90's Nostalgia

A rambling John Madden, the best RB of the 90s, and…..Garth Brooks?

Take yourself back on a time warp to oh let’s say 25 years ago. You just rode your bike to your friend’s house to watch some Sunday afternoon football. You told your mom you’d be back later on, because you’re a boss, and because helicopter parents don’t exist in 1994. Anyway, you turn on your friend’s basement TV and the guttural sounds/soothing tones of John Madden and Pat Summerall waft into the air, and you know you’re in a good place.

Where the magic happens. Just look at that grainy footage!

As you could imagine, (BOOM!) John Madden has gotten the old telestrator out, and “hoo boy huh huh”, he’s drawin’ it up! “If he hits this guy right here…that-that’s gonna be a touchdown”. Meanwhile, Pat Summerall is subtly correcting him, while possibly stealing sips of whiskey on the side Bob Uecker style from Major League, because well, it’s Pat Summerall, and it wouldn’t have surprised anyone. Madden gets whipped up into another frenzy, because Lo and behold, John Madden’s pretend love child “Brett FARRRRVVEEE” has made another zany play come true! Madden can hardly hold himself together (“BOOM! Tough Actin’ Tinactin!”) as the Packers and presumably the Cowboys, (a.k.a. the dream team of every old millennial, that hasn’t done a damn thing this century) continue to battle.

A short segway. I promise

*It should be noted that the Cowboys are in the past worse than I am. And no, my precious Chicago Bears haven’t exactly torn up the 2000’s except for those really good ’05 and ’06 squads that quickly fell apart because former GM Jerry Angelo liked doing really silly ass nonsense in the draft, and you know, not build depth. The ‘Boys hit on a mother lode of draft picks both early late in drafts in the late 80’s and early 90s, thanks in part from the Herschel Walker trade, but also because they simply found the right guys, and it’s a credit to them. Sadly, every 36-year-old dude now, still wears their Cowboys starter jacket every Sunday, because somehow, everything is Tony Romo’s fault, and not bad defenses, or certainly not crappy coaches. Thank you for your time.

Look out Zoolander! Here comes Tony Romo!
Fun Fact: I was the film guy at Eastern Illinois in 2002 and 2003, when it was Romo’s senior year. Pretty chill guy. I said hi to him like 3 times, and told him good luck at the combine after his last game. And here we are!

“We dem Boys!” 😉

Back to the game. Amidst Madden’s guttural lurching prose, (“N-N-Now here’s guy who” _____fill in the blank) a new combatant enters your screen. Squirming out from behind an offensive line of Pro Bowl goliaths, one of which may or may not get busted selling hundreds of pounds of weed after they retire, comes the robust Emmitt Smith. Defenses have so much to worry about with a future Hall of Fame at Wide Receiver that liked hookers and blow more than Lawrence Taylor (if that is humanly possible), and future Hall of Fame QB in the ever efficient Troy Aikman.

One guy likes Bags of Cheetos, and the other guy likes dem ho’s. Look at that! I bet I can be a soundcloud rapper now!

I seriously respect Troy Aikman. I do. (I promise)

*Fun Aikman tangent: I always give him a hard time because he didn’t have lofty numbers, as we all well know can be subjective and at times overrated. The Aikman defenders laud his playoff record (cough, stacked roster, cough), rocket arm, Oklahoma bred toughness, and nowadays sassy commentating.. Look I’m not on board the whole “QB’s winning playoff games and all the sudden they’re on Mt. Rushmore.” there are plenty of examples of guys who rode hot defenses or running games like rookie year Ben Roethlisberger, Jake Dlehomme, Trent Dilfer to name a few, BUT a bad quarterback can sure as shit lose you a big playoff game Troy was excellent when it mattered. They never asked him to do more, but you certainly knew he could. I will leave him be.

Is anyone here named Billy, because here are some G.O.A.T.S.

I’ve only mentioned Emmitt once so far, but as you could obviously tell, this whole thing is about him. If you have ever seen Emmitt on his brief appearances on ESPN in the late 2000’s when he had trouble pronouncing words. it was most likely because he had five too many shots to the head. That didn’t matter because he was a tremendous running back. There’s a reason he is the dictionary definition for balance and vision in a back. You couldn’t knock the damn guy over because he had great leverage and lean, could break tackles, and had a lot more scoot than given credit for. As much as I remember Emmitt, there was another contemporary of his, a verified Randy Moss/Darrell Green/Julius Peppers freak of nature, that absolutely tormented my sad Chicago Bears for the entire 1990s.

