When you think of football and No. 42, chances are your thinking of Ronnie Lott. If your thinking of No. 7 you might just be thinking about John Elway.
But who would you be thinking about at No. 54?
When I was first asked to do this assignment, it was to jersey numbers 1-99. But my first response to that was that it would leave out a player that wore No. 00. Do you know who he is?
I used basic statistics for most of my selections. Some were ridiculously easy to call, but others leave quite a bit of room for interpretation and argument.
There were still others that quite frankly were selected because nobody else worthy of note wore that particular number.
The era these gentleman played in has to be considered. Some might say the game today is tougher, yet you were more likely to see a player playing both ways in the earlier years.
Today, you have a specialist for kicker, punter, longer snapper and of course you have your defensive players and your offensive players. How many times have you heard the game was lost because the defense was on the field far too long and tired? Back in the day, you played 60 minutes.
Also, what about the success of the team? How much should that play into the selections?
I do believe that is important but not necessarily a deciding factor.
Jonny Unitas won only one Super Bowl but is considered by many to be the greatest quarterback of all-time. What about Dan Marino? He never won the big game but holds many passing records.
Also, a vary important factor in determining this list, although not all inclusive, is a Hall of Fame indoctrination.
Before you say it, yes I know there are many players worthy of Hall consideration that are not in, and those players received mutual consideration as well when those occurrences surfaced.
And every once in awhile I took the easy way out and called a tie.
I mean can you really say anyone player is the greatest?
Can you really choose between Anthony Munoz and Bruce Smith? They are two of the greatest ever at their respective positions, and both just happened to wear the same number.
The great thing about these lists is that they are open to interpretation. Someone is always going to be offended when their guy is not there way they think he should be.
But this is how I see it.
How do you?
How many guys can actually claim that their jersey number is actually their name other than Ochocinco and Jim Otto (aught-oh)?
Perhaps the reason Jim Otto's name jumps out to me so quickly is that I used to drive by his billboards in northern California that welcomed you to his local Burger Kings. Otto owned several of them up until the early 90's and his picture was displayed prominently on the bill board wearing his familiar 00 Oakland Raiders Jersey.
But that isn't the only reason Otto gets the selection here.
Otto played his entire career at center for the Raiders from 1960-1974.
He was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1980 and this is what the Hall has to say about him,
"Anchored Raiders' offensive line for 15 years...Noted for pride, dedication, leadership, intelligence...Sure-handed ball-snapper, superior blocker with wide range...Overcame numerous injuries to play 308 games, including six AFL/AFC title games, Super Bowl II, 12-all-star contests...Named all-league 12 straight years, 1960-1971, second-team All-NFL, 1972...AFL's only all-league center...Named to all-time AFL team, 1969...Also All-AFC in 1970, 1971, 1972...Born January 5, 1938, in Wausau, Wisconsin."
Source: Pro Football Hall of Fame
Well technically, Wilbur "Pete" Henry didn't play in the NFL...so sue me.
I just had to get a guy whose nickname was "fats" into this slide show. In a weird coincidence, Henry signed with the Canton Bull Dogs in 1920 on the same day the NFL was born, although back then, it was called the American Professional Football Association.
At 5'10" and 245 pounds, Henry didn't look like much of a football player. At least that is how one opposing coach saw it. He figured Henry was soft and decided to run at his side of the line. After Henry destroyed one side of the offensive line, the coach changed his game plan.
Henry could block and tackle with a mean streak unmatched in his day, yet he was a easy going and a true gentleman off the field.
Henry was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1963.
"Signed with Bulldogs same day NFL organized, 1920...Largest player of his time, bulwark of Canton's championship lines, 1922-1923...60-minute performer, also punted, kicked field goals...Set NFL marks for longest punt (94 yards), longest dropkick field goal (50 yards)"
Source: Pro Football Hall of Fame
Not bad for a zero.
Note: The NFL no longer uses the 0 or 00 for jersey numbers.
It took going to the CFL and winning five straight Grey Cups before the NFL would take a chance on a black quarterback name Warren Moon.
Many are convinced that Moon went undrafted because of his color and his unwillingness to change positions.
The Houston Oilers signed Moon in 1984, and the rest is history.
Career highlights from the Pro Football Hall of Fame:
"Completed 3,988 of 6,823 passes for 49,325 yards, 291 touchdowns, 233 interceptions in 17-season NFL career...Nine 3,000-yard passing seasons was third in league history...Named to nine Pro Bowls...Had four 4,000-yard passing seasons. All-Pro, 1990…First or second team All-AFC 1988, 1989, 1990"
Source: Pro Football Hall of Fame
Trippi was the No. 1 overall selection of the Chicago Cardinals in the 1947 NFL Draft.
He played quarterback,halfback, punter and played on defense for the last two years of his career.
Charles W. Bidwell Sr. signed Trippi to a four-year $100,000 contract which kept Trippi from playing with the New York Yankees of AAFC.
Trippi became part of a "dream backfield" that included, Paul Christman, Pat Harder and Marshall Goldberg.
He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1968 and remains the only player in the Hall to have over a thousand yards as a passer, receiver and runner.
Bronco Nagurski. Just the name alone conjures up images of football players from another era.
Leather helmets, no pads and of course playing both sides of the ball—something that Nagurski excelled at.
Inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1963:
"Bronislaw Nagurski...Joined Bears after legendary college career at Minnesota...Became pro football's symbol of power, ruggedness...A bulldozing runner on offense, a bone-crushing linebacker on defense. . . Gained 4031 yards in nine seasons...All-NFL, 1932, 1933, 1934, 1936, 1937...His two TD passes clinched Bears' 1933 title win...Helped 1943 Bears to NFL crown after five-year retirement...Born November 3, 1908, in Rainy River, Ontario...Died January 7, 1990, at age of 81."
Source: Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Although his career is not yet quite finished, Favre is the easy selection here. Since breaking into the league in 1991, he has managed to accumulate some very impressive statistics:
11 Pro Bowls.
The only player to win three consecutive AP NFL Most Valuable Player ('95-'97).
Five NFC Player of the Year Awards.
A record 293 consecutive NFL starts.
Eight division championships.
Five NFC championship game appearances with two victories.
And he of course led the Packers to a victory in Super Bowl XXXI.
Favre also holds records for most career touchdown passes, yardage, completions and attempts.
The guy is pretty good—or at least was...is?
Many consider Hornung to be the best short yardage running back of all-time. He is also considered by many to be one of the most important players on the Green Bay Packer of the 60s that won all of those NFL titles.
Hornung played, halfback, quarterback and place kicker.
Donovan McNabb may one day have this honor, but I doubt it, for now it belongs to Hornung.
"Multi-talented clutch player, at best inside 20-yard line...NFL Player of Year, 1960, 1961...Led NFL scorers three years with record 176 points in 1960...Career stats: 3,711 yards rushing, 130 receptions, 760 points...Tallied record 19 points in 1961 NFL title game...Played in two Pro Bowls."
Source: Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Hornung didn't play in 1963 as he and Detroit Lions DT, Alex Karras were given indefinite suspensions by NFL Commissioner Pete Rozelle for their involvement in a betting scandal. Admitting to their transgressions and being forthright about it, the commissioner reinstated both Hornung and Karras.
Benny Friedman is considered to be the first great passer.
He started his career in 1927 for the Cleveland Bulldogs, he played for the Detroit Wolverines in 1928, then played for the New York Giants from 1929-1931 and finished his career with the Brooklyn Dodgers from 1932-1934.
While Friedman was setting records for Detroit, Giants owner, Tim Mara took note. He was so impressed by Friedman that he bought the team to the secure the rights to Friedman!
Not a bad move if you can afford it...
Friedman was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2005.
"NFL’s first great passer...Threw league record 11 touchdown passes as rookie, 1927...Set another record with 20 TDs, 1929...Led league in touchdown passes four consecutive years (1927-1930)...His 66 career touchdown passes was an NFL record for years...Triple-threat player, could run, pass, kick"
Source: the Pro Football Hall of Fame
What? You thought I was going to select Kevin Butler? Puleeeze!
John Elway will forever be famous for "The Drive." That 98-yard drive that tied the Cleveland Browns in the 1987 AFC Championship game. The Broncos, of course, would go on to win in overtime.
Maybe not all of them were 98 yards, but Elway has an amazing 47 fourth quarter come-from-behind wins.
He led his teams to five Super Bowls, and he ended his 16-year career with the Broncos by winning the last two.
Elway was elected to nine Pro-Bowls and threw for 51,475 yards in his career.
He was elected to the HOF in 2004.
I know I am going to get a lot of flack from Dallas fans over this one, but ask yourself, if you had a football team who would you want to quarterback it—Steve Young or Troy Aikman?
It is true Aikman won three Super Bowls and Young only one as a starter (although does have three rings). But this list is based more on individual achievement, so let's look at the stats.
Both won one Super Bowl MVP award.
Young was elected to seven Pro Bowls, Aikman went to six.
Young was a three-time All-Pro selection, Aikman one time.
Young has two NFL MVP awards from multiple organizations, Aikman has none.
Young threw for 33,124 yards and 232 touchdowns, Aikman 32,942 yards and 165 touchdowns.
Young's career quarterback rating is 96.8, Aikman's is 81.6
One of Young's greatest assets was his ability to scramble; he amassed 4,239 yards rushing and remains second to only Randal Cunningham in terms of rushing yards for a quarterback.
