When you try to think about who the top player was in the history of every NFL franchise, there will always be a debate because older fans will have an allegiance to the players that stood out from the past and will feel like those stars have been totally forgotten.
Then you have fans that are several generations younger that don't really know that much about former stars and will hoot and holler for current stars being recognized. There is no real win/win in this scenario.
So, recognizing the depth and breadth of fans that we reach here at Bleacher Report, I will attempt to bridge the gap by nominating the best player in franchise history, in my humble opinion, and then add the names of the other players that would qualify for consideration.
You may not agree with my selections, and that is OK. Feel free to drop a line or two about who you think should be representing your team, along with some ammunition that backs up your claim.
Unfortunately, when you are talking about the best player for every NFL franchise, there are going to be some players that are left hanging in the wind because their careers were split between multiple teams.
That brings to mind the careers of players like Deion Sanders, Ken Houston, Terrell Owens, Ricky Watters and Randy Moss, just to name a few. If you are wondering why so and so (fill in the blank) isn't on the list, consider how much easier it would have been to consider that guy if they had spent their entire career with just one team.
For some of the younger franchises, picking the best player in team history will be more of a challenge, since modern free agency encourages players to test the free-agent market after their initial contract expires.
Sure, teams can use franchise tags, but they are limited in how many of those they can use. Who knows what the new CBA will look like, as even more free agents jumping from team to team could be the net result.
We looked at factors like longevity, place in team history, the record books, MVPs, All-Pro and Pro Bowl awards. We also focused on players primarily from the modern era (the past 60 years), from 1960 to present, as our target pool, so we apologize to the fans of Don Huston and players from that era.
Also wanted to acknowledge that I used Wikipedia as the source to verify the various accomplishments of the players in question on this presentation.
Finally, we created five extra slides to pay homage to the cities that lost an NFL franchise. So for the fans of the Baltimore Colts, the Los Angeles Raiders, the Houston Oilers, the St. Louis Cardinals and the Los Angeles Rams, we have selected a player from those specific years to recognize the teams from the years spent in each of those cities. If you have a problem with that, then I believe that it is your problem.
Who I Considered? I only considered the Cardinals from the time they moved to Arizona. St. Louis Cardinals are a different slide on this presentation. I considered Kurt Warner, Larry Fitzgerald and Aeneas Williams.
Who I Selected: Aeneas Williams
Why Him? This was a tough call to make. I thought long and hard about Kurt Warner, but due to playing for the Cardinals for a much shorter duration than Williams, it was one of the deciding factors. Williams had a standout career as he became an eight time Pro Bowl pick, and being selected to the first-team All-Pro four times. Not only that, but Williams was voted to the 1990's All-Decade Team.
Williams' achievements are hard to overcome, but Kurt Warner was close. Warner was an impact player who led the Cardinals to their lone Super Bowl appearance by carrying the team on his back. Fitzgerald may outlast Williams in tenure with the team. If he plays in to his mid-30s in Phoenix, he may very well go down as the best Cardinals player in team history, considering only the years when the team relocated to Arizona.
Who I Considered? Steve Bartkowski, Michael Vick, Gerald Riggs, Andre Rison, Terrance Mathis, Deion Sanders and Mike Kenn.
Who I Selected: Michael Vick
Why Him? Vick helped to transform the quarterback position in the NFL with his natural talents and ability to run with the ball. His final year in Atlanta was the first time he rushed for over 1,000 yards in a season, as he gained 1,039 yards. Deion Sanders brought energy and style to the Falcons, but his stay with the team was only five years. Vick only was there for six years, but he undoubtedly would have stayed with the team much longer.
I considered tackle Mike Kenn because he made the Pro Bowl five times and was twice named first-team All-Pro.
Who I Considered? Johnny Unitas, Bert Jones, Tom Matte, Gino Marchetti, Lenny Moore, Raymond Berry, Art Donovan and Mike Curtis.
Who I Selected: Johnny Unitas
Why Him? Unitas was a three-time Associated Press MVP, three-time Sporting News NFL MVP, three-time Bert Bell MVP (Maxwell Club), member of the NFL 75th Anniversary All-Time team, member of the NFL 1960s All-Decade team, selected to 10 Pro Bowls and was a first-team All-Pro six different times. He threw a touchdown pass in 47 straight games, an NFL record that still stands today.
