Wednesday, October 30, 2002

THE OLD "WHAT IF BARRY SANDERS HAD EMMITT'S LINE" ARGUMENTS: I'm reading the new TMQ while waiting for the Simmons Western Conference preview to get posted, and Easterbrook offers a pretty good refutation to the "if only Barry had the Cowboys' line" argument:

But TMQ wonders, why were his teams always so crummy -- wasn't Sanders partly to blame? He was self-centered, aloof, concerned exclusively with his stats. Sanders refused to block -- became angry on the couple of occasions coaches tried to put in plays in which he was a blocker or a decoy -- and never learned anything in the passing game beyond the screen pass. He staged unexplained walkouts, and was often uncommunicative; frequently denounced the Lions in public and endlessly complained about his pay, though Sanders was always among the best-paid backs. Then he got mad, took his ball and went home.

In short, Barry Sanders was a jerk, and his me-first character is a reason the Lions usually were losers with him on the field. In a weird way, you sensed Sanders actually wanted the Lions to be losers, so he'd be the only exciting thing about the team and so he would never be tested under the ultimate pressure of the Super Bowl. Remember how poorly Sanders performed in his few postseason tests -- such as his minus-1 yard rushing day against Green Bay in the 1994 playoffs? Whenever the pressure was on, Barry folded.

It's sort of like the argument that guys putting up great numbers on lousy teams are part of what is making those teams lousy--their too selfish or in roles unsuited to their talents or something. Of course, Corey Dillon isn't supposed to be a jerk and the Bengals stink so it's not always truth. I dunno, I always liked Barry and am prone to the Barry=best ever because of the ridiculous numbers he put up, but his postseason is a knock against him unless you want to blame Wayne Fontes.

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