Tuesday, May 24, 2022

This Week in BOAT Talk Ep. 1: Francis Ngannou & Patrick Mahomes

At the start of the year, we published a piece differentiating between the terms GOAT and BOAT. As the GOAT, an athlete was able to achieve sustained greatness through their accolades, records, championships, etc. But what’s this talk about a BOAT?

The BOAT is the Best of All Time. Unlike the GOAT, you aren’t bound by the laws of longevity. There’s no need to wait for a decade or more to begin a conversation that you can plainly see is going to happen anyway. Nope, you can strictly go by talent and the likelihood to win any given contest, no matter the circumstances.

Last weekend, two men boosted their BOAT candidacy in their respective crafts. Francis Ngannou added a high-value name to his decorated résumé when he defeated Ciryl Gane, an undefeated man he was placed as an underdog against, via unanimous decision. In so doing, Ngannou took another step closer if not fully into heavyweight BOAT waters.

As for Patrick Mahomes, he racked up 378 yards, 3 touchdowns, 0 interceptions, and several BOAT-esque clutch plays that don’t show up on a stat sheet when he led the Kansas City Chiefs to a divisional playoff win over the snakebitten Buffalo Bills.

Kansas City beats Buffalo 42-36 in OT in wild playoff game | who13.com
AP Photo/Ed Zurga

To the untrained ear, there is no difference between these two terms. That’s why the only term used in debates in the sports media and in any discussion platform is “GOAT,” even when the opposing sides are clearly weighing and discussing different criteria. But if you listen more carefully, you’ll notice that this distinction pops up all the time.

Such was the case earlier this week on FS1’s First Things First when Nick Wright was basking in the afterglow of the win of his beloved Kansas City Chiefs and the performance of their star quarterback, Patrick Mahomes.

“And there is nothing more perfect than the best football weekend we have ever seen—because that’s what this weekend was—being punctuated by the best football player we have ever seen winning the day,” Wright said at the top of Monday’s program.

At this point, one of Wright’s cohosts, Kevin Wildes, briefly interjected to express his disapproval to such high praise for a 26-year-old who has only been in the NFL for five seasons. That’s when Wright started spittin’ that BOAT talk.

“Is he the most accomplished? No. All-time quarterback rankings, take all those, crumple them up, and throw ’em in the trash…because everybody knows this: There is not a person watching this show, not one, that if your life were on the line and you were asked, ‘You can have any quarterback (in) NFL history for one game, one drive, one throw, who ya takin’?’ The answer from everyone, from K.C. Wolf the Chiefs’ mascot to Gisele Bundchen, is Patrick bleepin’ Mahomes!”

Moments later, another show cohost Chris Broussard chimed in, unknowingly educating program viewers on the difference between the GOAT and the BOAT.

“I want to address what you said because a lot of people obviously gonna just blow off, ‘Oh, Mahomes (is) the best player ever? Not just the best player right now? You said the best player ever?’

“And it’s premature. However, people were saying Michael Jordan was the greatest basketball player ever long before he won six rings. In 1994 when they built that statue in front of (the) United Center, it says ‘The best there ever was, the best there ever will be.’ That was after three rings.

That time Bob Knight embarrassed and yelled at Michael Jordan during the  1984 Olympics
Michael Jordan, Bobby Knight, Image Credit: Basketball Network

“Bobby Knight, coaching Michael Jordan in the Olympics in 1984, said ‘He’s the best basketball player I’ve ever seen.’ Obviously, Bobby Knight saw all the greats. So I’m not gonna completely dismiss what you said. Obviously, when we talk GOAT, [Mahomes] has to win championships and all that.”

But as Wright alluded, when we talk BOAT, you break things down to even simpler terms: Who would you trust to come through and win based on their talent and likelihood to win on any given night?

Like Patrick Mahomes to Tom Brady, Francis Ngannou doesn’t have the amount of championship wins as the consensus GOAT of his division, Stipe Miocic. But just as Wright argued with Mahomes, if the fate of the world is on the line, your life is depending on it, and you have to choose one heavyweight fighter to win a fight, who are you taking?

If you’re smart, you’d put some serious thought into taking the 2021/2022 version of the greatest KO artist in heavyweight history who has added takedown defense and offensive wrestling to his game and who, when at his best, has steamrolled names like Cain Velasquez, Alistair Overeem, Junior dos Santos, and Stipe Miocic.

And then, when arguably his worst, he beat an undefeated next-generation phenom in Ciryl Gane while on a bum knee. Oh, and by the way, he’s never been dropped by strikes or finished in the most dangerous MMA division. That’s BOAT ish.

And I don’t know about you, but if my life is on the line, I’m riding to safety with the BOAT over any GOAT every time.

You can check out the full segment from the best sports talk show on TV, First Things First, Below.

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