By Ernie Palladino
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It must be a sign of these uncivilized times that one person would publicly and purposely underrate a contemporary’s accomplishments to bulk up his own reputation.READ MORE: New York Weather: CBS2’s 1/19 Wednesday Morning Forecast
Former Cardinals and Bucs pass rusher Simeon Rice provided the latest example last week when he degraded Michael Strahan’s Hall of Fame credentials in a video posted last week on SB Nation.
Rice, whose career overlapped Strahan’s, is not in the Hall of Fame. Not yet, anyway. Strahan went in last August, a year after Warren Sapp began this great tradition of Strahan-bashing while gaining election himself.
What Sapp’s and Rice’s careers had to do with Strahan’s is anybody’s guess. Even the most casual observer of life admits that no one holds a monopoly on greatness. It comes in all shapes and forms, and is not necessarily bounded by statistics.
It is an obvious injustice that Rice’s 122 sacks over his 12-year career and eight double-digit seasons were not deemed worthy enough to place him on the initial 126-person candidates list, much less the paring to the final 15 the voting committee considers on Super Bowl Saturday.
Also, one would be crazy to think Rice doesn’t have the right to lobby for himself. He most certainly does. He should advocate for himself, for he was clearly one of the most feared and effective pass rushers of the era. Rice would be selling himself short if he didn’t press his case.
But his criticism of Strahan falls way out of bounds. It, like Sapp’s periodic shots that paint Strahan as a “media darling,” come straight from the modern playbook that deems all voters as ignorant if they don’t agree with your stance. It’s the same philosophy that causes a Democrat to demean a Republican’s education — and vice versa — on Election Day.
It simply isn’t right.
For one thing, not everyone with big sack numbers gets a bust in Canton. Kevin Greene, third all-time behind inductees Bruce Smith (200) and Reggie White (198) with 160 sacks, doesn’t have a bust in Canton. Rice also finished with 19 ½ fewer sacks than Strahan’s 141 1/2 in a career that was three years shorter than the Giants’ franchise record-holder.
Rice also wasn’t so hot against the run. He spent his career primarily rushing from the weak side, using lightning speed to elude left tackles. He was great at that, and fun to watch. Strahan, meanwhile, played both the run and the pass, from the left side where he had to fight through the right tackle-tight end double-team.
Strahan rarely had the luxury of facing one-on-one blocking. He still made nearly 400 more tackles than Rice.READ MORE: Islanders Win In Shootout, Hand Flyers 9th Straight Loss
All that said, Rice at least should be considered because what he did achieve, he achieved greatly.
But he should stick to his own case. Instead, he chose to go after a different type of player from a different team and a different system with different responsibilities.
Worst of all, he used Strahan’s somewhat smudged NFL single-season sack record as a basis.
“I didn’t have nobody falling down to help me get sacks,” Rice proclaimed, alluding to Strahan’s record-breaker in the final game of 2001 when Green Bay’s Brett Favre took a dive as Strahan lined him up for No. 22 ½. “I didn’t have that. I had to earn everything I got.“
Rice conveniently failed to mention the other 21 ½ Strahan actually earned that season.
Rice is a bitter man. He has a right to be. He was a good player, a great pass rusher.
Yet, he demeans his own accomplishments by taking Sapp’s mean-spirited anti-Strahan diatribes a step further.
It lacks class.
“There’s no Hall of Fame without me in it,” Rice said in the video. “I dominated when I played. There was nobody better at my position. Nobody.”
Actually, Simeon, there was.MORE NEWS: Towns' Three-Point Play Helps Wolves Edge Knicks
His name is Michael Strahan.