Talk sports, pop culture and more with SI.com's Jimmy Traina.
11/29/2006 09:04:00 AM
Where does LaDainian Tomlinson stack up?
LaDainian Tomlinson has scored two or more TDs in each of San Diego's past five games.
Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images
The emergence of Tony Romo. The reemergence of the Saints. The dominance of the Bears defense. The perfect marriage between the Ravens and Steve McNair. These all have been major themes of the 2006 NFL season, but they all take a back seat to the No. 1 storyline: LaDainian Tomlinson's complete domination.
This season, the Chargers running back already has set the NFL record for reaching 100 touchdowns faster than anyone in history. He's also set the league record for most TDs (16) in a five-game span. And he's five touchdowns away from breaking the single-season mark (28) held by Shaun Alexander. Hopefully, you're not expecting a tight race for the league's MVP award, because LT already has it won.
And LT isn't just dominating this year. In his six-year career, he never has rushed for fewer than 1,236 yards in a season (which he did as a rookie). He has scored double digit TDs in each of those seasons. He's also averaged 475 receiving yards per season. The man who does it all also has thrown six TDs in his remarkable career.
So my question is this: Where do we rank Tomlinson when discussing the best offensive players in recent history? I'm talking about the most dominant, impossible-to-stop guys. I came up with a top-10 list based on the past 25 years (since that's how long I've been watching football). I'm also not going to include "rings" as a criteria (If I did, the list would be filled with nothing but Cowboys and 49ers.) but I will give credit to players who performed exceptionally in the postseason.
Here's my top 10:
1. Jerry Rice 2. Peyton Manning 3. Tomlinson 4. Dan Marino 5. Emmitt Smith 6. Barry Sanders 7. John Elway 8. Thurman Thomas 9. Marshall Faulk 10. Brett Favre
A couple of notes: I limited this to players who started in 1982 and beyond, so that's why Joe Montana and Walter Payton are not on the list.
I debated adding Randy Moss but he's only caught more than 82 passes in a season twice and has done nothing the past three years.
I really wanted to add Terrell Davis, because he ran roughshod through the league in his short time in it, but he only had four great years.
Lastly, I was reluctant to put Favre on the list. To me, his career has always been a little bit overrated -- relax, Packers fans. I said a little bit. I know announcers don't care that Favre just chucks the ball into double and triple coverage on a regular basis because "he has fun out there" (whatever that means), but he has averaged 20 interceptions over the past six seasons. That's just not good. However, I'm not a complete idiot. Favre's run from 1994-97 is remarkable and he's the NFL's only three-time MVP.
So that's my top 10. How good or bad is it? Let's see yours. Remember, keep it to offensive players and keep it limited to the past 25 years.
I think your list is pretty close while I understand leaving Payton off because of the last 25 years limit the majority of Montana's dominace falls in that time frame. I also think you have Emmitt ranked too high. I think his offensive line doesn't get enough credit for his stats. Though I think he was the perfect back for that team. Someone with great vision that very rarely made a mistake when running he always seemed to know right where to go. This is a lot more important than most people think for a running back.
Barry Sanders is heads and heels above everyone else...you have short-term memory issue, Jimmy. How can anyone EVER rate Emmitt Smith over Barry? The O-lines each guy had weren't even comparable, ask any defender who tried to tackle those two men.
Barry was doing two jukes before he hit the line because there were hardly any holes. With all due respect to LT, because he is a great back and better than Emmitt almost IMO, he still isn't up to the great Barry Sanders class yet.
The Sanders-Emmitt debate was heated when both backs were playing and it still rages on today. I rank Emmitt ahead of Sanders mainly for one reason: When the Lions had the ball near the goal line, Sanders was removed from the game. Emmitt, on the other hand, was a great goal-line back.
Jimmy, you might be right about Sanders when it comes to him on the goal line, but remember this; Barry had at least 3 more GOOD seasons left in him when he left the game. I honestly dont think that Emmit would have the record for all time rush yards if Barry kept at it. Plus you have to keep in mind that emmit also had Irvin and Aikman on his team. Sanders didnt have anyone else of that caliber to fall back on. He was a one man wrecking crew and deserves to be at least number 2 on your list.
1. The Cowboys record when he didn't play...need I remind everyone after the Cowboys won their first Super Bowl, he held out and they lost their first two games, Emmitt returned and not only did they win their division, he won the rushing title. Oh yeah, the Giants game at the end of the year (shoulder separation game) 2. Everyone always says his o-line needs more credit, well why don't you look at the stats of his backups (Sherman Williams anyone?) 3. His division included Super Bowl champs not plus the Eagles with Reggie White, Buddy Ryan and the gang. Not like Sanders against that horrible division. 4. Jimmy's comment about the short yardage is right on the money.
Terrell Davis deserves inclusion. True, he only had 4 big years, but look what he accomplished: 2 super bowl rings, a super bowl mvp, a 2,000 yard season, a league MVP, a rushing title and nearly 6,500 yards. In 4 seaons, that's domination.
And though it can be tough to root for the guy, I've seen Terrell Owens make too many big plays to not be on the list.
I think that your list is ok. I do believe Tom Brady belongs more than Manning but your ranking impossible to stop. I remember a year or two back that the Eagles held LT to like 15yds rushing, But when all things are said and done LT will have re-wrote the record books in a lot of ways. I have a comparison for you, Put Walter Payton, Emmitt Smith, Barry Sanders, Erik Dickerson, and LT's stats next to each other and see what you come up with.
The only issues that I have with this list are the inclusion of Elway without having Terrell Davis on it, having Smith ranked higher than Sanders, and not inclding Marvin Harrison who has quietly the best reciever of the time this side of Jerry Rice. Elway never won anything without a dominant running back (i.e. Davis). Barry Sanders was the lions, whereas Emmitt had the nest O line in football, Troy Aikman, and Michael Irvin. And Marvin Harrison? The numbers don't lie and he couldn't be a better teammate or opponent.
