Pro football legend Jim Brown passed away this week, and we certainly noticed all the commentary about his status as “the best ever” this and “the best ever” that. We don’t mind such hyperbole in Brown’s case, though, because he was definitely one of the best in the history of the sport. It’s sort of silly to have to anoint a single player, too, as the “greatest of all time”—but modern mediots and shallow-minded fans seem to think it’s necessary. In reality, it’s a fruitless exercise.

We ourselves have fallen victim at times, but mostly in opposition to the label being applied to someone completely unworthy: we’re looking at you, Cheatin’ Tom Brady. In this case, Brown is very worthy as we started exploring years ago in this space. When we look at running backs, there are only two guys in the discussion for the best ever: Brown and Detroit Lions star Barry Sanders. No one else deserves consideration, period. We will argue that perspective forever.

In terms of the overall “best ever” in the sport, both RBs get to the final round, too: we put them into our Top 8 when we did our analysis three years ago this month. In fact, Brown and Sanders were in our Final Four, along with New York Giants linebacker Lawrence Taylor and Cincinnati Bengals offensive lineman Anthony Muñoz. But what stands out to us the most is this statement below at the tail end of our lengthy analysis:

“If pushed, we’d give the GOAT title to both Brown and Sanders, in two separate categories: the former for players with franchise fortune, and the latter for players with no franchise fortune at all.”

In the end, we have no problem with people “hyping” Brown, because he was that good. We do think Sanders was “better” due to contextual realities regarding their respective teammates explained previously, but we’re never going to argue against Brown’s dominance of the sport or his quality as a player. This is one situation where the adulation poured upon a recently deceased athlete actually is based in fact—not myth. Amen to that … and Godspeed, Mr. Brown. You were great.