For the second consecutive week, the unveiling of players on the NFL’s all-time team has led to criticism about leaving more recent players out.
Last week it was the lack of 21st Century running backs. This week, when linebackers and defensive linemen were unveiled, one of the players who made the list is unhappy about a player who didn’t make it.
Former Buccaneers linebacker Derrick Brooks, who was selected to the all-time team, said he was in no mood to celebrate after seeing former defensive tackle Warren Sapp left off.
“I was shocked, to be honest with you, that my teammate Warren Sapp wasn’t on this list. You talk about somebody that I watched dominate a game,” Brooks said. “I’ve literally watched him take over games. He set the standard for the three-technique during the mid-90s to early 2000s. I was extremely shocked.”
Brooks said he would gladly take only a half-mention on the list if it could make room for he and Sapp to be co-members of the all-time team.
“I wish I could carve up a little half of me to help him be on this team,” Brooks said. “I was extremely shocked to see him not on this list.”
The early returns on the list do suggest that the most recent era of players may have been given short shrift by the selection committee. No active players have been announced among the four position groups named so far (running backs, linebackers, defensive ends and defensive tackles), and only one player who played at all in this decade (Ray Lewis, who played from 1996 to 2012) has been named.
At Sapp’s defensive tackle position, six of the seven players selected played in the 1970s. Perhaps Sapp was overlooked in favor of those earlier players because many of the selectors of the all-time team got involved in pro football around the time of the 1970 AFL-NFL merger and consider that the greatest era of pro football history. It’s impossible to eliminate human bias when selecting a fundamentally subjective list like this, and in the minds of the voters, more recent players may have a hard time living up to the memories of great players from years past.