Old-school arguments always in style

October, 31, 2008
10/31/08
2:30
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando

Count Hall of Famer Deacon Jones among those who think current NFL players would have a hard time functioning under rules as they existed -- or often did not exist -- back in his day.

As Jones told Alan Grant in this Old School column:

"The game today is played from the neck to the waist. But we could hit you from the top of your head to the bottom of your feet. And the quarterback was a wide open situation. I get so pissed off every time I hear Brett Favre say he's played 279 games in a row. I would rather slap my mama than allow a quarterback to play 279 games in a row. Somebody supposed to put him on the ground!"

I've always been a defender of the old-school athletes. Friends I grew up around thought Mike Tyson was the greatest boxer in history. I always thought Muhammad Ali would have embarrassed him. And I knew George Foreman would have knocked him out. I even thought a 40-year-old Foreman would have knocked Tyson out.

But some of these old-school declarations seem to go overboard. I was watching Super Bowl VII late last night, because that's the sort of thing I enjoy, and I really admired the way those guys played. But I also thought Albert Haynesworth or Justin Tuck might have sacked Billy Kilmer every other time Kilmer dropped back to pass.

Perhaps that is a misguided view. If it's unfair to compare athletes across eras, then it seems like that thinking should work both ways. We shouldn't discredit the current players just because some of the old-school guys played a certain way. That make sense?

On a somewhat related topic, thanks for the feedback on the previous item about the most-feared players for the teams in this division. I'll run an unedited list of the players you have submitted so far:

  • Seahawks: Kenny Easley, Steve Largent, Fredd Young, Dave Krieg, Cortez Kennedy
  • Cardinals: Chuck Cecil, Dick "Night Train" Lane, Larry Wilson, Adrian Wilson, Aeneas Williams, Anquan Boldin, Freddie Joe Nunn, Jerry Norton, Ken Harvey, Darnell Dockett
  • 49ers: Ronnie Lott, Eric Wright, Dwight Hicks, Carlton Williamson, Tom Rathman, Charles Haley, Fred Dean, Tim McDonald, William Floyd, Dave Wilcox, Larry Allen, Leo Nomellini, Patrick Willis, Kevin Gogan, Guy McIntyre, Cedrick Hardman, Ken Norton Jr.
  • Rams: Jack Youngblood, Merlin Olsen, Kevin Greene, Deacon Jones, Toby Wright
These lists are starting points. We can comb through them as needed. Jerry Norton didn't play for the Cardinals very long, for example. The Rams need some more representatives based on their long history.

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