SportsProf

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Thursday, November 25, 2004

Where's the Beef?

Okay, so this isn't the most appropriate question to ask on Thanksgiving Day, but Page 2 of ESPN.com recently published a list of the heaviest and lightest position players in the NFL. Remember the days when guards weighed about 250? Well, they don't even weigh that in the Ivy League any more.

Some of these fellows are ready for the Sumo circuit, while others look more suited to contact sports such as basketball instead of collision sports like football. Take a look at the list, and then see what you think.

For example, the 49ers have the lightest tackle in the game, a 279-pound LT named Kyle Kosier who might be light enough to have stayed with the real LT, but, then again, his team is 1-9 and I haven't heard Kosier's name mentioned with those of Walter Jones, Jonathan Ogden, Willie Roaf and Orlando Pace lately, have you? So, perhaps, he's just a symbol of an out-sized, overmatched team.

Bottom line is that some of these men need to eat many helpings at their Thankgsiving Day feast to gain some much needed mass, while some of these guys need to eat only the protein and lay off the stuffing and the pies that will be served up for dessert. After all, opposing players qualify as protein, don't they? Especially opposing quarterbacks.

But, then again, the Broncos' two guards are the lightest in the league at their positions, and, last time I checked, the Broncos move the ball as well as anyone in the NFL. Which means, of course, that to a certain extent, it's not the size of the dog in the fight, but the size of the fight in the dog (and how many times have you heard that one?). (There are those, of course, who have questioned the methods of the offensive linemen of the Broncos for years, but we'll leave that discussion for a different day).

There are some good light guys, such as pinball-type RBs Warrick Dunn and Brian Westbrook, but at some point in the season those guys would qualify for finalists in the Mr. Human Bruise contest. That said, I, for one, do believe that in the NFL size matters. The 5'9, 165 running back that was the best you ever saw in HS gets supplanted in college by the 6', 200 running back who can run just as fast as and well as the guy you saw in HS, except he can knock over some opponents, and, then, with certain exceptions, that guy gets supplanted in the NFL by the 6'2", 225 RB who can just maim people and who hits the holes just as fast. That's the way it is. Bigger, stronger, faster, harder hitting.

Why? Because, like anything else, where there's serious competition for jobs, the meritocracy is fierce. That said, there is plenty of room in the league for the Teddy Bruschis, the Dan Kleckos, the Dunns and the Westbrooks, because the last time I checked, the games aren't won in the weigh room or the weight room.

They play the game on some kind of turf, not scales.

Food for thought? Most definitely.

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