August 10, 2022

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His name will be forever linked to the NFL

6 min read
His name will be forever linked to the NFL

Welcome to the fifth annual Outsider Inbox and thank you to everyone who has participated so far. We received hundreds of submissions over the past few days and did our best to include as many entries as we possibly (and reasonably) could. With that said, let’s get this thing started…

1. Who is on your NFL Mt. Rushmore?

Derek from Eau Claire, WI

Pete Rozelle for having the vision of league and growing the NFL into America’s pastime, Vince Lombardi for being the most iconic person of the league’s most iconic franchise, Lawrence Taylor because the dude’s a beast and as much as it pains me to pen this…Tom…nah, I can’t do it.

Vince from Sioux Falls, SD

Mt. Rushmore: 1) Brett Favre 2) Aaron Rodgers 3) Donald Driver 4) Reggie White 5) Clay Matthews. (Editor’s note: Um, Vince from South Dakota? Are you sure about five?)

Although Mt. Rushmore wasn’t created until the 1900s, it contains the faces of three founders of our nation and one who came along 130 years later. My Mt. Rushmore also includes founders of the game we love. Some would argue for modern-day players with huge stats, but those players and their salaries wouldn’t exist if it weren’t for those who forged the game we love: Jim Thorpe, George Halas, Bronco Nagurski and Don Hutson. Tough men and Hall of Famers all.

Too many ways to look at this, so I provided a few categorized lists: Legends/founders: Curly Lambeau, George Halas, Lamar Hunt, Al Davis. Early players: Don Hutson, Jim Brown, Johnny Unitas, Bronco Nagurski. Coaches: Lombardi, Don Shula, Bill Belichick, Bill Walsh. QBs: Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, John Elway. Non-QBs: Jerry Rice, Barry Sanders, Walter Peyton, Earl Campbell. Overall, I’ll take the Packers from the list: Lambeau, Lombardi, Hutson, Rodgers.

My NFL Mount Rushmore has to start with George Halas as an original founding father, he served as player, coach, and owner. Don Hutson was a superstar receiver whose TD record stood for almost 50 years. Pete Rozelle led the league to become the juggernaut it is today. Reggie White was the man who made it cool to be a Green Bay Packer again!

My Mount Rushmore is Vince Lombardi because duh! Pete Rozelle because his vision led to league parity which begat league popularity. George Halas because his help might very well have saved the Packers. Curly Lambeau because he built the foundation of the legend. I may have a little bias built into my picks.

Bart Starr for his unwavering leadership. Dick Butkus for epitomizing rock-solid toughness. Gronk for his fun-loving domination of a position. Walter Payton for his other-worldly athleticism. George Halas for helping save the rival Packers.

Given that Mt. Rushmore celebrates no living figures, I would select Curly Lambeau, George Halas, Walter Payton, and Johnny Unitas.

For fun, the four players I will put on my Mt. Rushmore are Walter Payton, Barry Sanders, Adrian Peterson, and Jim Taylor. I know it’s unconventional, but keep in mind that it is Mt. RUSHmore after all. Plus, it’s more or less a Midwest attraction!

Lombardi, Rozelle, Brady and Don Hutson. A coach, an executive, a guy who just wins and one who changed the game.

My Mt. Rushmore would be George Halas for helping to initially establish the fledgling NFL, Curly Lambeau for being the driving force to nurture the Green Bay franchise through the tough early times and establishing the winning tradition, Pete Rozelle who took the NFL to the national stage and Vince Lombardi for performing CPR on the Packers to bring them to what they are today.

Raymond from Sturgeon Bay, WI

Johnny Unitas made the QB a thinking man’s position rather than one just of the most athletic one on the field. Jim Brown was the most dominant player on the field in the NFL during his career. George Halas created the NFL, kept it going and saw it grow into a major American sport. Vince Lombardi made winning the reason the game is played. By having that trophy named after him, his name will be forever linked to the NFL.

Walter Camp, without his vision, the game of American football would not exist. Jim Thorpe for lending a polarizing name to the game in its early years. George Halas, for without his help and influence, football may not have lasted. Certainly not in Green Bay! And of course, Curly Lambeau for making Green Bay a credible team and promoting the forward pass.

Of course, I’d love to debate players for Mt. Rushmore, but they come and go, and it’s hard to compare generations. But for Mt. Rushmore, you simply must put those “faces” of the NFL who are responsible for where we are today. Those faces are Pete Rozelle (merger, TV contracts, rev sharing, MNF), Paul Brown (film study, taxi squad, father of today’s offense, first to integrate team), Papa Halas (60-plus years as a player, coach and owner) and of course Vince (never had a losing season and the trophy is named after him).

The Player – Jerry Rice. No player has been picked to more All-Pro teams and played so far beyond any other without a hint of controversy.

The Coach – Vince Lombardi. Perhaps it’s homer bias, but he’s on the trophy for a reason.

The Owner – George Halas. Even Packer fans need to recognize he was the driving force in the first four decades of the league.

The Commish – Pete Rozelle. The NFL went from the NCAA senior circuit to the pinnacle of U.S. sports on his watch.

Matt from Kolesin, Poland

I’d sculpt: Aaron Rodgers for talent, Tom Brady for career, Reggie White for being the best minister of defense you could ask for, and Jerry Rice for all the unbelievable numbers. Remember that next to Mt. Rushmore there is even bigger Crazy Horse Memorial. This is the place for Bart Starr, the type of player and person hard to find anywhere in sports especially today.

Gerald from Mendota Heights, MN

Vince Lombardi, for taking the game to a whole new level. Gale Sayers, a candle in the wind. Paul Hornung and Max McGee, those two jokers had way too much fun playing the game. An unidentified Packers fan, we are the best and spread all over the world.

Barry Sanders, Lawrence Taylor, Bo Jackson and Jerry Rice. I felt it was only fair to include players I’ve seen in my lifetime. No Packers? It’s Mt. Rushmore, not Mt. Titletown, and these four players tilted the field so hard you could feel it through the television. Absolute nightmare for opposing coordinators.

In over 100 years of NFL football, it’s almost impossible to select four individuals to place on this mountain. I would suggest two mountains, one for players and one for non-players. My four would be George Halas, Pete Rozelle, Vince Lombardi and Lamar Hunt. We wouldn’t have the game we love without these four men. My four players would be Don Hutson, Walter Payton, Lawrence Taylor and Joe Montana. These men changed the game for the better.

Leaders – Vince Lombardi (because he’s Vince), George Halas (Greatest coach), Pete Rozelle (Greatest leader), John Madden (Greatest spokesperson).

Player – Jim Brown, Ray Lewis, Deion Sanders, Don Hutson.

As Mt. Rushmore has depictions on it of people that shaped the nation, I’m going to pick players that shaped my view of football. Ahman Green, Nate Poole, Brett Favre, Eddie Lacy. Green because he felt so undeniable during his heyday. Poole because he made me believe in miracles. Favre because he showed it was a kid’s game of joy and fun. And Eddie Lacy because my son has a poster of Eddie Lacy over his bed and Eddie protects against any monsters.