Thom Loverro: In today's NFL, it's all too easy to forget the greats of yesterday

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In the world of today, a time of epidemic memory loss and adulation of the present, New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft has declared he has the greatest coach in the history of the National Football League along with the greatest quarterback in NFL history.

That would mean that Bill Belichick and Tom Brady are the greatest coach-quarterback combination in league history.

"I don't think there's been in the history of the NFL -- I think we're privileged to have, probably, the finest coach and the finest quarterback, and we happen to have them at the same time," Kraft told the NBC Sports Network.

Vince Lombardi and Bart Starr might have a case against Kraft's claim. Lombardi and Starr won five NFL championships, including the first two Super Bowls, in seven years.

Joe Montana and Bill Walsh might object to Kraft's claim as well, since that quarterback-coach combination won three Super Bowls together and a fourth after Walsh was gone, unless you really think George Seifert was the force behind that 1989 49ers championship.

They all may take a back seat to Paul Brown and Otto Graham, who won four All-America Football Conference championships together with the Cleveland Browns and then three NFL titles.

Great players are often great because of great coaches, and many times the reverse is true.

Then there is Redskins coach Joe Gibbs, who you could make the case separates himself from his Hall of Fame coaching colleagues because he won three Super Bowls with three different quarterbacks.

He won with Joe Theismann, Doug Williams and Mark Rypien. But if Gibbs had been tied to a quarterback throughout his coaching career -- the first stint as Redskins coach -- it could have been Doug Williams. Though he wound up starting in Super Bowl XXII after backing up Jay Schroeder on and off throughout the year, Williams could have had a Hall of Fame career if he and Gibbs had been together from the beginning when Williams was drafted in Tampa Bay in 1978.

Gibbs was the Bucs offensive coordinator then and, according to the book "Third and a Mile: The Trials and Tribulations of the Black Quarterback" by William Rhoden, the two were close from the start:

"I used to spend hours at Joe's house going over stuff when I was a rookie. I used to eat dinner at Joe Gibbs' house. I knew his boys, J.D. and Coy. He's one of the two people most responsible for drafting me. ...During the off-season, Gibbs came down to Louisiana and spent the day while I was student-teaching. He took me and my future wife, Janet, to McDonald's. That was the Tampa Bay budget at the time. From my understanding, when he got back, Joe told them, 'If y'all are looking for a quarterback, y'all need to draft Doug Williams.' "

Gibbs and Williams could have been among the great NFL coach-quarterback teams of all time -- maybe even better than Belichick and Brady.

Examiner

columnist Thom Loverro is the co-host of "The Sports Fix" from noon to 2 p.m. Monday through Friday on ESPN980 and espn980.com. Contact him at tloverro@washingtonexaminer.com.

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Thom Loverro

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The Washington Examiner