Aikman's career rushing total is 1,016 yards.
Young started 143 games, the first 19 of those being with a horrible Tampa Bay Buccaneers team, and Aikman started 165.
Young's career record is 94-49, Aikman's is 94-71.
Young had to sit behind a legend in Joe Montana and then replace him!
Steve Young is the only left-handed quarterback to be inducted into the Hall of Fame. Young was inducted in 2005, and Aikman was inducted in 2006.
Sonny Jurgenson was a great player, but Drew Brees has already eclipsed him in total yardage (32,675 vs. 32,224), and it is only a matter of time until he passes his touchdown total (216-255).
Brees was selected as NFL's comeback player of the year in 2004. He has gone to four Pro Bowls and was the MVP of Super Bowl XLIV.
Jurgensen played for 18 seasons in the NFL; Brees has played for 10 and doesn't seem to be slowing down.
Before there was Randal Cunningham and Steve Young, there was Fran Tarkenton.
Before there was Brett Farve and Dan Marino, there was Fran Tarkenton.
At one time, Tarkenton owned nearly all the records those other guys broke.
At the time he retired, Tarkenton owned records in pass attempts, completions, yardage and touchdowns. He also had the most yards rushing by a quarterback as well as wins by a starting quarterback.
He went to nine Pro Bowls and led his teams to the Super Bowl three times, although never winning one.
Norm Van Brocklin has not thrown for as many passing yards as Drew Bledsoe, another No. 11 of note, but he was one of the first great passers in NFL history.
Van Brocklin went to nine Pro Bowls. He has one league MVP crown, two NFL championships and was enshrined into the HOF in 1971.
Van Brocklin still owns the single-game passing mark for yardage at 554. It was set against the New York Yanks in 1951.
He was a pretty good punter too.
Tom Brady gets the nod over Terry Bradshaw here. Why?
Because he is the better quarterback.
Brady has thrown for over 4,000 yards in a single season three times. He has already eclipsed Bradshaw in total yardage and touchdowns.
And something tells me he isn't done yet.
Note: Both Brady and Bradshaw have won two Super Bowl MVPs.
61,361 yards passing.
420 touchdown passes.
Don Hutson beats out Y.A. Title, Dan Fouts and Otto Graham for the honors at No. 14.
"Don Hutson’s first touchdown came on an 83-yard pass from Arnie Herber in just his second game as a Green Bay Packer. He wound up with 99 career touchdown receptions, a record that stood for more than four decades. When Hutson retired in 1945 after 11 superb seasons, he held 18 NFL records, including 488 career receptions."
"That was 200 more than his closest competitor. Hutson invented modern pass receiving. He created Z-outs, buttonhooks, hook-and-gos, and a whole catalog of moves and fakes. Although he had been an All-America at Alabama in 1934, there were plenty who doubted the skinny speedster could stand the pace of pro football. But it wasn't long before his mere presence on the field had changed the defensive concept of the game."
"Don could outmaneuver and outrace virtually every defender in the league. He led the NFL in receiving in eight of his 11 seasons and in scoring five straight years. Twice, in 1941 and 1942, he was named the league’s MVP."
"Like everyone in the days before free substitution, Hutson was a 60-minute player who spent most of his career as a very fine safety on defense. In his final six seasons, he swiped 30 opposing quarterbacks’ passes. Often after scoring a touchdown, he would kick the extra point. In one quarter of a 1945 game, he caught four touchdown passes and kicked five PATs for an amazing 29 points."
Source: Pro Football Hall of Fame, class of 1963.
The first "Starr" of the Super Bowl era. Bart Starr won two Super Bowls for the Green Bay Packers—the first two Super Bowls ever played as a matter of fact.
But this was nothing new to Starr as he and his Packers had already won three NFL Championships.
"Bryan Bartlett Starr...17th-round draft pick, 1956...Precision passer, poised team leader...Led Packers to six division, five NFL, two Super Bowl titles...NFL Most Valuable Player, 1966..MVP in Super Bowls I, II...Three-time NFL passing champion...In four Pro Bowls...Career passing totals: 24,718 yards, 152 TDs, 57.4 completion percentage...Born January 9, 1934, in Montgomery, Alabama."
Source: Pro Football Hall of Fame, Class of 1977.
Arguably the best quarterback of all-time.
Winner of four Super Bowls earning MVP honors in three of them.
Everyone likes to talk about the great players that Montana had around him, and he did, but let's not forget that first Super Bowl in 1981.
He took a team that had gone 2-14 just two seasons earlier, all the way to its first Super Bowl victory—beating the storied Dallas Cowboys in the process.
The thing about Montana was he never panicked. He was the most cool under pressure athlete to ever play the game.
While trailing by three points in the 1989 Super Bowl against the Cincinnati Bengals, Montana says to tackle Harris Barton,
"There, in the stands, standing near the exit ramp. Isn't that John Candy?"
He then took the 49ers on a 92-yard touchdown scoring drive which was enough to beat the Bengals with only 34 seconds left in the game.
Elway was the best at late game comebacks, but No. 16 was pretty good at it as well as he led 31 fourth quarter come-backs.
Turk Edwards was a Hall of Fame player, but even if he wasn't, he gets this selection just for the story he provides.
Edwards services were in demand by three teams back in 1937. He signed with the Boston Braves (later to be know as the Redskins) for $1,500 for 10 games.
Turk had nine outstanding seasons for Boston/Washington. He won All-NFL honors eight of his nine years. A 6'2", 255 pounds, the tackle played with tremendous strength and power and he was very agile for a man of his size.
Edwards played on both sides of the ball, like many in his day did. He was tough as they come and seldom missed a game.
What caused Edwards to retire was, of all things, a coin toss. During the coin toss prior to a game against the New York Giants, Edwards went to turn after the toss was complete and he had shaken hands with the Giants captain. His cleat got caught in the turf, and he wrenched his knee.
Had this knee not been injured previously (many times), Edward may have been okay. But as it was, his season was over after two games, as well as his career.
Not in the Hall of Fame yet but only a matter of time.
BTW he is a Super Bowl MVP and has 10 Pro Bowl selections.
He also is the fastest to reach 50,000 yards passing. He was also the fastest to reach 1000, 2000, 3000 and 4000 completions. He is fast.
He also shows no signs of slowing down and could have every significant quarterback record before he is finished.
As it stands right now, there are just too many to list.
Johnny Unitas put the NFL on a paying basis...a really good paying basis.
He had the arm strength of John Elway, the quick release of Marino and the coolness of Montana.
Unitas was the first passer to throw for 40,000 yards and was the quarterback selected for the NFL's All-Time team as voted by the Pro Football Hall of Fame voters in 2000.
"Unitas will forever be remembered for his last-second heroics in the 1958 NFL title game, often called "the greatest game ever played," that turned Unitas into a household name. The New York Giants, with two minutes to play, were leading, 17-14, when the Colts started a last-gasp drive at their own 14. “Mr. Clutch” went coolly to work with seven straight passes that set up a game-tying field goal with seven seconds left. Unitas then engineered a textbook perfect 80-yard march to win the game in overtime. The game, played before a national television audience, gave Unitas his chance to demonstrate all of his marvelous attributes – confidence, courage, leadership, play calling genius, and passing skill."
"Exceptional field leader, thrived on pressure...Led Colts to 1958, 1959 NFL crowns, Super Bowl V victory. . .All-NFL six seasons, Player of Year three times...MVP three times in 10 Pro Bowls...Completed 2,830 passes for 40,239 yards, 290 TDs...Threw at least one TD pass in 47 straight games...Had 26 games over 300 yards passing...Born May 7, 1933, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania...Died September 11, 2002, at age of 69."
Source: Pro Football Hall of Fame
Barry Sanders was a joy to watch. Just when it looked like he was about to be tackled for a loss, he put a move on a guy and danced his way to the end zone.
Sanders rushed for over 1000 yards in each season of his 10-year career, rushing for over 2000 yards in 1997.
Rather than play for another horrendous Detroit Lions team, Sanders retried with just 1,457 yards of the all-time rushing. That record has since been eclipsed by Emmitt Smith.
Sanders was inducted into the HOF in 2004.
This was a tough call between Deion Sanders, who I had originally chosen, and Dan Fortman. Both were versatile and perennial All-Pro selections, but in the end, don't you want a football player that can tackle?
For those of you who don't know about the often overlooked and underrated Fortman, here is what the HOF has to say about him and his career.
"By the time his rookie season started, Danny had turned 20 but was still the youngest starter in the NFL. He had determination and talent, however, and soon was excelling as a little man in a big man's game.
On offense, he called signals for the linemen and was a battering-ram blocker. On defense, he was a genius at diagnosing enemy plays and a deadly tackler. For seven seasons, Fortmann and Chicago's No. 1 pick in the historic 1936 draft, tackle Joe Stydahar, were a formidable combination on the left side of the powerful Bears line.
The Bears were a dominant team during Fortmann's career. From 1936 to 1943, the “Monsters of the Midway” won three NFL championships and took divisional titles on two other occasions, and Fortmann was the top man at his position in pro football. He earned first- or second-team All-NFL honors all eight years of his career.
