July 22, 2005

This set of "triplets" to be placed in the Cowboy "Ring Of Honor": Smith, Aikman, and Irvan are to be honored this year by being placed into the teams "Ring of Honor" This has sparked a lot of discussion on the "talk shows" as to who is/was the best trio (QB, RB, andWR) in the NFL. The Trio of Montana, Rice, and Craig were mentioned as being better. Other sets of triplets were brought up as well from the Bills, Steelers, Packers, Dolphins and so on.....It would be interesting to see who everybody thinks is the best "trio!???

posted by daddisamm to football at 08:48 AM - 45 comments

My best set of "triplets" are the Steelers trio of Swan,Fraco and Bradshaw. You cant argue with four Super Bowl Rings. Of course I have a soft spot for the Bills trio of Kelly, Reed and Thomas. Getting to 4 super Bowls in a row, is really hard to do..

posted by daddisamm at 08:54 AM on July 22, 2005

Who would the Phins' "triplets" be? Griese, Czonka, and Warfield? Woodley, Cefalo, and Franklin? Fiedler, Williams and Chambers? Using the QB-RB-WR triumverate, I don't seem to remember us ever having a crew of "triplets," at least nowhere near the caliber of the Cowboy trips of Aikman, Smith and Irvin, or, as much as I hate to say it, the Bills' Kelly, Reed and Thomas. If you're willing to adjust the default settings, then maybe Marino, Duper, and Clayton.

posted by The_Black_Hand at 09:15 AM on July 22, 2005

Gotta go with Griese, Czonka and Warfield for the Fish. Clayton was just so-so. And I'm pretty much with daddisamm about the Steelers. That was my first thought when I read this.

posted by WeedyMcSmokey at 09:22 AM on July 22, 2005

The Triplets should outrate Montana-Rice-Craig. Craig was a good back on three Super Bowl wins, but his numbers aren't anywhere close to Smith, a great back on three Super Bowl wins. Craig only rushed for 1,000 yards in three seasons.

posted by rcade at 09:28 AM on July 22, 2005

Clayton was more than just so-so, but there was no RB. It is still depressing that the best RB Marino ever played with was Sammy Smith. So, yeah, you have to go with Griese, Zonk, and Warfield. And as much as I love those guys, they don't stack up to Smith/Aikman/Irvin or Montana/Rice/Craig. Of those two... jeez, hard pick. Rice: best ever at his position, without question. Montana/Smith/Irvin: each easily top 3-5 at their position. Aikman: probably top 10 at his position. Craig: there is the kicker, I think- good, yes, but not a first-ballot hall of famer like everyone else on this list. So I think you have to go with the 'Boys on this. [And granted I never saw any of them play, but as far as I can tell, Lynn Swann got into the hall of fame on the strength of one catch, not a career- three pro bowls only? c'mon. So the Steelers are out too.]

posted by tieguy at 09:38 AM on July 22, 2005

Well, I'm completely biased, being born and raised in Dallas. If we're just talking about performance on the field and not showing up in court for doin' blow and hangin' with hos...wearing shades and a fur coat no less...I would put Aikman, Smith and Irvin on par with Bradshaw, Harris and Swann, but not above them. I'm just glad the picture I have hanging in the gameroom is of the "Dynamic Duo": Aikman and Smith. No punks on my wall.

posted by Texan_lost_in_NY at 10:11 AM on July 22, 2005

I'm just glad the picture I have hanging in the gameroom is of the "Dynamic Duo": Aikman and Smith. And in that pic, does Aikman have his usual onfield look of glum concentration (sort of like he was shitting gravel as he ran the offense)? That used to bug the hell out of me when he played, but now I miss it.

posted by cobra! at 10:17 AM on July 22, 2005

The Triplets should outrate Montana-Rice-Craig. Craig was a good back on three Super Bowl wins, but his numbers aren't anywhere close to Smith, a great back on three Super Bowl wins. Craig only rushed for 1,000 yards in three seasons. That is true of what you say about Craig, when its comes to a heads up comaprison of he and any other running back-namely Smith. The arguements FOR him inculde: the fact that he caught alot of passes out of the backfield(he was supposedly the first 1000-1000 yard guy)--And the Fact that Rice and Montana's greatness more then take up the slack in the Trio-----interesting way fo thinking. The more I think of it-I really like the Bills Trio-Of Kelly, Reid and Thomos. Their big downfall iis the lack of a Ring-Otherwise, they were lights out especially during the regualr season.

posted by daddisamm at 10:27 AM on July 22, 2005

Jeeeez cobra, you made me go downstairs to see and yes, that's the look! He was some-kind-of-focused as a player. Or constipated...whichever...