I think Barry not playing on the goalline had way more to do with bad coaching. Barry had 43 rushing tds his first 3 years Emmitt had 41. Barry was so good the run and shoot almost looked like a real offense.
I agree with those on the list but I can't understand how Barry & Marino aren't #'a 1 & 2. These are two players who had next to no supporting cast around them yet dominated their positions. Give Marino a decent running game and he has himself a ring. As for Barry, come on, best running back ever.
Good list but I agree with the booby d, there is no way Smith should be ahead of sanders, not only did Emmitt have a way better O-line, which makes a huge difference at the goal line, he also had the advantage of a HOF caliber quarterback. Sanders routinely faced 7-8. As for the rest I completely agree with Rice as #1 and by a large amount.
Barry Sanders behind Emmitt Smith? I agree with John. Barry dominated with an average (sometimes below avg) line and still made yards and big plays. Emmitt gets love too, but Blair Thomas could have put a couple of 1000 yard seasons behind those Dallas lines.
I agree that LT should be above Barry. For the reason alone that he is so versatile. He may not do " two jukes" before the line, but he still gets through and then energizer bunnies the rest. He also catch... And can throw on and off as well. Barry also had a shorter career than Emmitt. Emmitt was not as good as Barry when playing at the same time... But Barry cut his career short and we don't know what might have happened... Good or bad. I think Brady needs to be on there somewhere. Maybe make is 11!
Barry Sanders should top the list above everyone else. People forget how sensational his natural abilities were. I remember in his rookie season, opposing teams made the refs check his jersey for illicit substances such as silicone. Defenders couldn't believethey could miss that many tackles on him
I agree with Jerry Rice being number 1. However, I do not agree with Peyton being number two. How can you put him above guys like Dan Marino and John Elway. Peyton is good, but right now he doesn't even compare to those two guys. I also don't agree with putting Emmitt above Barry. I know alot of people have complained about this one. Barry is arguably the greatest back to ever play the game. Emmitt had a great line and a hall of fame quarterback helping him out. Who did Barry have? Barry deserves to be number two on this list not Peyton!
I pretty much agree with your list, however, I did notice that Tom Brady was not listed. How can you not list him when he has gone to and won 3 super bowls!!!!! I know that Manning has the stats, but Tommy has the rings and doesn't have a ring around his neck from chocking in the big games when everything is on the line.
People tend to forget that not only did Barry not have Emmitt's line, he didn't have Troy Aikman, Darryl Johnston, Michael Irvin and Jay Novacek on offense with him. The Lions QB's in the 90's were Andre Ware, Rodney Peete, Erik Kramer, Charlie Batch, Scott Mitchell. Put a competent QB with Barry and you don't have 8-9 men trying to stop him. Even then he put up amazing numbers. He was the 2nd leading rusher in league history and played fewer years than Emmittt.
For those people who keep talking about Brady - Jimmy already said RINGS DON'T COUNT! Numbers wise Peyton is far above Brady (winning is another story). This article is about UNSTOPPABLE offensive players not hard to beat teams. Put Brady on the Cardinals and you get worse numbers and no rings. You put Peyton on the Cardinals and he still won't have any rings but his numbers would be about the same.
That list is a joke if your going to say that someone is unstoppable to me that means they win it all. 4 player on that list don't have a ring. What about Tom Brady or Terry Bradshaw they have won multiple times that to me makes those players unstoppable.
i somehow am not comfortable putting LT before sanders, for the simple fact that you are giving trying to compare LT's partial career to Sander's full one. I am sure when all is said and done, LT might end up better than Sanders - but at this point, he is def. behind Sanders. I would not contest PM to JE because we have seen 9 yrs of PM and thats sufficient to close the deal. Oh., by the way - Sanders should be ranked higher than Smith
Ok...Brady is a huge oversight and not because he's got 3 rings and is a two-time Superbowl MVP. You have to remember that he's won at a higher percentage than anyone in the league since he's been around. He's also done so with almost no running game until this season. Teams know he's going to throw, yet last year, he led the league in passing. And through all this, he's NEVER had a receiver with 1000 yards. With the receiving core that Manning has, I'd think he's the most overrated player in history considering that Harrison and Wayne are both outstanding as is his o-line and the fact that until this year, he's had Edge who's been very good at keeping that offense balanced (Addai is proving to be no slouch either). Now, don't get me wrong...Manning is VERY good. But to say he is unstoppable is laughable. That offense as a whole is almost unstoppable (somehow, they repeatedly get stopped in the playoffs...ahem...), but Manning himself is his biggest argument against including him on the list. He is on a great all-around team with a solid defense and the best offense in the league, but he can't win when it matters. Brady quietly puts up top-10 numbers then wins Superbowls...all without a Rice, Harrison, Duper, TO, etc.
For all of those who continue to debate the Sander Smith controversy, here are my two cents. Emmitt and Barry were to completely different backs. Barry is the best pure runner of all time. Emmitt is one of the most complete backs of all time (Jim Brown #1). To me, unstoppable for a running back means one thing. When a defense plays the run with 8 in the box, who can still bust one for a score? Barry Sanders is the only back from this era that could do this on a consistant basis because he did, time and time again. How many times have we seen him in the backfield with 3-4 defenders around him and he still got free? To many to count. We're talking about unstopable players, not the best at their position. Two different things.
You're talking about players that dominate here and almost the first one that came to mind to me in recent years is Steve Smith. The guy is tiny and gets rountinely double and triple teamed, but still has ungodly statistics. There are few players in the wide receiver position who ever did what he does regularly.
I was a little surprised to see Brett Favre on this list, but when you consider hes going into his 253rd consecutive game, I guess he is pretty unstoppable. If only he'd stop throwing so many interceptions. So far so good this year.
Glaring omission is Tom Brady. Even without the Super Bowl rings, of which I might add he has 3, he is one of the most adaptable QBs I've seen. No matter who plays with him, and it is practically a different team every year with the Patriots, Tom manages to adjust, finds the players he needs and makes the plays. I also agree with other posts, when you compare Brady with Manning, sure Manning's numbers are better but he gets to throw to the same guys all the time, Brady doesn't. Also, Brady can hold it together in the big games, i.e. the playoffs, and come away with a win. Same thing can't be said for Manning.
