10 Least Physically Gifted NFL Superstars Ever

James ToljCorrespondent IIJanuary 4, 2012

10 Least Physically Gifted NFL Superstars Ever

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    Which guys on the list of NFL.com's Top 100 Players of All-Time had to overcome a lack of physical superiority to become NFL superstars?

    As one could imagine, the majority of players on this list are at the quarterback position, but a few others who are the considered the cream of the crop at their respective spots also made the list.

    If this slideshow shows anything, it is that sometimes being a great player is as much about heart and dedication as it is about being a fantastic athlete.

90. Kurt Warner, QB

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    Kurt Warner led one of the most prolific offenses in NFL history during his time with the St. Louis Rams, but he wasn't an instant success out of college.

    Warner wasn't drafted, and after going to training camp with the Green Bay Packers, didn't make the final roster. Warner went on to work in a grocery store. He played in the Arena Football League for a number of seasons, and in 1998, was given a shot with the Rams.

    After an injury to starting quarterback Trent Green, let's just say Warner capitalized on the opportunity.

    The offense that Warner oversaw was exciting, and earned the nickname "The Greatest Show on Turf."

    That isn't because of Warner's amazing athletic ability, though. He was a purely a pocket passer with a solid arm, but he wasn't very mobile. 

    A Super Bowl victory win with the Rams and two Super Bowl appearances later (one with the Rams and the other with the Arizona Cardinals), and Warner is among the greatest quarterbacks in NFL history.

83. Norm Van Brocklin, QB

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    Norm Van Brocklin wasn't the greatest athlete in the 1950's, but he sure did make an impact on the NFL. 

    Unfortunately, Brocklin was drafted by a team that already had a star quarterback: the St. Louis Rams.

    He had to share quarterbacking duties with Bob Waterfield, but Brocklin had a number of impressive accomplishments during his playing days.

    He still holds the record for the most passing yards in a single-game (554 yards), and he led the NFL in both passing and punting on numerous occasions (yes, he was a quarterback and a punter).

80. Troy Aikman, QB

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    To be honest, Troy Aikman has had his share of mobile moments.

    In his rookie year with the Dallas Cowboys, he eclipsed 300 rushing yards on the season (although he never got more than 172 rushing yards a season the rest of his career). He would occasionally escape pressure and make a throw on the run or pick up a few yards, but Aikman was constantly getting nailed by the pass-rush.

    He did have a stellar career with the Cowboys. He won three Super Bowls, but after a hit by LaVar Arrington, Aikman suffered the 10th concussion of his career and was forced to retire.

36. Raymond Berry, E

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    It was Raymond Berry's hard work and desire that got him on the list of the NFL's greatest players. If it wasn't for that, Berry probably wouldn't have had much of a career.

    Berry has a number of stories that surround his playing days. He didn't start on his high school team until he was a senior even though his dad was the coach. Berry wore special shoes because one leg was shorter than the other, and he didn't have a great college career either.

    Berry hit his stride in the NFL, and as a member of the Baltimore Colts, had the great Johnny Unitas throwing him the ball.

    During his time in the NFL, Berry was never considered a speedster, but he was sure-handed and had a propensity for making big plays in the clutch.

28. Emmitt Smith, RB

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    Even with his 5'9" 215-pound frame, Emmitt Smith is easily the second most physically talented player on this list, but it was his tenacity not physique that turned him into one of the greatest running backs in NFL history.

    Smith wasn't a fast runner, in fact, a number of NFL teams thought he was too small and too slow to become and NFL running back. Boy, were they wrong.

    Not only did Smith accumulate 164 touchdowns on the ground as a running back, but he is the NFL's all-time leading rusher with 18,335 yards. Alongside Troy Aikman, Smith won three Super Bowls in his long NFL career.

25. Dan Marino, QB

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    Dan Marino had one of the strongest arms the NFL has ever seen, and he's lucky he did, because he didn't stand a chance of playing running back.

    The former Miami Dolphins quarterback did scramble for a score or two in his career (he had nine), but each time he rushed into the end zone, Marino looked stiff as a board.

    He didn't need to do much running though. Marino threw for 61,361 yards and 420 touchdowns over his NFL career. His second year in the league (1984), he set the single-season record for passing yards with 5,084, and it wasn't broken until Drew Brees' 2011-2012 season (in Week 17).

21. Tom Brady, QB

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    There were a few reasons that Tom Brady fell to the sixth-round in the 2000 NFL Draft. One of those reasons was Brady's subpar combine showing. 

    It isn't hard to tell that Brady isn't quick, but he was even beat by super athlete Chad Pennington in the 40-yard dash.

    Brady has done pretty well for himself though. He has won three Super Bowls and was the MVP of two. Year after year, the New England Patriots are in the playoffs and a serious contender for the Super Bowl regardless of how poor their defense is.

    And he has taught a valuable lesson to NFL teams preparing for the draft—look at a player's intangibles.

8. Peyton Manning, QB

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    After a season where the Indianapolis Colts won just two games without Peyton Manning, there is no question that he is the most important player on the team's roster.

    But if one has watched Manning play, he is as stationary as a mannequin (he does have 17 regular season rushing touchdowns).

    However, his immobility has never really been an issue. He was the number one overall pick in the 1998 NFL Draft and was picked over the physically superior Ryan Leaf.

    Manning has thrown for 54,828 yards and 399 touchdowns (in the regular season). He has racked up a plethora of records over his career, and has reached 50,000 passing yards and 4,000 completions quicker than any other quarterback in NFL history.

    He also led the Colts to a Super Bowl victory in the 2006-2007 season, and brought the team back in 2009-2010 only to lose to the New Orleans Saints.

4. Joe Montana, QB

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    Joe Montana is the definition of clutch. During his playing days, he led the San Francisco 49ers to 39 fourth quarter comeback victories. He had ice water in his veins, but he never had much spring in his step.

    He did run the ball though. Montana had 1,676 rushing yards and 20 touchdowns over his career, but it was the threat he posed as a passer that opened up running lanes. He threw for 40,551 yards and 273 touchdowns over his career.

    As a 49er, Montana led the team to four Super Bowls and won them all. He made the Pro Bowl eight times and his name is spattered all over NFL record books. Many consider him the greatest quarterback in NFL history.

1. Jerry Rice, WR

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    First off, Jerry Rice is a great athlete (and the best on this list). He was picked in the first round of the 1985 NFL Draft and number one on the list of the NFL's greatest players for a reason. But for how good of a player Rice was, his physical prowess didn't measure up.

    Rice played defensive back, wide receiver, running back and quarterback in high school, but wasn't a good enough athlete to garner any Division-I scholarship offers. He attended Mississippi Valley State University.

    Rice consistently beat the NFL's top cornerbacks, and burned secondaries no matter the coverage schemes. It wasn't because he was faster than his opponents.

    He worked extremely hard on every facet of his game. Rice constantly studied the playbook, worked on his route-running, and stayed after practices to perfect his receiving skills.

    Through his career, Rice had 1,548 receptions for 22,895 yards and 197 touchdowns. Alongside Joe Montana and Steve Young, Rice won three Super Bowls. He appeared in another with the Oakland Raiders, and Rice is widely consider the best player to ever play the game.