posted by Texan_lost_in_NY at 10:35 AM on July 22, 2005

Some day it may be Manning, James, & Harrison, Just need to get by New England........I don't view Aikmen in the sense of greatness. To me he managed a game great, but don't recall him taking the team on his shoulders to carry them to victory the way Montana did. 3 rings still (he may have I just don't remember it!) Maybe it would be easier if Irvin weren’t such a knucklehead! (Off the field) Smith tried to hang on too long does this tarnish what he accomplished? Pittsburg had that great D so maybe it was easier for their "3"? BTW Swann's catch was a highlight from a great career in the biggest game in the NFL, also occurred on the international stage of TV. If only those Bills had won a SB this would be easy!

posted by directpressure at 10:48 AM on July 22, 2005

Smith tried to hang on too long does this tarnish what he accomplished? *cough*Montana in KC*cough*

posted by tieguy at 11:02 AM on July 22, 2005

I have completely blocked out Montana in KC & in a couple of years I am sure I will have completely forgotten about Smith in AZ. So, it doesn't tarnish it any for me because I have selective memory!

posted by bperk at 11:18 AM on July 22, 2005

"Some day it may be Manning, James, & Harrison, Just need to get by New England...." Seeing as how all these triplets are related to dynasties, who do you think will be considered for the Pats' version? Brady's the only given. Antwon Smith was there for 2 of them, Dillon's there now. What about wide receiver? The easy choice now would be Branch, but what about Troy Brown? Just something that's been rolling in my head since the announcement came and the triplets debates began.

posted by crqri at 11:49 AM on July 22, 2005

Ok. Let's not do the Emmitt thing again.

posted by scully at 11:51 AM on July 22, 2005

I'm just glad the picture I have hanging in the gameroom is of the "Dynamic Duo": Aikman and Smith. No punks on my wall. Aside from trying to obstruct justice in his cocaine trial, what did Irvin do to be the continued object of scorn -- especialy among Cowboys fans? I was at the first game when Irvin returned from his court problems, and I cheered Mike. I don't watch football games to see solid citizens. All that off the field stuff with Irvin was overblown. I think more than anyone he set the tone for the team's on-field swagger during the Jimmy Johnson years, and a big part of Jimmy' success was instilling a herculean amount of confidence in his playmakers. Inheriting Irvin from Landy's last draft was one of Jimmy's luckiest breaks.

posted by rcade at 12:01 PM on July 22, 2005

I know that Aikman has great numbers, but the fact is he has always been an above average QB that was surrounded by great talent. It makes me sick when they mutter his name along with: Montana, Young, or Marino.

posted by BubbaG at 12:06 PM on July 22, 2005

what did Irvin do to be the continued object of scorn -- especialy among Cowboys fans? Call me old-fashion, traditionalist, naive...whatever...I prefer my Cowboys to have a sense of class, character and honor, like Tom Landry himself, even if it costs a ring or two. On and off the field, players represent the team, and morally offensive behavior corrupts the soul of that team. I felt the same way when Lance Rentzel thought it was good idea to show his willy to a little girl in Highland Park. I don't expect players to be perfect but I hope they will at least be decent human beings. I do watch football with an eye on the type of man before me, not just who he is once the uniform is on.

posted by Texan_lost_in_NY at 12:47 PM on July 22, 2005

Irvin was pretty good in "The Longest Yard" remake, for an athlete in an acting role. I just wanted to mention that. I'm partial to the Bills Holy Trinity because that was the team I supported during my NFL heydays (in university). It killed me that they never won a Super Bowl, but after they disappeared, my desire to watch the NFL kind of waned. (I should point out, however, that my Bills jersey has "Tasker" on the back. It was my attempt to be a Bills fan and be cool at the same time.)

posted by grum@work at 12:53 PM on July 22, 2005

Sorry, Texan, but the Cowboys I think of first are the Deions and Leon Letts and Hollywood Hendersons, not the Emmitt Smiths and Tom Landrys. It's a natural prejudice, which I leave where it is because hey, it's fun to hate 'em. So Irvin is, for me, just a talented punk who took one too many shots to the head and whose nose led him to religion. Plus he's a shite broadcaster. I grew up a Bills fan as well, though, so I am quite cleanly and naturally prejudiced. Good to see the Super Bowl Bills getting some love here, especially over Elway/Sharpe/(halfback X). What about Dan Fouts/Chuck Muncie/James Lofton (or Charley Joiner or Kellen Winslow Sr.)?

