Over the years, there have been many NFL players that have burst on the scene and captured our imagination immediately. Names like Chris Johnson of the Titans, Matt Ryan of the Falcons, and Mark Sanchez of the Jets personify this phenomenon.
Then, there are some that simply show up to work every day, do their job, but only receive their accolades in the twilight of their careers. Curtis Martin, Troy Brown, and Mack Strong are evidence of this type of fame.
Finally, there are those players that play their whole careers never receiving the credit they deserve. Some are wearing Super Bowl rings, some aren't. However, they all have one thing in common. They work hard, play hard, and get their job done for their teammates.
This slide show will discuss the players I describe in that last paragraph.
They will not be ranked in any order; they've been "rated" by the fans and the media enough throughout their careers.
I just want everyone to know their names.
Here we go...
Jimmy Smith was all the Jacksonville Jaguars had that could be called a "receiving threat" for many of his 13 seasons. He became Mark Brunell's favorite target in that time.
Along with one of the other players on this list to be discussed next, Smith was instrumental in the Jags 1996 run to the AFC championship game.
If not for Smith and his nine seasons of at least 1,000 yards, the Jags opponents would have been able to key on the player in the next slide and Jacksonville never so much as sniffs the playoffs!
A team captain, Smith got the respect of his coaches and teammates, but never the media. He has mine!
Hopefully he has yours now too!
Fred Taylor finally got his due in 2007 when he was named an alternate to the Pro-Bowl. It only took leading his team in carries, yards, and touchdowns for 10 consecutive years, including seven seasons of at least 1,000 rushing yards to get there, but hey! Better late than never right?
Taylor was known by the media as an injury-prone back that never really made a huge impact. Really? Tell that to the defensive coordinators that were responsible for stopping him. I'm sure they'll have a different take on him.
Being team a captain for most of his career, seven 1,000 yard seasons, 74 total touchdowns, and 13,918 yards should earn a player more than one measly Pro-Bowl. Shouldn't it?
When Dave Krieg finally retired in 1998, he was third on the all time list in completions, attempts, touchdowns, and wins. In 12 seasons amassing numbers like that, he only made it to three Pro-Bowls.
Let's look at the numbers for a second here:
175 Starts, a record of 98-77, 58.5 percent completions, 38,147 yards, 261 TDs, and a career QB rating of 81.5.
Krieg has a completion percentage that is is 6.6 points higher, 49 more TDs, 11 fewer interceptions, and the same amount of Pro-Bowls as Terry Bradshaw.
Yes, I realize that Bradshaw has four rings and Krieg has none. But ask yourself this—which one of these players had a better team around him?
The Seahawks have one Hall-of-Famer in Steve Largent. The Steelers picked four in one draft! Pittsburgh have 18 players in Canton, nine of which played with Bradshaw. Plus, he had one Hall of Fame coach his entire career. Krieg had seven coaches with seven teams.
Does he belong in the Hall of Fame? I don't know, probably not.
Does he deserve more respect than he gets? Absolutely!
What do you call a person that graduates dead last in his/her class in medical school? "Doctor!"
Trent Dilfer isn't the best quarterback in the world. He isn't flashy or great at any one thing. What is he? A champion!
Remember in the first slide when I said there were players that just came to work everyday, did their job, and got it done for their teammates? That's Dilfer.
He wasn't going to win a lot of games all by himself, but he didn't lose many all by himself either! He was steady, hard working, and an emotional leader for every team he played on.
I know what you're thinking. "Dilfer was just lucky to have one of the best defenses the NFL has ever seen." You're right, he was lucky. So was Joe Montana to have Jerry Rice, John Taylor, and Roger Craig. Not to mention that defense with Hall of Famers Charles Haley, Ronnie Lott, and Fred Dean!
Do you think that Bradshaw didn't ride the Steel Curtain, two Hall of Fame wide receivers, a Hall of Fame running back, and two Hall of Fame offensive linemen to his success? Of course he did.
Dilfer played with Hall of Famer Rod Woodson and potential future Hall of Famers Jonathan Ogden, Shannon Sharpe, and Ray Lewis. Does that diminish what he achieved? Not in my book.
If you're still not convinced, ask yourself this: What did Kyle Boller do with that same offense and defense in the following years? All Boller achieved was to get Brian Billick fired!
The fact is, Dilfer deserves more respect that he gets.
Eight different offensive coordinators in 10 years of college and professional football, but his stats improve every single year. That's pretty impressive if you ask me!
In the 2009 season, Campbell had arguably the worst offensive line in the game outside of Green Bay and Oakland, yet he still managed to throw for 3,618 yards and 20 touchdowns. Both career highs.
With the miserable play turned in by the offensive line in Washington, the running game was almost non-existent. Therefore, Campbell was all the Redskins had. Basically, he was running for his life the whole season, but was still expected to carry the team.
Now that he has been traded to Oakland, many will say, "out of the frying pan, into the fire!" I say, not so fast. Oakland is drastically improved all along the offensive line and defensive front seven.
Add this to the great young stable of offensive threats the Raiders have and it's not only possible, but probable that Campbell won't qualify for this list by the end of the 2010 season.
London Fletcher has put together a string of 10 consecutive seasons with at least 90 tackles. That's right. 90 or more tackles in 10 straight seasons!
How many Pro-Bowls has he gone to? One!
Let's not forget that Fletcher earned a Super Bowl ring as the starting middle linebacker for the St. Louis Rams in 2001.
Fletcher's impact goes far beyond tackles and championships. He has been elected team leader on every team he's ever played for.
It sounds like his coaches and teammates no how good he is; it's time the media recognized it too!
Let me be clear. This list is not complete. It will never be complete. There are so many players that have played in the NFL that never got their due, including Thomas Jones. (Pictured)
There was no way to list them all, and I didn't want to write a 50-slide article!
So now I ask you. Who should I have included in this list? Who would you take off to make room for the player you suggest?
Let me hear you!