NFL Films Best Ever Runners (1981 & 1985)

NFL Films Best Ever Runners (1981 & 1985)

Postby Bryan » Thu Dec 01, 2022 11:28 am

The 1981 NFL Films edition of Best Ever QBs and Best Ever RBs are among my favorite they ever produced, but its interesting to me how they/Steve Sabol decided to allocate 'screen time' to the players. For instance, in the Best Ever QBs there is a somewhat lengthy segment on Archie Manning, while Otto Graham just gets a cursory mention. I think the Best Ever RBs does a pretty good job of highlighting the 'correct' RBs (or, at least the RBs that they had footage of), but there is no mention of Tony Dorsett in either the 1981 or 1985 release. I find that odd, especially in 1985 where Dorsett pretty much consistently ran for 1000 yards every season of his career at that point. Do you feel that Dorsett is one of the elite RBs of all-time? Also, does anyone have a copy of the 1981 Best Ever Runners? I tried ordering one from NFL Films awhile back, and went to great lengths to ensure that I would be receiving the 1981 edition...but they took my $50 and still sent me the 1985 edition (which I already had).
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Re: NFL Films Best Ever Runners (1981 & 1985)

Postby Brian wolf » Thu Dec 01, 2022 11:53 am

Being a Cowboys fan back then, I always felt that Dorsett was a spectacular runner when he felt like it but I always thought he was overrated as well. Despite being a great weapon that could run and catch, he also was light-footed and got tackled too easily and his fumbling --at the worst times--could drive fans CRAZY ... He had a great career but I didnt feel he was clutch anymore in the postseason after the 1978/79 SB. His acceleration was legendary but I would put a number of backs ahead of him ...
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Re: NFL Films Best Ever Runners (1981 & 1985)

Postby JuggernautJ » Thu Dec 01, 2022 3:17 pm

Bryan wrote:....Do you feel that Dorsett is one of the elite RBs of all-time?

There are 24 players in the Hall of Fame labelled "QB/RB" (so, single wing runners and those before 1959, for some reason). This includes people as diverse in skill sets as Sid Luckman and Steve Van Buren... I am not sure how the HoF came up with that category...

Then there are 32 HB/FBs... the more modern runners... and included on that list is Tony Dorsett...

So, implied by those listings, one would think that the Hall of Fame places Dorsett in the top 32 backs since (approx.) 1960 and in the top 56 backs of all time. That sounds about right to me.

As with the 1972 Dolphins thread I would say I don't try to rank players across eras but I do put them in tiers.
I don't think Dorsett belongs in the top tier of runners... he was no Jim Brown or Steve Van Buren... I'm not even sure he would be in the second tier... but I would think he is firmly entrenched in (at least) the third tier...
I guess it depends on how you rank tiers and how generous one is feeling at the time one is ranking them. ... rsTo00.htm
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Re: NFL Films Best Ever Runners (1981 & 1985)

Postby Jay Z » Thu Dec 01, 2022 4:12 pm

Dorsett had 8 1000 yard seasons and would have had 9 in a row if not for the 1982 strike.

However, he was never in the league with Walter Payton. His 1979-1980 seasons were sort of meh in context. He was viewed as a thoroughbred who could break big beautiful runs but couldn't put the team on his back, or Tom Landry wouldn't let him put the team on his back. Dorsett's 16 carries for 96 yards in the SB XIII loss being the chief example of Landry's idiosyncratic approach.

Ironically, Dorsett set a career high of 32 carries in his final season with the Broncos. Broncos had a 24-0 halftime lead but lost 30-27 to the Raiders at home.
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Re: NFL Films Best Ever Runners (1981 & 1985)

Postby Brian wolf » Thu Dec 01, 2022 4:33 pm

Chris Johnson of the Titans reminded me of Dorsett ... Exciting with speed but not the type to wear down a defense at the ends of games and disappointed after having later injuries that slowed his momentum.
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Re: NFL Films Best Ever Runners (1981 & 1985)

Postby RRMarshall » Thu Dec 01, 2022 6:31 pm

I, too, had reservations about Dorsett until I had the good fortune of seeing him play in person. It was the 1981 annual preseason meeting of the Cowboys and Rams. The game was nationally televised from Anaheim Stadium. Early in the game Dorsett ran a sweep to the left side. The Rams strung it out and Dorsett kept running left, left parallel to the line of scrimmage and just when it appeared he had no where to go he accelerated with his first step and snuck through the smallest crease in the defense, turning a 5-yard loss into a 3-yard game. That he could reach that top gear with his first step on a grass surface no less has stuck with me all these years later. Was he as physical as Payton? No. He was more akin to a Gale Sayers, but he certainly deserves his HOF status.
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