posted by chicobangs at 01:12 PM on July 22, 2005

I think you are forgetting about Dave Kraig, Steve Largent and Chris Warren. How bout' them Hawks!!!

posted by BubbaG at 01:21 PM on July 22, 2005

Sorry, Texan, but the Cowboys I think of first are the Deions and Leon Letts and Hollywood Hendersons, not the Emmitt Smiths and Tom Landrys. My point exactly.

posted by Texan_lost_in_NY at 01:27 PM on July 22, 2005

I know I'm a lttle older but the trio of Unitas,Moore and Ameche wereretty good

posted by jaydoris at 01:40 PM on July 22, 2005

I know I'm a lttle older but the trio of Unitas,Moore and Ameche wereretty good

posted by jaydoris at 01:41 PM on July 22, 2005

I'm biased and I'll pay for it but I have a soft spot on my head for Elway, Sharpe, and Smith. Now thats just "My" trio and I'm sure there are good arguements for others. John Elway could make anyone look good though.

posted by Sportsfan800 at 01:41 PM on July 22, 2005

Jaydoris, going back to the same era what about the Packers, Starr, Paul Hornung and Max McGee?

posted by billsaysthis at 03:25 PM on July 22, 2005

I don't want to impugn the reputation of Tom Landry, or even say it was his fault, who I do think was one of the NFL's nicest and best coaches. And I also understand that the league was a lot dirtier then, but...wasn't North Dallas Forty written during the Landry era? It's not like sleaze was introduced to Dallas from Jimmy Johnson. As for the question above, I think Dallas had the best trio. Aikman is top 10, and Emmit is probably number 2 at his position all time (behind Jim Brown). Irvin was a great receiver, but also was a troublesome guy for a long time.

posted by Bonkers at 06:04 PM on July 22, 2005

Emmit is probably number 2 at his position all time (behind Jim Brown). Walter Payton says hi!

posted by grum@work at 08:03 PM on July 22, 2005

Walter Payton says hi! So does Barry Sanders.

posted by tieguy at 08:27 PM on July 22, 2005

wasn't North Dallas Forty written during the Landry era? Yes it was, and though I believe much of the book was based on fact, it was a fiction piece. I don't think Coach Landry turned his head to the things his players did off the field, I just don't think he was aware. Sportswriters in those days focused on the sport and not so much the personal lives of the players. They were aware but chose to include a protectionist aspect in their craft (much like the local cops of that era). I don't know this for fact but I think writers at that time felt if they didn't report the bad stuff, the players and team executives would be more willing to offer exclusives or book deals. I also don't think the Cowboys of the 60's and 70's were doing anything different than the teams in L.A., Miami, NY, K.C. or Boston. Those teams just didn't have a mediocre player with an axe to grind who decided to write a tell-all book (Pete Gent). Not so today. It's all out there for everyone to see and like a car crash on the side of the road, we can't look away. I believe Jimmy Johnson, on the other hand, knew what his players were doing to a large extent, and chose to look the other way. That doesn't mean I think Jimmy Johnson was a bad coach; quite the opposite. But the sheer number of players disgracing the name of the team under Johnson is overwhelming, and Michael Irvin was King of the Punks. In the 60's and 70's I don't ever remember looking at a player's face on TV, shake my head and wish he didn't play for my team, and that includes Henderson, who I believed even then was a very troubled soul. In the 90's, I was ashamed more than once, but they're still my team. Always will be.

posted by Texan_lost_in_NY at 08:48 PM on July 22, 2005

Well there is always a fellow that played QB for The Raiders nicknamed "The Snake" which comes to mind

posted by Sportsfan800 at 09:03 PM on July 22, 2005

Emmitt owns Walter's Record, which gives him the slight edge overall-but it's VERY close. Both were incredible. As for Barry Sanders, an incredible talent, but the thing that always hurts him (at least in my eyes) is playoff performance. Following the dictum that "the greatest players give their best performances in the biggest games", Barry comes up short. I realize that he played on teams that were mediocre at best, but that still counts against him.

posted by Bonkers at 10:21 PM on July 22, 2005

It's insane to devalue Barry relative to Emmitt when he had no QB, no threats at WR and a mediocre offensive line, and Emmitt had a very good QB, one of the great WR, and a very, very good OL.

posted by tieguy at 11:06 PM on July 22, 2005

I always thought the difference between Emmitt and Barry, aside from the obvious divergence in running styles, was consistent output. An Emmitt drive would consist of eight carries for 46 yards, with none longer than seven or shorter than three. Barry might get the same outcome, but it would look like this: -2, 9, 6, -5, 25, 1, 12. It's a hell of a lot more difficult to run an offense when you're getting 2nd-and-12 all the time instead of 2nd-and-six.

