Thursday, October 11, 2007

Barry Sanders was overrated?

The 4 letter network, in a desperate cry to attract attention to Sal Paolantonio's silly book, ran an excerpt from said book claiming that Barry Sanders was, get this, overrated? The argument he uses is that Sanders didn't put up numbers in the post season, and never won a title.

If you go by Paolantonio's argument, Timmy Smith must be a better back than Barry, as he had one of the best post season performances ever by a back in Super Bowl XXII, while Sanders' playoff numbers were pedestrian, at best.

You could say that the same goes for the great Walter Payton, as his playoff numbers aren't anything to brag about either. In the 1985 Super Bowl, William "The Refrigerator" Perry had a bigger impact on the result than Payton. So Payton must be overrated too, correct?

I'm aware that I'm stretching things a bit, and being facetious. But it shows how you can twist the truth in order to make your reasoning look credible, doing what I like to call "Rob Parkering" your argument.

Paolantonio uses the small sample size of 6 playoff games played between 1991-1997 to determine that Barry Sanders is overrated. That's right out of the Rob Parker stylebook.

My rebuttal to Paolantonio, other than saying to just look at the eye-popping numbers, is this...

Any argument about Barry Sanders' lack of playoff success, and thus being overrated, has to heavily weighed by the fact that he played for the worst run franchise in sports, the Detroit Lions, and that the coach Sanders played for during his vast majority of his career will never be mentioned in any discussion remotely regarding "Greatness." Or even "Competency."

The Lions head coach the vast majority of Sanders career was the patron saint of this blog, Wayne Fontes. Under Fontes, the Lions offensive schemes changed from season to season, thanks to his chucking offensive coordinators under the bus, saving his job in the process. That reason alone is enough to see that Sanders was an elite talent, as he got his rushing yards in several different offenses.

The Big Buck went through coordinators and quarterbacks the same way Jim Leyland goes through a pack of smokes, fast and furious. Fontes' main claim to fame as a coach was not for his football acumen, but in that he gave a good quote, and ran the Lions like a members only country club, ensuring his players would love him.

In all actuality, Fontes wasted the best years of Sanders career. Sanders never had a great O-line to run behind or a great QB to take the pressure off him, much in thanks to Fontes' ADD style in attempting to build a team around an all-world running back.

Palantonio claims that the fact that Herman Moore had some great seasons, and the Lions had a "Middle of the pack" defense during the middle of Sanders career blows away "The theory that Sanders was the only thing the Lions had going for them during The Barry Sanders Era." That's just a stupid thing to say. I thought that Palantonio was using Sanders playoff difficulties in calling him out as overrated, but then he breaks out with the regular season stats of Moore and the Lions defense?

Wow, the Lions during Sanders' era had a great wide receiver, and an average defense? But what about the below average O-line, the clown of a head coach, and most importantly of all, the clumsy oaf that was handing Sanders the ball?

You want to talk about playoff failure, and why Sanders didn't have the post season numbers, you can look in one direction, at the Lions QB. Under center during several of those years was the easily rattled Scott Mitchell, whose inconsistency put even more pressure on Sanders. Look at Mitchell's awful playoff stats, and then you can see a huge reason why Sanders was ineffective. It's easy to key on stopping Sanders, when your QB has a terminal case of happy feet, and is unable to complete a pass.

To pile on at the end of this tripe, Palantonio goes on about how Sanders retired, calling it an "Ugly scar." I totally agree that Sanders blundered his retirement announcement, and that it was a bad way to end a wondrous career. But what does that have to do with calling Sanders overrated as a running back?

Sanders' retirement is black mark, to be sure, but it had absolutely nothing to do with his performance on the field, which was exemplary.

I saw damn near every game of Barry Sanders' pro career. My eyes told me that I was watching the best God damn running back EVER. To call Sanders overrated is a clueless insult, and nothing more than a hook for Palantonio to sell his book to more than just his immediate family.

Any book rating players using a purely arbitrary and biased system based upon small sample sizes is a waste of time, and Palantonio is wasting mine.



  2. Of course he was.
    I don't see any rings on his fingers

  3. Using an inflammatory word like "overrated" is a blatant attempt to sell books and, frankly, draw attention from the blogosphere. I thought Paolantonio was better than that, but maybe he saw Jayson Stark use that approach for his book, and figured he'd try it, too.

    There were things about Barry Sanders' game that drove me crazy. Taking an eight-yard loss trying to make a big play when simply pushing for a one-yard gain would've been more productive, for example. He never developed into a decent blocker. And he never seemed interested in becoming any sort of receiving threat.

    Michael Wilbon has compared Sanders to Dominique Wilkins, and that works for me. He put up big numbers and produced historic highlights. But a running back certainly can't win a Super Bowl by himself, no matter how spectacular his physical talent.

  4. Sal is a doucherocket. I'd wipe my butt with his book but it would only improve it. Not only for the Sanders comments, but for other idiotic things in that book as well.

  5. I agree that Barry was overrated. Look how much better we were the year after he retired with the Ron Rivers / Sedrick Irvin / Greg Hill tsunami of suck.

  6. barry sucks!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! wayne fontes is fred flinstone & barry couln't hit the hole in the playoffs. emmitt's the man!

  7. Barry has the nfl record for negative yardage from scrimmage. 336 carries for -952 yards. That's like running in reverse for one whole season. He would end a game w/20 rushes for 120 yards w/2 60yard runs. He is not a winning running back that could move the chains, eat up clock, keep his team out of 2nd & long or 3rd & long and keep his defense off the field! His o-lines were better than given credit, becasue Barry was impossible to block for. He would never hit hole the o-line almost had to block for him like a pass play. He couldn't block and his career 352 receptions and 10 receiving td's tell you he wasn't a receiving threat either. Barry was the best scat back of all-time. He was a between the 20's back and didn't have redzone power. Overrated...Overrated...Overrated.

  8. So Mitchell's performance is the sole reason for Sanders' struggles, yet the adverse argument can not be made? That seems a bit biased.

    The biggest flaw in Barry's game, and a contributing factor for his playoff futility is that he went for the big run every play and seemed to lead the NFL in negative yardage each season. While his style proved effective and brewed a lot of excitement, I would argue that it's not a formula for success in the post season.

    The Lions O line was solid in those years, nothing amazing but many Lions fans throw the entire team under the bus when Barry had playoff (not superbowl) talent around him for most of his career.

    I'm not here to say he's overrated but I'd take guys like TD and Emmitt anyday in a playoff game. I can't think of one instance of when finesse runners have thrived in January.

  9. "Barry has the nfl record for negative yardage from scrimmage. 336 carries for -952 yards..."

    I have to agree with this (well, except for the 3 "Overrated" comments at the end, I'd go with just one with a small "o"). Sanders was impossible to block for. The negative yardage alone is enough to warrant being overrated. If I were to take any back into the playoffs at their prime (given I had a decent, not great O-line), I would pick Jim Brown, Ladainian Tomlinson, Emmit Smith, Marshall Faulk, or TD all before Sanders. All guys who can move those chains consistently and get into the endzone when it counts. Top 10 back all-time? Definitely. The overrated label comes in when he gets mentioned as the greatest or even top 5.

  10. Barry was incredible to watch... but he could never grind it out. That's what wins championships. See Emmitt Smith.

    Was Barry's o-line bad? Who knows... he never really followed his blocks well.