Back when the NHL was relevant the divisions were named after significant figures in the league’s history. It was a little thing that gave the divisions a little more personality, so naturally they did away with it in favor of geography.
The NFL divisions are littered with bad geography. The Ravens are in the AFC North, but every team in the AFC East except the Dolphins plays their home games north of Baltimore. Dallas is in the East? Really? Maybe they need a genius (skip ahead to the 1:00 mark for geniusness) to help them out. Or maybe they should rename the divisions after significant figures in the division’s history. That’s what I think, anyway, and that’s what I’m doing starting today. To be more specific and create more debate let’s keep it to players only, that way John Madden and his hot dog fingers don’t get anywhere near this. Let’s also keep it to players who don’t play any more, excluding current Redskins running backs. I’ll be doing this in 8 parts, and kicking things off today is the AFC West. My suggestions are just below with the caveat that I’m 31 and didn’t get to see some of these guys play, other than what Steve Sabol has been kind enough to show me:
AFC West: Let’s start with the Chargers. I don’t remember seeing Dan Fouts or Kellen Winslow play, although he raised one hell of a soldier. From what I’ve seen from NFL Films, Winslow played a hell of a game against the Dolphins in that overtime epic to wrap up the ’81 regular season, but that’s not getting a division named after him.
LaDainian Tomlinson only stopped playing 2 years ago so he’s out. I never saw Lance Allworth play and Junior Seau might actually still be playing so he’s out.
How about the Raiders then? Jack Tatum just died and from the highlight reels they’re showing all day today, I would have needed a pound of morphine to go anywhere near him. Some old timers might say Jim Otto, but I never saw him. Biletnikoff was good enough to get an award named after him, Plunkett won 2 Super Bowls, Tim Brown played well for a long, long time, Marcus Allen, Howie Long, maybe. The idea of something called the Long Division is enticing. My heart wants to name the AFC West the Bo Jackson Division and be done with it, but I don’t see that happening.
I also think special consideration should be given to Ice Cube for all that he’s done for Raiders apparel, but he lost his scowl and I don’t know who he is anymore.
Let’s go to the Chiefs then. Derrick Thomas and Len Dawson jump to mind, and I can’t really think of anyone else other than some guys that were apparently good that I never heard of. Oh, and Christian Okoye. He was a beast. If we were renaming divisions based on fantasy performance, than Priest Holmes wins this thing hands down, but that’s not what we’re doing.
So it is with humility and admiration for those teeth, that I have to rename the AFC West the Elway Division.
There’s not a better Bronco so I won’t waste time on that. As a Dan Marino fan growing up, I had to begrudgingly admire the way Elway ended his career. If Marino goes out that way he goes down as one of the Top 5 QB’s ever. I found myself rooting for the Broncos against the Packers in Super Bowl XXXII and I didn’t actually know why. Maybe I just wanted some quarterback who had never won a Super Bowl to win one. Maybe it was a class of ’83 thing. But there’s no way in hell that I would have ever rooted for Jim Kelly to win anything. So it shall be written, may the AFC West now be called the Elway Division.
I’m headed to the first day of Panthers camp tomorrow. They’re scheduled to have 2 practices, but I’m not sure if I’m staying for the night session. I’ll have thoughts on that and I’ll rename the NFC North some time tomorrow or Friday.