On Wednesday, Brian Urlacher spoke about his Hall of Fame chances, expressing that he'd "like to be right there at the top somewhere" mentioned among the greats of the game, but he also said that he has a few more things he'd like to do in his career. Presumably, one of those is to get back to the Super Bowl - only this time, to win the thing.
LaDainian Tomlinson apparently viewed differently, because he chose to retire without getting his Super Bowl ring. And when asked if he'd rather be a Hall of Famer with no ring or have a ring but not get the call to the Hall, he already had an answer.
"Hall of Fame player without a ring, because you've got to sacrifice so much individually just to be good," Tomlinson said. "They draft you individually and you've got to back them up and make them right. I think at the end of the day, even though I didn't win a Super Bowl ring, I felt like I backed them up for drafting me. I backed up the San Diego Chargers for picking me with the fifth pick."
Bruschi explained that induction into the Hall of Fame is determined not on any field but by 44 voters. "A Super Bowl, a championship is something you earn," Bruschi said. "And it's something that can never be taken away. And no one can stop you from doing that."
As to the inherently subjective process of picking the best of the best players for immortality, Bruschi says, "You can't control that, but you can control winning."
Let's get this out of the way right now - we're not talking about the Super Bowl ring as a bridge to the Hall of Fame, since getting one (or more) can make a case to get into the Hall anyway.
For me, it's probably the Hall. Here's the reason: Yes, football is a team game. But that works against it in this concept. Everyone on the team gets a ring - from starting quarterback to emergency quarterback. If the Bears had won the Super Bowl last year, would Nathan Enderle have felt like he earned his ring? Doubtful.
And you can't control winning. You can only control one player - you. You can control your impact on the game, but you can't control what the other 21 players out on the field are doing. Congratulations if your performance impacted the game to such a degree that your team won, but if football is such a team game, how does one person control the game? They don't. And if one person has such a great performance in a game, there's a reason he's called by name.
Record-holding players aren't titled "Green Bay Packers QB, 2011" like they are in NCAA 2012 because licensing prevents the naming of the individual players - no, Aaron Rodgers and Drew Brees have passing records.
It's nice to believe in the concept of "team" and to play for the team, but Enderle didn't go to bed and dream to be an NFL backup cut from the team that drafted him before his second season. If he had his choice, he'd be a starting quarterback. And if in our example he had been on a Super Bowl winning team last season, he'd be a quarterback with a ring who was just cut from the team that drafted him. That's not exactly stuff that legends are made of.
There's a reason 53 players plus coaches and front office staff get Super Bowl rings per season, but only around six get to the Hall.
How about you? Which would you prefer?
(Full post credit to Spongie for proposing this post idea.)