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Too much lust for lists


It's the new craze in sports: lust for lists.

Everybody has gone crazy for rankings. Who's the greatest? The worst? The best coaches to have been fired? The best teams of the last 25 years? The worst teams of the last 10 minutes? Who cares?

Gimme a break! Is any of this really that important or are we all so void of purpose in our lives that we should allow our time to be consumed by that which was previously reserved for rainy days and family outings?

ESPN, without a doubt the most influential media entity in sports today, needs to stop with the lists. It was OK for awhile, but now it's time to kill it. Frankly, it just wasn't that good in the first place. The last 25 years? What about all of those teams before ESPN? Did they not exist?

Then there's the woman with the smirk on the channel between ESPN and that prime-time blockbuster, "Big Break III," which features women who were kidnapped from public golf courses to participate in a golf skills competition in which anything on the green wins. Never mind that the woman with the smirk isn't old enough to have seen half of the teams and players on the lists she so "smirkily" presents.

Well, "Ask Vic" was recently lured into a "lust for lists" commentary, which only proves that Vic's life is as void of purpose as those who would ask Vic. Who's the greatest running back of all time? The greatest quarterback? The greatest offensive line? OK, that's all.

Frankly, Vic liked it. "Lust for lists" can be fun, as long as it doesn't become too intense and we all understand that the ultimate answer to the question is, "I don't know."

That has to be the answer to all of these questions. Who's the greatest player of all time? I don't know. Nobody does, unless there's someone out there who saw Jim Thorpe play and that person still has enough cerebral fluid left to know that Thorpe has long since retired from action.

You see, there's genuine reason to believe that Thorpe may have been the greatest athlete in American history. He was certainly the most abused.

He ran for touchdowns, threw for touchdowns, kicked field goals and, generally speaking, dominated every game he ever played. The problem is that "NFL Films" hadn't yet been created, and the art of keeping statistics didn't include yardage. All we know about Thorpe is that he scored a lot of points at a time when there wasn't much scoring.

We also know that he was stripped of his Olympic gold medals, and that he sadly spent most of his life battling alcoholism and financial despair, and that he's buried in a town that acquired Thorpe's body because the town agreed to change its name to "Jim Thorpe."

He was not a small man. At 6-1, 202, he was a giant of a running back for his time. Emmitt Smith, the leading rusher of all-time, is 5-9, 203.

But have you ever seen Thorpe's name on any kind of list? How about the 1920 Decatur Staleys that scored 10 shutout wins and allowed just 21 points the whole season? Why isn't that defense mentioned in the same breath with the 2000 Ravens?

We have this opinion in pro football that if it's old, it's no good. Maybe it's not, but how do we know for sure?

In the case of the Staleys, I think we can assume they didn't have a defensive player the equal of Ray Lewis. Trent Dilfer, of course, is another matter. But don't sell Thorpe short. If yours and ESPN's and the smirky woman's lists didn't at least consider Thorpe for ranking, then your list lacks credibility.

Who's the greatest? Let's just say "I don't know" and move on.

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