Sometimes, the comment thread of an article delivers more compelling writing than the story it proceeded.
This was the case in yesterday's story that asked BTSC readers to vote on the greatest running back of all-time.
As of 1 a.m. ET, Barry Sanders earned 36 percent of the 1,245 votes to win the vote as the best running back ever. Jim Brown was runner-up, earning 27 percent of the vote. Walter Payton earned 23 percent of the votes, while more voters chose "other" for their choice for the best running back over voting for Emmitt Smith, who received the lowest percent of the votes at just five percent.
In large, the comment thread was a debate between the top-two vote netters, Sanders and Brown, which turned into more of a generational debate between the two, with those that said they watched Brown in him prime was all the evidence they needed when asked about who is the greatest running back of all-time.
"Jim Brown, and it isn't close," DropTheHammer wrote. "Not even all that close. Imagine Adrian (Peterson) at the size of John Riggins with no loss of anything. That’s Jim Brown. Babe Ruth is an apt comparison."
"Jim Brown: End of discussion," Roederick65 added. "Saw him play against Pitt and the Steelers. No one else is close."
In support of Sanders, brian1973 pointed to what Sanders was able to do on a team that one just one playoff game in his 10 seasons in Detroit. "They had no one else on that team that was even remotely close to being not even good or average, but probably even below average...Sanders put the team on his back because he had to. What else were they going to do? That’s why he had negative runs, he was forced to try to make something out of nothing constantly."
There were also other names of consideration mentioned in the thread. Gale Sayers name was mentioned, while Los Angeles native pegitom wrote about the elegance and versatility of Eric Dickerson, which gained support from several other commentators. The brilliant, yet short career of Bo Jackson was mentioned, while BamaSteeler1969 made a strong case for O.J. Simpon's case as one of the best backs of all-time, specially pointing to Simpson's 227-yard effort against the Steel Curtain in Week 2 of the 1975 season.
In regards to Jerome Bettis and Franco Harris' place on the all-time list, one commentator said neither would be in their top-10. Baudilio6, however, said Franco would make his top-10 on the strength of his four Super Bowls won as Pittsburgh's featured back, a feat that has still yet to be matched.
Obviously, we'll never truly have a definitive answer to this question, but that doesn't mean the question shouldn't be asked and debated. Discussions like this helps bridge generational gaps, while also strengthening the knowledge of already knowledgeable football fans. Specially, discussing the greatest running backs is a nice escape to remembering a time when the running back position was even more vital to the game, something that might be returning the NFL with the emergence of Le'Veon Bell, Marshawn Lynch and the return of Adrian Peterson.
Speaking of Bell, Pyramid Power perfectly summed up what all Steelers fans hope with this comment on Bell: "Hope to see Le’Veon in this conversation in about a decade or hopefully in about 15 years. Long may he run!"