Namath, Swann among overrated

Travis Kriens

One of the reasons that I like sports is that it is pretty black and white. After the game there is a winner and loser, soccer notwithstanding. But sometimes teams and players get overrated for whatever reason. Maybe because of the media market they are in or people put too much stock in just a single moment that defines the player or team for decades. Here are some of the more noteworthy players and teams that I feel are overrated.

-New York Jets QB Joe Namath (1965-1977) If there were ever a player that had the stars align, it was Broadway Joe. First off he came from Alabama, one of the five greatest college football programs in history. He was then a first round pick to the Jets with the bright lights of New York just across the river. What Namath is best known for is guaranteeing that the Jets would defeat the Baltimore Colts in Super Bowl III when they were 18 point underdogs. The Jets won 16-7 and the rest is history. If you take a closer look at the Hall of Famer, you will see that there is more to the story. He had a 62-63-4 record and threw nearly 50 more interception than touchdowns (173 to 220). Namath only had three winning seasons, made the playoffs twice and played in three playoff games in his career going 2-1. Of the 56 games from 1970-73, Namath started 26 of them as he battled injury.

-UCLA men’s basketball (1967-1973) Led by John Wooden, UCLA won seven straight NCAA championships and 10 in a 12 year span. Impressive no doubt and I may be reaching with this one, but the NCAA tournament was different during this time. Unlike today where you have to win six games to win the NCAA’s, you only had to win four back in the late 60’s early 70’s. Also, the regions were more true than they are today and there were not a ton of powers back in the day in men’s basketball on the west coast. Utah State, Santa Clara, San Francisco (without Bill Russell), Weber State, Long Beach State, New Mexico State and Pacific do not make me nervous.  It is as impressive as any dynasty ever and will never be touched, but is makes you wonder if UCLA would have had the same success if they had to go through the current tournament format.

-Pittsburgh Steelers WR Lynn Swann (1974-1982) A case where you are overrated based on being on championship winning teams. Another player that went to a big time school (USC) and was a first round pick, he was fortunate enough to be a part of four Super Bowl winning Steelers teams and was MVP of Super Bowl X with four catches, 161 yards and a touchdown. Swann is best known for his highlight catches, particularly in the Super Bowl. If you are going to make an impact and make spectacular plays, the biggest game of the year isn’t a bad place to do it at. Here are some numbers compared to another receiver during that era:

Nine seasons, 115 games, 336 catches, 5,462 yards, 51 touchdowns, three-time Pro Bowler.

Eleven seasons, 139 games, 495 catches, 6,831 yards, 44 touchdowns, four-time Pro Bowler.

The first guy is Hall of Famer Lynn Swann. The second guy is Ahmad Rashad, who spent most of his career with the Minnesota Vikings. Swann had more than 50 catches once, while Rashad did it six times. Swann never had more than 880 yards. Rashad had three season more than that include two of more than 1,000. Swann won four Super Bowls while Rashad lost one and the Vikings made the playoffs in five of his seven seasons.

-1982 NFL MVP Washington Redskins kicker Mark Mosley: A kicker won the MVP award in the National Football League in the strike shortened, nine game, 1982 season. Mosley was 20-of-21 on field goals, 16-of-19 on extra points and was second in the league in scoring. The argument for Mosley is that he hit a lot of pressure kicks. In week one, he hit a long FG to force overtime and won the game in overtime. In week six, he scored all of the Redskins points in a five point win. In week seven, he hit three FG’s in a one point win vs. the Giants. Also, he kicked the game winner in the snow to clinch a playoff spot. And somehow he missed three extra points. Plus, he was one of the last kickers to kick straight on. San Diego QB Dan Fouts should have probably won since he led the NFL with 2,883 passing years (320 yards per game) and 17 touchdowns. The Chargers were without a doubt the best offense in the NFL. They led the league with 4,028 yards and 288 points. The next closest in yardage was the Bengals with 3,288.

Who’s overrated now? That will likely take time but that doesn’t stop people from debating where the best truly stand.