I know we all get tired of the “Everyone’s against Arkansas” type posts. I don’t necessarily agree that is the case, though I do believe certain programs get more than their share of “breaks” and promotion…and Arkansas is not one of them.
So this isn’t about Arkansas as much as it is about one of it’s favorite sons - Lance Alworth. Yes, I know Lance grew up in Mississippi, but he played at Arkansas and for that, I will always consider him an Arkansan.
The “good news” is that Lance was, as he clearly should have been, included in the just-named group of WR named to the NFL’s 100th Anniversary All-Time team. I thought he would be, but had steeled myself in case he was snubbed in favor of one of the more recent guys who had accumulated gaudier stats in this pass-crazy era of the game. Fortunately, that did not happen.
What I was surprised and disappointed by was how his inclusion was treated on the official announcement show on the NFL Network.
For those of you who haven’t watched any of these introduction shows (they have had one a week for each of the last several weeks, for each position group - QB is the last one, airing next week), Rich Eisen hosts the show, along with Chris Collingsworth and Bill Belichick. They always start by introducing one or two of the no-brainer, top of the list studs (I.e., Jim Brown and Emmitt Smith at RB) and having a group “love-fest” type conversation with the panel for a few minutes. Then, they move along to the other members of the group being named, and Collingsworth and Belichick wax on about how they followed these guys growing up, and/or played/coached against them, etc. Consistently, all of the comments are glowing compliments.
For the WR show, the two “studs” they brought out were Jerry Rice and Randy Moss. No issue with either.
After the 10 minute slobber-fest over them, the first “other” WR named was Lance. Eisen introduced him by saying “they called him ‘Bambi’”, which was great. But then, Collingsworth made some comments that were back-handed compliments, at best. Paraphrasing, he said something like “You know, we watch films on all of these guys, but when it comes to Alworth I really don’t know what to say. I never see him running routes, so I don’t know if he was a good route runner. I can’t see if he has good speed or not, because in every picture, he’s almost by himself in the open. I guess that mean’s he was pretty good.”
I was stunned. Collingsworth has always been, IMO, one of the better analysts on NFL broadcasts. He strikes me as a guy who does his homework. And he’s not a “kid” - he’s 60 years old. As a former WR himself, how could he NOT know a lot more about Alworth than that? It doesn’t take much research at all to find out how athletic, fast and competitive he was.
Even more puzzling to me was that Belichick - who blathered on about just about everyone who has been named to the team, regardless of position, had NOTHING at all to add about Alworth. Belichick is my age (actually, he’s a year older), so I KNOW he has to remember Alworth’s greatness. Especially as much of a sports nerd as he was growing up (based on his comments about others). Hell, he had comments about Elroy “Crazy legs” Hirsch, for Pete’s sake! But nothing about THE greatest WR of the 1960’s, Bill’s formative (teenage) years??
I’m aware that the show I watched was undoubtedly edited, so Bill may have said some things that were edited out. But I watched the show only to see and hear the comments the “greats” made about Lance, and was sorely disappointed. Other than the fact that he WAS on the team, there was basically no praising of him or recognition of his special talents. He probably got 30 seconds - total - of recognition/discussion. Several others got 3-4 minutes.
They also have a “reaction” show immediately after the show where each group is announced, with various ex-players commenting. This one had Deion Sanders and HOF WR Steve Largent, himself a member of the NFL 100 team. I didn’t expect much from Deion, and I was not disappointed. However, Largent is also my age (a year younger) and as a young WR growing up in the 1960’s, you KNOW he had to have followed Alworth as a fan and role model. Yet, not a single word in the recap show was made about Lance.
I do not think it is a “conspiracy”…but it was a massive oversight. It’s a shame that the current generation has no idea just how massively talented Lance was.