The other day, I stumbled upon a rather interesting argument on the Colin Cowherd Show, The Herd. The topic at hand was Colin distinguishing the difference between saying someone is the most talented player versus the best player in a given sport. He used the Rodgers-Brady comparison to make his point. In Colin’s opinion, Aaron Rodgers is the most talented quarterback in the NFL. He has the ability to extend plays, bounce around the pocket like some ballet dancer; simultaneously, contorting his body with a defensive end straddled to his waist, all the while, perfectly placing the ball 40 yards down the field in the only spot where his receiver could catch it. On the flipside, the less gifted Tom Brady could never make that throw. Colin argues Brady edges over Rodgers because of he is superior in game preparation, better at being laser focused, and consistently executes each play with greater poise and accuracy. In other words, though Rodgers is more talented physically at the position, Brady is a superior quarterback.
Now, at first glance, I found it hard to agree with Colin’s stance. It just didn’t make any damn sense. The many cases, the most talented player is the best player. After all, Lebron James (who IS the best player in the NBA) is a physical specimen. Even Kevin Durant (who can be argued as the 2nd best, with Curry and Westbrook chomping at the bit) is a mutant phenom, with his 6’11” frame and the agility of a two guard. For years, Alex Rodriguez had a physical stature of a Greek God (thank you steroids :P), and he WAS the best player in the MLB. And even Mike Trout, who has taken on the MLB best player mantle is a freakin’ beast. In the NFL, it was Calvin Johnson, or Megatron. I mean, with a nickname like Megatron I don’t even have to explain. On the defensive side, there is J.J. Watt the Milk Man, who is hands down the best pass rusher in the league. All these players shake this idea that talent and the G.O.A.T. are not one in the same.
However, let’s take a deeper look at supremely talented players who aren’t considered the best. There are your Vince Carters, Michael Vicks, Randall Cunninghams, Greg Odems, Chris Johnsons, Rudy Gays, Vernon Davises, and Hershel Walkers. They were/are all freaks of nature, but for some reason or another they didn’t pan out to being the best of the best. They may have had periods of success, but they were never labeled as GOAT.
Then there are the not so athletically gifted players who rose to the top such as Tom Brady, Babe Ruth, Steven Curry, Steve Nash, Jerry Rice, Mr. Fundamentals himself Tim Duncan, and even Michael Jordan. Though an argument can be made that MJ was one of most physically gifted players in the NBA with his grandiose leaping ability, forever hang time, and ridiculous hand size.
Here’s what I think… There’s an argument for both, but generally speaking, when you combine extreme talent with an insane work ethic those individuals will usually rise to the top and dominate. On rare occasions, sometimes great talent doesn’t exceed great immeasurables. With that being said, I can’t wait to see the next Kurt Warner, Doug Flutie, Larry Bird, and Warren Moon (yup, Moon wasn’t even considered for the draft, racism anybody?) rise to the top. I know you guys are out there.