How come nobody is showing Brett Favre any love except for the main list. He is 10 touchdown passes short of Marino and he will probably pass him this year. Plus if we are talking about supporting casts Brett hasn't really had really good receivers on his teams. If you put most of his receivers on other teams they would be 2nd or 3rd options.
Opinions are worthless. Let's talk facts. Emmitt is the best there is, was, amd may ever be. Sure Barry was flashier and fun to watch, but what kind of results did he get? Exactly. And talk about lines, what ever happened to a Dallas lineman when someone other than #22 was carrying the rock?
I agree with Jeff on most points except for Emmit being a more "complete running back" than Barry Sanders. This label has been hoisted upon countless RBs during Barry's career as a way of indirectly slighting him. Neal Anderson, Ricky Watters, Terrell Davis, Roger Craig and countless others have been said to be better "All-around backs" than Barry. Barry could catch as well as anyone else, he simply wasn't thrown to that often to prove so. Barry NEVER got injured. This alone is a testament to his greatness.
I think Peyton is up there way to high. Good quaterback yes, unstoppable no way just ask the steelers or pretty much anyone who has played him in the playoffs. Plus you have to give much credit to his offensive line who keeps peyton pressure free the majority of the time and he has two dynamic recievers in marvin and reggie wayne. Not to mention great blocking back like edge and now addai is doin a great job.
I appreciate the comments. Everyone is making legit points. I can't argue with those of you who want Sanders ranked ahead of Emmitt. For me, Sanders was electrying. You always thought he could break off a monster run at any point. Emmitt was a workhorse, who wore defenses down. They were different backs and it's hard to say which one was better. So if you say Barry should be ranked higher, I have no problem with that.
As for Brady, I'm a HUGE fan of his. I enjoy watching him play more than anyone in the league, outside of LT. But I wasn't considering Super Bowl wins in my list. And I also think Belichick deserves just as much credit for the Patriots' recent success.
Manning's #s for his 9 year career (includes this season): Att: 4712 Comp:3013 Pct: 63.9 Yds: 36153 TD: 265 Int: 136 Rate: 94.1
Brady's #s for his 7 year career (including this season): Att: 2915 Comp:1798 Pct: 61.7 Yds: 20600 TD: 143 Int: 77 Rate: 88.3
Manning has 16000 more yards (with only 2 more years) and there is no way Brady throws for 8000 yds a year. Peyton has higher rating, higher comp %, 129 more TDs than INTs (Brady has 66 more TDs than INTs).
Tom Brady is 10-1 in the playoffs with 3 superbowl rings, 3 pro bowls, 2 superbowl MVP's and 66-23 record as a starter (.742 winning percentage) and you left him off the list in lieu of peyton manning who couldn't get to the superbowl to save his life i.e. STOPPABLE in the playoffs. IDIOTIC
Ladainian Tomlinson: dominant Peyton Manning: consistent Barry Sanders: other-worldly Jerry Rice: the best ever Dan Marino: precision Joe Montana: champion Marshall Faulk: versitile John Elway: prototype Emmitt Smith: dependable Brett Favre: legendary
Rich posted: Put Brady on the Cardinals and you get worse numbers and no rings. You put Peyton on the Cardinals and he still won't have any rings but his numbers would be about the same. That couldn't be farther from the truth. When has Manning been tested by having to throw to a whole new set of receivers? Brady does it EVERY year. Brady has shown time and time again that he adapts to the players he is given, a sign of a great quarterback and an unstoppable offensive player.
Barry Sanders by far was the best. He played on a sorry team without an offensive line or qb or any other weapons . Emmit Smith had several all pro offensive linemen blocking for him over the years. And as far as L.T. he does not have to do two jukes before he gets to the line of srimmage because he at least has a hole formed by his offensive line to run through. Maybe some of you have amnesia and do not recall how often Barry Sanders would be receiving the handoff 3-5 yards deep in the backfeild and still make a great to decent run out of it. LT could not do this on a constant basis. Like the great Barry Sanders. Please give us a break with this LT is better than Barry nonsense.
Using the Brady Ring Logic - Phil Simms has 2 Super bowl Rings, 1 Super Bowl MVP and (if I'm not mistaken) the Super Bowl Completion % record. Are you Brady lovers saying that because of that, Phil Simms is better than Peyton Manning?
I'm not a Brady or a Peyton lover or hater. I'm a Giants fan.
In the past 25 years there is barely 10 guys that have a body of work that would be deemed unstoppable. Most players Peak. SO if you discuss Emmitt, talk about his "Greatness in Arizona" or Rice is Seattle. You can not just talk about So and So in his prime because that would equate to about 4-5 maybe 6 years, which would include 100 other peoplin this discussion. Think about players who have been dominate for 8+ years. Without longevity you have to include short time dominate guys like Bo Jackson, Priest Holmes, Terrell Davis, Thurman Thomas..... What if LT retires at the end of the year, is he still one of the most dominate? If so, quanify the time frame of dominance
Barry Sanders Jerry Rice Payton Manning Emmitt Smith Dan Marino Steve Young Chris Carter Marcus Allen Brett Farve
Unstoppable or impossible-to-stop...there is no such thing, otherwise every touch would result in a touchdown. If you want to talk stats the most unstoppable would be the guy with the highest TD to touch ratio. Who is that?
Linda posted: Rich posted: Put Brady on the Cardinals and you get worse numbers and no rings. You put Peyton on the Cardinals and he still won't have any rings but his numbers would be about the same. That couldn't be farther from the truth. When has Manning been tested by having to throw to a whole new set of receivers? Brady does it EVERY year. Brady has shown time and time again that he adapts to the players he is given, a sign of a great quarterback and an unstoppable offensive player.
