Let the debating begin, finishing with the defense.
Bill: Just because I want to put Ray Nitschke and Jack Lambert on the field, we're going to line up in a 3-4 defense. That means someone's getting shut out up front. At end, Willie Davis was a premier pass rusher before anyone had the brains to count sacks, plus he played on all five of the championship teams. And Reggie White — need I say anything more?
Jim: I'll go 3-4 with you, but I want Casey Hampton, Joe Greene and Reggie White. Go ahead and f with me now, Rex Ryan. Hampton's been to five Pro Bowls and would've been to another one this year if all of those spread offenses hadn't taken him out of the game so often. But the Jets wanted to go base vs. base because, you know, they think they have cajones. And Casey dominated Nick Mangold. Another guy going for his third ring and starting to make Canton-like noises.
Bill: Wow, Casey Hampton. That's pretty good. I know Dom Capers can't say enough about what Hampton means and he hopes B.J. Raji can get to that level. I'll go with you on that: No offense, Willie or to Henry Jordan, an underrated Pro Football Hall of Famer. Mean Joe would make a much better end than a nose tackle, anyway.
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Bill: I can't argue with you, though Matthews is only in his second season and that's not enough longevity for this all-time team. For a Packer, I'll gladly take Dave Robinson as a backup. He could stuff the run and get after the quarterback — as evidenced by his pressure on Don Meredith that preserved the 1966 championship game victory at Dallas. Plus, he picked off 21 passes during his career. He'd be a stud in a 3-4 with that skill-set.
Bill: Ray Nitschke and Jack Lambert: Talk about an indomitable duo. Has anyone in NFL history been more feared than these guys, other than Ray Lewis after a night on the town? Is it OK that I said that? Well, too late. A member of the NFL's 50th and 75th Anniversary Teams, Nitschke was the heart and soul of the Glory Years defenses.
Jim: I was first a Bears fan before becoming, ahem, a professional journalist here in Pittsburgh. So, please, we're not putting some dirty Raven over Dick Butkus. But let's definitely go with Nitschke and Lambert here.
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Jim: You definitely have some great DBs in your tradition, but I've always considered the 6-4 Mel Blount the greatest cornerback in the game's history. I doubt we'll ever see his likes again.
Bill: In a nod to today's game, when the third corner plays 65 percent of the time, who enters in nickel? Rod Woodson or Herb Adderley? Adderley was drafted to play running back but wound up picking off 48 passes and not only played for the Packers' two Super Bowl champions but played in two more Super Bowls with Dallas. He also was a big-time kickoff returner.
Jim: I can't get the photo of Woodson in the Superman suit out of my mind. I'll go with the Olympic hurdler, if allowed, but you've given me some leeway at other positions. Plus, Woodson seems proud of his, gulp, Ravens heritage.
Bill: What a list: Willie Wood is in the Hall of Fame. We could move Rod Woodson to safety, since he finished his career there. Unlike the voters, I think LeRoy Butler was a Hall of Famer-caliber player. And there's that Polamalu guy in Pittsburgh. I've got to stick up for Wood. The guy wasn't even drafted and sent out letters just to get a tryout. He wound up with 48 interceptions and was an All-Pro for nine consecutive seasons. He was a lethal punt returner to start his career, too.
Jim: I'm not picking Woodson over Polamalu. He's my favorite player. I hadn't had a favorite player since Walter Payton.
Jim: It's fitting that the hole in both lineups is at punter. Let's just go for it every fourth down and make this Super Bowl the true classic that these tradition-rich franchises are promising.
Bill: Well said.
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