Reader Submission Matchup
A few days back, I posted a blog that described a lineup of NFL legends that I would choose to win just one game. On social media, I asked if people would send me their lineups and I would post them in a “Reader Submissions” blog. I got a few of them, and I thank you all for them and I will be sure to post them.
On Twitter, I got a suggestion from @Do_Work_2014. He sent suggested he make a team that had no player in common and then I put out a poll on Twitter to see which team people would think would win. This was a great idea! So this blog is all about that.
I’ll post each of our rosters, and the explanations for the choices. Afterwards, I’ll update this blog with the voting results! Use this as a warm up for the AFC and NFC Championship games today!
Blind Owl Roster
Head Coach- Bill Belichick
QB- Tom Brady
RB- Bo Jackson
3DRB- Marshall Faulk
FB- Jim Brown
WR1- Randy Moss
WR2- Larry Fitzgerald
WR3- Jerry Rice
TE- Rob Gronkowski
DT- Joe Greene
DE1- Reggie White
DE2- Dwight Freeney
MLB- Brian Urlacher
OLB1- Derrick Brooks
OLB2- Von Miller
FS- Ed Reed
SS- John Lynch
CB1- Champ Bailey
CB2- Darrell Revis
K- Adam Vinatieri
P- Shane Lechler
KR/PR- Devin Hester
Head Coach- Vince Lombardi
QB- Pat Mahomes
RB- Emmitt Smith
3DRB- Alvin Kamara
FB- Larry Centers
WR1- Terrell Owens
WR2- Steve Smith
WR3- Julian Edelman
TE- Tony Gonzalez
DT- Vinve Wilfork
DE1- Julius Peppers
DE2- JJ Watt
MLB- Ray Lewis
OLB1- Lawrence Taylor
OLB2- Mike Vrabel
FS- Sean Taylor
SS- Troy Polamalu
CB1- Deion Sanders
CB2- Stephon Gilmore
K- Justin Tucker
P- Tom Tupa
KR/PR- Troy Brown
Here are the explanations for all of the roster picks. I’m a gracious host so I’ll post @Do_Work_2014’s first.
The challenger. The Blind Owl team is impressive, but I've decided to construct one of my own to take his on.
I tried to keep my team limited to players I've watched and as a Patriots fan from the mid 90s, there's going to be a hand full listed below.
Coach- Vince Lombardi; The superbowl trophy is named after the man. Can't go wrong with this selection.
QB- Pat Mahomes; I know, I know, the logical pick should be the second best QB to ever play with Joe Montana, but Mahomes has been great from day 1. He excells at all aspects of position. Hell, he even makes no look passes look easy.
RB- Emmitt Smith; statistically the best to play the game.
3rd down RB- Alvin Kamara; great receiving RB capable of breaking a game open on every play.
FB- Larry Centers; this was a toss up between him and Mike Alstott but ultimately Centers is the gold standard at the position. Good hands (most career receptions at the RB/FB postions) and a competent blocker.
WR1- Terrell Owens; he cried over his QB. He also made a ton of big plays
WR2- Steve Smith; played with a ton of heart and passion. A fiery competitor willing to throw the fair ones with his teammates.
WR3- Julian Edelman; clutch, clutch, clutch. Likely on the list because of his superbowl catch against the Falcons.
TE- Tony Gonzalez; another statistical moster. All the dude did was catch passes.
Honorable mention- Ben Watson, for having the heart to run down Champ Bailey in the 2005 playoffs.
Not part of the fantasy team but I'd choose 5 Larry Allen's to make up my O-line. 6 rings can't hurt.
DT- Vince Wilfork; physically gifted and able to disrupt plays at the line and in the backfield.
DE1- Julius Peppers; I thought he was an outstanding College Basketball player at UNC, until he got to the NFL.
DE2- JJ Watt; multiple time DPOY. A force on the edge.
MLB- Ray Lewis; in the most important position, you gotta go with the best to play it. What double homicide?
OLB1- Lawrence Taylor; no Brainer here. Got after the QB better than anyone at his position. Coke might have contributed. Also, very good as Shark Lavay in the movie Any given Sunday.
OLB2- Mike Vrable; homer pick. Smart LB, who seemed to always make big plays when they were needed.
CB1- Deion Sanders; Prime Time was my favorite player as a child. Excellent CB, capable of explosive plays anywhere on the field.
CB2- Stephon Gilmore; lockdown CB, capable of erasing the effectiveness of any WR he's lined up against.
FS- Sean Taylor; a career and life that ended too early. A playmaker all over the secondary.
SS- Troy Polamalu; big hitter who played with tons of heart.
