Arguably the most overlooked position in football, the gunner plays a vital role in special teams.
On special teams, the gunner is responsible for tasks that may include tackling a kick returner, putting pressure on the kicker, or catching a punt before it goes into the end zone for the touchback.
While my list may be somewhat heavily biased in terms of era, as I have not personally seen many on the great gunners in the past and little statistical or historical data exists at the position.
However, here’s my list, and feel free to correct me on any omissions I may have made.
1) Steve Tasker
A seven-time Pro-Bowler, Steve Tasker is widely regarded as the greatest gunner of all-time. Known for his ferocious tackles and his tendency to force fumbles on returns, Tasker made an impact on special teams unlike any other.
2) Vince Papale
Vince Papale’s rise to fame is such an inspiring story, the movie Invincible was actually created based on the true- life of Vince’s football career.
At 30 years old, Vince became the oldest player in history to break into the NFL without even college football experience. With his all-out play on special teams, Vince eventually became the special teams’ captain of the Philadelphia Eagles. While his career only lasted three years, due in large part to his very late beginning within pro football, I still believe that Papale deserved to be recognized on my list.
3) David Tyree
As most New York Giants fans would know, no punter in the history of football has pinned the ball within the 20-yard line more times than Jeff Feagles.
Also, as I’m sure many New York Giants fans know, the aforementioned fact is due in large part because of David Tyree’s unbelievable ability to catch a punt prior to it entering the abyss of the end zone. The work that David Tyree puts forth on special teams truly makes a difference between a win and a loss.
This was especially well seen during the Giants’ Super Bowl victory over the Patriots, in which Tyree repeatedly helped pin the Patriots in hostile territory.
4) Kassim Osgood
When he’s not doing his thing at the wide receiver position, Kassim Osgood makes plays on special teams as a gunner. Osgood is one of the better all-around players at the position today.
5) Ed Reed
As feared as Ed Reed can be as a safety, facing him on special teams can be even worse. Simply stated, he’s a monstrous playmaker who always brings an all-out intensity level when he’s on the field.