Athlon Sports debuted in 1967, and to mark 50 years, the publication decided to name the 50 best players of the “Athlon era.”
The list was unveiled today, and it includes 10 SEC alumni:
- No. 48 – Danny Wuerffel
- No. 45 – Peyton Manning
- No. 43 – Reggie White
- No. 36 – Archie Manning
- No. 30 – Cam Newton
- No. 21 – Derrick Thomas
- No. 17 – John Hannah
- No. 6 – Tim Tebow
- No. 5 – Bo Jackson
- No. 1 – Herschel Walker
The panel featured 16 prominent media members. One can surmise that the panelists varied widely on where some of these players deserved to be ranked. Bruce Feldman, one of the panelists, made the case for Newton as the No. 2 player from that timeframe on his podcast “The Audible” with fellow panelist Stewart Mandel four months ago. Feldman’s opinion is apparently relatively unpopular with his fellow media members (though someone else did vote the Auburn great No. 1), as Newton checks in at No. 30 on the above list.
Athlon Sports itself acknowledged on Twitter Monday that many will have objections with how the 50 players were ranked.
glad to see we’re all in agreement on the Top 50 players of the past 50 years lol pic.twitter.com/RaxHwaMOcy
— Athlon Sports (@AthlonSports) June 19, 2017
While Newton’s ranking may be widely debated, it’s not surprising to see Walker top the list at No. 1, as Mandel and Feldman both came to this conclusion earlier this year. Here’s how Athlon summed up the Bulldog great:
Walker stampeded onto the college football scene in his first game by barreling over Tennessee’s Bill Bates, and from there, his legend only grew. The 1982 Heisman winner led the Bulldogs to a 33–3 record and the 1980 national championship during his three seasons in Athens, rushing for 5,259 yards — still an SEC record — and 49 touchdowns.
While four SEC teams (Alabama, Auburn, Florida and Tennessee) all had multiple alums make the list, there were schools were better represented:
- USC – 6
- Nebraska – 4
- Ohio State – 4
- Oklahoma – 3
- Pittsburgh – 3
- Texas – 3
The full list of 50 players can be found here.
Source: Saturday Down South