Thursday, April 24, 2008

Late Great Bill Walsh

Bill Walsh is still dead. Let the record show that I have thought for some time that he was the most overrated coach in the history of overrated coaches. His "innovative" West Coast offense? Yeah, the '72 Dolphins that everyone loves to hate now was running that offense under Don Shula and Howard Schnellenberger.

In any case, now that Sports Illustrated has opened its digital archive, we can go back and see exactly what was written ten years ago. Remember back when people were wondering if the Colts should take Peyton Manning or Ryan Leaf with the first overall pick in 1998? Peter King asked Bill Walsh who he would take and Bill Walsh's answer was "NEITHER!"

"I don't see Favre or Elway," Walsh says. "I see those guys on the next level. But Manning seems to be more pro-ready than Leaf."

The oft-quirky Walsh was the only one of the six experts who said he wouldn't take Manning with the first choice. "I'd pick another top player," he says, "and then I'd take [Michigan quarterback] Brian Griese in the second round. I think he could have the tools to be special."

I hate to kick a guy when he's dead, but considering the bright ol' halo glowing around Walsh's head, I think it's always good to put these things in perspective. Hang on let me go to all caps here:


The point isn't just that Bill Walsh wasn't the genius that people thought he was. The point is, and this is particularly important to remember this weekend, that nobody really knows what's what until a long time after the draft is done.

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