Typical of his hard work and desire to excel, Fortmann continued his education while playing for the Bears and graduated in 1940 from the University of Chicago Medical School."
Fortman served as the Los Angeles Rams surgeon from 1947-1963.
HOF class of 1965.
Oh, screw it, let's just call this one a tie.
Sanders is one of the best corners, if not the best, to ever play the game. His Hall of Fame induction is only a matter of time and could come as early as next year.
Sanders also played a little wide receiver, kick returner and punt returner in his career with the Atlanta Falcons, San Francisco 49ers, Dallas Cowboys, Washington Redskins and Baltimore Ravens, winning Super Bowl Titles with the 49ers and Cowboys.
He had a rare combination of size, speed and athleticism. This combination of traits allowed Sanders to become one of the rare modern era athletes to play both pro football and pro baseball. Sanders played for baseball for the New York Yankees, Atlanta Braves, Cincinnati Reds and the San Francisco Giants.
The shut-down corner called "Neon Deion" and "Prime Time" was selected to eight Pro Bowls, was named to the NFL's 90s All-Decade Team and he was named NFL Defensive Player of the Year in 1994.
A no-brainer selection.
Emmitt Smith is the NFL's all-time rushing leader with 18,355. He won three Super Bowls as a member of the Cowboys.
Only player in history to win the NFL MVP, rushing title (1,486) and a Super Bowl MVP in the same season (1993).
Hall of Fame Class of 2010.
Too many other accomplishments to list.
A five-time Pro Bowl corner back over his 14 seasons, with 47 career interceptions.
Two All-Pro selections.
Walter Payton Man of the Year (2002).
Bart Starr Man of the Year Award (2004).
I really wanted to put Blaine Bishop here because I like his name but maybe that is going a bit to far...
Note: There is no player in the Hall of Fame with No. 23.
Willie Wood was inducted into the HOF in 1989:
"Signed as free agent, 1960...Soon developed into premier free safety...Played in six NFL championships, Super Bowls I, II, eight Pro Bowls...All-NFL six times...50-yard interception return key play in Super Bowl I...Career record: 48 interceptions, 699 yards, 2 TDs; 187 punt returns, 1,391 yards, 2 TDs...Led NFL in punt returns (1961), interceptions (1962)...Born December 23, 1936, in Washington, D.C."
Source: Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Who didn't enjoy watching Fred Biletnikof play?
"Frederick S. Biletnikoff...Florida State All-America...No. 2 draft pick, 1965...Career record: 589 receptions, 8,974 yards, 76 TDs...Had 40 or more catches 10 straight years...Durable with fluid moves, deceptive speed, great hands...All-AFL/AFC four times...1971 NFL receiving champion...Played in two AFL All-Star games, four AFC-NFC Pro Bowls, eight AFL/AFC title games, two Super Bowls...MVP in Super Bowl XI...Born February 23, 1943, in Erie, Pennsylvania."
HOF Class of 1988.
Source: Pro Football Hall of Fame
Rod Woodson was the premier cornerback of his time. Switching to safety later in his carer allowed him to play an amazing 17 seasons, earning Pro Bowl selections in 11 of them.
"Steelers first-round draft pick (10th player overall), 1987 NFL Draft...Member of NFL’s 75th Anniversary Team and NFL’s All-Decade Team of the 1990s...NFL Defensive Player of the Year, 1993...Intercepted 71 passes in career...Is NFL’s all-time leader in interception return yardage (1,483)...Six-time first-team All-Pro choice...Earned All-Pro honors as cornerback, kick returner, safety...Named to 11 Pro Bowls...Born March 10, 1965, in Fort Wayne, Indiana."
Source: Pro Football Hall of Fame Class of 2009.
This is one of the toughest calls so far. Eddie George was a great player and rushed for over 10,000 yards in his career, but Atwater was a ferocious tackler, named to eight Pro Bowls and is a member of the NFL's 1990 All-Decade team.
He also won two Super Bowls as a member of the Denver Broncos. Perhaps he never got the credit he deserved because he played during the same era as Ronnie Lott.
Simply put, one of the most versatile running backs ever.
Marshall Faulk has 19,154 yards from scrimmage and a record (for running backs) 6,875 yards receiving.
Faulk's list of accomplishments include:
Seven Pro Bowls
Three First Team All-Pro selection.
Three Second Team All-Pro selection.
Member of Rams Super Bowl winning team (XXXIV)
Two-time NFL MVP (2000, 2001)
Three-Time Offensive Player of the Year (1999-2001).
Rookie of the Year (1994)
Pro-Bowl MVP (1994)
The Hall of Fame awaits.
Can you blame me for calling this one a tie?
Darrell Green played at such a high level for 20 Years (all with the Washington Redskins). He was inducted into the HOF in 2008:
"Intercepted pass in NFL record 19 straight seasons...Known for great speed...Intercepted 54 career passes for 621 yards, 6 TDs...Also returned 51 punts for 611 yards...Holds team record for longest fumble return, 78 yards...Named to the NFL’s All-Decade Team of the 1990s...Selected to seven Pro Bowls...Named All-Pro in 1986, 1987, 1990, and 1991"
Source: Pro Football Hall of Fame
Eric Dickerson is the second consecutive Ram running back to make the list. At least this one was much easier to call.
"Rushed for NFL-record 2,105 yards, 1984...Gained 1,800 or more rushing yards three of first four seasons...Retired as the second all-time leading rusher with 13,259 yards on 2,996 carries...Named to six Pro Bowls...All-Pro five times...Led the league in rushing three times with Rams, once with Colts...Born September 2, 1960, in Sealy, Texas."
Source: Pro Football Hall of Fame class of 1999.
Clarke Hinkle was perhaps the most complete player in NFL history:
"One of the most versatile stars in NFL annals...Fullback on offense, linebacker on defense...Famous for head-on duels with Nagurski...Did everything well - ran, passed, punted, placekicked, caught passes...Savage blocker, vicious tackler, adept pass defender...All-NFL four years...Rushed 3,860 yards, scored 379 points, averaged 40.8 yards on punts...Top NFL scorer, 1938...Born April 10, 1909, in Toronto, Ohio...Died November 9, 1988, at age of 79."
Source: Pro Football Hall of Fame Class of 1964
Honorable mention has to go out to Ollie Matson.
Terrell Davis was a terrific running back, but injuries cut his career too short to make this list.
Jim Taylor HOF class of 1976:
"James Charles Taylor...LSU All-America, 1957...Packers' No. 2 draft pick, 1958...1,000-yard rusher five straight years, 1960-1964...Rushed for 8,597 yards, caught 225 passes, amassed 10,539 combined net yards, scored 558 points...Led NFL rushers, scorers, had record 19 TDs rushing, 1962...Excelled in 1962 NFL title game...Ferocious runner, rugged blocker, prime disciple of "run to daylight" doctrine...Born September 20, 1935, in Baton Rouge, Louisiana."
Source: Pro Football Hall of Fame
So many great running backs have worn No. 32: Franco Harris, Marcus Allen, O.J. Anderson, Jamal Anderson and Ricky Watters to name a few.
But no one wore it better than the one who defined it, Jim Brown.
From the Pro Football Hall of Fame Class of 1971.
"James Nathaniel Brown...Syracuse All-America, 1956...Browns' No. 1 draft pick, 1957...Awesome runner, led NFL rushers eight years...All-NFL eight of nine years...NFL's Most Valuable Player, 1957, 1958, 1965...Rookie of the Year, 1957...Played in nine straight Pro Bowls...Career marks: 12,312 yards rushing, 262 receptions, 15,459 combined net yards, 756 points scored...Born February 17, 1936, in St. Simons, Georgia."
And he did all that in nine seasons, four of which were 12 games seasons and five that were 14 game seasons. He was a punishing runner and would take tacklers head on. He retired while still in his prime.
Simply put, he was the best ever.
Dishonorable mention: You know who.
With apologies to Tony Dorsett, who also had a Hall of Fame career, my pick at No. 33 is Sammy Baugh.
From the Pro Football Hall of Fame Class of 1963
"Sammy Adrian Baugh...Two-time TCU All-America...No. 1 draft choice, 1937...Split career between tailback, T-quarterback...Premier passer who influenced great offensive revolution...All-NFL seven years... NFL passing, punting, interception champ, 1943...Six-time NFL passing leader...Career records: 21,886 yards, 187 TDs passing, 45.1-yard punting average, 31 interceptions...Born March 17, 1914, in Temple, Texas...Died December 17, 2008, at age of 94."
No. 34 can be no one else other than the late, great, Walter Payton. He truly was "Sweetness" to watch. Taken from us way to soon.
"Walter Jerry Payton...First-round pick, 1975 draft...Quickly established himself as super star...Retired as all-time leader in rushing, combined net yards...Career stats: 16,726 yards, 110 TDs rushing; 492 receptions for 4,538 yards; 21,803 combined net yards, 125 touchdowns...All-Pro seven times...Played in nine Pro Bowls...Held single-game rushing record of 275 yards...Had 77 games over 100 yards rushing...Born July 25, 1954, in Columbia, Mississippi...Died November 1, 1999, at age of 45."
Source: Pro Football Hall of Fame
Did you think Earl Campbell wouldn't get in because of Walter Payton's selection as No. 34? Well, Campbell wore No. 35 his last couple of seasons with the Saints and that is enough for me to select him over fellow HOFers, John Henry Johnson, Pete Phios, Bill Dudley and Walt Kiesling.