posted by wfrazerjr at 08:55 AM on July 23, 2005

There have been great comparisons made here between the 4 four best running backs ever (Jim Brown mentioned earlier in the thread). This is one thread where those chiming in really know their stuff and no, I'm not being sarcastic, this time. My personal ranking of these four, based soley on ability, would look like this: 1. Walter Payton -- He combined heart, toughness, athleticism, speed, vision...and a change of direction second only to number 2.... 2. Barry Sanders -- wfrazerjr described Barry's run sequences very well above, but Barry played behind perhaps the worst line in football (same could be said for Payton in the early years) and for a team with virtually no aerial game. Defenses knew he would get the ball and had no problem putting eight in the box. If I had a choice of which back to watch, it would be Barry. Pure poetry. 3. Emmitt Smith -- I've got the jersey with his name on the back...Emmitt's my man! He just didn't excel at as many distinct skills save one: vision. No one could see the field like Emmitt. Nothing can take away any of those 18,355 yards, and they were damn hard earned, even behind that awesome line. And he was one tough sonofabitch. Anyone who saw his performance on January 2, 1994 against the Giants saw what being a man (in a sporting sense) was all about. With a first degree separated shoulder suffered just before halftime, Emmitt ran...and ran...and ran. He couldn't lift his arm, but he could carry his team on his back, and he did. 168 yards rushing and another 61 receiving. The Cowboys needed the game to win the division and a bye before the playoffs, and in overtime, they did. Emmitt became a true football legend that day. 4. Jim Brown -- Quoting Bob Costas: "5.2 yards per carry, never missed game, won the rushing title every year but one when he was in the league, there was a lot of contenders but if you have to select one, you have to pick Jim as the greatest running back in history." At 6'2" and 230 pounds, Jim Brown was big, mean, fast and tough as hell. Brown only played 9 seasons, averaging 104 yards a game, before Hollywod came calling and he retired from football. So...there's my opinion...

posted by Texan_lost_in_NY at 09:50 AM on July 23, 2005

I don't think you can put anyone in front of Brown.

posted by yerfatma at 10:54 AM on July 23, 2005

If you're looking at the Steelers, you can make just as much of a case for Stallworth over Swann. The Montana point bugged me a bit--he wasn't like Unitas in San Diego or Namath mopping up in L.A. Montana was still a starter leading come-from-behind wins and taking his team to the playoffs in K.C. And if we just take the talent of the 3 guys and remove them from the other 42 guys around them, the current Colts trio may be as good as it gets.

posted by mrbadexample at 11:58 AM on July 23, 2005

I don't think you can really rank anyone in front of Brown. The guy was everything in one big, nasty package, and here's the thing -- 5.2 yards a carry and he won the damned rushing title EVERY YEAR. There may have been more electrifying runners, more elusive runners ... but there never was a better RUNNER, period. As for Sanders, I think people overstate the Lions' line situation. Even when there was a hole availabe, Barry wasn't exactly looking for it -- he was looking for a way to get outside, cut back, whatever it took to break the big one. Here's my follow-up question: who's the most overrated runnng back of all-time?

posted by wfrazerjr at 12:30 PM on July 23, 2005

that's easy. Earl Campbell.

posted by Scottymac at 03:23 PM on July 23, 2005

Well..."gizmo"...that's some tedious research you did there with one major flaw: "he" is a "she". You might bother clicking on someone's name to give yourself a shred of credibility. In the meantime...A little learning goes a long way in not looking like a fucking dumbass.

posted by Texan_lost_in_NY at 03:41 PM on July 23, 2005

that's easy. Earl Campbell. Gimme some of that maui waui you're smoking. I'm long overdue for a good hallucination. Earl Campbell was one of the best running backs ever. Unfortunately, he had a coach who ran him into the ground.

