Out with the old and in with the new. One decade is done and another has just begun.
While there will undoubtedly be a new generation of star players that NFL pro football fans everywhere will be cheering for over the course of the next 10-year span, in this article, I will take a look back at some of the game’s greatest offensive players of the past decade.
With that thought in mind, and the latest decade just over a week old, let me get started.
13. Warrick Dunn - RB
A three-time pro bowler who retired following the 2008 season, Dunn was one of the game’s most elusive dual threats.
A former running back for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Atlanta Falcons, Dunn rushed 2,005 times during the decade for 8,347 yards and 63 TDs while adding another 2,944 receiving yards on 363 receptions bringing his total from scrimmage to a whopping 11,291 yards.
Dunn may or may not make the Hall of Fame despite his fine career statistics, but during the decade just completed, Dunn was undoubtedly one of its best offensive payers.
12. Fred Taylor – RB – New England Patriots
After entering the league in 1998, Taylor quickly established himself as one of his generation’s greatest runners. From 2000-2009, Taylor, a one-time pro bowler, rushed 2,061 times for 9,552 yards and 44 TDs while topping the 1,000-yard plateau six times.
At this point of his career, its clear Taylor will never get the national media attention that he so deserved, but during his era, Taylor was undoubtedly one of the NFL’s greatest offensive players.
11. Terrell Owens – WR – Buffalo Bills
Owens may be one of the most enigmatic players of all-time but no one ever said the Buffalo Bills’ wideout couldn’t play the game.
From 2000-2009, Owens caught 683 passes for 11,579 yards and 113 TDs while surpassing the 1,000-yard plateau eight times. A six-time pro bowler and five-time All-Pro first teamer, Owens recorded seven seasons of double digit touchdowns.
10. Randy Moss – WR – New England Patriots
A six-time pro bowler and four-time All-Pro first teamer, Moss caught 772 balls for 11,664 yards and a whopping 120 touchdowns this past decade.
Despite his share of drama off the field, Moss topped the 1,000-yard yard receiving plateau eight times during the decade while recording double digits in touchdowns in seven of those seasons and surpassing 1,300 yards in four.
Love him or loathe him, Moss has been one of the game’s greatest wide receivers of all-time.
9. Torry Holt – WR – Jacksonville Jaguars
Starting in 2000, Holt’s second season in the league, the gifted wide receiver has been one of the best wide receivers to play the game.
A seven-time pro bowler and one-time All-Pro first teamer, Holt caught 868 passes for 12,594 yards and 68 touchdowns, helping the St. Louis Rams win the 2000 Super Bowl and reach the league championship game in 2002.
A surefire Hall of Fame inductee, Holt topped the 1,000-yard plateau in eight consecutive seasons, topping the 1,300-yard mark in six straight seasons.
8. Edgerrin James – RB – Seattle Seahawks
Sure James sulked his way out of Indianapolis following the 2005 season after spending his first seven seasons in the league with the Colts—and even balked at his dwindling minutes with the Cardinals last season—but James, a four-time pro bowler and one-time All-Pro first teamer, was one of the game’s elite runners starting with his rookie season in 1999.
From 2000-2009, James rushed 2,659 times for 10,693 yards (4.0 yards per carry) and 67 TDs while helping the Cardinals reach the 2009 Super Bowl. James topped the 1,000-yard plateau six times during the decade, rushing for a career-high 1,709 yards in 2000 while topping the 1,500-yard mark in both 2004 and 2005.
7. Tony Gonzalez – TE – Atlanta Falcons
The athletic Gonzalez is a 10-time pro bowler and All-Pro first teamer, who recorded 828 receptions for 8,989 yards and 67 touchdowns from 2000-2009. The surefire Hall of Famer, who may go down as the game’s greatest tight end ever, had four seasons of at least 1,000 yards while recording seven seasons of at least 900 yards.
6. LaDainian Tomlinson – RB – San Diego Chargers
Sure, Tomlinson is coming to the end of what has been a phenomenal career, but the San Diego Chargers’ all-time franchise rushing leader was downright phenomenal from 2000-2009.
Tomlinson, a five-time pro bowler and three-time All-Pro first teamer, rushed for a jaw-dropping 12,489 yards on 2,878 attempts and a whopping 138 TDs and is currently in third place on the all-time TD list behind Jerry Rice (208) and Emmitt Smith (175).
5. Donovan McNabb – QB – Philadelphia Eagles
The oft-maligned leader of the Philadelphia Eagles has been one of the best quarterbacks in the game despite his glaring failure to lead the Birds to a Super Bowl title five NFC title game appearances this past decade.
McNabb , a five-time pro bowler, completed 2,675 passes for 31,702 yards and 208 touchdowns this past decade and is undoubtedly one of the best players of his generation. Unfortunately, unless McNabb ever wins a Super Bowl title, he may never get the credit he deserves for his years of consistent high-level play.
4. Brett Favre – QB – Minnesota Vikings
Favre is a 10-time pro bowler and three-time All-Pro first teamer who completed 3,399 passes for 38,119 yards with 258 TDs from 2000-2009. He failed to lead his team to any Super Bowl appearances this past decade despite his impressive array of statistical dominance.
The three-time league MVP may have a shot to reach the big dance with the Minnesota Vikings either this season or next, but I honestly believe Favre has been overrated for the better part of his career, particularly the last decade or so when he has been mostly mediocre.
3. Kurt Warner – QB – Arizona Cardinals
I know some people may want to rip me for putting Warner above Brett Favre here, but I genuinely believe he was been better than Favre throughout the decade—with far less talented players to work with throughout the decade.
It was just a few seasons ago when most people thought Warner’s career was coming to a quick close.
The four-time pro bowler and two-time All-Pro first teamer is a two-time AP league MVP (1999, 2001) who completed 2,333 passes for 27,921 yards during the past decade with 167 TDs while leading the St. Louis Rams to the 2000 Super Bowl championship and taking both the Rams and his current team, the Arizona Cardinals, to within one score of winning the league title in 2002 and 2009.
2. Tom Brady – QB – New England Patriots
From 2000-2009, Brady , a four-time pro bowler and one-time All-Pro first teamer, completed 2,655 passes for a whopping 30,658 yards with 225 touchdowns and 98 interceptions while leading the New England Patriots to three Super Bowl titles (2002, 2004, 2005)
While it’s hard not to believe the Patriots cheated their way to victory in those three games, what’s done is done and the NFL considers it a closed matter. Either way, Brady has been nothing short of phenomenal since replacing former starter Drew Bledsoe way back when.
1. Peyton Manning – QB - Indianapolis Colts
Manning, a nine-time pro bowler and four-time All-Pro first teamer, may not have as many Super Bowl rings as Brady, but I genuinely believe the three-time league MVP is the better quarterback between the two.
Manning has thrown for 46,294 yards this past decade while completing at least 65 percent of his passes in every season except two in which he completed an identical 62 percent.
Manning tossed 314 touchdowns this past decade and led the Indianapolis Colts to the 2006 Super Bowl title and looks like he’ll have at least a few more legitimate chances to win another Super Bowl ring with the Colts before he retires, including this season.