Campbell just plain took a beating over his career, and who can forget his famous commercial when he uttered those immortal words, "Skoal brother."
From the Pro Football Hall of Fame Class of 1991.
"Earl Christian Campbell...First player taken in 1978 NFL Draft...Texas All-America, Heisman Trophy winner...NFL rushing champion, Player of Year, All-Pro, Pro Bowl choice, 1978, 1979, 1980...Career high 1,934 yards rushing including four 200-yard rushing games, 1980...Career stats: 9,407 yards, 74 TDs rushing, 121 receptions, 806 yards...Played in five Pro Bowls...Born March 29, 1955, in Tyler, Texas."
Jerome "The Bus" Bettis achieved quite a lot in his 13 seasons. He was the definition of power running back in his years with the Los Angles Rams and Pittsburgh Steelers. Some of his accomplishments are as follows:
- Three-time All Pro
- Six-time Pro Bowler
- 94 career touchdowns
- 13,662 career rushing yards
- NFL Rookie of the Year (1993)
- Super Bowl XL Champion
Doak Walker gets all of the glory, but many forget about the San Francisco 49ers great corner.
Both Walker and Johnson are in the Hall, both were named to five Pro-Bowls but Johnson gets the edge because of longevity. He played for the 49ers for 16 years and was named the NFL's 1970's All Decade team. Walker was a great player; however, he played a mere six seasons with the Detroit Lions.
"James Earl Johnson...49ers' No. 1 draft pick, 1961...Played on offense, at safety before moving to cornerback permanently, 1963...Blessed with outstanding speed, leaping ability...Named All-Pro four times...Selected to five Pro Bowls...Career record: 47 interceptions, 615 yards (both were 49ers records). . .Opposition passers avoided throwing in his area...Played in two NFC title games...Born March 31, 1938, in Dallas, Texas."
Source: Pro Football Hall of Fame
"Robert Calvin Hubbard...Most feared lineman of his time...Rookie star with Giants' great defensive team, 1927...Played end with Giants, switched to tackle with Packers...Anchored line for Packers' title teams, 1929-1931...Excelled as a blocker, backed up line on defense...Extremely fast, strong...All-NFL six years, 1928-1933...Named NFL's all-time offensive tackle, 1969...Born October 31, 1900, in Keytesville, Missouri...Died October 17, 1977, at age of 76."
"During the summers in Green Bay, Hubbard began umpiring baseball games. In 1936, he began a new career as an American League umpire. He became almost as famous as a baseball umpire as he had been as a football player. In 1958 he was appointed umpire-in-chief of the American League. Hubbard is the only person to be enshrined in both the Baseball and Pro Football Hall of Fames."
Source: Pro Football Hall of Fame Class of 1963
Larry Csonka was a "take no prisoners"-type of runner. If you expected to tackle him, you expected one thing...pain.
From the Pro Football Hall of Fame Class of 1987.
"Lawrence Richard Csonka...Syracuse All-America, 1967...No. 1 draft pick, 1968...Powerhouse runner, excellent blocker, receiver...Only 21 fumbles in 1,891 carries...Surpassed 1000 yards rushing three seasons...Four-time All-AFC, picked for five Pro Bowls...All-Pro 1971, 1972, 1973...MVP in Super Bowl VIII...Made great comeback with 1979 Dolphins...Career stats: 8,081 yards rushing, 106 receptions, 68 touchdowns...Born December 25, 1946, in Stow, Ohio."
Gale Sayers played for only seven seasons and yet did most of his damage in his first five before a devastating knee injury shortened his career.
"Gale Eugene Sayers...Kansas All-America...Exceptional break-away runner...Scored rookie record 22 TDs, 132 points, 1965...Led NFL rushers, 1966, 1969...Named all-time NFL halfback, 1969...All-NFL five straight years...Player of Game in three Pro Bowls...Career totals: 9,435 combined net yards, 4,956 yards rushing, 336 points...NFL lifetime kickoff return leader...Born May 30, 1943, in Wichita, Kansas."
Source: Pro Football Hall of Fame Class of 1997.
It's a good thing these guys changed jersey numbers a lot back in the day, both Robert Hubbard and Arnie Herber wore No.'s 38 and 41. So with Hubbard at 38 it is Arnie Herber at 41.
"Arnold Charles Herber...Joined Packers as 20-year-old rookie...Threw TD pass first pro game...Exceptional long passer...Teamed with Don Hutson for first great pass-catch combo...NFL passing leader, 1932, 1934, 1936...Triggered four Packers title teams...Left retirement to lead 1944 Giants to NFL Eastern crown...Lifetime passes gained 8,041 yards, 81 TDs...Born April 2, 1910, in Green Bay, Wisconsin...Died October 14, 1969, at age of 59."
Source: Pro Football Hall of Fame
Was there any doubt Ronnie Lott would be here at No. 42? Actually, there could be. Sid Luckman, Paul Warfield, Charlie Taylor and Leo Nomellini are all Hall of Fame inductees.
But Lott is generally regarded as one of the fiercest hitters and competitors to ever play safety.
The guy actually had part of his finger amputated so he continue playing football.
From the Pro Football Hall of Fame Class of 2007.
"Ronald Mandel Lott...First round draft pick, 1981...Started at left cornerback position as rookie...Switched to safety, 1985...Earned All-Pro honors at three different positions (cornerback, free safety, strong safety)...Hard-hitting, versatile...Recorded 100-plus tackles five times...Led NFL in interceptions twice, 1986, 1991...Driving force on defense during 49ers’ four Super Bowl seasons...63 career interceptions for 730 yards, 5 TDs...Born May 8, 1959, in Albuquerque, New Mexico."
Since there are no No. 43s currently in the Hall of Fame, I had to go with a guy that is on his way there.
Troy Polamalu has already been named to five Pro Bowls. He is a game-changing player, and the Steelers defense is just not the same when he is not in the game. He also has 22 interceptions, seven forced fumbles, seven sacks and 367 tackles.
Anybody who tells Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor to, "loosen up, Sandy baby.", gets my vote.
Of course it helps too, that John Riggins was one of the greatest 'tough yards" running backs of all time.
From the Pro Football Hall of Fame Class of 1992,
"Robert John Riggins...Kansas All-America...No. 1 draft pick, 1971...Career record: 11,352 yards, 104 TDs rushing; 2,090 yards receiving; 13,442 combined net yards, 116 TDs...Most Valuable Player with 166 rushing yards, 43-yard winning touchdown, Super Bowl XVII...Had five 1,000-yard rushing seasons...Played in 1976 Pro Bowl...All-NFL, 1983...Voluntarily sat out 1980 season...Born August 4, 1949, in Seneca, Kansas."
Now if he could have only stayed awake during Sam Donaldson's speech and not passed out drunk under the table—he just might have been invited back to the White House...or not.
"Emlen Lewis Tunnell...Signed as free agent, 1948...Known as Giants "offense on defense," keyed famed "umbrella defense" of 1950s...Gained more yards (924) on interceptions, kick returns than NFL rushing leader, 1952...Held career marks in interceptions (79 for 1,282 yards), punt returns (262 for 2,217 yards). . .All-NFL six years...Played in nine Pro Bowls...Named NFL's all-time safety, 1969...Born March 29, 1925, in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania...Died July 22, 1975, at age of 50."
Source: Pro Football Hall of Fame Class of 1967
Kenny Easley was good, but Tunnell was great.
Tough call here between Chuck Muncie, Todd Christenson and Tim McDonald.
However, McDonald has two more Pro Bowls then Muncie and one more than Christensen.
I know I sure enjoyed watching him play.
In his 13-year career, he also netted 40 interceptions with 640 return yards. He forced 10 fumbles and is credited with 1,063 tackles.
Pro Football Hall of Fame Class of 1989,
"Melvin Cornell Blount...Third-round draft pick, 1970...Prototype cornerback of his era with superior speed, strength, intelligence...All-Pro four years...NFL defensive MVP, 1975...Played in four Super Bowls, five Pro Bowls, 200 of 201 regular-season games...Career totals: 57 interceptions, 736 yards, 13 opponents' fumble recoveries...Had key interception in Super Bowl IX. . .Born April 10, 1948, in Vidalia, Georgia."
What more needs to be said?
Sometimes you just have to go with what you know in you heart is right, and if you ever saw Daryl Johnston play— you know he is the right selection here.
How many drives did "Moose" keep alive? How many critical catches did he make? How many times did he bail out Troy Aikman?
"Moose is the reason that Emmitt Smith is on this list". If that's not 100% accurate, Moose's blocking certainly is one of the reasons that Emmitt is the best professional athlete to ever wear the uniform number 22."
"During his eleven year NFL career, spent entirely with the Dallas Cowboys, Johnston racked up 2,227 receiving yards, 14 receiving TDs, 753 rushing yards, and 8 rushing TDs. His biggest contribution during his career however, cannot be measured as a statistic. It was the defenders he took on, and the holes he helped create, so that Emmitt Smith could go on to become the NFL's all-time leading rusher."
One of the toughest competitors to ever play the game.
