The bigger, the better
Blood-and-guts RBs and more old-school football
Posted: Friday March 23, 2007 2:05PM; Updated: Friday March 23, 2007 4:15PM
This week's subject is backs, big backs, tough backs, greenbacks, kickbacks. Andrew of Cupertino, Calif., right down the hill from Ridge Vineyards, knowing my penchant for blood and guts runners, asks me if Frank Gore and Steven Jackson qualify. Yes, of course. I think I mentioned that these are the kinds of guys I root for. In fact, I've always liked runners better than passers, as silly as this might sound. Can't help it ... it's just an emotional thing, going back to my childhood.
Frank Gore is impressive because he's not a very imposing physical specimen. It's his heart that's big. Jackson? A personnel man whose opinion I respect grades him No. 1 in the league, yes, even ahead of Tomlinson. "I see defensive players who absolutely shy away from tackling him," he says.
And now we have a question from ... huh? Andrew of Cupertino again. In a different part of my e-mail stack. What the devil is going on here? Has Cupertino declared itself a sister city to the Time & Life Building? OK, I'll give it my best, but if A from C comes up a third time I'm calling for an investigation.
Why, he asks, are bigger backs generally in one-back alignments and the smaller guys have fullbacks in front of them? Can't say I've noticed this. The champion Colts, for instance, alternated normal sized RBs, and they don't use a FB. Other teams are in the same boat. Generally speaking, fullbacks seemed to be used less and less last year. The trend nowadays is to run out of three and four wideout formations.
And now we get to a real big back, Carleton "Cookie" Gilchrist, and Eric, who's "near Buffalo," wants to know why this thundering 250-pounder never has been a Hall of Fame candidate. Good question. I saw Cookie tear old AFL lines apart. Larry Felser and Will McDonough, my two old AFL buddies on the selection committee, are not around anymore, so there really isn't anyone nowadays to sing Cookie's praises, except for me, and I think the selectors are tired of hearing my yacking.
Which brings us to Cliff Harris. What's keeping this great old Cowboy safetyman out of Canton, asks Ronnie of Capetown, and my answer to that is that it certainly isn't me because he's been one of my primary projects for about 15 years now. I think he's one of the two or three greatest safeties in history. I've presented those views both to the committee as a whole and to the smaller seniors committee, when I was a member. My views have been ignored. I'll continue to work on Cliff's behalf. Other than hiring a few of my old buddies from the Bronx to beat a little sense into people's heads, there isn't much more I can do.
Kelly from Prague, Czech Republic, wants my honest opinion of why Bob Kuechenberg was better than fellow guards Joe Scibelli and Woody Peoples. Look, I know those two guys are very popular with Czech fans, but next time you're holding a boosters club meeting, please tell them that Kuechenberg was tougher and more mobile and more versatile than either of them.
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