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 NFL.com.
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.
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.
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.