While NFL offseason workouts are in full swing, in reality, the period following the NFL Draft until training camp begins in late July, is the slowest time of the year in the National Football League. The fact that we are even suggesting this is a relevant time at all is a big indication of how far the league has come from the days when the season ended until it started again in September. The NFL has officially become a 12-month, 365 day a year league and that is just fine with me.
With the introduction of the NFL Network in November of 2003, the league officially entered the full time entertainment business. With its birth, nightly shows like NFL Total Access have become as important to NFL fans as the six o’clock news was to our parents and grandparents.
With Emmy award winning NFL Films handling the production on many of the networks shows, and all of the highlight shows, the launch of the latest 24-hour sports network likely a guaranteed success.
Die-hard NFL fans are a peculiar bunch and the NFL Network wasted little time catering to them. Since the dawn of NFL time, fans have created Top 10 lists for almost everything that ever existed in the league. Long before the inception of the network, fans debated and argued about which players and teams were the best of all time and ranked where they thought they belonged in NFL history.
Is Johnny Unitas, John Elway, Dan Marino, or Joe Montana the best QB in league history? That’s ok if you could not decide, just put them on a list and watch fans debate where they rank on the list for hours.
Fans looking to occupy their time argued which games, plays, eras, coaches, drafts, and even argued which fan bases had the best tailgate traditions. Yes, all of these debates were contested long before Rich Eisen and the NFL Network took to the airwaves.
However, once the network joined the fun, debating the best of all time was taken to a completely new level. They used the fans passion for wanting to feel as if they know which player, team etc…is the best of all time and now use that passion as their bread and butter with their” Top 10 shows”.
On any given day during the season and especially during the offseason, fans can sit back, watch and argue with the TV, as the network airs such shows as The Top 10 QB’s, Top 10 RB’s-----you get the point.
In 2010, the network stumbled on a gold mine when it decided to produce a show ranking the 100 greatest players of all time. The Top 100: NFL's Greatest Players was a ten-part television series presented by the NFL Network in 2010. The series was based on a list of the top 100 National Football League players of all time, as compiled by a "blue-ribbon" panel assembled by the network.
The members of the panel were current and former NFL coaches, players, executives, and members of the media. Each episode, broadcast each Thursday from September 3 to November 4, 2010, introduced a group of 10 players from the list, starting with the players ranked 100 through 91, and moving up the list each week.
Jerry Rice won the distinction and of course not unanimously, as the No.1 ranked greatest player of all time. He finished just ahead of players such as Jim Brown, Lawrence Taylor and Joe Montana. Since there can really only be one all-time list every 10 years or so, the brain trust at the network decided to begin ranking the top 100 players from the past season and do so in a format very close to the one they used to select the game’s all-time best. The players themselves actually vote on the best 100 current performers in the league and provide almost all of the commentary when a certain player is being profiled in his numerical spot for the season that has past.
Just like the network, many websites have since popped up using slide show formats to gain popularity by having bloggers create lists for almost every sports and every position. If you log onto the Bleacher Report, you will find slideshows ranking everything from players’ wives and girlfriends (WAGS) to legitimate lists ranking players and teams from each sport.
With this craze in mind and considering the time of season, I have decided to throw my hat into the fire and create a “Top list”.
As a tremendous Baltimore Ravens fan, and a former season ticket holder, I have never missed a game and consider my knowledge, analysis and breakdown of the team during their tenure in the Charm City adequate to be shared with thousands of readers during the past three seasons. At least many of you have liked it and I thank you for that.
With that said, what to rank became the issue. Ranking the greatest Ravens players of all time would not garner much interest. Is there any doubt that in some order, Jonathan Ogden, Ray Lewis, Ed Reed, Joe Flacco, Ray Rice, Matt Stover, Peter Boulware, Haloti Ngata and Terrell Suggs make the list? Sure, maybe I left off Chris McAlister or a player like him but you understand where I am coming from. The Ravens did not bring the history from Cleveland (Thankfully) so 16 seasons makes ranking players a little boring.
Besides, you remember them all and would agree that Ogden and Lewis are one and two and the order does not really matter.
What I decided to rank was the 20 greatest games in Baltimore Ravens history. I originally thought 10 great games was sufficient but upon further review and considering the run this team just made, it has to be 20.
The following games were not just selected because they were my favorites. The Ravens had to have won the contest. Can any fan honestly say a game in which their team lost is one of the best in their teams franchise history, regardless of how great the game? Do you think the Broncos are going to be ranking this past years AFC Divisional Playoff game or do you suppose the New England Patriots look at the 2009 AFC Championship game as one of the franchises greatest games. No, they do not, I promise.
Secondly, the game had to mean something, be a rivalry victory, or be a turning point in the season in which it occurred. The game could also be one in which it still has some significant relevance in team history.
Without further ado, here are four of the 20 greatest games in Baltimore Ravens history. Four more games will appear here on FanvsFan twice a week until the series is complete. I will also have the 10 Worst defeats in Ravens history somewhere in the mix.