The True "Dream Team:" Composing The Best Team In NFL History Part One
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The game of football is the most popular sport in America. It's played by youth, it's played by families on Thanksgivings', it's played by professionals, it's played by college students, high-schoolers, and it's played by legends. Legends made the NFL what it is today, legends made the game of football what it is today, legends made football popular for children across America, legends still sell jerseys with their names on them today, legends, plain and simple, make football what it is today.
This will be divided into two parts. We'll start with offense and then do defense.
This slide-show is about the greatest players to play each position in NFL history. In this list, I will create an all-time NFL team. We'll start at Quarterback and end at punter. There will be plenty of legends on this list, but also maybe even some active players.
I welcome your comments and suggestions. Without further ado, let's begin.
Some players may not appear at their position or be in honorable mention, as they may appear as a Kick Returner or other special teams player.
All stats and records are taken from Sporting News, Wikipedia, or other sources.
Quarterback: Peyton Manning
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That is a perfect poster. May may not agree, many may say he hasn't won the "Big One," many will say he's overrated, many will say he fails in the playoffs, but, with all due respect, those people are wrong.
Peyton Manning has won a Super Bowl and been to another, he hold numerous NFL records, he has more MVP awards than anybody in NFL history, he has a Super Bowl MVP award, he has led his team to being named the greatest franchise in sports by ESPN the Magazine, he has been to Pro Bowls, he threw more touchdowns in his reocrd-breaking season in less games than Tom Brady did in his, and has done many other things.
Peyton Manning has done it all in the NFL. He still isn't done playing is the astounding thing. He can still play at his level for another two or three years, and will start for another three to four after those years. Peyton will probably break every record in NFL history by the time he's done playing, that is the records he hasn't already broken.
Here are some of the NFL records Manning already has:
- Highest Passer Rating in a single season
- Most Seasons With 4,000 yards passing
- Largest Career Touchdown-Interception Differential
- Most 300 and 400 yard passing games in playoff history
- Led the Biggest Comeback in AFC Conference Championship History
- Most Games with 20 and 30 Completitons in Playoff History
- Most Touchdown Passes in a Decade
- Most Touchdown Passes in a Rookie Season
- Shares Five Records for QB/WR combo stats with Marvin Harrison
Counting Regular Season, Playoffs, and rookie season, Peyton holds seven rookie records, 12 playoff records, 33 regular season records, seven Pro Bowl records, and is third all-time in touchdown passes, third in passes completed, fourth in passing yards, fourth in passer rating, first in passing yards per game, and fourth in completion percentage.
Manning is also one of the smartest QBs in NFL History. He plays in the most complex system in NFL history as well. Some say the Saints have a more complex system, but they got the system from the Colts, and Manning also was the first QB to routinely run the no-huddle offense.
Peyton is the best QB in NFL history, and that's the bottom line.
Running Back: Barry Sanders
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Barry Sanders was too small to play running back. That was before he won a Heisman Trophy and tore up the college game. Actually, he was too good to leave off of this list. He was the master at reversing field. Some of the younger readers may be amazed at what Reggie Bush does, but Sanders did it better. If he hadn't retired so soon, he may be the all-time leading rusher in NFL history.
Barry Sanders played for the Detroit Lions. Any Lions fans reading this, I'm sorry, but the Lions stunk. And Barry Sanders still ran for over 15,000 yards. Sanders holds the record for most yards lost in NFL history. According to the SI Book of Football History, he had 336 carries for negative yards, totaling 952 yards. If those 952 yards are added back on to his career total, he would have 16,221 yards rushing in only 10 seasons! According to the video I posted, he lost 1,114 yards in his career.
Sanders was All-Pro in each of his ten seasons in the NFL. When Sanders retired, seemingly in his prime, he retured with 15,269 yards rushing. At his current pace, Sanders would have broken Payton's record within two years.
The man was incredible. He made the Lions relevant for 10 years. Since he retired, what have the Lions done? Nothing.
In 1997, Sanders ran for 2,053 yards. That's a heck of a season. People say Chris Johnson had a great season, when Sanders ran for over 2,000 yards, while only totaling 53 yards after two games. Technically, he ran for 2,000 yards in 14 games!
It's a shame he played for the Lions, as he said they cost him his competitive spirit, as this cut his career short, and he didn't get to break the all-time rushing record.
Never before, and never after has a running back dominated the game with the style Barry played with. many have tried, and for some, like Reggie Bush, it worked while coming out of the backfield to catch passes, but nobody had the success running the ball that way like Barry did.
Barry Sanders would be the running back to have on this team.
Fullback: Jim Brown
Jim Brown was truly a fullback, which is why he appears here and not at running back.
Jim Brown was voted as the greatest player in NFL history by Sporting News.
Brown averages the most yard per carry in NFL history among player who carried the ball regularly, and also ran for more yards per game than anyone else in NFL history.
Jim Brown only played nine seasons, and still ran for over 12,000 yards. His stats were a product of rushing ability, rather than longevity like Emmit Smith.
