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Bill Kwon

Sports Watch

By Bill Kwon

Tuesday, January 30, 2001

Can Ravens’ defense
stand test of time?

WE not only live in a "me-first" generation, full of guys who speak in the irritating third person.

We also live in an age of instant gratification.

So I have to chuckle when Baltimore Ravens' linebacker Ray Lewis proclaims, "This is the greatest defense ever!"

After one season.

Sure, the season included the Ravens' 34-7 crushing of the New York Giants in Super Bowl XXXV in which Lewis was the game's MVP.

And their awesome postseason showing, yielding just one offensive touchdown in four playoff games.

And an all-world year by Lewis, who was also the league's defensive MVP.

But it's just one season, folks. Wait 'til next year.

Lewis and his Ravens got a Super Bowl ring because of their defensive efforts and looked overpowering in dominating the Giants.

But until Lewis and his Baltimore teammates can start talking about getting one more for the thumb, I'll still take Pittsburgh's "Steel Curtain" as the best NFL defense ever.

Green Bay, in the heyday of the Packers, wasn't bad, either. Or the original "Purple People Eaters" -- the Minnesota Vikings -- and another "Fearsome Foursome" who represented the Los Angeles Rams.

They were more than one-year wonders.

But, as I've said, we live in an age of the quick fix. We're quick to pull the trigger. We want to proclaim someone's the best as fast as we can.

Take Tiger Woods, for example. He's the latest icon of our age, inheriting the honors from Michael Jordan

Unquestionably, what Woods accomplished in 2000 was the greatest single-season performance by any golfer.

But does that make him the greatest golfer ever?

Not just yet, folks.

In time maybe. At least until Tiger wins 20 majors to match the number that Nicklaus has won in his career.

Not until then.

During the Sony Open, Tom Lehman was asked about golf's greatest putters. Obviously, the name of the tournament winner Brad Faxon was among them.

Tiger putted great in 2000, Lehman noted, adding that it was one of the reasons for his success last year.

"But Nicklaus has been doing that for 30 years," he said.

In other words, the test of time counts for something.

The subject of Tiger's matching his own success this year was brought up at the Senior Skins Game at Wailea, Maui, last weekend.

GOLF greats Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer, Gary Player and Hale Irwin -- and, believe me, they've stood the test of time -- talked about it.

Palmer said wryly, he has had so many down years after a great year that the media kept referring to all the comebacks he has made.

"I probably made six to eight comebacks, according to the media," Palmer said.

In terms of longevity, no one in any sport can probably match Player. He has won tournaments in five different decades and he's hoping to make it six decades in 2001.

So having just one great year has no meaning for him.

"I don't think of it in terms of years," Player said. "I think about it as a career, as one continuous amount of years."

They were talking about golf, but it's as difficult repeating a great year in the NFL.

Just ask the St. Louis Rams. Weren't they called the greatest offensive team in NFL history after the 1999 season? That claim lasted, what, all of one year?

So let's just wait and see what happens to the Ravens next season before we start talking greatest-ever drivel.

Bill Kwon has been writing
about sports for the Star-Bulletin since 1959.
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