K- Justin Tucker; field goals won't be necessary in this game, but he's got the best percentage.
P- Tom Tupa; this team definitely doesn't punt.
KR/PR- Troy Brown; Mr. Do anything to help the team gets this spot mostly because he's my favorite Patriot. Cool under pressure. Trusted to protect the ball and make plays when it mattered most.
I don't think this team beats Blind Owl's team, but it would be fun to watch.
Now here is all of my explanations.
Head Coach: Bill Belichick
Seems obvious to me. He’s led the best dynasty in sports history. He has beaten some of the best players and other coaches in NFL history. Belichick has rings upon rings and has clearly come up with some of the best game plans in history. Just look at what he did with this year’s Patriots. They should have only had 2 wins, and that’s just the Jets.
As far as players, let’s start with the most important phase of the game, Special Teams.
Special Teams: Kicker- Adam Vinatieri
Vinatieri is the king of clutch kicks. He kicked the Patriots into and through several Super Bowls. He has ice water flowing through his veins and even had monster leg in his time. No stranger to winning either, 3 Super Bowls with the Pats and another with the Colts.
Punter- Shane Lechler
You can mock punters all you want, but they’re important and can win or lose you a game. Lechler is living proof of this. He had a missile launcher for a leg and could flip the field like nobody else. That can win you a game in crunch time.
Kick Returner- Devin Hester
Some might look at this and say “well duh…” Yes, it seems obvious. Hester is the all time leader in returning touchdowns. That was a significant factor in why I chose him. The other one is consistency and intelligence. You never saw Devin Hester making the huge mistake that cost his team a game. If a fair catch or touchback was the best choice, he’d do it. This is almost more important than the huge plays that he was more than capable of making.
Let’s move on the defensive side of the ball.
Defensive Tackle- Joe Greene
“Mean” Joe Greene was an absolute animal. He was what’s known as a game wrecker. Teams would double, sometimes triple team him, and it still didn’t matter. He was the cornerstone of the absolutely fantastic Steel Curtain defense in the 70s. He was also a 10 time pro bowler, 5 time All-Pro and won 4 Super Bowls. All that, and he’ll provide the Coca-Cola after the game.
Defensive Ends- Reggie White, Dwight Freeney
Reggie White dominated offenses in the late 80s and early 90s. He was a perennial pro bowler and All-Pro. A consensus hall of famer and revolutionized the pass rushing ability. White knows what it’s like to go against some of the best QBs of all time. In his time he faced off with the likes of, Brett Favre, John Elway, Joe Montana, Dan Marino, Steve Young and so many more. A rare talent, White created havoc on 3 different teams. Which was rare to see back then. All of that makes it easy to have him on my squad.
Dwight Freeney may be one of my more controversial picks here. He was a huge name in his time, but isn’t the biggest all-time. Freeney has great sack numbers; that is undeniable. What is forgotten is how bad the defenses he played on were. He was the only dominant player on those teams, and still put up those kinds of numbers with teams game planning against him. That alone qualifies him here. Not to mention that almost unstoppable spin move that Freeney patented.
Middle Linebacker- Brian Urlacher
Not a very flashy player, Urlacher was one of the best in the business for years. Always doing his job and always in the right position, he provides a stability that I like in my defensive play caller. Not only that, he is one of the most solid tacklers of all time. A solid form tackle can turn a potential big play into nothing. That ability could save any game from getting out of hand.
Outside Linebackers- Derrick Brooks, Von Miller
Derrick Brooks is one of the most dominant outside linebackers in his time. Not only was he a solid player, he was one of the fastest players I’ve seen. Literally all over the field all the time, Brooks led the 2002 Buccaneers to a Super Bowl. An absolute playmaker that can change the game in seconds, Brooks is a lock on my squad.
In today’s NFL, passing is key. That is why I throw Von MIller on my squad. He rushes the passer like none other. He won Super Bowl 50 for the Broncos by ruining everything Cam Newton was trying to do. Miller gets into offensive lineman’s heads and forces them to make dumb penaties. This ability can ruin an offensive drive. Couple that with his freakish ability to rush the passer and you’ve got a spot on my squad.
Safeties- Ed Reed, John Lynch
Reed is one of the most well known big play safeties. Always there to make a game changing interception or force a fumble, he was a huge part of those dominant Baltimore defenses in the early 2000s. His athleticism was unmatched at the safety position and he could intercept seemingly any pass thrown his way. Reed played recklessly which is fine for someone with his crazy athletic ability. You need that big play ability to win a tight game.