"Robert Cornelius Mitchell...Blessed with exceptional speed, balance, faking ability...Split career as Browns halfback, Redskins flanker...Noted for spectacular long-distance scoring plays...Amassed 14,078 combined net yards...Scored 91 touchdowns, caught 521 passes, had eight kick return TDs...Topped NFL receivers, 1962...Surpassed 50 catches six years...All-NFL three times...Played in four Pro Bowl games...Born June 6, 1935, at Hot Springs, Arkansas."
Source: Pro Football Hall of Fame Class of 1983.
Mike Singletary had the most intense stare in the game. He was also was pretty damn intense on the field.
"Michael Singletary...Bears’ second-round draft pick, 1981...Finished as team’s first or second leading tackler each of last 11 seasons...Career statistics: 1488 tackles (885 solo), 51 passes defensed, 12 fumble recoveries, 7 interceptions...All-Pro eight times, 1983-1989, 1991...All-NFC selection nine straight years, 1983-1991...Selected to ten consecutive Pro Bowls...Defensive Player of the Year, 1985, 1988..Born October 9, 1958, in Houston, Texas."
Source: Pro Football Hall of Fame Class of 1998.
Now if he could only learn how to coach...
I actually read a comment somewhere that said Dick Butkus is overrated...he isn't.
Still the measure all middle linebackers are judged against. Just an mean, nasty, and just an animal on the field.
"Richard Marvin Butkus...Two-time Illinois All-America...First-round draft pick, 1965...Exceptional defensive star with speed, quickness, instinct, strength...Great leader, tremendous competitor, adept at forcing fumbles...Had 22 lifetime interceptions, 27 fumble recoveries...Serious knee injury ended brilliant career...All-NFL six years...In eight straight Pro Bowls...Born December 9, 1942, in Chicago, Illinois."
Source: Pro Football Hall of Fame Class of 1979.
Hard to believe anyone could knock Mike Webster off this list, but Ray Lewis does just that. Could be the best of all-time before he is finished, if he isn't all ready.
In his 15th year and still playing at a high level.
Some of Lewis' accomplishments include:
11 Pro Bowl selections.
Seven First Team All-Pro selections.
Super Bowl XXXV MVP.
Two-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year.
Fastest ever to reach 20 sacks and 20 interceptions.
This space reserved for future achievements.
Another terrific middle linebacker that dosn't get all the attention that Lewis and Butkus get, but the Hall of Fame was well deserved for Harry Carson.
"Harry Donald Carson...Giants’ fourth-round draft pick, 1976 draft...Became Giants’ starting middle linebacker halfway through rookie season...Earned All-Rookie honors...Led Giants defenders in tackles five seasons...Ferocious run stopper...Had 14 career fumble recoveries...Selected to nine Pro Bowls, including seven straight (1982-1988)...All-Pro (first-team) 1981, 1984; Second-team All-Pro five times...All-NFC five times...Born November 26, 1953, in Florence, South Carolina."
Source: Pro Football Hall of Fame Class of 2006.
Randy White was one of the most durable and toughest defensive tackles to ever play the game. If Brian Urlacher could stay healthy, he might someday knock White off this list...but I doubt that will happen.
White was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1994.
"Randy Lee White...Outland Trophy, Lombardi Award winner at Maryland...No. 1 draft pick, 1975...Possessed quickness, balance, toughness, ability, desire, intelligence...Played in 209 games...Missed only one game in 14 years...Co-Most Valuable Player, Super Bowl XII...Played in three Super Bowls, six NFC title games...All-Pro nine years...Elected to nine Pro Bowls...Born January 15, 1953, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania."
Tiaina Baul "Junior" Seau Jr. was one of the most feared linebackers of the last two decades. His nickname, "Say ow" was a constant reminder to any opposing player who crossed his path that they were gonna encounter some pain.
Seau was a 12-time Pro Bowl selection, and he was named the NFL's defensive player of the year in 1992. He was also named to the NFL's 1990s All-Decade Team.
For his 20-year career, he recorded 1,849 tackles, 56.5 sacks, 18 interceptions and 21 deflected passes.
Stay awake Junior and don't drive off anymore cliffs.
Lawrence "LT" Taylor is perhaps the greatest defensive player of all-time.
He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1999.
"Lawrence Julius Taylor...Giants’ first-round pick, second player overall, 1981 draft...Great intensity, speed, strength fueled attack style...Redefined the way outside linebacker position was played...Named All-Pro first nine seasons...All-NFC ten times...10 Pro Bowls...NFL Defensive Player of the Year, 1981, 1982, 1986...Second all-time in career sacks at retirement...Named to NFL’s 75th Anniversary Team, 1994...Born February 4, 1959, in Williamsburg, Virginia."
I could have gone with the Miami Dolphins' great center Dwight Stephenson here, but I gave the nod to Ricky Jackson because of longevity. Stephenson's career was cut short by a knee injury, and he had to retire after seven seasons. Jackson managed to stay healthy and play at a high level for 15 years.
Jackson was inducted into the HOF earlier this year.
"Selected by Saints in 2nd round (51st player overall), 1981…Made immediate impact as rookie when led team with franchise rookie record eight sacks and was leading tackler…Six double-digit sack totals in career…Six Pro Bowls…All-Pro four times…Jackson finished NFL career as defensive end with 49ers...128 career sacks does not include rookie total since sack did not become official statistic until 1982…Born March 20, 1958 in Pahokee, Florida."
Sorry, another tie...what would you do?
Jack Lambert, Hall of Fame Class of 1990:
"John Harold Lambert...Second-round draft pick, 1974...Prototype middle linebacker-intense, intelligent, fast, quick, durable...Noted for vicious tackling, great range, superior pass defense...Two-time NFL Defensive Player of Year...All-Pro eight times...In nine straight Pro Bowls, 1976-1984...In six AFC title games, four Super Bowls...had 28 interceptions, 17 fumble recoveries...Born July 8, 1952, in Mantua, Ohio."
Lambert will also be remembered for suggesting that quarterbacks should wear dresses.
Derrick Thomas, Hall of Fame Class of 2009:
"Fourth player overall, 1989 draft...Defensive Rookie of the Year...Led NFL with team record 20 sacks; including NFL record seven sacks in one game, 1990...Named to nine Pro Bowls...Accumulated most sacks in NFL during 1990s...Recorded 126.5 career sacks...All-NFL three times...All-AFC seven times...Born January 1, 1967 in Miami, Florida...Died February 8, 2000, at age of 33."
Source: Pro Football Hall of Fame
Taken form this world way too soon. Rest in peace Derrick.
No tie here, the Pittsburgh Steelers was one of the best. He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1988.
"Jack Raphael Ham, Jr....Consensus All-America, 1970...No. 2 draft pick, 1971...Won starting left linebacker job as rookie...Had speed, intelligence, exceptional ability to diagnose plays...Gained reputation as big-play defender...Career record: 25 1/2 sacks, 21 opponents' fumbles recovered, 32 interceptions...All-AFC or All-Pro seven years, 1973-1979...Named to eight straight Pro Bowls...Born December 23, 1948, in Johnstown, Pennsylvania."
Source: Pro Football Hall of Fame.
"No National Football League player in the 1950s was immune to bone-jarring contact with the Philadelphia Eagles' Chuck Bednarik because the 233-pounder played on both the offensive and defensive units long after the two-way player had largely faded from the scene."
Bednarik was inducted into the HOF in 1967.
"Charles Philip Bednarik...Two-time Pennsylvania All-America...Eagles' bonus draft choice, 1949...NFL's last "iron man" star...Rugged, durable, bulldozing blocker, bone-jarring tackler...Missed only three games in 14 years...Nine times All-NFL...Played in eight Pro Bowls, MVP in 1954 game...Named NFL's all-time center, 1969...Played 58 minutes, made game-saving tackle, 1960 NFL title game...Born May 1, 1925, in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania."
I had to put Otto Graham in here somewhere and since he wore both No. 14 and No. 60. this seems like a good of a spot as any.
I know I said that this is more about individual achievement, but when you take your team, the Cleveland Browns, to seven league titles in 10 seasons in the AAFC and the NFL, well that is an achievement!
Graham went to five Pro Bowls and was selected as a first team All-Pro nine times.
He was inducted into the HOF in 1965.
Bill George's job on passing plays was to hit the center and then drop back. The Chicago Bears linebackers during a game against the Philadelphia Eagles in 1952, decided to forgo the bump and drop back immediately. The result? The first of his 18 career interceptions and the birth of the 4-3.
George was inducted into the HOF in 1974.
"William J. George...Bears' No. 2 future draft choice, 1951...One of first great middle linebackers...Called Bears' defensive signals eight years...Exceptionally astute strategist, on-the-field innovator...All-NFL eight years...Played in eight straight Pro Bowls, 1955-1962...Career record: 18 interceptions, 19 opponents' fumbles recovered...Born October 27, 1929, in Waynesburg, Pennsylvania...Died September 30, 1982, at age of 52."
Jim Langer was one of the best centers to ever anchor a line. He was a lynch pin of those great Miami Dolphins teams of the early 70s.
Inducted into the HOF in 1987.
"James John Langer...Signed as free agent, 1970...Became starter, played every offensive down in perfect 1972 season, when he needed help on just three of 500 blocking assignments...Lauded for "professional, no frills" demeanor...Hard-working, quick, low-driving blocker...Rarely made mistake...First-team All-Pro four times; All-AFC five straight years...Played in three AFC title games, three Super Bowls, six Pro Bowls...Born May 16, 1948, in Little Falls, Minnesota."