Who I Considered? Ray Lewis, Ed Reed, Joe Flacco, Jonathan Ogden, Derrick Mason and Jamal Lewis.
Who I Selected: Ray Lewis
Why Him? Lewis is a two-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year. He is the heart and soul of the Baltimore Ravens defense. He has been named to 12 Pro Bowl teams and was named first-team All-Pro seven different times. He brings a level of intensity to his game that, in my opinion, is unmatched by anyone else in the NFL today.
Who I Considered? Thurman Thomas, Jack Kemp, Jim Kelly, Andre Reed, Bruce Smith and O.J. Simpson.
Who I selected: Thurman Thomas.
Why Him? Thomas is the only player in NFL history to lead the league in four-straight years in all-purpose yards. A five-time Pro Bowl player, three times named to first-team All-Pro team, member of the 10,000 rushing-yards club, NFL MVP in 1991, and NFL Offensive Player of the Year in 1992. He is a member of the NFL 1990's All-Decade Team and a member of the NFL Hall of Fame.
In addition to all that, Thomas is one of six players in NFL history to exceed 60 rushing touchdowns and 20 receiving touchdowns. He is one of five running backs in history to have gained over 1,000 yards in eight straight seasons. He is the first player ever in the NFL to score a touchdown in four-straight Super Bowls.
It is tough to not go with Bruce Smith, the NFL's all-time leader in career sacks, who was much more than just a sack master in his career. But the number of accomplishments Thomas has to his name in my mind were greater than what Smith accomplished.
Who I Considered? Jake Delhomme, Steve Smith, DeAngelo Williams, Muhsin Muhammad and Julius Peppers.
Who I Selected: Julius Peppers
Why Him? The Panthers franchise has not been around long enough to have a long list of players to tap for an honor like this. Of the players I considered, the one that stood out to me was Julius Peppers, who unfortunately is no longer with the team. During his stay in Carolina, Peppers made the Pro Bowl six times and was named first-team All-Pro three times.
Peppers just edged out Steve Smith, as Smith also was named All-Pro three times and made four Pro Bowl teams. While Smith was a steady performer for the Panthers, Peppers was more of a dominating player, another reason I gave him the nod.
Who I Considered? Sid Luckman, Walter Payton, Gale Sayers, Johnny Morris, Mike Singletary, Dick Butkus and Bill George.
Who I Selected: Walter Payton
Why Him? This was a tough decision, as parts of me strongly considered Butkus and Sayers. But ultimately, I had to go with "Sweetness" Walter Payton. Payton is currently ranked as the second-ranked rusher in NFL history, trailing only Emmitt Smith.
Payton was voted first-team All-Pro six times. He was selected to nine Pro Bowls, named NFL MVP twice and held the NFL record for rushing yards upon his retirement, which was later broken. He was elected to NFL Hall of Fame in 1993, and to the NFL 75th Anniversary All-Time team. The Sporting News ran a poll in 1999, where they ranked Payton as the eighth-best player of all-time.
Who I Considered? Ken Anderson, Boomer Esiason, Corey Dillon, Chad Ochocinco, Ken Riley and Anthony Munoz.
Who I Selected: Anthony Munoz
Why Him? As was the case with Bruce Matthews earlier, Munoz is the model of excellence and consistency. Munoz was selected to the Pro Bowl 11 different times and made the first-team All-Pro team nine different years. That is a great illustration as to how well he played, how long he stayed on top of his game, and he was recognized by his peers.
Munoz was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1998.
Who I Considered? Jim Brown, Otto Graham, Leroy Kelly, Brian Sipe, Ozzie Newsome and Paul Warfield.
Who I Selected: Jim Brown.
Why Him? Brown was a three-time Associated Press NFL Player of the Year and three-time Sporting News MVP. In 2002, he was named by the Sporting News as the greatest professional football player ever. NFL Films did a piece in 2010 called the "Top 100 NFL's Greatest Players", and Brown was ranked as the No. 2 player in NFL history. Brown was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame. He is also a member of the Lacrosse Hall of Fame. Brown averaged 1,368 rushing yards per season.
