Wednesday, January 8, 2020

NFL 100 All-Time Team

Last month, Rosenort mentioned on his blog that the NFL has done a poor job of commemorating the 100th anniversary of the league. I agree. Maybe it was just because I was a kid and it was exciting, but I remember very clearly the 75 Seasons book that my parents got me for Christmas that year. That book has had a gigantic influence on my collecting habits, as I was introduced to the All-Decade teams and players that I was too young to remember for myself. I remember how cool it was to see the designated throwback weeks. I can still identify a 1995 card set in a heartbeat just by the big "75" patch on the jersey. Maybe the possibility of throwback jersey games has been undone by years of teams doing that anyway. But there is not even a patch for the 100th season. It feels like the biggest thing the league has done was to make a Super Bowl commercial and try to get as much traction out of that as they can get on

Now, the league has compiled an All-Time Team. They unveiled the final cuts one position group at a time, after giving the fans a week or so to predict the team. This, I like. It's the kind of thing that I live for: making lists and rosters of the best of the best. Since the 75 year anniversary indirectly led me to my current collecting tastes, I felt the need to do something with this new All-Time Team. I wasn't sure what at first. Most of my collecting projects consist of an entire page of each person on the team. But with so many repeat names (like Jerry Rice or Reggie White on two All-Decade teams  and the All-Time Team) and guys from the 1930s, I didn't want to try to tackle that big of a project.

This is what I decided to do: one card to represent each player. However, that card must be a) vintage, b) serial-numbered to 500 or less, or c) a Hall of Fame rookie. I'm defining vintage as older than I am, so 1982 or earlier. I think these criteria will provide enough challenge and value to the project to make it fun to complete. As evidenced by the COMC watermark on some of these photos, they are in my pending shipment, but I don't have them in hand yet.

I'm also providing a page on this blog that will track my progress. As you can see, I'm not too far. But here are the cards that I have already added. I'm hoping to upgrade some of these in future, as well. (I'm looking at you, overproduced rookie cards.)

As for the selections themselves, the task of creating this team is far too big for an armchair quarterback like me to criticize. You're looking at a century's worth of players, who come from all different eras and rules and evolutions of the game. Numbers alone can't tell the story. Neither can size or strength, because so much has changed. However, there were a few changes that I, personally would make to the team.

QB: Drew Brees in, Brett Favre or John Elway out. I'm a die-hard Packers fan. I grew up watching Favre run ridiculous plays. But I also recognize his limitations as a player. He did win three straight MVPs, though, so there's that. I believe Elway is romanticized a bit because of his back-to-back Super Bowls as he rode off into the sunset. If I wanted to start a team, I think I'd take Brees over either one of them. There may be other quarterbacks that could be removed, but I would want to have representation from as many eras as possible, and the the 1980s-1990s already has Favre, Elway, Marino, and Montana. So it's one of the first two that I would exchange.

RB: It's a shame that no more modern running back was chosen. I'd like to try to squeeze Marshall Faulk, LaDainian Tomlinson, or Adrian Peterson in there. I don't know who would get the boot, though. Maybe Marion Motley with his only 2 All-Pro selections.

WR: The selection of Larry Fitzgerald caused some hubbub. I don't have a problem with it. Maybe Calvin Johnson, Cris Carter, or Terrell Owens could replace him, but I think I'd keep him there.

TE: Shannon Sharpe for Rob Gronkowksi. Gronk was dominant. His size, strength, and athleticism at the position are unequaled. I get that. But I have a hard time placing a guy who played only 115 career games on the All-Time Team. Give me Shannon Sharpe and his athleticism, instead.

DE: Doug Atkins was a weak selection, in my opinion. Well, maybe weak is a bad word to describe an 8-time Pro Bowler. But I would have taken Carl Eller, Willie Davis, or Michael Strahan over Atkins. Given another season, JJ Watt would probably be on the list of alternatives, too.

It's hard to argue with many of the selections. They might not have been I would have chosen, or even predicted, but when I think of the players I would put on the team, I struggle to see whose spot they would take.


  1. Cool project, I really hope Panini does something with this team. Ideally something similar to the on-card multi-product Super Bowl Signatures set.

    As far as snubs, I am biased, but Steve Largent over Art Monk is weak. Monk put up big numbers before anyone else, see his 1984 season and where he was on the career lists when he retired.

  2. That is indeed a cool project.

    I'd put Brees in but deduct Roger Staubach. And Fitz has a much better case for inclusion than Elroy Hirsch. Even when you take into account how different the offensive schemes were in the 50s Hirsch just doesn't feel like a 'must' inclusion.

    But that's what makes these things fun. BTW...the 50th Anniversary NFL book was to me what the 75th was to you. I browsed it so much I can still see the pages in my mind all these years later.

  3. Very cool project. If I considered doing something like this, I'd probably chase autographs. I know there are guys I'd never be able to acquire... but it sure would be fun to see how many I could.

  4. I was surprised Favre made the team, and then confused as to how they chose the team. Is it the 100 greatest players, or is it an All-Time Team? I would have enjoyed it more if they were clearer about it (or maybe I just wasn't paying attention.)

    The NHL did a much better job with their 100 year celebration IMO. They chose 50 players from the pre-expansion days and 50 from the modern era. [I posted my thoughts on the list here] And they had a traveling exhibit tour each NHL city that year.

    1. They created a team of 100 players with a certain number of spots for each position. I believe there was a selection committee of 23 who voted on the finalists. Each week they released the results for one or two position groups.

    2. I found the details on Wikipedia regarding who voted.

  5. I watched most of those episodes also ( missed the ones on WR, TE, and OL). I was very surprised that Bart Starr didn't make the team, given the 2 SB MVPs, and the usual Lombardi-era reverence NFL Films has.

    The only issue I have with ypur project is your statement "I wanted to have representation from as many eras as possible". That in itself is contrary to taking the best overall.

    1. I don't think it is necessarily contrary to best overall. I mean, with such a wide range of players, it's impossible to compare players anyway. I mean, let's take a player like Bill Hewitt, who weighed 190 and made the all-time roster at DE. He would get crushed by every single OL in today's game. Would that mean that every current DE would be considered better than he was? Era has to be part of the consideration. So the only way to compare players across eras would be to compare their performance against their peers. Therefore, it's not unreasonable to ask if a guy who was 2nd or 3rd best in his era is more deserving than the #1 player of his era. That might lead you to drop one player in favor of another just because of the time he played, and you end up with a wide variety of eras represented. In this case, I'm talking about not wanting to drop someone like Staubach in favor of Brees, because we'll never really know how those two would compare straight across, and Staubach was evidently deemed the #1 QB of his time, whereas Brees obviously wasn't.

      It's kind of a moot point anyway, considering I didn't get any say in making the team, anyway.

    2. Makes sense.

      By the way, is it just me or is everyone seeing your responses showing as white text on a white background?

  6. If this the new kind of content that you've been talking about wanting to do, then I'm all for it :)

  7. So you're looking for vintage OR low s/n OR rookie, right?

    Let me get on your list ASAP....