If Brady can throw to anyone and put up the #s, he would be able to do it for the Cardinals (HE WOULDN'T). I have to agree with Jimmy, Bellichek deserves A LOT of the credit for how successful Brady has been.
you're ranking unstoppable players you aren't ranking unstoppable offenses. if that's the case, you'd have to put Rice number 1 but I'd put Barry Sanders a close second. the guy had no weapons to work with, no decent QB, no decent line and he still ran for over 2000 yards in a season. when he was on he was unstoppable. Peyton and LT have all pro weapons to work with, so defences have to contend with those as well. all defences did was key on Barry and he still amazed. the debate between emmit and barry is no debate. emmit was great, barry was all-world.
OK I feel like I have to defend Thurman Thomas. He was the league MVP in 1991, and would have been the MVP for Super Bowl XXV had the Bills won. He is the only player to lead the NFL in total yards from scrimmage four years in a row. He led the AFC in rushing in 1990, 1991, and 1993. Not to mention he set several postseason records in scoring. Yes he belongs on the list.
All those who are saying that the Cowboys O line had a part in Emmitt Smith's acheivements should also consider the Colts O line when talking about Peyton Manning. How can you not see how much protection they give hime. I certainly haven't forgotten their playoff loss to Pittsburgh last year. Manning was completely clueless most of the game and when asked at the post-game press conference, he said there were 'protection problems'. Yeah right! I can be an NFL QB if there was an O line that gave me time to hold the ball FOREVER! Bottom line, he might belong on the top 10 list but no 2 is way too high.
I think when all is said and done, Tomlinson will be the best back ever, passing even Jim Brown. I hate to say it, as a Raiders fan, but the guy is simply unstoppable. He will be remembered for a long time, He has had a Gale Sayers-like career, but he has already lasted longer, it is scary to think of what he might accomplish.
Also, Sanders was great but people seem to miss that he holds the record for most runs for negative yardage. Did he have the greatest Offensive line ever? Of course not, but it wasn't the worst either. He did have Herman Moore and the passing game taking pressure off of him, which helped.
I would put he and Smith at about even. Emmitt Smith was nowhere near as talented, but he was a warrior and that is what brought him to greatness. He continued playing through pain (Dallas v. Giants anyone?), whereas Barry retired for fear that one day he might get hurt.
Rice, yeah id put him at #1, Tomlinson would be #2 for me, for now, and that will change soon in my opinion.
Finally, no quarterback is unstoppable. If you run the right coverage and scheme every quarterback is succeptible to failure. Whereas guys like Tomlinson, Smith, Sanders, Davis don't care if there are 8, 9, 10 in the box, they wouldn't care if woody Hayes came off the sideline after them either. RB's and WR's are the only ones I would consider unstoppable. QB's are the most important men on the field, but they, more than the others, rely on their teammates. I mean if you read above, apparently Barry Sanders just lined up against a full defense with only a center and QB to get him the ball.
Favre? No way he belongs. Montana has to be there. He started playing in 1981. Barry Sanders has to be number 1. Best back ever. Brady has to be there. Try letting Manning throw to a group of revolving receivers every year and see how he does. And the biggest omission to me: Jim Kelly
If worms had handguns birds wouldn't eat them. That's always the argument for Sanders. If Sanders THIS, he would have THAT. Emmitt should be ranked above Sanders for the reasons that can be shown on paper. They are the 2 best running backs of our time and are too different to compare. But if we must, then do so with actual facts. Most notably total yardage and super bowl rings. I'd like to hear a legitimate argument for Barry that didn't start with IF...anyone?
Emmitt Smith ranked above Barry Sanders, what are you thinking? Emmit Smith was a great back, scored a lot of TDs and is the all time leading rusher thanks to his offensive line. Barry Sanders played on terrible Lions teams with terrible offensive lines and still owned Emmitt before he retired. The only venue in which Emmitt would be better than Barry is in a ballroom!
in response to all the peyton haters: the guy is going to do to dan marino's passing records what jerry rice did to recieving records, yet its because he's on an amazing team?!? i mean, jerry rice played with two hall of fame quarterbacks, but no one seems to mind saying he's the best... a pretty big coincidence how good reggie wayne, brandon stokely, dallas clark all are now, but would they really be much without peyton? i wouldn't count on it.
I am so sick of hearing people talk about how good Tom Brady is. They keep going back to his superbowl rings and his superbowl MVP's to back them up. He is on an all around good team. Pretty much anybody could have been quarterback for the Pats and won superbowls. I agree with the point that if he was on another team his numbers would be terrible and if Peyton was he would still have good numbers. And back to the superbowl thing if he is so good because he has a superbowl ring and Superbowl MVP trophies then we better start talking about Trent Dilfer and Desmond Howard. Untill Brady wins an acutal MVP trophy or at least puts in his time he can't be considered on the list.
I should be on the list befoe Peyton Manning, he always CHOKES in the big games until he can win the big one he should not be on the list!!! What about Tom Brady 3 superbowl rings, and you cannot count them out this year either.
Guys think about this, Barry Sanders would be surrounded by four guys and make all of them look stupid and miss. With an OL he would have broken every record. Emmett was great but no comparisons should be made,... EVEN THIS COWBOY FAN AGREES!!!
There is always debate about lists like this, and we have no exception here. But for all of the 'Peyton-haters' out there, the trick is to get the best out of your teammates to help you look good. 'Peyton has Marvin so that should count against him' or 'Peyton has a great O-line' you will say. Can't it be that he helps elevate his teammates and he gets the glory when they win. With that come the slings and arrows when the Colts lose. Remember, it is a team sport, and sometimes you get magical combinations that work, and eavery player deserves the platitudes.
Elway was clutch, but not unstoppable. I 'd have Steve Young on this list. Two others come to mind: Shannon Sharpe and Tony Gonzalez. Sure, they're not QBs or RBs but they were clutch in every aspect of the game, including blocking!
For those of you talking about the weak offensive lines that Barry ran behind, lets not forget that through the first 4 seasons of LT's carrer, he ran behind the worst offensive line in football. Remember when the Chargers selected Manning #1 in the draft. That's because they were the worst team in football before that and LT still racked up 1500+ yards and went to probowls. It's only recently that LT has had any talent around him.