Brown is by far the greatest fullback of all-time, and depending on who you ask, maybe the best running back of all-time.
And he's also in the Lacrosse Hall of Fame.
Not only is he one of the greatest football players of all-time, but also greatest athletes of all-time.
Tight End: Kellen Winslow Sr.
We've all seen the video of Kellen Winslow being carried off of the field after his game against the Dolphins that became known as "the Epic in Miami." During the game, Winslow was treated for a pinched nerve in his shoulder, dehydration, severe cramps, and had three stiches in his lower lip. Winslow was a true warrior.
Kellen Winslow also redefined the tight end position. He had the size to block, but unlike tight ends before him, he had the speed to stretch the field. He blocked, he hustled, he caught passes, and played the game of football the way it was meant to be played.
Winslow was a key part of "Air Coryell" and led the NFL in receptions in 1980 and 81. He also holds the single-season record for receving yards by a tight end in a season. He was also a five time Pro Bowler in nine seasons.
If not for Kellen Winslow, guys like Dallas Clark, Vernon Davis, Tony Gonzalez, and Antonio Gates may not have made it as a tight end in the NFL.
Wide Recevier 1: Jerry Rice
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Any surprise here? He is only the greatest wide receiver of all-time. If I could pick any player in history to build a team around it might be Jerry Rice. People say that a quarterback and left tackle are the most important parts of the offense, but when you have a receiver who can catch anything like Rice could, Jamarcus Russell could be your quarterback...well, he could be the backup that holds the clipboard.
He went to the Pro Bowl 13 times, and was 11 times All-Pro. "Rice retired as the leader in a number of statistics. His 1,549 receptions were 447 receptions ahead of the second place record held by Marvin Harrison. His 22,895 receiving yards were 7,961 yards ahead of the second place spot held by his Raiders teammate Tim Brown. His 197 touchdown receptions are 65 scores more than the 132 touchdown receptions by his former 49ers teammate Terrell Owens, and his 208 total touchdowns (197-p, 10-r, 1-ret) were 33 scores ahead of Emmitt Smith's second place 175. Jerry Rice was just that good."
Sporting News ranked him the second best football player of all-time, behind Jim Brown, and he still played five more seasons after the poll.
He was known for his work ethic and also his blocking. He could do it all. Never before and never again will there be a receiver like Jerry Rice.
Wide Receiver 2: Tim Brown
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"Mr. Raider." The man will be a Hall-of-Famer next year. Tim Brown played with a fire. After comments made by Al Davis about not liking African-Americans from Notre Dame, yes Davis was losing his mind then as well, Brown decided to take over.
He became one of the most prolific receivers, and for that matter, players, in NFL history.
Obivously Rice holds most of the major receiving records, but Brown is a not so close second in most of the stats.
Here are some of the records he holds or is currently second in:
Tim Brown was also a nine time Pro Bowler and was named to the 90s All-Decade Team. Brown was one of the most consistent players in NFL history.
Slot Receivers: Marvin Harrison and Michael Irvin
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In my opinion, Harrison was a better receiver than Rice. Rice was just more well-rounded, hence why he is known as the best of all-time. But Harrison was the best route-runner I've ever seen and also had soft hands. He also rarely fumbled because he was never hit. What more could you want from a receiver? He holds multiple records or is in second place on many records lists. He made some of the prettiest catches I've ever seen. He had the one handed diving catch in Tennesse in 03, the one handed-tip drill in New England, and many others. And Harrison was also very aware. In the 04 playoffs against the Denver Broncos, Harrison made a diving catch across the middle. Nobody touched him, so he got up, split the defenders, and scored a touchdown. Just another example of how great Harrison was. Here are Marvin's records:
The self professed "playmaker" had Chad Ochocinco's attitude, Randy Moss' raw talent, Jerry Rice's work ethic, Marvin Harrison's route-running ability, Terrell Owens' size, and Hines Ward's heart, a good quarterback throwing him the ball, and the NFL's all-time leading rusher lined up in the backfield behind him. He had every thing in the world needed to suceed. And he sure did. He was inducted into the NFL Hall-of-Fame in 2007. Even with his brash attitude, Irvin was remembered by teammates as a leader and true teammate. Even being the 15th of 17 children, Irvin worked his butt off, and acheived his dream. Some regard him as the hardest-working Wide Receiver in NFL history. Here are his records and accomplishments:
- Irvin finished his career with 750 receptions (27th all-time in the NFL) for 11,904 yards (17th all-time in the NFL)
- His 47 100-yard receiving games remains the third most in NFL history, behind Hall of Famers Jerry Rice (65) and Don Maynard (50).
- He also excelled in postseason play where his six career 100-yard receiving days are just two shy of the NFL mark held by Jerry Rice (8). His 87 postseason receptions place him second in NFL playoff history, again behind Rice (151), and his 1,315 postseason receiving yards ranks second only to Rice (2,245), a Hall of Fame inductee.
