Monday, February 12, 2007

An Honor Much Deserved

Former Lions tight end Charlie Sanders was recently elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame. The honor was greatly deserved.Sanders was a marvel as a player. I have never seen a receiver make more “impossible” catches than Sanders did during the late 1960s and 1970s for the Lions. It was uncanny. He wasn’t afraid to stick his nose in there and block, either. Don’t believe it? Just ask Dick Butkus.Name a tight end. I don’t care which one, and Sanders was just as good - and probably better.What really hindered Sanders’ bid for The Hall was the fact he played for the Lions. Not only wasn’t he part of a championship team, he didn’t come close. Yet, honestly, he couldn’t have done more, from his position, to help his team win.It always leads to a perplexing question. How high do we place winning when accessing the performance of an individual player? Not to pick on the Lions (although they deserve it), but what type of player would Peyton Manning have become were he thrust into that mess? Conversely, how much better would Chuck Long, Andre Ware and Joey Harrington have been had they been selected by another organization? To take the question further, Barry Bonds has never won a title. Does that diminish his accomplishments? I loved Bill Russell as a player, but I don’t think he was as great as Wilt Chamberlain. Russell had Red Auerbach building teams around him. Wilt didn’t have the same type of smart GM working for him. When he did have comparable talent with the 76ers in 1966-67 and Lakers in 1972-73 - his teams dominated like few in NBA history.Jim Plunkett was a bad QB in New England and a champion in Oakland. Dan Marino was a better player than Bob Griese. He just was, but Griese has the rings and Marino - who might have been the best pure passer in history - carries this weird stigma because he didn’t win a title. Teams sports are not about one player. Even the truly great ones have sidekicks. Michael Jordan had Scottie Pippen, Joe Montana had Jerry Rice, Wayne Gretzky had Mark Messier, Babe Ruth had Lou Gehrig, etc.Who was Archie Manning’s sidekick?I think most times were a little too tough in accessing athletes as losers if they are put in the wrong spot. And a little bit quick with our praise of athletes when they are put in the right place at the right time.And it’s one of the reasons I am so pleased Charlie Sanders, who is also one of the good guys, finally got his due and reached the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Random Thoughts

- I heard some people talk about the Indians as if they are a real threat in the American League Central. I am not so sure. I like their power and their starting pitching, but their fielding and their bullpen are more than just a little questionable.

- The best high school football player I ever saw was John Miller from Farmington Harrison. The best high school basketball player was Chris Webber from Country Day. The best high school baseball player was Steve Howe from Clarkston.

- It’s just my opinion, but I think Paul Woods does a great job with his commentary on the Red Wings radio broadcasts. His knowledge of the NHL and hockey in general is extraordinary.


Blogger maddog52 said...

Only couple more weeks until it is Tiger Time. I am really looking forward to this year. More so then anything to see how this group of cats responds. They were the underdogs. Now they are the underdogs again in the fact that nobody things success will carry over. There is lots going around. The bench situation has got me really intrigued. Can a guy like Clevlyn step up. Will we trade Thames and aquire another left handed bat. Can Shelton emerge like he did last year. Will infante continue his surge. You'd still think there has to be a transaction or two left to be made nothing jurastic. but I still think we have 1 or 2 in us.

I love the Red Wing Rumors. I feel Bertuzzi is just what we need for the playoffs. We need a little more toughness along the boards.

The Pistons have looked pretty sharp. The starters anyway. I know your 1270 counter parts have been working scenerios. It got me to thinking. What about a guy like Grant Hill. 1. He can play the two or 3 solid and offer the consistency we need there. 2. It can be off the bench where we need him. He is at the end of his career. He won't have to log a ton of minutes and it is a chance for a championship. 3. We get his expiring contract. If we could offer a Murray and Muhammad plus maybe there pick back or something why not do that deal.

If I were the lions I'd make a strong run at Free Agents CB- Asante Sammuel, LBs- Thomas or Fletcher, G. Eric Steinback, and I'd even look at Michael Turner. Then in the Draft I'd trade down and offer our second pick cause I think we can get the same guy at 3,4,5 and 6. If we can get another Second rounder or something bonus. Guys I'd target in the draft based on what we don't do in Free Agency are RB Peterson, OT, Joe Thomas and DT Branch (with the First Pick), then with the second PIcks (C Ryan Khalil, DE Charles Johnson, WR Anthony Gonzalez, Smith or Stanton, and David Harris)

11:44 AM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

The Lions seem to think Kevin Jones will be just fine physically, but I believe they need more at running back just in case. Turner would be a good choice. He is an excellent player stuck behind LT. I don't like the running backs in the draft that much.

8:46 PM 
Anonymous Tom Mohan said...

The best highschool basketball player I ever saw was Ervin Johnson. Amazing passer and court vision. Saw him in the late 70's, I think 1976-77 against Brother Rice in the Class A Finals. Kevin Smith from Brother Rice hit a 1/2 court shot at the buzzer to send it to overtime. Lansing Everett cleaned up after that. That was also the best highschool basketball contest I ever saw.

11:52 PM 
Blogger maddog52 said...

I agree. look at all the guys that emerged once they got the chance. Ahman Green did it in Green bay for a while. Joe Horn. Priest Holmes. Lamont Jordan his first year with the Raiders. Rich Gannon when he went to the Raiders. Brunell in Jaguar days.

Give Turner a shot. Now a days you have to have a one two punch anyways. the way these guys take a beating.

10:31 AM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

Tom Mohan,
I never actually saw Magic play in high school. I just remember reading about his matchups against Jay Vincent, who went to Lansing Eastern. I also remember the game you are talking about well, particularly Smith's shot. But I saw it on television.

10:50 AM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

Running backs taken real early in the draft can be a gamble. It has worked out well in the past for the Lions with Barry and Billy Sims, but many of the best backs are taken in the second and third rounds. I guess the debate would be Adrian Peterson. I am not sure if the Lions wouldn't be better looking at a free agent.

10:52 AM 
Blogger ThinkingMan said...

Hey Pat,

My best of high school list is pretty short: It begins and ends with Drew Henson.
I covered Novi and Northville High schools in the mid 90s. So I saw a lot of Kensington Valley Conference and Western Lakes sports. The KVC was pretty weak in most of the major sports while the WLAA had some good programs.
Drew was by far the best baseball, football and basketball player I ever saw. He reminded me very much of Cal Ripken in baseball. I still can't believe he didn't make it in that sport. Everyone knows about his football exploits, but he was a great basketball player, too. He could should 3-pointers and dunk. I saw him put up 44 points against Northville once.
A guy I respect very much, Brad Emmons who has covered preps forever for the Observer and Eccentric, pretty much echoed my thoughts as far as Drew being the best all-around athlete.

12:17 PM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

Brad has seen a lot of them - certainly Miller and Webber - and he would know. Henson was truly gifted. I just think he was been spread too thin after leaving Brighton. But he was definitely one of the greatest - if not the greatest - all-around high school athletes in state history.

3:33 PM 

Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home