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A little dishing on sports

NFL All-Stockholm Syndrome Team

I’ve given a lot of thought to my All-Stockholm Syndrome Team.  For those who missed my earlier post on the topic, a fan experiences the Stockholm Syndrome when s/he becomes so enthralled with the demonstrated greatness of a previously hated player that said fan is compelled to change allegiances and actually root for that player.  I wrote about Stockholm Syndrome in reference to Peyton Manning, so I won’t revisit him here, but I do want to acknowledge several other football players who have had that impact on me.

A couple of housekeeping points.  First, I was not able to do a position by position breakdown for my NFL All-Stockholm Syndrome Team.  I mean, Anthony Munoz was good, but let’s face it, no offensive lineman, or fullback or punter so dominates an NFL game that they can be said to singularly capture the imagination of most NFL fans.  At least, I don’t think that’s possible.  Moreover, ASS (hey, I didn’t intentionally create this acronym) status is the ultimate sports achievement.  It happens way too rarely for an entire team of players to be formed in any team sport.

Second, “most hated franchises” are not eligible for ASS.  There will be no Dallas Cowboys on this team and though Randall Cunningham gained some consideration, no Eagles either.  I’m sorry, butt, I mean, but, it’s my team, and Michael Irvin can kiss my ASS.  That goes for New York Yankees and Boston Celtics as well.  I’m sure Derek Jeter and Larry Bird have gotten enough ASS from others.

So without further ado, the captain of my NFL All-Stockholm Syndrome Team:

QB – Joe Montana, San Francisco 49ers

Ok, you have to promise to keep this a secret.  I used to like the Dallas Cowboys.  It wasn’t my fault.  They were on television every freakin’ weekend and Roger Staubach and Tony Dorsett were great players.  Also, the Giants and Jets sucked through the 70’s.  So while I still rooted for the home teams above all – I didn’t go sour on the Jets until they fired Walt Michaels – Dallas was my favorite of the teams that actually had a chance to win.

I wasn’t happy, but I can’t say I was terribly surprised that Montana’s squad ousted my Giants from the playoffs that year, but the game I really remember is the 1981 NFC Championship Game.  I was certain that these clowns in the red and gold uniforms had no chance against the mighty Cowboys, so count me among the disappointed when the skinny dude from Notre Dame (thanks for asking: yes, I do hate Notre Dame) hit Dwight Clark in the back of the end zone to propel the Niners to their first Super Bowl appearance.  What kind of obnoxious jerk was this Montana guy anyway, knocking off the team for which I was rooting in back-to-back weeks?  It was bad enough he went to Notre Dame.  I dutifully rooted for the Niners in the Super Bowl as a good NFC fan, but quickly resumed my hatred of Montana the following season.

I remember enthusiastically rooting against the guy in the 1983 playoffs and was thrilled that the Redskins had their foot on his throat, taking a 21-0 lead in the NFC playoffs before Montana started hitting receivers all over the field to tie the game, before the Niners lost on a late field goal.  That was the day I realized he was special.

By the next year, when he went upside the Giants’ heads one more time en route to his second Super Bowl, I was becoming a convert.  (The irony is that after I became a Montana fan, the Giants started to do pretty well against him and continued menacing him for the rest of his career.)  The way he picked apart the Dolphins defense in a shockingly one-sided Super Bowl completed it for me.  Wow, this guy was amazing!

Here’s the thing about Montana that some people forget.  His early offenses weren’t as good as you might think.  Remember, the 49ers were a 2-14 team his rookie year and mediocre in his second year.  In his third year, Montana was the offense.  Quick, name the 49ers leading rusher in 1981.  If you knew it was Ricky Patton with 543 yards, give yourself a gold star.  The second leading rusher on the team, Earl Cooper, was so prolific, they turned him into a tight end the next year.  So for all you people barking about Elway and Marino and how they had no running game, let’s see how many points either of those guys would have put up with Ricky Patton getting 3.6 yards per carry in their backfields.

In this era, when 4000+ yard passing seasons are routine, it seems silly to discuss Montana in terms of his stats.  What I will say, though, is when I was rooting against him, there was no player I less wanted to see at QB than him and when I was rooting for him, particularly on that defining drive against the Bengals in Super Bowl XXIII, there’s no one I more wanted at the helm of a team.  I was on the field the week of Super Bowl XXIV in New Orleans, taking advantage of a once in a lifetime opportunity to work the game as temporary security while I was in college.  I will never forget the feeling of despair among Broncos coaches and players that week.  They knew they had absolutely no chance to win that game.  While it’s certainly true that much of that despair was due to the all-around great team Coach Walsh had assembled, can there be any doubt that the Broncos knew that the best player at the most important position was playing for their opponent and he was never going to let his team lose?

In my most recent post, I noted that interceptions thrown is the best predictor of game outcomes in the playoffs. The more interceptions you throw, the more likely that your team will lose.  In four Super Bowls, Joe Montana threw 122 passes, with zero picks.  So the best quarterback of my lifetime is a no-brainer captain for my All-Stockholm Syndrome Team.

Other members:

Peyton Manning, QB, Colts

Eric Dickerson, RB, Rams

Terrell Davis, RB, Broncos

Steve Smith, WR, Panthers

Ronnie Lott, DB, 49ers

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5 Responses to “NFL All-Stockholm Syndrome Team”

  1. The amount of Hate that you spew towards the Cowboys, I would not be suprised to find out that you sleep in Emmitt Smith Underroos underneath your PJs.

    I definitely sense the Love Hate thing going on there.

  2. BTW, I concur on Montana. I HATED the Guy, but sure had to respect and FEAR him (Unlike Eli – who I don’t hate, grown a little respect for (this year) but DEFINITELY don’t Fear)

  3. […] sportstapas A little dishing on sports « NFL All-Stockholm Syndrome Team […]

  4. […] Fair points, all.  I did pick Cleveland to win the NBA championship, which proves I’m an idiot.  And that Tom Brady comparison is fair as well.  It is true that Staubach, Bradshaw, Aikman and Montana have all eight of the post 5th year championships referenced above, and it is also true that Brady is much closer in talent and career trajectory to those guys.  However, what if I told you that of the prodigies on this list, only one, Montana, the man I consider the best to play the QB position in my lifetime, […]

  5. […] Fair points, all.  I did pick Cleveland to win the NBA championship, which proves I’m an idiot.  And that Tom Brady comparison is fair as well.  It is true that Staubach, Bradshaw, Aikman and Montana have all eight of the post 5th year championships referenced above, and it is also true that Brady is much closer in talent and career trajectory to those guys.  However, what if I told you that of the prodigies on this list, only one, Montana, the man I consider the best to play the QB position in my lifetime, […]


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