Willie Lanier was inducted into the HOF in 1986.
"Willie Edward Lanier...Chiefs' No. 2 pick, 1967 draft...Fast, agile, quick-thinking, anchor of Kansas City's vaunted defense...Nicknamed "Contact" because of ferocious tackling...Durable, missed only one game his last 10 years...Intercepted 27 passes for 440 yards, two TDs...Defensive star in Super Bowl IV upset...All-AFL/AFC eight times...Elected to two AFL All-Star games, six AFC-NFC Pro Bowls...Born August 21, 1945, in Clover, Virginia."
Lanier was also elected to the NFL's 75th Anniversary All-Time Team.
Randall McDaniel was one of the best guards of his era. He was great from the start earning All-Rookie honors in 1988. One of the all-time great Minnesota Vikings.
McDaniel was elected into the HOF in 2009.
"Selected in first round, 19th overall, 1988...Earned all-rookie honors...Started 202 consecutive games...Started 13 straight playoff games for Vikings...Blocked for six 1,000-yard rushers and five 3,000-yard passers during career...Anchored offensive line of explosive Vikings team that scored then-record 556 points, 1998...Named All-Pro nine consecutive times (1990-98)...Selected to play in a record 12 consecutive AFC-NFC Pro Bowls (1990-2001)...Born December 19, 1964 in Phoenix, Arizona."
Tom Mack was inducted into the HOF in 1999. He beats out fellow HOFers, Elvin Bethea and Gary Zimmerman by a nose.
"Thomas Lee Mack...Rams’ first-round draft pick, second player overall in 1966 NFL draft...One of only two rookies on veteran-laden team...Earned starting role as rookie and held left guard position for next 13 seasons...Extremely durable, never missed a game during 184-game career...Named to 11 Pro Bowls...All-NFL five times...All-Western Conference once, All-NFC eight times...Born November 1, 1943, in Cleveland, Ohio."
Fairly easy call here. Ray Nitschke was a gentleman off the field but a savage tackler on it.
"A fierce competitor, Ray was the heart of the great Packers defense of the 1960s."
"Raymond Ernest Nitschke...No. 3 draft pick, 1958...First Green Bay defender from 1960s to be enshrined...Exceptional team leader, tough, strong, fast...Savage defender on rushes, cat-like quick against passes...Named NFL's all-time top linebacker, 1969...All-NFL three years...Intercepted pass for TD in 1964 Pro Bowl...Had 25 career interceptions...MVP in 1962 NFL title game...Born December 29, 1936, in Elmwood Park, Illinois...Died March 8, 1998, at age of 61."
Source: Pro Football Hall of Fame Class of 1978.
Bob Kuechenberg is one of those guys who should be in the HOF, but as of yet, is not. He was a mainstay of the great Miami Dolphin teams of the 1970's.
"Eagles' fourth-round pick, 1969...Joined Dolphins as free agent, 1970...Played in more regular season games (196) than any other player in Dolphins history at the time of his retirement...Versatile player, spent time at tackle and center positions...Earned Pro Bowl spot at guard and Sporting News All-AFC honors at tackle, 1978...Named to six Pro Bowls...All-Pro 1975, 1978; All-AFC three times...Born October 14, 1947 in Gary, Indiana."
Source: Pro Football Hall of Fame Finalist 2009.
L.C. Greenwood is another Hall of Fame Finalist. He says he would be honored if he someday makes into the HOF, but he also says that he feels the Steelers that are already there, particularly "Mean Joe" Greene, already represent what those great Steelers teams accomplished.
"10th-round pick, 1969 draft...Teamed with Hall of Famer Joe Greene to give Steelers superior left-side strength for their “Steel Curtain” defense...Possessed exceptional quickness...Used height to knock down passes or to rush passers...Had 73.5 sacks, 14 opponents fumble recoveries in career...Played in six AFC title games, four Super Bowls...All-Pro twice, All-AFC five times...Born September 8, 1946, in Canton, Mississippi."
Source: Pro Football Hall of Fame Finalist 2005 and 2006.
Jared Allen takes this spot from Tim Krumrie and Will Wolford. Both were great players, but Allen has already been named to three Pro-Bowls and is one of those players that can take over a game.
High energy, non-stop motor, call it what you will, but Allen never gives up a play.
In his seventh season, Allen has already racked up 73 sacks, forced 22 fumbles and is credited with 351 tackles.
Sam Huff was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1982.
"Robert Lee Huff...All-America guard at West Virginia...No. 3 draft pick, 1956...Inspirational leader, brilliant diagnostician with great speed, tackling ability...Noted for hard-hitting duels with premier running backs. . .Had 30 career interceptions...Played in six NFL title games, five Pro Bowls...All-NFL three years...Top NFL linebacker, 1959...Redskins player-coach, 1969...Born October 4, 1934, in Morgantown, West Virginia."
Huff was once documented in a television broadcast titled, '”The Violent World of Sam Huff.” It described him as,"smiling fighter fired with a devout desire to sink a thick shoulder into every ball carrier in the National Football League."
A fitting description to say the least.
Walter Jones is perhaps one of the most underrated tackles in NFL history.
He played his entire 12-year career with one team, the Seattle Seahawks. Nine of those seasons, Jones was a Pro Bowl selection. He was a All Pro selection four times.
In Jones fist year, he was a First Team All-Rookie selection.
Jones was named to the NFL's 2000s All-Decade team.
His No. 71 Jersey has been retired by the team, and Jones awaits his invitation to the Hall of Fame.
He will join fellow members that also wore 71, George Connor, Fred Dean, Carl Eller and Mike Mccormack.
As much as I wanted to put Ed "Too Tall" Jones here, Dierdorf deserves the pick and here's why,
"Daniel Lee Dierdorf...No. 2 draft pick, 1971...Michigan All-America...Possessed size, speed, quickness, discipline, intelligence, consistency...Equally effective as passing, rushing blocker...Right tackle who anchored line that led NFL three years, NFC five years in fewest sacks allowed...All-Pro five years...Played in six Pro Bowls...Named best blocker three years by NFL Players Association...Born June 29, 1949, in Canton, Ohio."
Source: Pro Football Hall of Fame Class of 1996.
Interesting note: Dierdorf was born in Canton, Ohio. Destiny?
Anybody want to argue this pick? I didn't think so...
Simply put, John Hannah was the best guard to ever play the game.
He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1991.
"John Allen Hannah...Two-time All-America...First-round draft pick, 1973...Possessed size, speed, competitiveness...Hard worker who played in spite of injuries...Excelled as pass protector, run blocker, pulling guard on sweeps...Renowned as premier guard of era...All-Pro 10 years, 1976-1985...Elected to nine Pro Bowls...Four-time NFLPA Offensive Lineman of Year...Born April 4, 1951, in Canton, Georgia."
Interesting note too: Hannah was born in Canton, Georgia.
Although Merlin Olson has the slight edge, at least in Pro-Bowl appearances, you can't leave out Bob Lilly. They both have storied Hall of Fame Careers, and both are largely considered to be two of the very best to ever put on an NFL uniform. In fact, a recent ranking by NFL Network puts Lilly at No. 26 all-time and Olson at No. 27.
"Robert Lewis Lilly...Consensus All-America at Texas Christian...Cowboys' first-ever draft choice (1961), first Hall of Famer (1980)...Foundation of great Dallas defensive units...Had unusual speed, strength, intelligence, recovery ability...All-NFL/NFC eight years...Named to 11 Pro Bowls...Played in five NFL/NFC title games, two Super Bowls...Missed just one game in 14 years...Born July 26, 1939, in Olney, Texas."
Lilly was elected into the HOF in 1980. His outstanding play on defense earned him the moniker, "Mr. Cowboy." It also got him a few commercial endorsements including one with Black and Decker.
"Merlin Olsen was a coach's player. Punctual, steady, gifted, a quiet leader, a player you could always count on. He was a standout as a rookie and thereafter stood out in every game he played for the Rams in a 15- year career. Every game. Fifteen years."
"He had the physical qualifications of the best-ever defensive tackles of the day, as evidenced by the fact that he won the Outland Trophy as a collegian at Utah State. But Merlin’s true strength may have been the intelligence he used in each game."
"Merlin Jay Olsen...All-America, Outland Trophy winner, Phi Beta Kappa at Utah State...Rams' No. 1 draft pick, 1962...Big, fast, agile, smart...Stabilizing leader of famed “Fearsome Foursome” defensive line...All-NFL, 1964, 1966-1970...All-Western Conference six times, All-NFC twice...Rookie of Year, 1962...Picked on Rams' all-time team, 1970...Played in 208 games, last 198 in a row...Born September 15, 1940, in Logan, Utah...Died March 11, 2010, at age of 69."
Source: Pro Football Hall of Fame Class of 1982.
Once again, two of the All-time greats force a tie.
"Mean Joe" Greene was elected in 1986,
Charles Edward Greene...Consensus All-America, 1968...No. 1 draft pick, 1969...Became "cornerstone of franchise" that dominated the NFL in 1970s...Exceptional team leader, possessed size, speed, quickness, strength, determination...NFL Defensive Player of Year, 1972, 1974...All-Pro or All-AFC nine years...Played in four Super Bowls, six AFC title games, 10 Pro Bowls...Born September 24, 1946, in Temple, Texas.
