We have already looked at the Mount Rushmore’s of the NBA, NHL, and MLB, so now it is time for the big one, The NFL. This one was hard for me, there were a lot of guys I wanted to find a space for on here, but just couldn’t make room.
Number 1- Paul Brown
Not only was Brown the founder of two NFL Franchises, the Browns and Bengals, but he is responsible for many innovations considered commonplace in today’s NFL. Brown was the first NFL coach to break the color
barrier. He put fullback Marion Motley and defensive lineman Bill Willis on his team, making them the first black players in the NFL.
Brown was also the first coach to require his players to wear facemasks, an innovation that likely saved the lives of a few players. Another innovation was the use of game tape to study the flaws in their team, and in other teams. He also invented the idea of a practice squad, keeping unwanted players around for a temporary job, driving Taxi’s in Brown’s cab company until Brown decided to pick them up off of his “taxi squad.” The premise eventually flourished into a practice squad, though they dropped the taxi part out of it. Brown was also the first coach to communicate to the huddle by putting radio’s in the helmet.
Number 2- Steve Sabol
The birth of NFL Films has changed the NFL in so many ways. Steve Sabol, along with his father Ed founded NFL Films back in the 60’s, and the NFL hasn’t been the same since. No
other sport can offer fans as close of a look to the game as NFL can, and that is because of the Sabol family’s innovative technology. Fans get to hear every bone-crushing hit, every bit of trash talk exchanged between players. We have the Sabol’s to thank for that.
The tech provided by NFL Films has allowed fans to get closer to the NFL than they can with any other sports, which has assisted in making football America’s number one sport. Football was always the perfect sport for America, but the way NFL Films has packaged it has made it even more popular. If you wanted see video of Red Grange, it exists. No other sports has video from that far back. Wilt Chamberlain’s 100 point game isnt on tape. Very little video of Babe Ruth exists, and the video that does exist can be hard to find. No league has the film bank the NFL does, and it is because of NFL Films and the Sabol family. It was tough to pick which of the Sabol family belonged up on here, as only one could make it with only four places on Mount Rushmore. I went with Steve to honor his unfortunate death a couple years ago.
Number 3-Dick Butkus
Butkus perfectly captures the reason many people have fallen in love with the NFL. He was a no nonsense player with a mean streak. When he hit people, they remembered it the next day. He may not have directly caused as much change as some other players have, but his style of play became the mold for the perfect linebacker, which I think is the second most
important position behind the Quarterback. Seeing the way he was able to hit people, the way he played the game, it is the reason the NFL has become the most watched sport in the states.
Butkus was the scariest man in pro football. There had been scary linebackers like him before, but none quite like him. Butkus personifies the reason we love the NFL. Also, his name is awesome, and just sounds like the type of guy who will kick your butt.
Number 4- Bert Bell
There are probably a few things you are thinking right now, One, how could I leave Vince Lombardi off my Mount Rushmore. Two, How could I put only one player, and no quarterbacks on my Mount Rushmore. Finally, you may be thinking, who the hell is Bert Bell?
All fair questions, I left Lombardi off because though he was the greatest coach ever, he did not change the NFL as much as some others I would have put him over Butkus, but I wanted at least one player. I only put one player on the list because there were just so many choices and I felt that there were more non players that have made significant changes in the NFL than players.
As for Bert Bell, if you don’t know how he is, you should. Every April we enjoy what may be the biggest advancement in NFL, and maybe even sports history in America, the Draft. Bert Bell created the system now used by all American sports to decide where college players get to go. Without the draft, players would all flock to only the most prestigious teams that could give them the most money. it is what used to happen before the draft. bell was the owner of one of those small market teams, the Eagles. There was no parity, smaller market teams stood no chance against teams like the Packers. it is because of the draft that the league can have a fair balance of talent across all teams.
The draft wasn’t Bell’s only contribution to the parity of the NFL though. he also introduced revenue sharing to the smaller market teams, allowing them to keep up with the big spending teams at the top.
Bell also served as NFL Commissioner from 1946-1959. During this time he was able to overcome a gambling scandal.
Bell may not be the most well known person, but the advances he made in the NFL are some of the most important advances in NFL History.
Who is on your Mount Rushmore? Leave your answer in the comments section.