The debate about Barry vs. Emmitt was always interesting, and it appears it really hasn't died down too much. I think both are GREAT backs, worthy of Hall of Fame and both are worthy of being called "one of the all-time greatest". If I was building a team, though, and I could have either of the two backs in their prime, I'm taking Smith. The guy was an all-world warrior--he played through some serious injuries and never quit. Everyone like to talk about the amazing game against the Giants when he played with a separated shoulder, and won the game for Dallas with 74 yards on the final drive. But, I remember the title game in '94 at Candlestick--the one they lost to the 49ers where Emmitt had a bad hamstring, and then poppped the second one. I remember the last play he was on...churning out extra yards while being hit by two LBs (Ken Norton Jr. being one of them) and getting the first down, and you could see his legs giving out..and he was literally throwing a fist into Norton's facemask..going down fighting. I remember some of Smith's blitz pickups and how he'd level linebackers or safeties coming through the line...the receptions and positive yards..always postive yards and pushing foward. Let's not forget, too, that he had some very pretty moves as well. Not the breakaway speed of Sanders, but he always seemed to have guys chasing in in the open field. Sure, he had a great O-line, but none of his backups ever performed that well. He was, by far, more of the all around back, running...blocking...catching...andhe was as fearless of a running back as you'll ever see-always taking on contact to get extra yards. Barry, while electrying and amazing and fast..SO fast, was not the warrior that Emmitt was. Thanks for reading all -- Chuck
Here's the problem with Barry Sanders: too many runs for negative yards. Blame the O line, but he had Lomas Brown, a perennial Pro Bowler for most of his career. The line wasn't as bad as people think.
Sanders would have 5 runs for negative ten, then he'd break one for 70. That's a great recipe for Sportscenter highlights, but not for winning games.
Great back obviously. But give me the guy who gets the first down every time.
That's a tough task, trying to rank the top 10 since 1982. Can't even say I am up to the task. All I know for sure is that Tomlinson would be #1 on my list. Until recent years he has been the only weapon that the Chargers had. Still, nobody stopped him. I won an entire fantasy football league off LT alone a few years back (sorry fantasy haters). LT has been like Superman in this league, except nobody has found his Krytonite. We have seen defensive minds find ways to stop everyone on this list except LT. That makes him the best in my mind. Defensive Coordinators treat him like Jordan was treated in the NBA (give him his points and don't let the rest of the team beat you). By the time his career has done he is going to put up numbers that noone will touch again.
In response to Ryan: I think Emmitt Smith is a tremendous running back who well-deserved the rushing title because he had the desire to prolong his career that Barry didn't. However, Barry is simply a better running back. This does nothing to take away Emmitt's accomplishments. I doubt I will ever see an RB like Barry again in my lifetime and thats what makes his "early" retirement so frustrating. He was "must-see TV" and freakishly talented. He was able to overcome losses in the OL such as Mike Utley, Erik Andolsek, Kevin Glover and Lomas Brown. The Lions OL wasn't nearly as bad as people would have you believe, but they definitely weren't as good as the Cowboys.
I like your list, though I'd move Marino into #1 or #2 slot; sorry but he was the closest thing i've ever seen to unstoppable during his reign. he, jerry rice and barry sanders were amazing.
but the best part on your post is about brett favre. this guy has been OVERRATED for at least 3-4 years. i mean this guy regularly throws games away like it's nothing. CAN'T WAIT FOR FAVRE TO RETIRE.
I'm a huge fan of LaDainian and I think the guy is really, really good. But when I watch footage of say, Marshall Faulk, I don't see even that level of unstoppableness. Not to take anything away from the guy, though...
I think not adding Jim Kelly, but adding Dan Marino is as silly as adding Peyton Manning but not Tom Brady. Kelly I think was more important to his team than marino when you think about the K-gun and how he ran the offense almost by himself. In the Manning-Brady era it's hard to say that Manning is a more dominant QB than Brady.
The problem with these lists are that they are all crap. It doesn't translate since this is a TEAM sport. Sure Peyton throws for 8 million yards, but if his line sucked he would be running for his life. Same with the running backs, they depend on their line to open holes. The QB depends on the line to protect him, his receivers to get open and not drop the ball. The receivers rely on the QB to throw the ball to a spot where they won't get their head taken off. Let me ask you this, in all these discussions, how come nobody EVER talks about the unstoppable offensive lineman that almost never misses a block, the fact that a back almost never misses a blitz pickup. Individual accomplishments and records are fine, but they only happen because 10 other guys are doing their jobs.
The qualification was to rank the "most dominant, impossible-to-stop" offensive players in the last 25 years. To me, dominant implies some kind of longevity where impossible-to-stop does not. Using the impossible to stop criteria, the following players NEED to be included.
Priest Holmes Marshall Faulk Barry Sanders Emmitt Smith Thurmanator Bo TD LT Joe Montana Steve Young Peyton Manning Dan Marino Brett Favre Randy Moss Jerry Rice
Also, if you don't think Favre was impossible to stop, then you weren't watching football between 1994 and 1997.
Manning is eminently stoppable. Knock him down, smack him in the mouth a couple times, and he'll get the "Peyton Manning face" an dchuck the ball to DB's. It's all a matter of pressure - he can't handle it. He'll look great throwing 5 td's against a 1-15 team though. The comment has been made elsewhere, but he's the AFraud of the NFL. Akili Smith would throw for 4000 yards with Marvin Harrison and Reggie Wayne as targets, and 70+% of the salary cap loaded on offense.
Brady on the other hand - name one Patriots receiver or TE from the past 5 years likely to even sniff the HoF? How about going into the season with your only returning receiver being 35yo Troy Brown, whose most valuable contribution to the team this year is as a nickel back. Swap QB's and Brady goes 19-0 this year while Peyton is sulking on the bench at 8-8, wondering why Doug Gabriel just let another pass bounce off his hands for an INT.
