Throwback Thursday: Ronnie Lott

Welcome back to our Throwback Thursday blog. Each week, we spotlight one of our favorite throwback superstars. We choose these stars using a rigorous scientific process we know in-house as “Whoever Nick Feels Like Writing About This Week Unless Threatened By One Of The Seahawks Homers In The Office.” This week’s Throwback Thursday is one of the most competitive and vicious defensive players in football history: Ronnie Lott.

People talk endlessly about the competitiveness of guys like Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant. With all due respect, those dudes have nothing on Ronnie Lott. 

It wasn’t just that Lott wanted to be the best (he did). It wasn’t that he mastered all four secondary positions (he did) and made multiple All-Pro First Teams as both a safety and cornerback (he did). It wasn’t that he was one of the hardest hitters in football history (he was), and one of the most relentless pursuers (he was that, too). It was that Ronnie Lott was the kind of competitive, if an injured finger would have caused him to miss a few (early season) games, he’d cut off that finger so he could play… and he did. Now that’s competitive.

Like any other all-timer, Lott’s got his share of accolades and records: 10x Pro Bowler, 6x All-Pro First Team, All 1980s First Team, All 1990s Second Team, 2x league leader in interceptions, #11 on the NFL’s Top 100 Players, 4x NFL champion, 8th all time in career interceptions… etc. ad nauseam.

As with any other truly special player, though, it isn’t really about the numbers or the plaudits. It’s about the intensity, the will to win, the sheer drive to be better than anyone else. It’s astonishingly difficult to master a single position in the NFL… let alone three or four. Lott made it look effortless.

And maybe that was the other thing; Lott may have been one of the most driven, hardest working men in the history of the game… but he was also one of the most gifted. He was possessed of sort of a football clairvoyance, a supernatural sense of where the ball was going, and when. Half the time he knew before the opposing quarterback did.

His natural gifts went beyond the prescient, though. He was every bit as astonishing and impossible as a physical specimen, with jackalope footspeed and sasquatch strength. Every modern player that’s ever complained about the Legion of Boom hitting too hard ought to thank their lucky stars they never had to face down Lott in Candlestick; he’d have broken their spirits (and likely at least a couple of bones).

So, really, what you have when you talk about Ronnie Lott is a psychic superman possessed of an otherworldly drive to destroy his enemies and an unnatural pain threshold. He was, basically, football’s Jason Vorhees… only extremely charismatic, moral, and likeable. Charitable, thoughtful, and kind off the field, Lott was everything you’d wish your kids might grow up to be… and everything you prayed they’d never run into.

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