Watching Russell Wilson almost single-handedly carry the Seattle Seahawks over the Green Bay Packers -- but fail -- at Lambeau Field Sunday brought to mind all that talk about the greatness of players in all sports, not just football.
Wilson is terrific. But he needs help.
So many people today want to simplify their evaluations by making their case built on the number of championships a player has won. And that's just wrong.
Wilson is a very, very good quarterback -- one of the best in the NFL. But watching him try to win a game behind a porous offensive line, with no running backs and an inconsistent defense shows how difficult it is for a quarterback to win without help. I saw the same thing with John Elway in Denver. He was an incredible athlete with a big arm -- but until he got a full team and quality coach, he didn't win a ring.
I apply the same argument to basketball players, even though there are fewer players in the game and the value of each player is thus magnified. Still, it takes more than one player to win championships,
But a whole lot of NBA "experts" want to base their greatest-player arguments on the number of rings a player has won. They seem unaware of how long it took Michael Jordan to win a title before the right pieces were around him. It's so circumstantial in the NBA, because of where certain players land on their first team. The draft very often sends the best college players to the worst pro teams, where they can often languish for years with a franchise that not only has no talent, but doesn't really know how to acquire it.
And oh yes, when people talk about "winning rings" they usually have a limited knowledge of history. They usually skip over Bill Russell's 11 championships in 13 seasons with the Boston Celtics. It doesn't fit the "Jordan vs. LeBron" narrative, you see. And they don't mention Robert Horry's seven rings because, really, who is ever going to menton him as one of the greats? Some of the knuckleheads who believe rings are a measure of a player's greatness even want Horry in the Hall of Fame -- which is pure nonsense.
There are all kinds of metrics to judge players and I think they probably all have some merit. But I have watched everyone's idea of the "greatest quarterback of all time," Tom Brady, for years now and still haven't been able to convince myself that he's better at the position than Elway. Great players help, but they don't do it by themselves. Elway was more athletic, had a better arm and was ahead of his time as a runner. But he'll never get his due because his early teams were good enough -- thanks to him -- to win a lot of games but not go all the way.
Championships are the goal for every team and every individual player. But they are a measure of a team, not an individual.