It has been mentioned several times on this site, that my favourite pro sports franchise are the Chicago Bulls. Over the past free agency period, the Bulls tried to lure many free agents and failed. This is the second time in a decade the Bulls scrapped their team with the intent of luring a big name free agent, only to fail. There are several reasons and theories as to why the Bulls are unable to land this free agent they long for. One of the lesser theories is that players don't want to play in the shadow of Michael Jordan. He is the icon for the team, and his legacy still reigns over the Bulls like his statue outside. Players not wanting to play in Michael Jordan's shadow, this brings me to my subject for today, as expressed after the jump.
When I first started watching football in the late 80's early 90's, my favourite player was this guy:
Barry Sanders Ultimate Highlight Video (via elsharkdelocho)
I was living in Chicago at the time, and the Bears were my team. As rivals I was supposed to hate the Lions and all who represent them, but how can anyone hate Barry Sanders? The guy was an amazing player, stuck on bad and marginal teams. Sanders was also highly entertaining to watch, and I always tried to replicate his moves playing football in my backyard. Plus, when I played Super Tecmo Bowl, I'd choose the Lions, hence Barry Sanders and call for two running plays and one passing play all game long until I achieved.
This further deepened his place in my heart. In addition to his game and his cyber-excellence, I always appreciated how Barry Sanders reacted to scoring touchdowns. He rarely celebrated, and did not perform any stupid dance routines. Sanders' game was flashy, but he was not. In the end, Barry was a quiet well-mannered boom or bust running back that played on bad teams he could sometimes push to the playoffs.
I believe Barry Sanders has a similar legacy to that of Jordan. Sanders was the icon of Detroit Lion football for a decade. The team lived and died with his performances. When he unexpectedly retired, the team collapsed and has never fully recovered. Sanders casts a shadow in Detroit. It may not be as big as Jordan's in Chicago, due to the differences in the sports, and the fact Jordan's name has become synonimous with winning (Sanders is not), but a shadow and a legacy due persist.
Insert Jahvid Best.
Jahvid Best Career College highlights 2007-2009 (via HANDSOMElifeOFswing)
Jahvid is also a mild-mannered boom or bust running back, that played on limited teams (inconsistent passing game at Cal). Will the comparisons between Best and Sanders develop, and if so will these stigmatize him in any way? Will Best be forced to live his professional life in the shadows of Barry Sanders?
Assuming Best is at least marginally effective, I feel the comparisons will undoubtedly arise, but due to a decade long gap between the players, it will not be stigmatizing in any way. Furthermore, the fact Sanders never actually won anything significant with Detroit, means Jahvid has no lofty preacknowledged goal to rise above. Thus, Jahvid will be recognized for his own individual accomplishments.