Sunday Rockpile: Who is the most valuable man in sports?

Justin Edmonds

If you could pick one elite athlete-archetype to blindly start a sports franchise with, who would you pick?

There is a major breaking news story that is going widely under-reported and has not even been mentioned, I don't think, in any of the local sports talk radio chatter or on TV or twitter.

Maybe it's been talked about at your school or place of work, but I think I have an exclusive; it turns out today some highly paid professionals start a season of a game of throwing around a pigskin with ones hands. The game for some reason is called "football."

Jay Tymkovich already covered quite nicely this week the prevalent notion that Denver is a football, or at least Bronco, town. This has bothered me on occasion as I have fallen in and out and back in and, of course, back out of love with football. I am in for the moment and as such have allowed my mind to wander to the NFL in recent days.

Fear not, my blood runs purple and I am with my Rockies to the very last day of the season, but the inevitability of today had me thinking cross-sport, and more specifically, about the value of individual athletes. With the minor league season winding down and Rockies games seaming duller and duller, I thought this might be a fun time to think about the most valuable guy on any team in any sport.

Let me first clarify. The question is what theoretical single player on any given team in any given sport would have the most impact on getting his team wins? Is it the star quarterback? How about the ace pitcher? It has been said that a hot goalie (really in either hockey or soccer) can win you a cup. Or does the crown of most valuable commodity in sports go the the basketball star who can dominate both ends of the floor?

To win only one game, a great starting pitcher may have the upper hand. A stellar pitching performance can shut-down, frustrate, and simply beat an opponent to the tune of the offense standing no chance at all. The problem is of course, that pitchers only play once every five days and usually don't score.

I think a better case could be made for the pitcher if you were allowed to combine the top two. Randy Johnson and Curt Schilling come to mind as an example. The two-headed ace can carry a baseball team to great heights.

It's hard to argue for any position player in baseball. You would think if there was any position player capable of single-handedly keeping his team in contention it would be a gold glove short stop who regularly hits for power and average and is constantly among the league leaders in... ...sigh.

The quarterback is a popular pick for most important man in sports. They date celebrities and often have mind-bogglingly stupendous hair. Not to mention, QB's have to process about a thousand zeta-bytes of ram per millisecond. Or something like that. Petyon Manning delivering an old-fashioned shellacking, at the glorious expense of the Baltimore Ravens was a compelling case that quarterbacks are the most valuable people in all of sports.

Also, the years of dominance from Tom Brady's Patriots and the fact that the Arizona Cardinals went from Superbowl team to laughing-stock during the uttering of the sentence "I'm retiring" by Kurt Warner, should be submitted as supporting evidence in the case for the quarterback.

A lot of folks around these parts (I don't really talk like that, I mean people in Colorado) remember fondly the glory days of the Avalanche and sir Patrick Roy. I barely remember that. But if someone who did remember that were here I'm sure they would swear up and down that a great goalie could carry a team as well as anyone.

And then there is the game where single-name recognition happens. Jordan. Lebron. Kobe. Hakeem. Wilt. Kareem. Russell. Magic.

In a game where only five men take the court and all of them have to play both ways, couldn't it easily be said that a two-way player who can control the game both physically and cerebralally is the most valuable guy in sports?Michael Jordan and Bill Russell have gold rings that can do all the talking for them and LeBron James has been making the case as MVP of the entire sports planet for a couple of years now.

Oh, one other thought to consider. just to throw one more monkey wrench into the malfunctioning machine that is this legitimately preposterous exercise. I specifically didn't ask the question; what is the most valuable position in sports? I thought this would disqualify basketball's best players and thus make the debate less interesting.

Therefore, if our question is simple in regards to which person has the most impact on a team, I'd like to include NFL head coaches. Certainly make an argument for any other head coaches in the comments section below, but I think it is reasonable to suggest that NFL head coaches have the most sway in that department.

Also, let's keep GM's and the like out of it. Assume, for the purposes of this (again quite silly) exercise, that you are a GM under a veil of ignorance. You don't get to know what city you will be in, what the rest of the team will look like, or the specific names of the players you have to choose from.

Mr or Mrs. General Manager please take your pick.

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