Brown was a three-time NFL MVP. He was a nine-time Pro Bowl selection, which means he was in the Pro Bowl every year that he played. Eight times he was named to first-team All-Pro team. He was a member of the NFL 75th Anniversary All-TIme team and of the 1960s All-Decade team.
His stats are beyond comparison. In his nine seasons, Brown appeared in 118 games. He averaged 104.3 yards per game. His average rush over his career was 5.2 yards. He scored 20 touchdowns as a receiver and 106 touchdowns as a rusher. His six games with four touchdowns in a game is still a NFL record to this day. Not only that, but Brown still ranks in the top 10 of all-time NFL career rushing leaders.
Who I Considered? Troy Aikman, Don Meredith, Roger Staubach, Tony Dorsett, Emmitt Smith, Michael Irvin, Bob Lilly, Larry Allen, Randy White and Bob Hayes.
Who I Selected: Emmitt Smith
Why Him? For starters, Smith is the all-time NFL rushing leader. He was elected to the NFL Hall of Fame, set the NFL record for most rushing touchdowns with 164. He was selected to eight Pro Bowls, named first-team All-Pro four times. He is on the NFL 1990s All-Decade team. He was NFL MVP in 1993 and the Rookie of the Year in 1990. He also holds the NFL record for for career 100-yard rushing games with 78.
Who I Considered? John Elway, Terrell Davis, Rod Smith and Steve Atwater.
Who I Selected: John Elway
Why Him? Elway has started a record five Super Bowl games for the Denver Broncos. He was selected to nine Pro Bowl teams. He was a member of the 1990s NFL All-Decade team, NFL MVP in 1987 and Super Bowl MVP. He was twice named as UPI AFC Offensive Player of the Year. Elway led the Broncos to consecutive Super Bowl championships, and was able to retire from the game by going out on top.
He is also well remembered for being the quarterback on "The Drive," which allowed the Broncos to drive the length of the field to defeat the Cleveland Browns in the AFC championship game in 1987.
Who I Considered? Bobby Layne, Barry Sanders, Herman Moore, Joe Schmidt and Dick "Night Train" Lane.
Who I Selected: Barry Sanders
Why Him? He finished his career with a 5.0 average yards gained per rush. He had 99 rushing touchdowns in his career. He is currently ranked as the third-best rusher in the history of the NFL. He was selected to 10 Pro Bowls and was first-team All-Pro six times.
He was NFL MVP in 1997, NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year in 1989, twice named as NFL Offensive Player of the Year, a Heisman Trophy winner in 1988 and he gained over 15,000 rushing yards during his career.
Who I Considered? Brett Favre, Bart Starr, Forrest Gregg, Paul Hornung, Jim Taylor, Ahman Green, Don Huston, James Lofton, Ray Ntischke and Herb Adderly.
Who I Selected: Brett Favre
Why Him? Favre was selected to the Pro Bowl 11 times. He was a first-team All-Pro three times. He was the AP NFL MVP three times, in 1995, 1996 and 1997. Five different times he was the NFC Player of the Year. He was a member of the 1990 All-Decade team. He is the only quarterback to have thrown for over 70,000 yards and 500 touchdown passes.
Favre holds quite a few other NFL records including: most career pass attempts, most consecutive starts, most sacks, most career interceptions thrown, most career victories as a starting quarterback, most fumbles and most career pass completions.
As I said in the beginning, this presentation is focused on the last 60 years of the NFL. If we were going back to the 40s and 50s, I would have selected Don Huston over Favre, because he was that good.
Who I Considered? Warren Moon, George Blanda, Earl Campbell, Ernest Givins and Bruce Matthews.
Who I Selected: Bruce Matthews
Why Him? Matthews is the model of consistency. He was 14 times a Pro Bowler, which is tied with Merlin Olsen for the most Pro Bowl appearances in NFL history. He was selected to the first-team All-Pro seven different seasons. He is a Hall of Fame member. His level of play blows everybody else away.
Earl Campbell and Warren Moon each deserved strong consideration, but in terms of being the best at your own position, and for the longevity he had, neither of them could hold a candle to Matthews.
Who I Considered? Matt Schaub, Dominick Williams, Andre Johnson and Mario Williams.