posted by Texan_lost_in_NY at 03:48 PM on July 23, 2005

Paul Horning was very over rated

posted by daddisamm at 06:24 AM on July 24, 2005

I think the hardest thing to figure into the "Best Running Back of All Time" pantheon (pardon the suckup) is what Jim Brown or Barry Sanders could have done if they both hadn't somewhat abruptly left the game. Granted, Barry Sanders never got to make a movie with Charles Bronson, Lee Marvin, Donald Pleasance, and John Cassavetes, but anyway, here's one more for the pile on: 1. Jim Brown: speed, size, finesse, athleticism, and a badass attitude in an era in professional football where it was more about testosterone and toughness than technique...if he had stayed in, who knows how many yards, touchdowns, and demoralized defensive players he would have racked up? 2. Walter Payton: much like Brown, Sweetness could outrun you, juke you, run by you, or just knock the holy livin' crap outta you. And, when you steered him to the sideline, if you didn't watch yourself, he'd cock that straightarm and knock you into next week, just to pick up two more yards. His vertical leap was legendary in goal line and short yardage situations, and he was the only option on his team for years. Just a flat-out warrior. 3. Emmitt Smith: I'm biased towards because I played against him in high school and with him at UF, and even though I've hated the Cowboys as long as I've watched pro football, I'll say this: love him or hate him, he's one of the ultimate competitors the NFL has ever seen. In 1984, Emmitt's high school coach Dwight Thomas invited me and some of his former players to watch the 3A Florida State Championship Game, Pensacola Escambia (Emmmitt's team) vs. St. Petersburg High, and one play exemplifies what Emmitt did in his college and pro career...a routine dive between the guard and tackle, a huge pile of bodies, and Emmitt bounces outside, where a wide receiver and another back are occupying the corner and the safety. Emmitt dives into the crowd and comes out the other side, with the corner in hot pursuit. As the chase starts, Emmitt is about two yards in front of the guy. By the time Emmitt crosses the goal line, he's a good ten yards away from him. Undersized, not the fastest by any stretch, but saw the field better than most who played his position and was, literally, tough as nails. 4. Barry Sanders: just an unreal talent, always reminded me of one of those guys you saw on "That's Incredible!" who could fold themselves into a 3 X 3 box. He slaved for so long, on such bad teams, and was one of few men at his position who could actually will his team to win, not just once or twice a season, but in most of the games the Lions won during his career. Of the backs most people mention in their top five lists, they remember Barry Sanders the most, because he made the unbelievable believable week after week; damn near every game you watched involving him, he did some kind of crazy-ass Fran Tarkenton-across-the-field cutback thing that sprained ankles all over the field, and whether you were rooting for the Lions or not, all you could do was shake your head and say, "Damn, Barry!" 5. Eric Dickerson: A prima donna attitude didn't help his stature among his contemporaries, but Eric's biggest problem was that he made it look too easy, both when he broke through, and when he went down. He combatted a reputation as being soft and lazy for many years, but nobody racks up 2,105 rushing yards in a single season in the NFL by being a slacker or a pansy. His first step was underrated, and usually led to a burst that would carry him at least five yards. When the play was sealed off, he would rather go down than give the second or third effort, but in the same drive, he'd smoke you for a twenty yard gain that happened so fast you forgot it happened. A pure tailback. As was said before...there's my opinion.

posted by The_Black_Hand at 11:20 PM on July 24, 2005

O.J. Simpson. Johnnie Cochran. F. Lee Bailey. What a great team.

posted by the red terror at 04:29 PM on July 25, 2005

to wfrazerjr Most overrated? Depends-most overrated coming out of college? You'd have to at least put Ron Dayne in the list. Or overrated pro career? I'd like to nominate our favorite holistic healer, Ricky Williams. Especially for all the hype coming out of college, and how New Orleans acquired him at the cost of its whole draft (and the Eagles fans who booed poor Donovan McNabb when the Eagles took him instead of Williams-wonder where any of them are?), only to begone a few years later. Yeah, he cranked out a ton of yards, and had a huge amount of carries, but never really got anything for it. He certainly would be at the top of league's biggest enigmas.

posted by Bonkers at 09:17 PM on July 25, 2005

mrbadexample said: "And if we just take the talent of the 3 guys and remove them from the other 42 guys around them, the current Colts trio may be as good as it gets." i can't agree with this more. manning, by the time his career is done, will be one of, if not THE best QB to play the game (of course, he'll have to win some super bowls to convince certain people). marvin harrison is arguably the best reciever in the game. not only because of his amazing talent, but because he's not a trouble maker, like other recievers of the same caliber (T.O./Moss). Edge USED to be amazing. he's kind of dropped off, but still can be a faulk-esque rushing/recieving threat that can and will rack up over 1000 yards with ease. in my opinion, this trio IS as good as it gets, no doubt. and, speaking of faulk, i think this guy gets snubbed in these top rb discussions wayyy too often. a rb that can catch is just a tremendous threat. and a rb that could run and catch as well as faulk, well, i know i'd put him in AT LEAST the top 15 of all time. faulk in his prime was absolutely unstoppable.

posted by destroyer at 03:58 AM on August 28, 2005

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