Poll 100 people on who is the greatest player in NFL history, and you’re sure to get a wide array of answers. But if you would expect Patriots coach Bill Belichick to choose quarterback Tom Brady after the two of them won four Super Bowls together, you would be wrong.
Belichick may have tipped his hand a bit when he and some Patriots players visited the statue of Browns legend Jim Brown while in Cleveland during the weekend. In case there was any doubt though, Belichick revealed he thinks the Hall of Fame running back is the greatest player of all-time on Monday, per Mike Reiss for ESPN.com.
Brown is an excellent choice, and the numbers speak for themselves. When he retired in 1965, the three-time league MVP finished his career as the NFL’s all-time leading rusher and is still ninth after more than 50 years, and they were playing 12 and 14 game seasons back in those days. Just to give you an idea of how dominant he was though, Brown led the league in rushing in eight of his nine seasons, and his 5.2 yards per carry are only bested by one running back, Jamaal Charles for the Chiefs at 5.5.
As Belichick explains, Brown’s contributions to the game of football go beyond just the numbers.
BB says yesterday's trip to see Jim Brown statute "really don't know how many players realize what he's meant to…football"
— Mike Petraglia (@Trags) October 10, 2016
Belichick has always had a deep respect for history, particularly as it pertains to the NFL. He also happens to be close friends with Brown, which probably has at least some effect on his opinion on the matter. Nonetheless, you would be hard-pressed to find many better players in NFL history.
Of course, Belichick wishes that wasn’t the only statue he had a chance to visit while in Cleveland. While two such tributes to Paul Brown do exist at Massillion High School and Miami University in Ohio, the Browns’ all-time winningest coach doesn’t have one right beside its greatest player — a fact that seemed to rub Belichick the wrong way.
BB: "Honestly, I wish Paul Brown's statue would have been right there with it, because we could have knocked out two birds with one stone."
— Mike Reiss (@MikeReiss) October 10, 2016