Another controversial take, John Lynch being included here will divide rooms. Some casual fans may not even know who he is. I’m 100% biased here because he is my favorite player, but he needs to be on this list. A cool, calm and collected player, Lynch would provide stability to the defense. Not only that, the NFL Network named him a top 10 tackler of all time. He also brings a tremendous football IQ that will serve well in crunch time. Not only that, he is known as an incredibly hard hitter. Even going as far as knocking out his brother-in-law in a game.
Cornerbacks- Champ Bailey, Darrell Revis
I want my corners to shut receivers down. Champ Bailey was the definition of this for Washington and Denver. He was a 12 time pro bowler and 3 time All-Pro. Bailey had all the coverage skills you’re looking for in a corner, but he brought the pure athleticism that is rare. For a while, he was the fastest player in the league. That helped when he would intercept a pass. Also, he wasn’t afraid to stick his nose in on a tackle which is also very rare in a cornerback.
Revis Island is a term that all football fans heard in the late 2000s and early 2010s. If your squad was facing off against the Jets or the Patriots, you knew there was going to be a receiver that wasn’t going to be a factor. Revis could absolutely shut down anyone. This shut down ability gives him a guaranteed spot on this team.
Alright, alright, alright. I’ll get to what everyone is here for. The Offense.
Quarterback- Tom Brady
This may be the most debated position of all time. But, no matter what you think of the guy, Tom Brady is the most clutch QB of all time. The proof is in the pudding. He has just about every record in the book for QBs and he is just a winner. We all remember those last drives in the early 2000s that he led. And how can we forget the whole 28-3 thing against Atlanta in the Super Bowl. Need I say more?
Running Back- Bo Jackson
I think if you look up the word athleticism, it is just a picture of Bo Jackson. The guy was a freak among a league full of freaks. His speed was unmatched, his power was unmatched, everything about him was unmatched. Jackson’s explosive nature was just incredible. It is a shame his career was cut short by injury, but if I need someone to make an impact on a game, he’s my guy.
3rd Down Running Back- Marshall Faulk
Not an official position, but the 3rd down back is a huge part of the game. Having a back who can catch a pass is a distinct advantage. A fellow player in his time called Marshall Faulk, “a receiver who is also a really good running back.” Faulk could run any pass route that a receiver could, and could take a handoff and go right up the middle. His versatility made him a huge piece of the “Greatest Show on Turf” St. Louis Rams. This is why he earns a spot on this team.
Fullback- Jim Brown
Now, this is kind of cheating. We think of fullbacks as blockers nowadays, but back when Jim Brown was playing, they were different. If he played in later years, he’d be a running back. He led the league in rushing 8 times. That was back when teams ran the ball a lot. He was just the definition of the word dominant. People didn’t want to tackle him. That work-horse mentality and ability to just move the ball down the field is an easy addition.
Wide Receivers- Randy Moss, Larry Fitzgerald, Jerry Rice
The epitome of “take the top off of the defense,” Randy Moss in his prime was almost unstoppable. With scary speed, unreal jumping ability and an attitude that says “I’m better than you,” Moss was great. Not only did he have these abilities that created a term (getting Moss’d), he made everyone around him better. Teams are forced to triple team Moss to keep him under control. That opened up space for others. Now, he does have some diva in him, but sometimes you need that swagger in one person to get the team going.
Attitude-wise, Larry Fitzgeral may be the polar opposite of Randy Moss. Fitzgerald has been on the same team his whole career, and is the epitome of the old phrase “what’s best for the team.” He went from his early years of being a highlighted number 1 receiver, to a very good slot receiver, and now to a grizzled veteran who makes tough catches and blocks. This chameleon-like ability at the receiver position that Fitzgerald has makes him a must on this team. Whatever the team needs, he’ll bring. And he will do what Moss never did, he’ll block on run plays.
The last receiver was the easiest decision on this list. Jerry Rice is the NFLs leading receiver in both regular season, and postseason. He was a 3 time Super Bowl champion, 12 time All-Pro, 13 time pro bowler and he led the league in receiving yards 6 times. That is just pure insanity. Some call Jerry Rice the best player of all time. It is hard to argue with that.
Tight End- Rob Gronkowski
Last but not least, we come to the ultimate hybrid position. Some like pass catching tight ends, some like run blocking tight ends, I want someone who does both. I want Gronk. The guy does it all. He is a wondrous blocker that helps any team get things done. He is also a prolific pass catcher. He has a great ability to catch almost anything thrown to him and his ability to run after the catch is incredible for his size. Gronk is also a matchup problem. He is too fast for linebackers to cover and he’s way too big for any defensive back to cover. Gronk can swing any game in one play, and does the unselfish things that can keep a team in any game.
Those are the squads and the explanations, I’ll post the poll on Twitter and may the better squad win!