Eye Black Has Helped Lead Many Football Greats to Championships
From thin lines to warrior style full-face paint, eye black has long been a part of the biggest football game of the year. Many of the game’s greatest have dawned the under-eye sports staple to help them hoist Vince’s trophy. We can’t blame them. Eye black, and the colors we carry here at isplack, go a long way towards uniting a team and getting an individual athlete game-ready. Once the eye black goes on, the game face is complete and the athlete is ready to compete.
Considering this makes it no surprise at all that players such as Tom Brady and Shannon Sharpe have conquered the game’s greatest test with eye black on their face. We think they all made a great decision on game day to include eye black. We are talking about some of the best leaders in football history here, the type of players you want to root for. Leaders know what helps unite a team, and not much can unite a team to the level of eye black and team colors. Combine the two and you have the genesis of isplack.
In reminiscing of great players and eye black this week, we realized there have been a plethora of players to make eye black a part of their championship day. So many, in fact, that it called for a top-10 list. To qualify, the player had to wear eye black in at least one Big Game he competed in. Here is our list of the top-10 eye black wearing players in Big Game history.
10. Russell Wilson – Having already played in two of these games and won one, Russell is well on his way to becoming an all-time great at the quarterback position and just recently turned 27 years-old. In his two championship games, Wilson owns a 117.4 QB rating with 4 touchdowns and just 1 interception. Although that 1 INT is pretty memorable, Wilson makes the cut for recent greatness and future potential. Plus, Wilson is an avid eye black supporter, and that goes a long way with us.
9. Rob Gronkowski – Already one of the greatest tight ends in the history of the game, Gronkowski suited up for two Big Games before age 26. He lost his first go-around, but was a huge part of the Patriots winning the Big Game in 2015, catching 6 passes for 68 yards and a touchdown. Plus, Gronk rocks a solid eye black line and celebrates a big win as well as anyone. We love his passion and his game, so he makes the list.
8. Charles Woodson – One of the greatest defensive backs of all-time also carries one of the strongest eye black games of all-time. In fact, it’s hard to picture Woodson without his signature thick black paint. It certainly helped him excel on the field, as the recent retiree just completed a Hall-of-Fame worthy career that featured 65 interceptions and 9 pro-bowl selections. Woodson played in two big games, winning one. Woodson broke his collarbone knocking a pass away from No. 7 on our list in 2011, which gets some extra points on our squad. The man deserved the ring after that.
7. Ben Roethlisberger – Although his eye black style is more faint and unassuming, Ben makes the cut due to his two rings and three appearances. While he was not awarded the game MVP in either of his championship wins, one of his wide receivers did in each instance. Guess who was throwing the ball? Yeah, our guy Big Ben. His stats aren’t great when playing for Vince’s trophy, but we are all about wins, and two of these wins means more than stats.
6. Shannon Sharpe – The Hall-of-Fame tight end helped revolutionize the position in his 14-year career, which included a perfect 3-0 in the Big Game. Again, Sharpe’s stats are eye-popping in these games, but 3-0 speaks for itself. Plus, Shannon gets bonus points for being one of the most physically imposing players in Super Bowl history. Have a problem with his ranking? Take it up with Shannon.
5. Ray Lewis – One of the all-time great linebackers brought one of the all-time great eye black looks to the Big Game. Lewis was pure intimidation and an absolute beast once that eye black was painted on his face, Ultimate Warrior style. The two-time winner of the Big Game was so important in the 2001 game that he was named MVP of the game even though his team put up 34 points. Lewis was the heart and soul of the Ravens and the essence of team unity. We don’t underestimate the importance of unity, so Lewis is in our top-5.
4. Terrell Davis – T.D. was the right way to refer to this running back who was perhaps the best in the game during his brief career. Unfortunately shortened by injury, Davis won his only two trips to the Big Game, helping John Elway lead back-to-back championships for the Denver Broncos in 1998-1999. Davis was the MVP of the 1998 game, dominating the Green Bay Packers to the tune of 157 yards and three touchdowns. Davis ran for 102 yards the next year against Atlanta, all while wearing some slick eye black.
3. Troy Aikman – This three-time champion and MVP of the 1992 game had a subtle eye black look that clearly worked wonders for his game. Aikman lead a team stacked with stars to three championships in four years, and was the unquestioned leader of the pack. He owned a 111.9 QB rating in his three Big Games to back it up. Aikman has now called a couple of these in the broadcast booth as well, and we think he should put the eye black back on the next time he gets that opportunity.
2. Jerry Rice – Perhaps the greatest wide receiver of all time is back in the Big Game storyline thanks to this year’s version being played in his back yard of San Francisco (Well, Santa Clara). As a member of the 49ers, Rice played in, and won, three championships. Don’t forget his fourth Big Game came with Oakland, though that one didn’t turn out as well. Regardless, Rice caught 33 passes for 589 yards and a ridiculous 8 touchdowns in four championship games. He was the MVP of the 1989 game and holds several records for this game.
1. Tom Brady – Having played in six of these games, it seems as if a Big Game without Brady is a little odd. He also brings a consistent eye black look to the Big Game that helped him win four of them. The three-time MVP of the championship game has 13 career TD’s and just 4 INT’s in his six contests. It seems as though Brady isn’t done and he is already No.1 on our list, and for good reason. We also appreciate his dedication to the eye black, and his ability to unite his team as a leader, two big factors on this list.
Want to make your Big Game complete? Grab some isplack at your local Dick’s Sporting Goods store and bring you’re A-game on Sunday like these 10 greats once did.
Peter Zana, VP Sales