Everyone tries to compare Barry and Emmitt and they always mention the O-line. But the team that wins is the one who has the most points, and Barry had 66 fewer TDs than Emmitt. With Aikman, Irvin, Harper and Novacek, the Cowboys still went with Emmitt in the red zone for points. The Lions did the opposite because Barry was very good at losing yards, too. And Emmitt was a lot better at picking up blitzes and catching out the backfield. The truth, though, is that a guy who had no line and no passing attack to help was Eric Dickerson. He is the most explosive and dominating back ever.
Although I think LT is exceptional and belongs on this list, there is no way he is better than Barry Sanders. IMO Barry is the best back I have ever seen because he made tacklers miss...badly, and he had one of the worst O lines in the NFL blocking for him for most of his career. Put Barry in a Cowboy uniform instead of Emmit and he would have set records that would never be broken.
Emmitt and Barry are no comparison because Emmitt was the primary weapon on a team with many stars, he had 66 more TDs than Barry, and he was a better blocker and receiver, and he had more heart than Barry, who quit on his team and his fans. Neither them compared to Eric Dickerson in his prime, though. People forget about him because he was like Gale Sayers, the most dominanat player in the league for seven years, and then gone. But no one on this list compares to him except Jerry Rice.
boys and girls...let's get this straight as this is the definitive word on the matter...Tom Brady is the man. Not allowed to count rings, let's count superbowl mvps. Peyton doesn't make the list until he can figure out how to make it to the big game, never mind win it. Geesh...Jim Kelly makes it before Peyton. Bad call on Faulk, Eric Dickerson should be on the list before him.
I'm a Packer fan. I'm not angry. But what you said about Favre is just silly, as is the fact that you have him last on this list. Here's what'll happen: four or five years after he retires, people will forget about what he looks like now, with diminished skills, and look back at how crazy-good he was when he was winning MVPs. Favre is up there for best all-time, not just the last couple years. You'll all realize this eventually, so us Packer backers will just have to be patient.
My only problem with the list is with Thurman Thomas being on it and Eric Dickerson not being on it. He has the single season rushing record and through his first 5 years amassed more rushing yards than anyone. I don't know if that was long enough of a career to count but he was pretty unstoppable for first five. Another name I would like to throw out there and I realize he only had one season but Jamal Lewis when he broke 2000 yards. Maybe he was just unstoppable to the Browns that year when he drop 295 and 200+. But seriously what about ED?
Greatest Show on Turf, wasn;t that the Rams moniker not the Colts? Anyhow please remember LT had nothing to work with in college or the first couple of years in the pros and look at those stats. Better than Sanders or Smith, quite possibly but let;s wait for his career to end and see. Right now he's the most dominant force in the NFL and should be very high on the list. As far as Favre goes I agree with Jimmy all those chances he takes have hurt as much as helped his cause.
He said Best "OFFENSIVE" players of all time. Not best players. If that was the case, then yes Brady would be on there, Barry would be ahead of Emmitt, and Joe Montana would be on the list. Learn how to read before being annoyed about his rankings. Geez.
Everyone says Barry should be rated higher than Emmit because he could have broken all or Walter Payton's records first and set goals to high for Emmitt. Key Word: COULD. Barry decided to leave the game early, where as Emmitt probably played a little too long. Regardless, when you look at the numbers it's about what a guy DID do, not what he COULD HAVE done. Otherwise Terrell Davis would have been on the list for what he COULD have done if he hadn't gotten hurt.
1. Tomlinson(fastest player to 100 makes him i think the easiest choice) 2. Jerry Rice(enough said) 3. Peyton Manning(machine like) 4. Barry Sanders(king of the -1, 0, 76 yard carries that break a defenses back) 5. John Elway(you just knew that guy was going to get a couple rings) 6. Emmitt Smith(most rushing yards ever puts him here, might not be as dominant as others, but give respect where it's due) 7. Dan Marino(I'm a Pitt guy, I love this guy, hard not to put him higher, barring his late injuries that slowed him down I wonder if his records would have been untouchable) 8. Tom Brady(who really doesn't want to be this guy?!?) 9. Marshall Faulk(for a 4 year span, this was bar none the most exciting player to watch week in and week out, again i wonder if not for injuries) 10. Brett Favre(Mr. I don't miss a game is still able to play at a higher level than I thought he could. It's the last time I doubt this man)
Several have made comments that Montana and Young should rank higher than Favre. First of all, you are obviously 49er fans, second do you even follow football other than occasionally checking scores. Favre has been the most dominant quarterback of this generation, there are certainly other greats but as far as a long term reliable super star there is no one better. Find me one record that Montana and Young have over Favre
the best evidence we have of how good emmitt smith was is his last year in Arizona. behind a awful line as a 15 year vet, h ran for 937 and 9 or 10 TD's, Edge behind bascially the same line- 3.1 average and doin nothing. The arguement about barry's line being bad is ridiculous. EVery one credits Emmitt's all-pro status to his line, perhaps it was emmitt that made that line look so good. Plus, the cowboys won several games without Aikman and Irvin, but never without Emmitt. finally, he faced his fair share of 8 man fronts in his career. By the way, Barry played on a team that threw the ball more than enough to loosen up the defensive fronts. Herman Moore and Johnny Morton each had 1000 yard seasons more than once. Also, Barry led the league in a stat no one brings up. Negative yard carries. He spent to much time dancing around. Emmitt is simply better than Barry.
You mention that Barry was taken out in goal line situations. Let's be honest, he played for the Lions how many goal line situations did they actually ever get into? The team is and always has been the model for ineptitude in every way.
I think the list is great. About Emmitt Smith, Walter Payton said he's the type of all around running back and person that has earned the record. Between him and Barry Sanders the difference is very small. They are virtually 1 and 1a as RB's go, right up until LT. LT is as complete a back as any before him including Payton and Jim Brown. I'm a huge Payton fan who thinks the most complete and unstoppable RB since Walter is LT.