Who I Selected: Andre Johnson
Why Him? The Texans are obviously the NFL's newest franchise, so they do not have a rich history yet to pull from for an honor such as this. Of the players that have stood out so far, I felt that Johnson was the best player to date in team history. So far he has been named to the Pro Bowl five times and been named to first-team All-Pro two times.
Not only that, but Johnson led the NFL in both receptions and receiving yards in 2008 and 2009. He has finished in the top 10 for both categories for three-straight years, despite being targeted by opposing defenses.
Who I Considered? Peyton Manning, Edgerrin James, Marvin Harrison and Dwight Freeney.
Who I Selected: Peyton Manning
Why Him? Arguably one of the best NFL players in the past decade, he has been named to the Pro Bowl 11 times, and been a first-team All Pro five times. He was Associated Press MVP four times, Pro Football Writers MVP three times, Sporting News MVP four times, Bert Bell Award (Maxwell Club) MVP two times and was the Super Bowl MVP in 2007.
He has thrown 399 career touchdowns to only 198 interceptions, has a career passer rating of 94.9, completed 64.9 percent of his passes during his career. Manning is the fastest player to ever reach 50,000 yards passing, in addition to being fastest to 1,000 completions, 2,000 completions, 3,000 completions and 4,000 completions. He is a member of the NFL 2000's All-Decade team.
Who I Considered? Mark Brunell, David Garrard, Maurice Jones-Drew, Fred Taylor, Jimmy Smith and Tony Brackens.
Who I Selected: Jimmy Smith
Why Him? Smith started out his career by winning two Super Bowl rings with the Dallas Cowboys. He joined the Jaguars in their expansion year of 1995 and played for 11 seasons. He holds their all-time pass reception records. Smith was named to five Pro Bowl teams and was a two time All-Pro selection. Smith led the Jaguars in receiving every consecutive year from 1996-to-2005. His career highs of 116 catches for 1,636 yards are both Jaguars records.
Who I Considered? Len Dawson, Priest Holmes, Tony Gonzalez, Willie Lanier, Otis Taylor, Neil Smith, Bobby Bell and Derrick Thomas.
Who I Selected: Derrick Thomas
Why Him? This decision came down to Derrick Thomas versus Tony Gonzalez. I did vote Gonzalez as the Chiefs all-time leading receiver in another article, but for best all-time franchise player, I give the nod to Thomas. Thomas brought a high level of joy and passion to his game every week. Thomas was one of the NFL's best pass rushers.
He was a nine-time Pro Bowl selection. He was a three-time first-team All-Pro selection. He was first-team All-AFC seven times. He registered 126.5 career sacks, including a record seven sacks in one game against Seattle. He was a member of the 1990's NFL All-Decade team. He was the 1989 NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year. He also set a number of Chiefs records, which includes 20 sacks in one season, eight forced fumbles in one season and 41 career forced fumbles.
Who I Considered? The Raiders played in Los Angeles from 1982 - 1994. They had a cast of characters that included: Jeff Hostetler, Jim Plunkett, Jay Schroeder, Marcus Allen, Todd Christiansen, Tim Brown, Ronnie Lott, Greg Pruitt and Rocket Ismail.
Who I Selected: Marcus Allen
Why Him? Marcus Allen was a six-time Pro Bowl selection, and all six times were in Los Angeles. He was twice named to the NFL first-team All-Pro team. He was the Super Bowl MVP in 1983. He was the NFL MVP in 1985, NFL Comeback Player of the Year in 1993, NFL Rookie of the Year in 1982. The Heisman Trophy winner in 1981 at USC, so he was already a local town hero, he will be remembered for his soaring dives over the pile at the goal line, as he hurdled everyone for the touchdown.
He was elected to the NFL Hall of Fame in 2003.
Who I Considered? The Los Angeles Rams played in Southern California from 1946 - 1994. I considered Roman Gabriel, Jim Everett, Pat Haden, Jack Youngblood, Jackie Slater, Lawrence McCutcheon, Henry Ellard, Eric Dickerson, Jack Snow, Merlin Olsen and Deacon Jones.
Who I Selected: This one came down to Eric Dickerson, Henry Ellard, Merlin Olsen or Deacon Jones. I selected Merlin Olsen.
Why Him? Olsen was named to the Pro Bowl 14 times. He was NFL first-team All-Pro five times. He was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1982. He had a 15-year career, which means he was named to the Pro Bowl every year except once. With 14 Pro Bowl appearances, he tied Bruce Matthews for the most in NFL history.
