Maybe people who are not football fans know Vince Lombardi only as the name on the rest area on the Turnpike, but the writers of Sports Illustrated and football fans across the country know better. That's why Lombardi, who lived both in Englewood and Red Bank during his time as a Giants assistant coach, was selected as top coach in "Football's Greatest," Sports Illustrated's amazing new collection of the best of all things NFL, from positions to stadiums to uniforms, as selected by some of the top writers in the business.
Local fans will be glad to see Giants great Lawrence Taylor making the list as the best-ever linebacker, and former Eagles stars Reggie White (first) and Cris Carter (eighth) on the defensive lineman and wide receivers lists. Jets fans will like reading about Joe Namath on the QB list (11) or their lone Super Bowl win ranking as the fourth greatest game. Giants Stadium even made it into the top 20 stadia at 17, a fact which will probably surprise many who traveled to "The Swamp" over the years.
"The lists are reflective of the diversity of the NFL, and really show how the style of play has changed over the years," said editor Bill Syken. "For example the wide receiver lists have many recent players, but the running backs list has no active players. That shows how much the game has evolved from a running league to the passing style of today."
There is something for everyone in the book, from best uniforms (the Giants make the list, the Eagles and Jets don't) to best trades, movies and interviews. The list of best all-time franchises should also please Big Blue, as they rank fifth among all-time NFL clubs. Sorry fans of the Iggles and Gang Green. No listing for you.
"Football's Greatest" isn't a scientific look at the best of all-time. It is a fun assemblage by writers like Peter King, Tim Layden and Don Banks, among others. It is fun and will inspire debate, and probably makes for a great holiday gift for someone's coffee table — especially those across the Garden State looking for a football fix if only one of the three local teams (as it looks now) advances into the playoffs.