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Chris: Many technical factors come into play when selecting the best safety of all time. How good are their coverage skills? Are they an intimidating presence, capable of causing wide receivers to question the amount of cushioning their helmets provide? Do they have good enough hands to intercept passes? Are they athletic enough to run an interception back for a touchdown? Has any safety ever unashamedly danced to the Men Without Hats song, “The Safety Dance”?
Joe: John Lynch is the best safety of all time. With a Super Bowl ring, All-Pro nine times, No. 2 best player of all time for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and is also listed as the 93rd best defensive player of all time. John was a great Stanford player and is currently a TV analyst. His game knowledge is respected by fans and players alike.
Ralphie: John Lynch is NOT the best safety ever because he has lost so much speed that he's very rarely even asked to play safety anymore.
Brad: John Lynch was a good safety, but his career just isn’t as spectacular as Ronnie Lott's.
Chris: Rooting against a particular player or team and having that team always come out on top can lead one to believe said player or team was most likely given three wishes by a genie, one of which included never losing a game. Such was the case for Ronnie Lott, who, being an employee of the San Francisco 49ers and winning four Super Bowls, came to be viewed as possessed by myself. Everyone knows how Lott chose to have part of his pinky finger amputated (rather than having surgery to correct it, which would have caused him to miss part of the season), but not everyone knows that Lott’s pinky gestated into a full hand, which went on to become a world champion thumb wrestler, and now resides inside a glass case in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Brad: Ronnie Lott is the best safety ever because he was in control of his game play, was a strong force and has an amazing interception record.
Ralphie: Ronnie Lott is NOT the best safety ever because he played so many other positions that he couldn't become the greatest at just one.
Joe: Ronnie Lott is not the best safety of all time because he split his playing time between cornerback and safety. He was a great player and respected as one of the hardest hitters of all time.
Ralphie: Troy Polamalu is the best safety ever because teams plan strategies with him in mind, and other quarterbacks have even said they're outright afraid of him.
Brad: Troy Polamalu is definitely a valuable player and puts his all into his game play. I think he has the potential to be as great a safety as Ronnie Lott.
Chris: Since Ronnie Lott’s 49ers teams never lost a game during his 10 years with the team, and since Polamalu’s Steelers teams have had their secondary violated by the New England Patriots and various other teams on numerous occasions, I think the only option that could push Polamalu over the top would be for his hair to detach itself (like on the Old Spice commercial) and violently tackle Tom Brady. However, I don’t see this happening, considering that Polamalu uses Head & Shoulders.
Joe: Troy Polamalu is not the best safety of all time. He was a great one, earning two Super Bowl rings with the Steelers and is an eight-time All-Pro. The best reason he is not the best in my opinion is . . . well, it has got to be the hair. He is just too pretty to be the best tough and mean safety of all time. Sorry, Troy.
Chris: While I have yet to be kept awake, lying in bed thinking about this, I wonder if Rod Woodson ever ponders how his career would have been different had he let his scalp thatch grow out like Polamalu’s. Having spent half of his career as a safety, the wind resistance alone from his mane would have reduced his speed, likely resulting in him spending all of his career at safety. As far as endorsement deals, his hair would have attracted everything from shampoo to hedge trimmers.
Joe: Rod Woodson is not the best safety of all time because he split his playing time between cornerback and safety. He was a great player and holds the NFL record for the most interceptions returned for a touchdown.
Brad: Rod Woodson is really more of an all-around great player than he is best safety ever.
Ralphie: Rod Woodson is NOT the best safety ever because his health has gotten in the way. He might have become the greatest if he had stayed healthy.
Try on a new pair of Sports Briefs with the Gab Four every Friday. Find out more about Joe, Chris, Brad and Ralphie, and read their solo columns on their individual pages.