Olsen was so good for so long at defensive tackle he was not named to not just one NFL All-Decade team, but two, as he made both the 1960's and 1970's squads. He is also a member of the NFL 75th Anniversary All-Time team. He was voted the NFL Rookie of the Year in 1962.
Who I Considered? Dan Marino, Bob Griese, Mark Clayton, Mark Duper, Larry Csonka, Nick Buoniconti and Jason Taylor.
Who I Selected: Dan Marino
Why Him? Marino was a nine time Pro Bowl selection, named as first-team NFL All-Pro three times, was the NFL MVP in 1984, the UPI NFL Player of the Year in 1994. He completed just under 60 percent of his passes. He threw 420 touchdown passes, passed for over 61,000 yards during his career, had a career passer rating of 86.4. Marino was elected to NFL Hall of Fame in 2005. He is one of the greatest quarterbacks to have played in the NFL.
Who I Considered? Fran Tarkenton, Robert Smith, Cris Carter, Ahmad Rashad, Randy Moss, Alan Page, Chuck Foreman, John Randle and Carl Eller,
Who I Selected: This decision came down to Alan Page versus Carl Eller. I went with Alan Page.
Why Him? Alan Page was named to nine Pro Bowl teams. He was also named to six different NFL first-team All-Pro teams. In 1971 he was voted as the NFL MVP, the first time a defensive player won the award. He was voted the NFL Defensive Player of the Year three different times, in 1970, 1971 and 1973. He was a member of the 1970's NFL All-Decade team.
Page played in 218 consecutive games. He made 148.5 career sacks. He had 18 sacks in 1976—a career high.
Who I Selected: He came down to John Hannah versus Tom Brady. I opted for Brady.
Why Him? Brady has taken the Patriots to four Super Bowl, winning three times. He was Super Bowl MVP two times. He has been selected to six Pro Bowl games. He led the Patriots to 21 straight wins—an NFL record. He has the fifth-highest NFL passer rating all-time at 95.2 for quarterbacks, attempting at least 1,500 career passes. He has won two NFL MVP's.
He has been named Sportsman of the Year three times, in 2004, 2005 and 2007 by publications like Sport's Illustrated and The Sporting News. He holds NFL records for most touchdown passes in a regular season (50) and the most consecutive passes in NFL history without an interception (339). Brady also owns the records for most consecutive regular season home wins (28), most career completions in Super Bowl history (100)—the list goes on and on.
Looking at all of the above, it is difficult not to acknowledge that being the 199th draft pick, that Brady might be the biggest steal in NFL draft history.
Who I Considered? Drew Brees, Archie Manning, Deuce McAllister, Eric Martin, Willie Roaf, and Rickey Jackson.
Who I Selected: Rickey Jackson
Why Him? He played 13 years with the Saints (1981-1993) and excelled at all phases. He registered 1,104 tackles, 27 fumble recoveries, 115 career sacks, seven interceptions and 38 forced fumbles in his 195 games wearing a Saints uniform. Jackson was named to the NFL First-Team All-Pro team four times. He was named to the Pro Bowl six times. Jackson was voted in to the NFL Hall of Fame in 2010.
Who I Considered? Y.A. Tittle, Phil Simms, Frank Gifford, Tiki Barber, Amani Toomer, Andy Robestelli, Sam Huff, Michael Strahan and Lawrence Taylor.
Who I Selected: Lawrence Taylor
Why Him? Taylor is genuinely considered one of the best, if not the best, defensive player to have played in the NFL. He was named to 10 Pro Bowl teams. He was a NFL first-team All-Pro nine different times. He was the NFL MVP in 1986, three times AP voted him as the NFL Defensive Player of the Year. He was also NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year in 1981. He is a member of the NFL 75th Anniversary All-Time team as well as a member of the NFL 1980's All-Decade team.
Taylor was a game-changing type of player, that you had to always account for. Teams had to alter their strategies to deal with Taylor. He made NFL All-Pro in each of his first nine seasons in the league.
Who I Considered? Joe Namath, Curtis Martin, Don Maynard, Mark Gastineau and Darrelle Revis.