As far as the Coca-Cola ad is concerned, "Mean Joe" was really that kind of "softy" off the field.
"Deacon" Jones was elected into the HOF in 1980,
David D. Jones...Obscure 14th-round draft pick, 1961...Among first of fast, tough, mobile defensive linemen...Noted for clean, but hard-hitting play...Specialized in quarterback "sacks", a term he invented...Innovative, quick-thinking, flamboyant...Unanimous all-league six straight years, 1965-1970...Played in eight Pro Bowls...NFL Defensive Player of Year, 1967-1968...Born December 9, 1938, in Eatonville, Florida.
The also both posses two of the greatest nicknames in NFL history.
Lou Groza was an offensive lineman who also served as a kicker. He later became a full time kicker due to an injury to his back. Switching to a full time kicker allowed Groza to play for 21 seasons.
"Louis Roy Groza...Last of "original" Browns to retire...Regular offensive tackle, 1947-1959...Back injury forced layoff, 1960...Kicking specialist only, 1961-1967...All-NFL tackle six years...NFL Player of Year, 1954...In nine Pro Bowls...Last-second field goal won 1950 NFL title game...Scored 1,608 points in 21 years...Played in four AAFC, nine NFL title games...Born January 25, 1924, in Martins Ferry, Ohio...Died November 29, 2000, at age of 76."
Source: 1974 inductee into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Harold "Red" Grange was also known as, "The Galloping Ghost" because he ran with "ghost-like speed." He is the easy selection at No. 77.
Class of 1963
Halfback >>> 6-0, 180
1925, 1929-1934 Chicago Bears, 1926 New York Yankees (AFL), 1927 New York Yankees (NFL)
"Harold Edward Grange...Three-time All-America, 1923-1925...Earned "Galloping Ghost" fame as whirling dervish runner at Illinois...Joined Bears on Thanksgiving Day, 1925...Magic name produced first huge pro football crowds on 17-game barnstorming tour...With manager, founded rival American Football League, 1926...Missed entire 1928 season with injury...Excelled on defense in latter years...Born June 13, 1903, in Forksville, Pennsylvania...Died January 28, 1991, at age of 87."
"Additional Career Statistics: Passing: 71-24-346, 10 TDs, 10 Ints; Rushing: 170-569, 21 TDs; Receiving: 16-288, 10 TDs; Scoring: 32 TDs, 0-1 XP; Interceptions: 1 TD"
Source: Pro Football Hall of Fame
Much like John Hannah at guard, the question of who might be the greatest offensive tackle to ever play the game often stops and starts with Anthony Munoz.
Elected into the Pro Football Hall of Fame 1998,
"Michael Anthony Muñoz...Bengals’ first-round draft pick, third player overall, 1980 draft...All-Pro 11 consecutive years, 1981-1991...Elected to 11 straight Pro Bowls...Great agility, exceptional straight-on blocker...Caught seven passes and scored four touchdowns on tackle-eligible plays...NFL Offensive Lineman of the Year 1981, 1987, 1988...Selected to NFL’s 75th Anniversary All-Time Team, 1994...Started at tackle in Super Bowls XVI, XXIII...Born August 19, 1958, in Ontario, California."
Bruce Smith is the All-Time NFL sack leader with 200. He also was selected to 11 Pro Bowls. Smith was selected to the NFL Hall of Fame in 2009,
"Bills’ first-round draft pick (1st player overall), 1985 NFL Draft...Considered one of the most dominant defensive players in NFL history...His 200 career sacks is NFL all-time record...Recorded 10 or more sacks in an NFL record 13 seasons...NFL Defensive Player of the Year, 1990 and 1996...Named to NFL’s All Decade Teams of the 1980s and 1990s...First- or second-team All-Pro 11 times...Selected to 11 Pro Bowls...Born June 18, 1963 in Norfolk, Virginia."
Smith and Munoz are joined in the HOF by fellow 78's, Art Shell, Jackie Slater, Stan Jones and Bobby Bell.
Roosevelt Brown beats out San Francisco 49er and fellow HOFer, Bob St. Clair, for the honors at No. 79.
Brown was selected to the HOF in 1975.
"Roosevelt Brown, Jr....Black All-America at Morgan State, 1951-1952...Giants' 27th pick in 1953 draft...Joined Giants as green 20-years-old...Quickly won starting role, held it for 13 seasons...Excellent downfield blocker, classic pass protector, fast, mobile...All-NFL eight straight years, 1956-1963...Played in nine Pro Bowl games...Named NFL's Lineman of Year, 1956...Born October 20, 1932, in Charlottesville, Virginia...Died June 9, 2004, at age of 71."
Source: Pro Football Hall of Fame
Is there any question? Many consider Rice to be not only the greatest receiver in the game but perhaps the greatest player to ever put on an NFL jersey.
He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame just this year in his first year of eligibility.
"Selected by 49ers in first round (16th player overall), 1985...Set NFL record with 22 TD receptions, 1987…Led NFL in receiving yards and touchdown receptions six times…Record 1,848 yards receiving, 1995…Owns virtually every significant receiving mark including receptions (1,549); receiving yards (22,895); most 1,000-yard receiving seasons (14)…Had record 208 total touchdowns; 23,546 combined net yards…Super Bowl XXIII MVP…Named first-team All-Pro 11 consecutive seasons…13 Pro Bowls…Born October 13, 1962 in Starkville, Mississippi."
Yeah, I'd say he was pretty good.
Dick "Night Train" Lane was never drafted. He wasn't an "undrafted free agent". He got his shot at the NFL by walking into the offices of the Los Angeles Rams and asking for a tryout. All he has with him was a scrapbook with clippings from his high school, junior college, and Army playing days.
Looking for a "good job" payed off for Lane as he parlayed his tryout into a Hall of Fame career.
"Richard Lane...Joined Rams as free agent after four years in Army...Set NFL interception record (14) as rookie, 1952...All-NFL six years...Named to seven Pro Bowls...Selected all-time NFL corner-back, 1969...Career interception record: 68 for 1,207 yards, five TDs...Gambler on field who made spectacular plays...Deadly open-field tackler...Very fast, agile, aggressive...Born April 16, 1928, in Austin, Texas...Died January 29, 2002, at age of 73."
Source: Pro Football Hall of Fame Class of 1974.
I had always assumed Lane's famous nickname had something to do with his ferocious tackling (e.g. "hits like a train"). It is actually just a reference to the Buddy Morrow hit song by the same name. It seems Lane liked the song which was played often by his teammate Tom Fears.
Why it stuck to Lane and not fears is anyone's guess.
Tough choice here between Raymond Berry, Ozzie Newsome and John Stallworth, but the edge goes to the Berry.
He was selected to six Pro Bowls and named to the both the NFL's All-Decade team (50s) and the 75th Anniversary Team.
Berry was elected to the HOF in 1973.
"Raymond Emmett Berry...Formed exceptional pass-catch team with Johnny Unitas...Caught then-record 631 passes for 9,275 yards, 68 touchdowns...All-NFL in 1958, 1959, 1960...Elected to six Pro Bowl games...Set NFL title game mark with 12 catches for 178 yards in 1958 overtime game...Colts' 20th-round future choice in 1954...Born February 27, 1933, in Corpus Christi, Texas."
Ted Hendricks gets the nod here over Andre Reed. Hendricks HOF bio really says it all,
"Theodore Paul Hendricks...Three-time All-America...No. 2 draft pick, 1969...Strong, fast, devastating tackler, used height to great advantage...Played in 215 straight games...In eight Pro Bowls, seven AFC title games, four Super Bowls...All-AFC seven times, All-NFC once...Career record: 25 blocked field goals or PATs, 26 interceptions, 16 opponents' fumble recoveries, four safeties...Born November 1, 1947, in Guatemala City, Guatemala."
Hendricks was inducted into the HOF in 1990.
Shannon Sharpe is an eight-time Pro-Bowler and a three-time Super Bowl Champion.
He was known as much for his jawing on the field as he was for his prolific pass catching.
"Mr. President, call in the National Guard! We need as many men as you can spare! Because we are killing the Patriots! We'll call the dogs off! Send the National Guard please!" (during a 34 - 8 rout vs. the Patriots on November 17, 1996
Sharpe retired with 10,060 receiving yards, 815 completions and 62 touchdowns.
The tight end spent most of his 14-year career with the Denver Broncos although he did play for the Baltimore Ravens in 2000 and 2001.
Sharpe is a two-time finalist (2009-2010) for the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
According to profootballweekly.com, "Roger Staubach said Youngblood was the toughest defensive lineman that he ever faced."
I am sure that are a lot of other players out there that feel the same way.
Youngblood was one of the toughest football players to ever take the field. The man played in the 1979 NFC Title game and Super Bowl XIV with a broken leg!
"Herbert Jackson Youngblood III...Rams’ No. 1 draft pick, 1971...Became starting left defensive end, 1973...Rugged, determined, durable...Played in team-record 201 consecutive games...Suffered fractured left fibula in 1979 first-round playoff but played every defensive down in title game, Super Bowl XIV...Played in five NFC championship games...All-Pro five times...All-NFC seven times...Played in seven straight Pro Bowls...Born January 26, 1950, in Jacksonville, Florida."
