Future Hall of Fame cornerback Deion Sanders has always had a mercurial personality, though the people who have played with him over the years will tell you that "Prime Time" is actually a lot more humble and hardworking than people may think. As Sanders will tell you, there's Deion and there's "Prime Time"; we know which one showed up on Thursday's "Total Access" show on the NFL Network to air a grievance about his place on NFL Films' "Top 100 Players of All Time" series. Prime was No. 34 overall, which you'd think would be pretty reasonable, but he begged to differ:
Hilarious to be sure, but I'll side with Prime to a degree. If he was the best cover corner in the history of the game at his peak for a sustained period of time (and I don't think anyone who saw him would even debate that), and there are 22 players on the field at any given time, why wouldn't the best at one position be higher?
The problem is that this is a Top 100 overall -- the best, the most important, the guys who had the biggest impact in the sport. And I'm not sure how much Deion really changed the game because his skill set was virtually unrepeatable. It's all well and good to say, "I want to shut receivers down just like my hero, Deion Sanders," but unless your name is Darrelle Revis(notes) (who's done it for just the one season so far -- that's how hard it is to play at that level at that position), it just ain't happening. Prime may be unhappy that the list is weighted to the offensive side of the ball, but that's the way it goes. And the guys directly ahead of him -- Sid Luckman at 33, Jim Parker at 32 and Bruce Smith at 31 -- all have great arguments for their placements.
You know who I'd like to hear from on this list? Chuck Bednarik. The former Philadelphia Eagles linebacker/center was the last legitimate 60-minute player in the NFL, and he's never had complimentary things to say about other players who toyed with both sides of the game (Prime played some wide receiver as well, most notably whenever Michael Irvin was busy being suspended for his ancillary activities).
Bednarik has been an outspoken, even bitter critic of today's NFL players for playing on only one side of the ball, calling them "pussyfoots," noting that they "suck air after five plays" and that they "couldn't tackle my wife Emma." He even criticized Troy Brown(notes) of the New England Patriots and Deion Sanders of the Dallas Cowboys, two players who also have played both offense and defense, because their positions as a wide receiver and cornerback didn't require as much contact as the center and linebacker positions that Bednarik played.
Too bad for Concrete Charlie. Because on that Top 100 list, Bednarik was No. 35 -- one behind Mr. Sanders. Now, there's another guy who may have something to say about this whole process.