The issue there was surely that the D700 offered inferior resolution with the difference between 12 and 21 MP being very relivant for the print sizes many event photographers produce. If Canon were giving up both resolution and AF performance to Nikon I'm guessing the end result would be very different.
OK, I buy that the market liked the extra megapixels. However, I maintain that if autofocus was terribly important, they had several other options. Apparently, autofocus took a back seat not only to megapixels, also to sensor size, and cost (you could have had both for a little more money).
I'd guess that the biggest issue for many 5D mk2 users wasnt nesserally the camera being unable to deal with sports or wildlife but rather the spacing and accuracey of the AF points. If a new high resolution FF body had an AF system with say 20ish AF points spread over the same area as the pro system I'm guessing alot of people would be more than happy with it.
Yes, the placing does make them less useful -- they are all pretty close to the middle. They also don't work very well besides the center point.
The part I don't really get though is how someone taking portraits, street, family or wedding pictures would take advantage over the enhanced AF capabilities. You can manually select an AF point with the joystick but the interface is a bit cumbersome -- I find focus and recompose more convenient (though maybe that's because I'm more proficient to focus and recompose). So the advantage is reduced to being able to avoid inaccuracy that may be introduced by focus and recompose -- a plus, but not a make-or-break.
This leaves me suspecting that most of the AF complainers are either expecting to bang away on the shutter button with all points enabled and have the camera choose what to focus on (at which point AF is pretty much guaranteed to have limited accuracy, unless camera can read your mind) or are simply complaining for the sake of complaining.