Who I Selected: Joe Namath
Why Him? Namath was named to five AFL All-Star teams. He was selected to the Pro Bowl one time, a three-time First-Team All-AFL selection. He was an All-Pro selection, member of the AFL All-Time team, a two-time AFL MVP in 1968 and 1969. He was UPI Player of the Year in 1968 and 1969. He won the 1974 NFL Comeback Player of the Year award.
He led the Jets to a win in Super Bowl III, which helped to bridge the AFL and NFL in regard to the difference in talent and competition between the leagues. Namath also guaranteed the Jets would win and backed up his promise by bringing home the win. He was elected to the NFL Hall of Fame in 1985. The Sporting News ranked Namath 96th on the list of the 100 Greatest Football Players.
Who I Considered? Daryl Lamonica, Ken Stabler, Rich Gannon, Marcus Allen, Tim Brown, Eugene Upshaw, and Howie Long.
Who I Selected: Tim Brown
Why Him? I could have made an argument for either Tim Brown or Eugene Upshaw for this presentation. Ultimately, I went with Tim Brown, based on the following: spent 16 years with the team; nine Pro Bowl selections; member of the 1990's All-Decade Team; Heisman Trophy Winner; six time All-AFC selection; currently an NFL Hall of Fame finalist. He is the Raiders all-time leading wide receiver with over 14,000 yards to his credit.
Upshaw was strongly considered based on being named to the Pro Bowl seven times and five times to the first-team All-Pro team. Upshaw was elected into the NFL Hall of Fame.
Who I Considered? Ron Jaworski, Randall Cunningham, Donovan McNabb, Michael Westbrook, Wilbert Montgomery, Harold Carmichael, Mike Quick, Bill Bergey, Reggie White and Chuck Bednarik.
Who I Selected: I have to admit I was somewhat stumped on this one. I didn't have an overwhelming favorite all-time player for the Eagles. Ultimately, I chose Reggie White. This is because he played his first eight seasons with the Eagles and he was such a dominant defensive player.
Why Him? White was a 13-time Pro Bowl selection. In 10 different seasons he was named to the NFL first-team All-Pro team. He was a two-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year in 1987 and 1998. He was a three-time NFC Defensive Player of the Year in 1987, 1991 and 1995. He was a member of the NFL 75th Anniversary All-Time team. He was a member of both the NFL 1980s and 1990s All-Decade teams. He was a member of the NFL Hall of Fame.
Who I Selected: "Mean" Joe Greene
Why Him? He was named to Pro Bowl 10 of 11 years. He was first-team All-Pro five times. He was selected to first-team All-AFC in all 11 years, a member of the NFL 75th Anniversary All-Time team, a member of four different Super Bowl teams. a member of NFL 1970s All-Decade team. He was 1969 NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year.
He generated 78.5 sacks in 181 games. In 1972 and 1974, Greene was named the NFL Defensive Player of the Year and the Defensive MVP. Greene is a member of the NFL Hall of Fame.
According to his entry in Wikipedia, Greene's intense desire to win rallied the veterans around him, and with great drafts as well as superb coaching, the Steelers franchise soon began to undergo a dramatic makeover. Joe Greene was credited as the cornerstone of the great Steelers dynasty and the most important player in team history.
Who I Considered? Dan Fouts, Lance Alworth, Antonio Gates, LaDainian Tomlinson, Ernie Ladd, and Junior Seau.
Who I Selected: LaDainian Tomlinson
Why Him? He was selected to five Pro Bowl teams. He made NFL first-team All-Pro team four times. He was the NFL MVP in 2006. He was Male Athlete ESPY Award winner in 2007. He is a member of the NFL's 2000's All-Decade team, the NFL 10,000 rushing-yards club and the sixth-leading rusher in NFL history.
Some of the various records that Tomlinson holds are: the all-time record for touchdowns in one season (31), most rushing touchdowns in one season (28) and most games with more than 200 yards from scrimmage in one season (five).
Who I Considered? Joe Montana, John Brodie, Steve Young, Jerry Rice, Joe Perry, Roger Craig, Terrell Owens and Ronnie Lott.
Who I Selected: Jerry Rice.