Barry Sanders.

*cue the ESPN 30 for 30 intro: “What if I told you… guy was secretly better than the other in an alternate universe I totally made up.”

If mix tapes existed 25 years ago, Barry Sanders would have a monopoly on them all. We wouldn’t need the guy from the pre YouTube era And1 Mixtape tour yelling out “Oh, BABY!”, every time Barry snapped some dudes ankles in half. Emmitt was the better technician and all around back, Barry obviously the monstrously better athlete. If one were to make a Doc Brown Delorian, (steal some plutonium, from who else of course: The Libyans), put that sucker up to 88 miles per hour, and go back in time to magically bypass Troy Aikman in the 1989 draft, all things being the same, Barry would have nearly 25,000 goddamn career yards behind that pulverizing road grater O-line. (Seinfeld voice: “I mean, have you seen Larry Allen exist? I mean, have you seen him!?”) I’m saying he would have easily averaged over 2,000 yards a year. Which, is figuratively incredible. Meanwhile in the real world, Sanders had to run for his life, and still averaged over 1,500 a season as the only threat(not including Herman Moore at WR, who was a dude in his own right for a few years) for the middling Detroit Lions, led by coaching luminary Wayne Fontes. Because when I turn on my TV at 11:30 Thanksgiving morning, I expect to see a giant Turducken presented by John Madden, and Wayne Fontes.

Clearly, the best trilogy of all time.

The part where Cowboy fans close out of the tab

Emmitt holds the career rushing record and for some people that’s enough, but I’m a big guy on quality over a duration of time, for any sport really. Now the number to beat for him was the 16,726 yards that Walter Payton garnered on some dog shit late 1970’s Bears teams. By the time the Bears hit their glory years of the mid 80s he was was more of a decoy. Emmitt has him eclisped by 2,000 more yards, thanks to those “glorious” Cardinals days, and no one can argue that. Those yards, however were acquired over 15 years. Barry finished with 15,269 in ten years, as he abruptly retired at 31. (It was probably so he could stay functional and mentally and physically, so he wouldn’t mispronounce simple words on ESPN in retirement.) If Barry totally neglects his “chicken and his mentals” as Beast Mode succinctly puts it, and plays two more years, he’s got the record. I mean, here me out. Hypothetically, if Emmitt is on sayyyy the 1990’s Bengals, who were atrocious by the way, that cat does not eclipse 10,000 career yards. So again, and the chicken or egg topics I love are basically: Who made who? Did the player make the team better, or vice versa. No one is taking anything away from Emmitt, but it’s a fun debate to have.

Shades of Patrick Ewing on the Sonics, Hakeem Olajuwon on the Raptors, and Brett Favre on the Jets, or even Ken Griffey Jr. on the White Sox.

Why did I really make this?

The main reason I bring this one sided subjective debate up, isn’t because Barry and lets not forget Cris Carter, were the two guys who tormented the Bears twice a year ripped out my coming of age soul during the 1990’s and I respect the hell out them for it. (Carter is also the best boundary receiver still walking the earth, so we need to GTFOH with this “Odell” one handed nonsense.)

The biggest reason is because apparently according to the Internets, Garth Brooks wore a Barry Sanders jersey at a concert in Detroit recently (you know, the city where the DETROIT LIONS play), and he got thrown through the ringer on the social media because people thought it was a Bernie Sanders jersey? I’m sorry, but what in the actual hell? Somehow, the city of Detroit forgot their only sports icon not named Gordie Howe or Isiah Thomas, who only played their 20 years ago. Maybe it was Garth’s fault, because it the jersey wasn’t the standard bright baby blue, it was like a weird alternate gray one? Like this:

Had me fooled. I was looking for Chris Gaines.

The poignant question should be: How can people be this incredibly short sighted, ignorant, and easily triggered, regardless of political affiliation? If you think it’s the mind numbing amount of info through your scroll feed that has us desensitized to logic and critical thinking, then you’re right! I’m well aware of the hypocrisy of using the internet to peddle my pop cultural/sports wares, in order to criticize “the internet”, but Jesus H. Christ. If this is the rest of the 2020’s, I’ll just hide out and make more of these. Thanks for reading.

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