The 10 Best Wingmen in the NFL
Whether at bar with your buddies or at 35,000-feet in the midst of a dogfight, wingmen are essential. They're selfless, tireless, the type of person who always has your back and pulls out all the stops for your success. When you succeed, they succeed – that's how a wingman views it.
Same in the NFL. Sure, there's 11 teammates on the field at the same time, working in violent harmony to produce or prevent points. But there's certain duos that stick out more, the proverbial Mavericks and Gooses of the league.
You see them celebrating together. You see that their lockers are near one another's. You see that they're more than teammates or friends or co-workers. And in each situation, you can tell who's flying in the lead and who's got their six. These are the top examples of such.
10. Willis McGahee
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You can't escape Tim Tebow's popularity. Newspapers, magazines, blogs, seemingly every single TV station – they all were finding ways to capitalize off Tebow, talk about the amazing victories he produced.
They discussed his resolve and demeanor under stress. Called him clutch, said "all he did was win." Yet, that doesn't happen without No. 15's wingman, a veteran in the media shadows who took plenty of licks running out of the backfield for the Broncos this season.
McGahee was there for the second-year signal caller, finishing the season with 1,199 rushing yards against defenses that loaded up the box because they knew Tebow's arm is suspect.
9. Andy Dalton
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How can a quarterback be a wingman? Simple, look at how he's been hooking up his buddy, AJ Green.
It's been a heck of a year for Green, a historical one, in fact. He's the first rookie wideout since 2003 to make the Pro Bowl. The last time that happened, Green wasn't old enough to legally drive a car. He finished with more than 1,000 yards receiving and seven touchdowns.
Together, this tandem of fresh-faced NFL newbies helped lift the Bengals to a playoff berth, helping everyone forget the Carson Palmer mess that dominated offseason headlines.
8. Vernon Davis
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San Francisco fans have watched Davis' progression from an arrogant, underachieving hot-head to the team-leading, clutch-catch making, cry-and-give-coach hug tight end. What he did against the Saints in the playoffs will be etched into Niners lore for the long haul, yet it also proves how he's the perfect complement to Alex Smith.
Smith's much-maligned career has done a complete 180 in 2011-2012, with a lot of credit going to coaching sensation (and rap-song inspiration) Jim Harbaugh. That turnaround doesn't happen without Davis, though, who blocks just as well as he's catches.
In San Francisco's final game of the regular season (with home-field advantage on the line) and the 36-32 win over the Saints, Davis has 15 receptions for 298 yards.
7. Hakeem Nicks
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Everything's bigger in New York, especially from a media standpoint. Make a big play there, and you're canonized in the tabs, on talk radio, the regional sports networks and ESPN. That's in part why wideout Victor Cruz is such a big name.
On the other side of the line of scrimmage is Hakeem Nicks, who is helping to enable all of it. With 1,192 yards and seven scores, defenses can't just game plan for Cruz because Nicks is just as big of a threat. You know who'd agree with the sentiment? Eli Manning, who has the most passing yards of his career this season.
No coincidence when Cruz and his wingman are running routes for you.
6. Darren Sproles
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If you yourself have a wingman, there's a chance it's a friend who goes way back, a buddy you've known since high school or college, one who knows how to play up your strengths and bury your weaknesses.
It's a similar situation with Drew Brees and Darren Sproles. They're not just teammates, or a running back-quarterback tandem, they're true friends. Take this report from the San Francisco Chronicle:
Brees and Sproles, 28, were teammates when Sproles - a fourth-round pick out of Kansas State - was a rookie with the Chargers in 2005. They work out together, and every day this summer Brees would request an update on Sproles' contract negotiations with San Diego. The day after Bush signed with the Dolphins, the Saints signed Sproles to a four-year, $14 million dollar contract.
5. Ed Reed
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Ed Reed's a star, not the kind of person that blends an anonymously. He's one the forefront, as he should be as an eight-time All Pro. Still, he's the kind of wingman any defense would salavate for. Reed's not a wingman to a fellow safety or cornerback or linebacker, he's a wingman to the entire Ravens defense.
A playmaker who always seems to be in the right place at the right time, Reed can always be counted on when the going gets tough. If the Ravens are in danger of blowing it (eg: giving up a big play), Reed's there to clean up the mess and make it all better. He's brutishly effective, yet smooth. He's everything you'd want in a wingman, only he has the sheer talent to wingman 10 people at the same time.
4. Jeff Saturday
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His main man may have been hurt this season, but Jeff Saturday and Peyton Manning embody this list. Saturday has not only protected Manning for years, he's dutifully handed him the ball without complaint after listening to Peyton's Gettysburg-Address long audibles.
While Peyton was the officer formulating the battle plans, Saturday was the trusty sergeant in the trenches. He's the Malarkey or Lipton to Manning's Capt. Winters (If you don't get the reference, go watch this show immediately).
You can even make the argument he helped wingman all NFL players during the lockout.
3. Matthew Stafford
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Again, quarterback's can easily be wingman, especially in Detroit. Out of all the the signal callers in the NFL, Stafford looks the most like a bro who would have your back. He isn't out with supermodels or hitting up swanky clubs, he seems more frat boy-esque, with a physique to match.
In that vein, Stafford has been hooking up Calvin Johnson and making him a star. Of course Megatron is making spectacular leaps and wowing us all with his athleticism, but he needs an accurate, humble, eager-to-please quarterback like Stafford to facilitate for him.
All the proof you need is this story from Fox Sports: Stafford, Johnson a budding bromance. Yup.
2. Jason Witten
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He's Tony Romo's Robbin, the tight end who seems to always be there for the constantly scrutinized quarterback. Aside from nabbing 940 yards or more the last five seasons, Witten is the chief defender and motivator of Romo in the press.
When you Google "Jason Witten Tony Romo," this is an example of what you'll see in the results:
Jason Witten: Best he's seen Tony Romo
Jason Witten: Tony Romo as mentally tough as anyone he's ever been around
If you're going into a dogfight, which football is more than any other sport, Witten's a man you want protecting you from getting flanked.
1. Wes Welker
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Brady to Welker ... Touchdown. That's a highlight we seem to watch every Sunday during the season, the future hall of fame quarterback connecting with his workmanlike receiver for another score.
Aside from making a few foot jokes and having a hot girlfriend, Welker is the more demure compatriot to his supermodel marrying, UGG boot and Stetson-cologne selling quarterback. During the regular season, he had 1,500-plus yards and nine touchdowns, but more importantly, this duo just seems right for each other.
If Stafford and Johnson have a budding bromance, this one's is in full swing.