1. Tomlinson(fastest to 100 tds, 6 passing tds, people are talking about starting this guy at quarterback, any questions) 2. Peyton Manning(has an machine like way about him, that has me wondering, Is he still getting better?!?) 3. Barry Sanders(nobody was better at getting the ball three times in a row and going...0, -3, 76 TD, and it was those kind of series that would break defenses backs, plus he made detroit at least respectable!!) 4. Jerry Rice(has every receiving record known to man, NO..nobody is ever going to break them so stop thinking it) 5. Tom Brady(does anybody really not want to be this guy?!??) 6. John Elway(you just knew that this guy was going to get a couple rings didn't ya?) 7. Dan Marino(I'm a Pitt guy, so I'm suprised he is not higher myself, but barring his late career injuries that slowed him down, I promise he would have been top three) 8. Marshall Faulk(the numbers he put up during that 4 year span from '98-'01 were so gaudy, I'd be suprised if even LT matched those numbers 9. Brett Farve(Mr. I don't miss a game is still playing at a higher level than I thought he could...Brett I will stop doubting you...I'm now a believer) 10. Emmitt Smith(most rushing yards ever puts him here, and no I don't think the way he got the yards were in a dominant fashion I really don't....but let's give credit where it's due, and Emmitt has bragging rights that no other RB has)
Everyone keeps commenting on how the list should take into context the other players on there team thats crap. Montana helped make Rice who he is, and Rice helped Montana. But by no means does that take away from each of them. If that were true then guys like Moss, and TO would have great QB's also. Thats not the case. By being great you help the others around you be even better. Thats Why Montana was great, and more resently Manning. They make others Great as they PLAY. Look what Manning did with James.
What's with this incessant ripping on Favre by you and the bloggers? Your "calculation" of an average of 20 interceptions over the past 6 years is spiked by the 29 from last year (by far his highest). Without that abberation, Favre's annual interception average for the other 5 of the last 6 years is 17. Marino's career average was 16. Favre ABSOLUTELY deserves inclusion on the list --- WITHOUT qualification or reservation.
Tomlinson this high?? I don't think so. I'm from the STEEL city of Pittsburgh and we know our football. Interesting I just had this same conversation during a Steeler game. Good call and u were close. I take into account a players unique abilities, raw talent, are and what they bring to thier team....
So here's my list:
1. Jerry Rice 1. Barry Sanders 3. John Elway 4. Dan Marino 5. Peyton Manning 6. Jerome Bettis 7. Emmitt Smith 8. LT 9. TO 10.Warren Moon
I am not a Brady or Manning fan. But Peyton Manning is so overrated. He has great stats because he has had the same offense and players his entire career. All of the Colts money is spent on offense. And on top of that he has layed major eggs in big playoff games. 4 ints against the pats. Pitt game last year. Totally Stoppable. Brady keeps getting it done with a different supporting cast. He is a WINNER!!! It took Tee Martin to win a championship at Tennessee. The Funniest thing will be when Indy is eliminated by San Diego, Peyton can thank his father for stacking the Bolts with great players. Also how can you put Marino ahead of Elway. Elway put his team on his shoulder and carried them for years. Marino through for a lot of stats but never picked up his team like Elways and Montana.
I'm not even going to get into the Barry Sanders vs. Emmit Smith debate. I just want to know why is everyone putting down Brett Farve, am I the only one that notices his stats are second only to Marino and plus he has a ring, and can anyone name any Pro Bowl caliber receivers he's played with.
Of all these RBs, the fastest ever to 10,000 yds is not on this list. Eric Dickerson reached 10,000 yards in 91 games. After 8 seasons, he had 11,226 yds and 82 TDs back when defenders like Ronnie Lott and Lawrence Taylor were allowed to hit players. He averaged 107 yds rushing a game during those first 8 yrs. Only Jerry Rice and Peyton Manning should be ranked ahead of him.
1. Tomlinson(I know he's still young, but that's why he's here, he has 6 TD passes(Andrew Walters is jealous after only mustering up 3!!!!) 2. Jerry Rice(no need to explain) 3. Barry Sanders(here is one series for Barry that would break a defenses back....0, -2, 76 TD...ouch!) 4. Peyton Manning(machine like on the field, still has me wondering, is he still getting better, if so I would't want to be in the AFC much longer) 5. John Elway(somehow you just knew that he was going to get a couple rings didn't ya?) 6. Marshall Faulk(his 4 year numbers from '98-'01 were so gaudy, I'd be suprised if LT matched them) 7. Dan Marino(I hate not to put him higher, but once again his late injuries came into play, as he put up numbers but not in dominant fashion...see number 9...but barring injuries Dan would have been top 5 easily) 8. Brett Favre(Mr. I don't miss a game is still playing at a higher level than i thought he could....Brett I'm done doubting you...I'm sorry!!) 9. Emmitt Smith(numbers are what puts him here, like marino late in his career numbers were not put up in a dominant fashion, but let's give credit where credit is due 10. Tom Brady(does anybody really not envy this guy, people who wouldn't pick him to build their team around need counseling)
I decided to join in on the Sanders vs. Smith argument. Before I rattle off the stastistics I spent the better part of my day gathering, I would just like you all to know I am from Michigan, and a big Sanders fan. By the way, I compiled the statistics from www.footballdb.com:
Total TDs: 109 Total Touches: 3414 Total Yards: 18190 Avg. Yards per Year: 1819 Avg. Rushing Yards per Year: 1527 TDs to Touch Ratio: 0.0319
Detroit Lions Statistics (Over Sanders’ first ten seasons): Lions’ Total Offensive TDs: 348 Barry Sanders TDs: 109 Percentage of Lions’ Offensive TDs from Sanders: 31%
Emmitt Smith NFL Totals (Over first ten years): Rushing: Att: 3243 Yds: 13963 Avg: 4.3 Lg: 75 TDs: 136 Receiving: Rec: 442 Yds: 2728 Avg: 6.2 Lg: 86 TDs: 11
Total TDs: 147 Total Touches: 3685 Total Yards: 16691 Avg. Yards per Year: 1669 Avg. Rushing Yards per Year: 1396 TDs to Touch Ratio: 0.0399
Dallas Cowboys Statistics (Over Smith’s first ten seasons): Cowboys’ Total Offensive TDs: 38 Emmitt Smith TDs: 14 Percentage of Cowboys’ Offensive TDs from Smith: 42%
The cold hard facts. Everyone can base their opinions on what I just presented. I tried to not to show preference towards Sanders. As the data shows, contrary to th public's view of Smith being the better receiver, Sanders was a more prolific receiver, gaining more yardage with a smaller amount of touches. Overall, Smith is the winner of the touchdown battle, but that was to be expected. But Sanders wins the Yardage battle and the avg. yardage battles.
