TOP OF THE TOWN ‑ It’s annoying that every so often so-and-so is proclaimed the greatest of all time. Now the talk swirling around on social media is Kareem Abdul Jabbar is the greatest basketball player of all-time. I’m not here to debate that. Perhaps Kareem is, although I have always liked Wilt Chamberlain. But what bothers me the most is Tom Brady being acknowledged as the greatest quarterback ever. I think we all would agree Brady is on the list of QBs that are the greatest of all-time. But my main problem with making Kareem or Brady the best in their respective sports, or maybe Babe Ruth in baseball, is that I don’t believe you can compare athletes from different eras. Just can’t. For example, how do you think Babe Ruth would do in today’s game of baseball? We could argue this point for years because there is no definitive answer. How can there be? The Babe played his last game of baseball on May 30, 1935, pinch-hitting in the first game of that day’s doubleheader for the Boston Braves (he had been traded to Boston by the Yankees in February of that year when Babe was 40 years old and showing his age). The Babe should have retired on May 25 when he hit three home runs against the Pittsburgh Pirates, but he went on to play five more games, batting 13 times without getting a hit. Since we are talking baseball here, I’m going to get off track just for a moment and talk about George Burns, who lived in Bremerton in the 1970s. I used to take George around town in those days (he lived in Westpark and didn’t have a car) and he would stop at various beer joints, most famously the Outside-Inn on 4th street which was owned by Al Dornfeld, who sponsored the Kitsap Outsiders semi-pro baseball team that twice went to Stan Musical Nationals in Battle Creek, Michigan. Bremerton’s Jim Herdman, who volunteers with Retrosheet, which is compiling a complete baseball history, emailed me the other day to report that he is working on the 1929 baseball season, with special attention to some games reported in The Philadelphia Inquirer. Herdman sent me a copy of one story from the Inquirer that shows in a photo George coming to home plate after hitting a home run for the Philadelphia Athletics. He hit it on Aug. 31 of 1929 and it was the only home run of the year for George, who hit 74 home runs in a 16-year-career that resulted in a .307 batting average. George retired after the 1929 season in which the Athletics won the World Series, beating the Chicago Cubs in five games, and then played in and managed in the Pacific Coast League through 1934 when he was 41. He died in 1978 in a Kirkland nursing home at the age of 84. Let’s get back to comparing great players from different eras, especially football since Tom Brady is all the rage now. Because it is my contention that you can’t compare athletes from different eras we may never know who the greatest QB of all time really is. I’ll be dead for 50 years and the debate will still be going on. Quarterbacks like Brady are the greatest in their own time, but there are a few others I would throw into the conversation. Otto Graham played for the Cleveland Browns from 1946-55 and in those 10 seasons took the Browns to 10 championship games in the old All-America Football Conference and the National Football League. He was accurate as a passer and a leader. Johnny Unitas played with the Baltimore Colts from 1956-72 and his last year with the San Diego Chargers. He earned All-Pro five times and the Pro Bowl 10 times. He’s the only QB to lead the league in touchdown passes for four straight seasons, including a streak of 47 games with at least one TD. Then there was “Slingin’ Sammy’ Baugh who played for the Washington Redskins from 1937-52 and revolutionized the game with his passing. In 1945 he completed 70 percent of his passes when the average in the league that season was just over 45 percent. Baugh had a passer rating of almost 110 while the league average was 43. Sid Luckman was the Chicago Bears QB in 1940 and led his team to a 73-0 victory over  the Redskins in the NFL’s title game. Luckman was rated second to Baugh during this era. Of course, there is Drew Brees, Joe Montana, Steve Young, John Elway, Aaron Rodgers, Peyton Manning, Dan Marino, Roger Staubach, Brett Favre, Bart Starr and many others to consider, including Russell Wilson. But I think I have made my point that you will never be able to say with absolute certainly who the G.O.A.T really is. They have been, and are, great. Some are just greater than others and that will be debated as I said previously way past my expiration date. Hey, stay safe. We’ll talk later.

Be well pal.

Be careful out there.

Have a great day.

You are loved.