Ryan Mallett as a new Tim Tebow

Ryan Mallett has a cannon for an arm, but how valuable will he be to the Razorbacks this fall? Getty Images

History is a wonderful prism through which to see the game of football -- but it can distort things when it comes to comparing the all-time greats versus their contemporaries.

For example, Walter Payton is rightfully remembered as one of the greatest running backs in NFL history, but in 1981 he didn't even make the Pro Bowl despite rushing for 1,601 yards and eight touchdowns.

Despite those great numbers, Payton was beaten out for a Pro Bowl spot not just by eventual Hall of Famers such as Earl Campbell and Tony Dorsett -- but also by runners like William Andrews, Chuck Muncie, George Rogers and Billy Sims.

The lesson: Voters at that particular moment in time realized those backs were performing at a caliber equal to or better than Payton; ultimately, history did not afford these men the same accolades as Payton for a number of reasons (mostly due to short career lengths), but 29 years ago they were seen as every bit his equal.

Those same fogs of history almost certainly will apply to anyone from this era who is compared with Tim Tebow, the consensus pick by most pundits as the greatest college football player of this generation (and possibly the greatest ever).

That could be really unfortunate for someone like Arkansas Razorbacks quarterback Ryan Mallett, who is every bit the comparable QB to Mr. Tebow.