When we wrote our first By the Numbers post a year ago, it was intended to become a regular feature until we hit all 100 numbers (0-99…sorry, we’re not differentiating between 0 and 00). One thing I wanted to hold true to, though, was a random selection of the numbers. I don’t even totally know why—I just did.
Unfortunately, unlike our first selection, which had several players all viable choices as the best #81 of all time, research into our second number consistently came back with one player—the best #25 in NFL history appears to clearly have been Fred Biletnikhoff.
With 589 career receptions, 8,974 receiving yards, 76 touchdowns, a Super Bowl MVP (XI), six Pro Bowls (two of them AFL only), two first-team All-Pro selections, and Hall of Fame induction in 1988, he seems a cut clear choice.
Given the anti-climactic nature of the selection, we sat on it…for a year.
Other names that came up on the list:
Brian Urlacher announced his retirement Wednesday morning via a statement linked to his Twitter account and in so doing, he joins a parade of former NFL stars who have called it quits before the 2013 kicks off in a couple of months.
Urlacher indicated that while he could continue playing “I’m not sure I would bring a level of performance or passion that’s up to my standards.”
While I can’t speak to his passion, it was clear to anyone watching the last couple seasons that he is no longer the player he was when he arrived in the Chicago 13 seasons ago. So even though there were rumors of interest in his services from Minnesota and Denver, I suspect his decision to retire may have had something to do with a weak market for his services.
Nonetheless, he leaves the league a highly decorated star. He and Ray Lewis, who announced during the 2012 season that it would be his last, both exit as franchise cornerstone linebacker superstar players who lasted double-digit seasons with just one team.
Congratulations to Urlacher, who now only has to wait to see when he should show up in Canton for his inevitable induction and enshrinement into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. In a typical year, Urlacher’s eight Pro Bowl appearances, four first-team Associated Press All Pro awards and 1,052 tackles (according to Pro Football Reference’s stats) would make him a fairly sure bet to be a first ballot enshrinee. He also was a member of the Team of the 2000s. Continue reading
From the quotes offered up by Pro Football Hall of Fame Vice President of Communications and Exhibits Joe Horrigan this may technically be in the category of “Non-News News,” but the Hall of Fame appears to be considering changing the process for the election of Contributors to the game.
The change would presumably remove owners, broadcasters and other personnel (and possibly even coaches) from the regular voting process that elects players into the Hall. This would remove the need to figure out how to compare a Steve Sabol or Paul Tagliabue to a Ray Lewis or Ronde Barber, a difficult (if not impossible) task. Only three of the last 40 modern era inductees elected since 2006 have been “Contributors”–Ralph Wilson Jr. in 2009, Ed Sabol in 2011, and Bill Parcells in 2013.
What may make this non-news, though, is that it appears it isn’t the first time the idea has come up:
“I can’t tell you we’re real close to a solution, but as we do every year, we do discuss the possibility,” Horrigan told Alex Marvez and Gil Brandt on SiriusXM NFL Radio.
This could make for an interesting scenario where in theory an individual could come up for election as both a player and as a contributor–Mike Ditka and Dick LeBeau being two players inducted who some might argue could gain election as coaches. However, whether the “Contributor” label was technically a separate wing in Canton, or the individual just got a second bust (one in their youth as a player, one more aged as a coach (just envision Ditka’s bust with a cigar and/or Ricky Williams dreadlocks), would seem amenable to me.
What say you, Zoneblitz faithful? Separate category for contributors, or leave well enough alone? Vote below and give us your thoughts in the comments…
Ronde Barber announced this week that he would join a collection of high profile group of his contemporaries in retiring from the NFL. The highly-decorated cornerback, who became the first player ever to achieve at least 40 interceptions and 25 sacks during his career, spent all 16 of his seasons with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Barber joins Ray Lewis, Steve Hutchinson, Matt Birk, Jeff Saturday, Donald Driver and Jason Hansen, among others, who have decided that the 2012 season will be their last. The clock starts this season on the five year wait to see when – or if – they will eventually be enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Barber’s pursuit of immortality in Canton will be an interesting one. In addition to the 47 interceptions and 28 sacks he finished with, he went to five Pro Bowls and was named first team All Pro by the Associated Press three times. That puts him a notch ahead of Ty Law, who profiles at a 5/2 in those same categories. Continue reading
It’s not often that one of the week’s loudest and most frequently cited headlines involves the release of a punter.
But when the Minnesota Vikings dropped Chris Kluwe earlier this week, it ensured that during this relatively news less post-draft time, that a special teamer would be in the headlines for awhile.
Kluwe spent eight years in Minnesota, being best known alternatively between booming punts and a booming voice in favor of allowing gay people to get married. He’s largely been very good at both. His political involvement has garnered national attention and earned him Salon’s Sexiest Man of the Year Award.
He has never been to a Pro Bowl, but he’s generally been seen as one of the best punters in Vikings history. So yes, his release garnered some attention.
But the Vikings, in some quarters, are being skewered by those who believe his release means the team is cracking down on free speech and standing up against the support of gay marriage.
Kluwe is entitled to his opinion, whether I agree with it or not. To me, the bigger issue with Kluwe is how he expresses said opinion. I thought he was a bit obnoxious in the profanity-laced rant in Deadspin where he first got national attention for his views. In subsequent articles and interviews, both on gay marriage and other issues, he was much more reasoned. When he takes a more thoughtful, intellectual approach to making his argument, you can tell he is a really intelligent, albeit perhaps sometimes polarizing, guy. He acknowledges and embraces that and he is right when he says there are issues facing society that are much more important than kicking a football. Continue reading