Paul Rabil
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The Paul Rabil GOAT Discussion Officially Starts Now

The GOAT conversation in the sport of lacrosse has always been tricky. Unlike the NFL, NBA or MLB, professional lacrosse draws less attention than the college game. For a long time, the GOAT discussion circled around guys like Gary Gait, Mike Powell, and even Dave Pietramala, but as the professional lacrosse landscape becomes more popular, it is time to reevaluate who we think the GOAT is. My guy Alex Cervantes had a great post on Kareem Abdul-Jabbar being the greatest player in the history of basketball which sparked my interest for this post. With that being said, Paul Rabil is the GOAT of lacrosse and it is not really close.

High School

Paul Rabil grew up in Gaithersburg, Maryland. Rabil started playing lacrosse at 12-years old and went on to attend DeMatha Catholic High School in Hyattsville, Maryland. At DeMatha, Rabil became a superstar and started to gain national attention. From 2002-2004, Rabil won three Catholic Conference Championships and in his junior and senior years was a national All-American. Rabil capped off 2004 by winning the Washington Post’s Player of the year.

College

Rabil decided to stay close to home in Maryland and attended Johns Hopkins University, following in the footsteps of another legendary midfielder in Kyle Harrison, who took home the Tewaaraton Award when Rabil was a freshman.

In 2005 as a freshman, Rabil earned third team All-American honors as Hopkins went on to capture the National Championship. After Kyle Harrison graduated from Hopkins, Rabil fully took the reigns of the offense and became the best midfielder in the country. He was a first-team All-American in his final three years of college which included another National Championship in 2007.

Although Rabil never won a Tewaaraton Award while in college, he left Hopkins as one of the all-time greats. Hopkins has not won another National Championship since Rabil graduated in 2007.

International Career

International lacrosse has not been an Olympic sport since 1930, and the Federation of International Lacrosse governs the international game. In the FIL games, countries round up their best lacrosse players and compete for gold in a fashion similar to the Olympics, but on a smaller scale.

The FIL games take place every four years and will be held in 2022. Rabil competed in the 2010, 2014 and 2018 games winning two gold medals and taking home silver in 2014. In 2010, he dominated international play. Team USA won gold over Canada, Rabil was named the best midfielder, Championship Game MVP and earned a spot on the All-Tournament team.

In 2014, the US came up short against Canada and took home silver. Despite the loss, Rabil was named best midfielder and to the All-Tournament team. 2018, the US captured gold over Canada again and once again he was named to the All-Tournament team.

Professional Career

This is where Paul Rabil separates himself from other players in the GOAT conversation. While Gary Gait, Mike Powell or even Lyle Thompson had a better college career, Rabil’s impact and growth of the sport cannot go unrecognized.

Like the international game, professional lacrosse was kind of a joke. The MLL (Major League Lacrosse) only had eight teams and most guys had second jobs because the salaries were nothing. Rabil increased viewership and popularity in the pro game. Coming out of Hopkins, he was endorsed by every major lacrosse brand including Warrior and even landed a deal with Red Bull.

Rabil’s professional resume is incredible when you think about how much pressure he had coming out of college. Being the first overall pick is daunting by itself, but being expected to turn around the franchise is an entirely different level of pressure. Rabil played for the Boston Cannons for seven years before being traded to the New York Lizards. During his seven years in Boston, he collected a number of awards and accolades, and Rabil left Boston as a 7x All-Star, 6x First Team All-Pro, 2x League MVP, 3x Offensive POTY and captured an MLL Championship in 2011.

Coming off his 2011 championship, Rabil was regarded as the best player in the world. In 2015, he was traded to the New York Lizards in a blockbuster trade. He made an immediate impact in New York being named an All-Star and winning another championship where he was the MVP of the game.

Premier Lacrosse League

The PLL is one of the impactful things to happen when it comes to the growth of lacrosse. Paul and his brother Mike Rabil formed this league sperate from the MLL. Rabil was one of the first players to make a living off the sport and his main motivation behind forming the PLL was to help others achieve that same goal. Players in the PLL earn higher wages, own stock of the league itself and many have made it their full time job.

The MLL was known for not paying the players a high salary because frankly the league just did not make enough money. After the PLL was formed in 2019, it begun to attract some of the biggest MLL stars and brought in a new audience the game had never had before. With the increased popularity of the PLL, it led to a merger between the two leagues in December of 2020. The PLL became the only professional league and ironically, the Boston Cannons were the only expansion team added during the merge.

Rabil headlines a talented but disappointing Cannons team in the PLL. On July 6th, Rabil became professional lacrosse’s all-time leading point scorer with his 644th point. Rabil does not seem to be slowing down anytime soon and should only add to his total in the future.

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