game 3 is very important," Hernandez said. "If it's 2-0 or 1-1, it can turn the series around." He's right, and starting him in game three means Dusty Baker can use him in a potential Game 7. Hernandez is 1-0 with a 3.07 ERA in two postseason starts.

Hernandez was the MVP of the 1997 NL championship series and World Series for Florida. He started Games 1 and 5 of the Marlins' seven-game victory over Cleveland in the World Series. After a sometimes-rocky regular season when his name cropped up in trade rumors, Hernandez has reinstated himself as Bakers' money pitcher, despite getting in regular trouble against the Cards.

Ramon Ortiz has looked shaky at times in the postseason, but he had a strong regular season. He only needs to go six innings as the Angels have a solid bullpen featuring closer Troy Percival and righties Brendan Donnelly and Ben Weber. Mike Sciosia has a secret weapon in the 'pen in Scott Schoenweis, who has Barry's number. Bonds is a mere 1-for-7 against the lefty former starter. Francisco Rodriguez, the sensational 20-year-old rookie right-hander, has four postseason wins already and looks unhittable. If his nerve holds up, and Mike Sciosia has seen no reason to suspect it won't, Rodriguez could appear in the seventh of every game.

The Giants bullpen inspires less confidence, with ace closer Robb Nen being tagged for seven hits in six postseason innings. Tim Worrell is solidly unspectacular and Felix Rodriguez throws hard, but can be wild.

[ Game Breakdown ]

Starting pitching - Edge to the Giants with the battle-hardened Hernandez.

Bullpen -- If Hernandez gets in early trouble, the Giants are done for. Robb Nen can still hurl, but he has faded badly since early September. The Angels strength is in the 'pen -- edge ANGELS.

Hitting -- Close call. The Angels hit well from top to bottom and can score runs right through the line up. The Giants are no mugs, either, but rely heavily in the middle of the lineup. And they have Barry Bonds. Edge -- EVEN.

Defense -- Both teams are solid in all the fundamentals of the game, not least defense. Jeff Kent has his critics defensively, but his bat is worth the defensive gamble. Edge -- EVEN.

Managers -- Mike Sciosia has established himself as a primetime manager this season, handling a relatively young, up-and-coming team with style and care. No one can believe the Giants are seemingly prepared to let Dusty Baker pack his bags for Seattle, presumably because he doesn't speak to GM Brian Sabean, if we're to believe the rumors. Edge -- squeaker to the GIANTS.

Prediction -- Not even Peter Gammons can call this series with any degree of confidence. Gut instinct -- the first two games are split and the Giants will win Game 3, 5-3. Overall, the heart says the Halos (it's hard to root for a team that includes Bonds and Lofton), but the head says the GIANTS in six.


--> National Football League

By Brad Oremland

Indianapolis Colts (4-1) vs. Pittsburgh Steelers (2-3)
Monday, Oct. 21, 9 PM ET; Heinz Field; Pittsburgh, PA; TV: ABC

This Monday night matchup features a possible playoff preview. The 4-1 Colts have an early lead in the AFC South, and the Steelers, despite a disappointing start, are tied with Baltimore for the AFC North lead. If the Colts win, lifting their record to 5-1, they'll be in excellent position to make the playoffs. The AFC North is so weak that the Steelers would still be in the hunt if they lost -- in fact, probably still the favorite to win the division -- but a win would serve notice that there was some substance behind the hype coming out of Pittsburgh at the beginning of the season, and that they were merely down on their luck against some good teams.

The Colts have reeled off three wins in a row after a Week 2 loss to Miami, but those wins were against Houston (1-4), Cincinnati (0-6), and Baltimore (2-3). It's also somewhat troubling that Cincinnati, who has been held to seven points or less in every other game this season, scored 21 against Indianapolis, eventually losing by just seven points (the Bengals lost by an average of 25 in their other five games). And Baltimore, playing without its best player, All-Pro middle linebacker Ray Lewis, lost to the Colts only on a last-second field goal by Mike Vanderjagt.

The Colts' standard defensive problems are now accompanied by offensive struggles, as well. They're averaging just 22.8 points per game this season -- down from 25.8 last year and 26.8 the year before. The missing element is a great running game. In 1999 and 2000, Edgerrin James led the NFL in rushing yards, and last year, when he was injured during the season, James and Dominic Rhodes combined for 1776 yards and 12 TDs. This season, Rhodes is on injured reserve and James has been unspectacular, with a 3.6 average per carry and only one touchdown, putting too much of the burden on Peyton Manning, who has forced some throws looking for a big play.

Pittsburgh has had its own rushing problems -- until mopping up the Bengals, Jerome Bettis had been ineffective, and his backups have battled injuries -- but the biggest concern was the pass defense that looked so vulnerable in the first two weeks of the season.

Indianapolis features Marvin Harrison, probably the best wide receiver in the NFL right now, and Manning, a two-time All-Pro at quarterback. James is an effective receiver out of the backfield, and tight end Marcus Pollard is back from an injury that sidelined him for several games. The Colts match up well with Pittsburgh, and although my gut says the Steelers will win, my head says Indy.

[ Game Breakdown ]

Offense - Colts
Defense - Steelers
Spec. Teams - Colts
Coaching - Steelers
Intangibles - Steelers

Prediction: Colts 30, Steelers 20


--> National Hockey League

By Lee Manchur

Montreal Canadiens vs. Ottawa Senators
October 26, 7 PM EST; Bell Centre, Montreal, PQ; TV: CBC

Welcome back to hockey season! We're already two weeks in and the season has been full of surprises already. The last Marquee Matchup was Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Finals and although Carolina took that one, Detroit stormed back to take the next four and reclaim the title they held in 1997 and 1998 -- the title of Stanley Cup champions.

This week, we turn our attention to a great Northeast Division rivalry that will take place on famed "Hockey Night," the Habs versus the Senators.

The Senators have had nearly a week off after starting the season 2-1-0-0 while the Canadiens are now 2-2-1-0 after last Saturday's hard-fought 2-2 tie with the Maple Leafs. The Sens really needed the early extended stretch of time off as they have been unable to find a knack for the back of the net in their opening three games, with just five goals, the worst goals per game average in the league, though still very early in the season.

After last year's brilliant playoff run, the Canadiens are back with captain Saku Koivu in their lineup for the entire season while Jose Theodore looks to repeat last season's Dominik Hasek-type year in which he claimed both the Vezina and Hart trophies.

[ Game Breakdown ]

Offense - Canadiens
Defense - Senators
Goaltending - Draw
Power Play - Draw
Penalty Kill - Senators
Coaching - Senators
Intangibles - Canadines

Prediction: Ottawa 3, Montreal 2


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(Thanks for reading! Next issue set to come out on 11/03/02.)


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