Well, I must chime in, even though we've almost beaten the "Emmitt -vs- Barry" topic to death. It seems that there is much discussion of "stats" verses "supporting cast"... My opinion is that Barry was by far a better back than Emmitt, and it's based completely on watching the games and forming a subjective opinion. As so many have pointed out, you can't go completely by stats, because the two situations were so different. My observation is that Emmitt was "good", but never "great". He was tough, dependable, and consistent - but the only times I ever saw him "dominate" were when the opposing defense started keying on the prolific passing attack (Aikman, Irvin, Moose) and left holes for him to exploit. When Barry took the field, the entire defensive unit made it their purpose to stop him, and yet he always broke the big plays. Sure he got stopped in the backfield too... 11 defenders waiting for the run will do that. He was the best.
brett deserves to be on the list at #3, behing barry and montana. brett had 5 straight seasons of 30 tds or more, no other quarterback has more than 4 in thier entire career. brett is one of the best ever, period...
Peyton Manning is too high on the list. Considering that his Colt's team seems to crumble in the post season. It's true that when all cylinder's are firing...that team is very formidable. However, the game goes on and you better have something more imposing than a no-huddle-offense.
Marshall needs to be higher on that list. Perhaps to number 4 or 5. Whenever Warner dumped off a pass in the flats, it was Faulk who powered that team onto a SB. It's sad that he didn't get that SECOND ring.
Thomas was a great great player. But a Bill's team that never quite finished off their business is a team that didn't have somebody that was 'unstoppable'.
Great list. I give you a lot of credit for adding Thurman Thomas. He's a small market guy who has an amazing career. Not too many people talk about him in the same breath as the other 9, but he definitely belongs.
I understand your reasons for excluding certain players. However, I think you need to reconsider Randy Moss. Can you punish a player just because he was forced into a situation where nobody can prosper? Look at his pre raider years. And the quarterbacks throwing him the ball over his career. Even his last season in Minny, he had something like 13 TD's. He even tried to play through injury. He put up some of the greatest receiving numbers in history over those years without a quarterback named Montana or Young. Not to take anything away from Rice, but Moss needs to make that list.
I have to chime in on the Barry v Emmitt debate. It's no debate - Barry was the better back - Emmitt had the better team. Just look at them when they went head to head - Barry came out on top more often - in yardage and the final score. Did you know Barry holds the all-time Texas Stadium rushing record for a single game - yeah a 1994 MNF game where he torched that great Cowboys D and Emmitt and the Lions won the game!! Emmitt played behind an ALLSTAR Line and a Hall Of FAme QB - Barry had one or two good lineman over his 10 seasons and played for 9 starting QB's in that same time - some guys were named Rodney Peete, Andre Ware, Erik Kramer, Frank Gagliano (who?!?!), and Dave Krieg - gimme a break. The difference is that Jerry Jones was a much better front office man than the FORD family in Detroit. Or if you want a real true opinion - ask the best two defenders of all time (LT and Reggie White) - I have seen interviews with both of them where they said that Barry was the scariest guy they ever had to defend - plain and simple - Barry was more unstoppable, tougher to handle, and just flat out better.
Most unstoppable forces since 1982:
1. Jerry Rice 2. Barry Sanders 3. Peyton Manning 4. LaDainian Tomlinson 5. John Elway 6. Joe Montana 7. Dan Marino 8. Emmitt Smith 9. Steve Young 10. Marvin Harrison (how has this guy not been mentioned yet)
In my opinion, Barry was not only the best running back to ever play the game. He is in my top 3 players of all time. You would have to be a Detroit fan to understand this. We got to see him every week on every play. Not during ESPN's highlight real. The guy was so gifted and determined. If he had been fortunate enough to play for a team with an owner that cared about wins/losses. We would not even be debating this. He was almost super-human in his ability to read the field and change direction. He was also a class act. He never celebrated a touchdown to excess and he never complained about his circumstance. He was the total package team oriented player except he just happened to play for a poor team. You think anyone else on this list would have stayed on a losing team like Detroit for as long as he did without at least some complaint?
I just wanted to chime in on the Smith/Sanders thread (This is always such a good debate). Here's something to consider that's not on a stat sheet. Even Emmitt thinks barry is a better back. Barry was a great (maybe the greatest) back, But Emmitt was a warrior. I would put Emmitt's desire to win, fearlessness and heart well above Barry's. Players were in awe of Barry, but they were afraid of Emmitt because he was willing to cut their heart out to win. That's why he shoots up on lists like this all the time. You can rattle off stats all you want, but in a close race, bet on the player with more desire.
Overall I think Jimmy's list is pretty good. No major arguments from me. Mine would look like this:
1. Dan Marino 2. Jerry Rice 3. LT 4. Barry Sanders 5. Emmitt Smith 6. Marshall Faulk 7. Peyton Manning 8. Thurman Thomas 9. Steve Young 10. John Elway
And I just want to say that if there was the after 1982 clause there's one player who would HAVE to be included: Anthony Munoz! If you want to talk about pure domination, he and Jim Brown are in another world.
No one is talking about Jim Kelly...Why not consider him? At least he could get to the big game. BTW, am a Pats fan, so I have no love for Kelly, but he was pretty darn dominant during his reign. To counter my own argument though, he did have Thomas...
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