Why Him? It was difficult not to select Joe Montana, the only player in NFL history to be named the Super Bowl MVP three different times. But Jerry Rice has to be the pick. Start with his 208 career touchdown receptions. Rice caught 1,549 passes, which amounted to 22,895 yards. NFL.com rated Rice as the No. 1 player of all-time. He was a Pro Bowl selection 13 times. He made first-team All-Pro selection 11 times. He was part of three Super Bowl championship teams.
He was a two-time NFL Offensive Player of the Year, MVP in 1988, NFL Rookie of the Year in 1985, part of NFL 75th Anniversary All-Time Team, member of the NFL All-Decade team for both the 1980s and the 1990's and a member of the NFL Hall of Fame.
Who I Considered? Jim Zorn, Matt Hasselback, Shaun Alexander, Steve Largent, and Cortez Kennedy.
Who I Selected: Steve Largent
Why Him? Largent was in seven different Pro Bowls, and was a NFL first-team All Pro in 1985. Four times he made second-team All-Pro. He is a member of the NFL 1980s All-Decade team. He caught over 800 passes, for over 13,000 yards and caught exactly 100 touchdown passes. He had caught a pass in 177 consecutive NFL games when he retired.
Who I Considered? Jim Hart, Neil Lomax, Ottis Anderson, Dan Dierdorf, Roger Wehrli, Pat Tilley, Roy Green, Mel Gray and Larry Wilson.
Who I Selected: Larry Wilson
Why Him? Wilson was a member of the NFL 75th Anniversary All-Time team. He also was a member of the NFL's All-Decade team from both the 1960's and the 1970's teams. He was selected to be on eight Pro Bowl teams, as well as eight All-Pro selections. He is also the Cardinals all-time interceptions leader with 52.
Who I Considered? The Rams have only been in St. Louis from 1995 - present. The players I considered in the last 16 years were: Kurt Warner, Marc Bulger, Marshall Faulk, Steven Jackson, Issac Bruce, Torry Holt,
Who I Selected: Kurt Warner
Why Him? In the six short seasons (1998 - 2003) Warner was a part of the St. Louis Rams, he accomplished many things. For starters, he made the Pro Bowl team in 1999, 2000 and 2001. He was a three-time NFL MVP, but two of them were with the Rams in 1999 and 2001. Those same years he was named to the NFL first-team All-Pro team. He was Super Bowl MVP in Super Bowl 34. The Rams were just one of two NFL teams that he threw at least 100 touchdown passes for.
Warner also holds the top three passing records for Super Bowl games. I admit I was leaning towards Marshall Faulk, but Warner was so dynamic in his time with the Rams, I ultimately had to choose him.
Who I Considered? Vinny Testaverde, James Wilder, Mark Carrier, Ronde Barber, Warren Sapp and Derrick Brooks.
Who I Selected: Derrick Brooks
Why Him? He was a member of the NFL's 2000's All-Decade team. He was the AP NFL Defensive Player of the Year in 2002. He was a nine time first-team All-NFC member, elected to 11 Pro Bowl teams, elected six times to NFL first-team All-Pro teams and a member of Super Bowl champion.
Who I Considered? The Titans relocated to Tennessee in 1997. The players that have played for them since then that I am considering are: Steve McNair, Eddie George, Derrick Mason and Keith Bulluck.
Who I Selected: Eddie George.
Why Him? After the team moved to Tennessee, George was named to four consecutive Pro Bowls from 1997-2000. He was a first-team NFL All-Pro in 2000. He is a member of the NFL 10,000 rushing-yards club, as he amassed 10,441 in his career. George was the Heisman Trophy Winner in 1995.
I also gave due consideration to Steve McNair, who was the NFL MVP in 2003, but felt George did more over his career while in Tennessee.
Who I Considered? Sonny Jurgensen, Joe Theismann, Larry Brown, John Riggins, Ken Houston, Art Monk and Darrell Green.
Who I Selected: Darrell Green
Why Him? Green gets my vote due to going to the Pro Bowl seven times. He made one first-team All-Pro and is a member of the Hall of Fame. He is tied with Jackie Slater for spending 20 seasons with the same NFL team. He was voted to seven Pro Bowl teams and was a four time All-Pro team selection. He was a member of two Super Bowl championships.
He was a member of the NFL 1990s All-Decade team. He has come up with at least one interception in 19 different seasons—an NFL record.