Sunday, November 18, 2007

A Moral Dilemma for the Walt Disney Co.

The ABC/ESPN empire is running a poll, whose voters and methods they have to disclose to this viewer, listing the 25 Greatest College Football Players of All Time (Capitalization is a must in ESPNland). This will serve the vital social purpose of starting a lot of fatal barroom arguments in SEC college towns.

No problem with any of the persons listed to date. Of course there's a bias to the post-ESPN era, so I don't expect Walter Camp to get named, but to see Roger Staubach ranked ninth was nice, as was seeing George Gipp and Tom Harmon on the list.

The trouble is, ESPN is down/up to number seven now, and there's one notable player who hasn't been mentioned. He used to own a white Ford Bronco.

What to do with O.J. Simpson? He beat the rap for a double murder not too many people think he didn't do. He's on trial for armed robbery. He was the best college football player I ever saw.

If Simpson's off the list, the list is a farce. If he's on it, any number of ESPN football broadcasters are in for the most awkward in-the-booth cross-talk in college football history. Oh, to be torn twixt' corporate image and duty.

Ha! As if ESPN is torn. The network was has made Chris Berman and Stuart Scott big stars is hardly afraid of a little farce every now and then. The list is already absurd, since there 10 worthy honorees left out for every one named. ESPN is running VERY short mentions of the list during games (one plus for those who think they'll name O.J.), and remains stubbornly user-hostile, so I'm relying on memory which could be faulty, but to the best of my recollection, the following schools have yet to have a player named: Alabama, Miami, Penn State, and Oklahoma. Come on. That shows the silliness of the exercise.

There will be, in short, no trouble naming seven people all quite worthy of being ranked among the top 10 college players of all time without dragging Simpson into the mix. Herschel Walker, Doug Flutie, and Sammy Baugh have yet to be named, for example, not to mention Jim Thorpe and Red Grange, who have the advantage of being uncontroversially dead.

As Napoleon should have said, history is written by the marketing department.


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