Starting Tuesday, the “40 for 40” series presented by The Prescription Shop will begin and run for 39 straight days here on Connect-Bridgeport. As pointed out in the article announcing the series, the stories will focus on the top 40 players from the last 40 years, which stretches back to the 1972 season and includes the current 2012 team. On the 39th - and final - day, the top two players will be announced so there should still be a little bit of mystery coming down the stretch.
Before I go any further, for those who may believe this poll is a scientific, ironclad list of the best players of the last 40 years, please understand this is meant to be fun and to spur discussion. If your name or that of someone you know is not on the list, it doesn’t mean that person wasn’t a solid football player. If the name of someone you believe is on the list is either too high in your mind or shouldn’t be there at all, or even not high enough, that’s fine. This series is an opinion series. It is who a committee involved with the selection process believes are the top 40 players.
I guess it would only be fair after making that statement to mention who the committee consists of before talking more. Along with me, the three other selection committee members consisted of Indians Radio Broadcast crew members Travis Jones and Tim Brady, along with WDTV Sports Director Joe Brocato.
For those shaking your head, we’re very much aware of two things. First, there are no Bridgeport High School graduates on the panel that shaped the final list, which is a bit out of necessity and a bit out of design. It’s out of necessity because we can’t change where any of us went to high school at and by design because I feel fairly comfortable that all four aren’t married to any single year, player or coach at the school. None of us have any skin in this.
The other thing we’re aware of is that the four individuals mentioned, including myself, have working knowledge very specifically back to the late 1980s at the earliest. In fact, it would be safe to say that the committee members as named are likely best to give you the top players of the last 20 years as opposed to the last 40.
Of course, that brings me to how on earth did we not only shape the list on players prior to 1992 and, for that matter, shape the list entirely. Well, we brought in others. Some folks we brought in together, some folks we brought in individually, some folks we talked to on the phone and even a few were involved in social media exchanges.
Let me assure you the parties that helped shaped this list are at the top of the Bridgeport High School football knowledge food chain. In fact, this list only progressed to a series when we were able to secure the services of this group of individuals under the agreement of anonymity.
All of those involved – and let me caution anyone who wants to go after coach Josh Nicewarner or his staff that outside of comments on players selected they had no involvement – felt better being anonymous because they didn’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings. I can appreciate that. At the same time, the ranking involved with nearly all of the selections proved to be uniquely similar amongst all of the groups involved - whether it was the named committee members, the folks we brought in as a group, those by phone and those by social media. To have people provide input on their own top 40 far removed from others providing a top 40 list and see almost identical names from top to bottom was a good indication that those chosen to help mold things were on the money or at least had the correct change.
As we begin this process, let me reiterate: Don’t take this poll or yourself too seriously. This is meant to be for fun, to spur conversation and debate. Nothing more, and nothing less.
If you don't see any pictures with a certain story, it's not because we don't like you. It's because we don't have any. And the same for any video clips we have of some and don't have of others; it's an availability thing.
The “40 for 40” by The Prescription Shop series is much like those parlays everyone used to play. At the top it said “For Entertainment Purposes Only.” Of course everyone knew with the parlays that wasn’t the case. Here, it’s exactly the case.
So sit back and enjoy, have some fun and know that while we understand this is entertainment and not scientific, it was also crafted diligently and seriously.
Editor's Note: Connect-Bridgeport would like to thank Alan Dye and Joe Brocato of WDTV for pulling video that was available for this series. We also would like to thank Bridgeport High School Journalism Director Mrs. Alice Rowe for providing yearooks that provided art for this series.