- Chris Carter
- Don Hutson
- Raymond Berry
- Terrell Owens
- Randy Moss
- Larry Fitzgerald
Center: Bruce Matthews
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Unlike many, I don't overlook the value of offesnive lineman as I played the position. They just have very little stats to discuss, so their slides will be shorter than others.
Bruce Matthews is regarded as one of the best lineman in NFL history, and the best center. Matthews was a very rare player. He played each position on the offensive line. He went to 14 Pro Bowls and was All-Pro 10 times.
Regarded as the most durable lineman in NFL history, and possibly player, he played in the most games in NFL history excluding kickers and punters. He played in 296 games in his career, and played in more seasons, 19, than any other offensive lineman in NFL history. He only missed seven total games out of a possible 303 games. He also hadna 229 consecutive start streak.
In another rarity, he also played his whole career with one franchise, although they moved. He played for the Houston Oilers and Tennesse Oilers/Titans.
Although he was selected as a guard to the 90's All-Decade team, for the purposes of this team, he would start at Center.
- Olin Kreutz
- Kevin Mawae
Right Guard: Will Shields
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Another model of durability, Shields started in 230 straight games, second only to Brett Favre. (I personally feel he was more durable than Matthews, but Bruce was still a very tough player.) He went to 12 straight Pro Bowls from 1995-2006.
Shields blocked for five 1,000 yard rushers and five 4,000 yard passers. He played in every game of his carrer and the only game he didn't start was his first career game.
Shields also was a great man as he received the Walter Payton Man of the Year Award in 2003.
Shields was the consumate professional, great and durable on the field, and a great man off of the field.
Left Guard: Larry Allen
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Just look at this man. Look at the girth of his arms. Is it possible to pick anybody other than Larry Allen? He is known as the strongest man to ever play professional football. While unwitnessed, he is rumored to have deadlifted 900+ pounds, and squated 900+ pounds as well. He also bench-pressed a witnessed assisted 700 pounds.
In College, Allen gave up an astounding one sack over his college career. He was the 10th offensive lineman drafted in the 1994 Draft, and he was by far the best in that class.
He was on the 1990's NFL All-Decade team as a guard. He was named to the Pro Bowl 11 times. He was also All-Pro eight times. In 1998, he became the second player to be named to the Pro Bowl at two different positions on the offensive line, behind Bruce Matthews. He also played every position on the offesnive line aside from center.
Right Tackle: Jackie Slater
Slater is one of two players in NFL history to play 20 seasons with one franchise. He played in 259 games in his career. (Notice the reocurring theme of durability among offesive lineman.) He was a seven time Pro Bowler and five times All-Pro. His number is also retired by the St. Louis Rams.
He was a member of the Offensive Line that led the way to Eric Dickerson's 2,105 yard season. Slater also played with Isaac Bruce and a young, pre-Steelers Jerome Bettis.
He was enshrined into the HOF in 2001.
- Orlando Pace
Left Tackle: Anthony Munoz
For those of you out there who don't respect lineman, do you know? Those are the fingers of a man who played 13 seasons in the NFL. He may be the most obivous pick on this list. I've seen Jonathon Ogden get beaten in a game consistently, same with Jackie Slater and Dan Dierdorf, but never with Munoz. He dominated seemingly everybody he played against. He was the perfect tackle.
Munoz was an 11 time Pro-Bowler and 11 times All-Pro. He was also on the 80's All-Decade team and the NFL's 75th Anniversary team. He was ranked 17th on Sporting News 100 greatest players and highest rated offensive lineman.
He also scored four touchdowns on tackle-eligible pass plays and caught seven passes.
Even through all of his injuries, missed just three games in his first 12 seasons. He was also known for his difficult workout routines.
- Jonathon Ogden
Third Down Running Back: Earl Campbell
University of Texas/Getty Images
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Any questions? He is the hardest runner in NFL history. Once he got those tough four yards, he also could turn on the jets and score anytime he toched the ball. He also had some crazy juke moves to go with his power. It's too bad he never used them, or he could have played longer and may not have the health problems he has today.
"Campbell is widely acknowledged as one of the best power backs in NFL history. Described as a "one-man demolition team", Campbell was a punishing runner. His 34-inch (860 mm) thighs, 5-11, 244-pound frame, coupled with 4.5 speed, made him the most feared runner of his time. Pittsburgh Steelers Hall of Fame defensive tackle Joe Greene claimed that Campbell could inflict more damage on a team than any other back he ever faced."
I think that sums it all up.
Kicker: Adam Vinatieri
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He is the only kicker in NFL history to play in six Super Bowls and has won four (he was a healthy scratch in one Super Bowl). He also made game-winning kicks in two of them. He has a career 82% field goal conversion rate.
Here is video of his game-winning kicks:
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End Of Part One
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That's our offensive part of the slideshow. Depending on my schedule, part two will be up in four to seven days.
Thanks for the read and feel free to comment.