Source: Pro Football Hall of Fame Class of 2001.
Pro Football Hall of Fame Class of 1990,
"Junious Buchanan...NAIA All-America at Grambling...First player selected in 1963 AFL Draft...Possessed speed, size, determination, durability...Missed only one game in 13 years...Excelled at intimidating passer, batted down 16 passes, 1967...Four-time All-AFL, All-AFC in 1970, 1971...Led Chiefs defensive efforts in Super Bowl I, IV...Played in six AFL All-Star games, two AFC-NFC Pro Bowls...Born September 10, 1940, in Gainesville, Alabama...Died July 16, 1992, at age of 51."
The Raider, Dave Casper, beats out the 49er, Dwight Clark for this selection. Clark will always be remembered for "The Catch," but Casper has a Hall of Fame career on his resume. Besides...he has a cool nickname as well.
"David John Casper...Raiders’ second-round draft pick, 1974...Nicknamed “The Ghost,” earned starting tight end spot in 1976, finished season with impressive 53 catches for 691 yards, 10 touchdowns...Named All-Pro and All-AFC four consecutive years, 1976-1979...Outstanding blocker as well as receiver...Career record: 378 receptions, 5,216 yards, 52 touchdowns...Named to five Pro Bowls...Born February 2, 1952 in Bemidji, Minnesota."
Source: Pro Football Hall of Fame Class of 2002.
I originally thought a receiver would take this spot. I mean some greats ones have worn No. 88, Lynn Swann, Michael Irvin and Marvin Harrison to name few.
But fellow No. 88 and HOFer Alan Page makes all of that moot. The former Vikings and Bears defensive end was elected to an amazing nine straight Pro-Bowls in his 15-year career.
He was inducted into the HOF in 1988. Kind of fitting don't you think.
Alan Cedric Page...Consensus All-America, 1966...First-round pick, 1967...Extremely fast, strong with cat-like reflexes...Played in 238 straight games, including four Super Bowls...Named NFL Most Valuable Player, 1971...NFL Defensive Player of Year, 1971, 1973...All-NFL six times, second-team All-NFL three other times...All-conference ten times...Elected to nine straight Pro Bowls...Career marks: 23 opponent fumble recoveries, 28 blocked kicks, 173 sacks ...Born August 7, 1945, in Canton, Ohio.
Paige also has been a member of the Minnesota Supreme Court since 1993.
Before he was a fiery NFL coach, Mike Ditka played tight end for the Chicago Bears, Philadelphia Eagles and the Dallas Cowboys. He caught an amazing 75 catches in 1964 which highlight a career that made him the first ever tight end to be selected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame (1988).
"Michael Keller Ditka...Consensus All-America, 1960...Bears' No. 1 pick, 1961...First tight end elected to Hall. . . Fast, rugged, outstanding blocker, great competitor...Big-play star of Bears' 1963 title team...Scored final touchdown in Cowboys' Super Bowl VI win...Rookie of the Year, 1961...All-NFL four years, in five straight Pro Bowls...Career record: 427 receptions, 5,812 yards, 43 TDs...Born October 18, 1939, in Carnegie, Pennsylvania."
The 90s have the least amount of HOFers than any other number grouping. Only No.'s 91, 92, 93, 98 and 99 are represented in the Hall, and since Reggie White is the lone entry for both 91 and 92, we can probably leave out 91 as well, and Mike Ditka is the lone representative at 98 and is already in at 89.
Could Neil Smith be the first No. 90 to get in?
He and Derrick Thomas formed a ferocious tandem with the Kansas City Chiefs.
Smith was selected to six Pro Bowls and would later join the Denver Broncos and become a two-time Super Bowl Champion.
In his 13-year career, he recorded 624 tackles and 104.5 sacks. Smith will always be remembered for his famous baseball swing after he sacked the quarterback—a tribute to the Kansas City Royal's George Brett.
Kevin Green played 15 years for the Rams, Steelers, Panthers and the 49ers. His 160 sacks ranks him third on the all-time sacks list behind only Bruce Smith and Reggie White.
Smith won the 1996 Defensive Player of the Year Award, as well as linebacker for the years '96 and '98.
He is a three-time finalist for the Pro Football Hall of Fame (2007, 2009 and 2010).
Any questions? Didn't think so...
"Reginald Howard White...Selected fourth overall in 1984 NFL Supplemental Draft...Recorded more sacks (124) than games played (121) in eight seasons with Eagles...Became Packers’ all-time sack leader with 68.5...Recorded 12 seasons with 10-plus sacks...NFL Defensive Player of the Year in 1987, 1991, 1998...Elected to 13 straight Pro Bowls...Named All-Pro 13 of 15 seasons including 10 as first-team selection...Born December 19, 1961 in Chattanooga, Tennessee...Died December 26, 2004 at age of 43."
Source: Pro Football Hall of Fame Class of 2006.
White recorded a total of 198 sacks in his career, good for No.2 on the NFL's All-Time Sacks list.
Another great taken way too soon.
Again, any questions? Dwight Freeney? Perhaps someday...but he needs 48.5 sacks to catch Randle—I suppose that is possibly but for now the choice is clear.
"Little All-America pick as a senior at Texas A&I...Signed by Vikings as an undrafted free agent...Recorded 137.5 career sacks...Had eight consecutive seasons (1992-99) with 10-plus sacks and a ninth in 2001...In 1997 had career best and league leading 15.5 sacks...Named first-team All-Pro/All-NFC six consecutive years (1993-98) and once All-AFC with Seahawks (2001)...Named to seven Pro Bowls...Born December 12, 1967 in Hearne, Texas."
Source: Pro Football Hall of Fame Class of 2010.
Charles Haley has a record five Super Bowl rings. He won two with the San Francisco 49ers and three with the Dallas Cowboys.
He was twice named Defensive Player of the Year (1990 and 1994).
In his career, he racked up 100.5 sacks and went to five Pro Bowls.
Haley has missed the cut to the final 15 for the Pro Football Hall of Fame three out of the last four years.
Haley was a beast on the field, but often times, his antics off the field over shadowed his brilliant playing career.
Could this be why he is is now having trouble getting into the hall?
Piss on that Charles!
Richard Dent is a four-time Pro Bowler with 137.5 sacks. He was a key member of that dominating '85 Bear's defense. During that season, Dent recorded 17 sacks and earned Super Bowl XX MVP honors by causing two sacks, two forced fumbles, recorded multiple tackles and deflected a pass.
Dent is a multiple finalist for the Pro Football Hall of Fame and unlike Charles Haley, there is little question that the former defensive end will someday be enshrined there.
Dent was an eighth round selection ( 203rd overall) of the Chicago Bears in 1983.
Cortez Kennedy is an eight-time Pro Bowler at DT, and was named the NFL's Defensive Player of the year award in 1992. He played for the Seattle Seahawks his entire 11-year career.
"Statistics may not be the primary indicator of talent and effectiveness for defensive tackles in the NFL, however, Kennedy's statistics were not too shabby. Over his eleven years wearing an NFL jersey, he tallied 667 total tackles (522 solo tackles,) 58 sacks, and eleven forced fumbles. His best year statistically was in 1992 when he recorded 92 total tackles and a hefty 14 sacks, with four forced fumbles."
This one could have gone to Simeon Rice with his 122 sacks, 475 tackles and 25 forced fumbles, but overall, I think Cornelius Bennett had the better career.
Bennett was elected to eight Pro Bowls, had 1,190 tackles, 71.5 sacks and managed to pull down seven interceptions.
"Bennett would begin his career in 1987 with the Buffalo Bills after being drafted and then traded by the Colts. He made an immediate impact as a rookie, racking up 8.5 sacks in 8 games played. He would continue to put up impressive sack numbers, but even more impressive tackle numbers. Over his career, spanning the years of 1987 through 2000, he had 71.5 sacks and 1,190 total tackles."
"He was the most prolific in his time with the Buffalo Bills (he also played with the Colts and the Falcons). While with the Bills he would participate in the Super Bowl four separate times. He also appeared in a Super Bowl with the Atlanta Falcons."
Tony Siragusa had a nice career, but I do believe Julian Peterson was the right call here.
Peterson has played in five Pro Bowls and been selected as an All-Pro three times. He currently has 51.5 sacks and 665 tackles. He may be getting closer to the end of his career, but he still has a lot left in the tank.
Peterson once played every defensive position in a game for the 49ers, he also was asked to cover Kansas City Chiefs tight end, Tony Gonzales at the height of his career. Peterson shut him down.
After playing for five years for the team that drafted him (49ers), Peterson spent three seasons with the Seattle Seahawks.He now plays for the Detroit Lions.
Jason Taylor narrowly gets the pick over Warren Sapp and Hall of Famer Dan Hampton.
Sapp played in one more Pro Bowl then Taylor (Taylor played in six, Sapp seven), and they both had over 500 tackles in their careers.
But Taylor has 130.5 sacks to Sapp's 96.5. Sapp forced eight fumbles, Taylor has forced 45.
Taylor has eight interceptions to Sapp's four.
Taylor has defensed 70 passes in his career while Sapp has a mere nine.
There is little doubt that Taylor and Sapp will someday be joining Hampton in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Rumor has it that Taylor is retiring at the end of this season.