As a companion piece to last week’s All-Defensive Team, I figured it made sense to write an All-Offensive Team.
This one was harder.
Just thinking about who is the best quarterback of the last 25 years makes my head hurt (and will certainly provoke a lot of disagreement). Lists like these for a writer are exciting and terrifying to produce at the same time, but fortune favors the bold.
Here, then, is the NFL’s All-Offensive Team of the past 25 years:
Erik Williams was a tremendous run and pass blocker that helped anchor the great Dallas Cowboys teams of the 1990s.
One of the few players to ever hold up well against Reggie White, Williams was selected to four Pro Bowl and three All-Pro teams during his 10-year career.
Williams was both strong at the line of scrimmage and quick laterally in pass coverage, and he did it all even after surviving a serious car accident that left him out of football for nearly a year.
Bruce Matthews (the uncle of current Green Bay Packers star Clay Matthews) was one of the most versatile offensive linemen in NFL history.
He started games at every position on the offensive line, but made his name at right guard and center.
Matthews holds the record for Pro Bowl selections by an offensive lineman with 14. He holds the record for most games played by an offensive lineman with 296 and is a member of the Hall of Fame.
He is currently the offensive line coach for the Tennessee Titans.
Considered by many to be the greatest center in NFL history, “Iron” Mike Webster anchored the Pittsburgh Steelers epic run during the 1970’s.
Upon retiring in 1990, Webster had amassed nine Pro Bowl selections, four Super Bowl championships and was selected to the NFL’s 75th Anniversary All-Time Team.
Unfortunately, his life was cut short in 2002 at the age of 50. Following his death he was diagnosed with chronic traumatic encephalopathy, a neurological disorder linked to the blows he suffered during his career.
He is a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Randall McDaniel was a ferocious run blocker that paved the way for six different 1,000-yard rushers in his career.
He was incredibly durable, starting 202 consecutive games to end his career.
He played 11 seasons with the Minnesota Vikings (and two with Tampa Bay) and was a 12-time Pro Bowl selection (all consecutive).
McDaniel set the standard for great run and pass blocking from the left guard position and was elected to the Hall of Fame in 2009.
Not only is Anthony Munoz the greatest offensive lineman in NFL history, but he is one of the greatest players in NFL history.
Munoz revolutionized the offensive tackle position with his speed and agility. Apart from his exceptional blocking he was also a capable receiver, catching seven passes for 18 yards and four touchdowns in his career.
Munoz was an 11-time Pro Bowl selection (all consecutive), nine-time All-Pro selection and made the NFL’s 75th Anniversary All-Time Team. He was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1998.
There will never be another left tackle like Anthony Munoz.
Tony Gonzalez is the greatest tight end in NFL history.
Still going strong at 35, Gonzalez is an athletic freak that has barely missed a beat even this late in his career.
Gonzalez holds the record for career touchdowns (88), receptions (1,069) and receiving yards (11,842) by a tight end.
Gonzalez is an 11-time Pro Bowl selection, six-time All-Pro and was a member of the NFL 2000s All-Decade Team.
Darryl Johnston was the best fullback of his generation. He was an incredible lead blocker for Emmitt Smith, could carry the ball in short yardage situations and was Troy Aikman’s bailout receiver.
In short, he could do it all.
Johnston made two Pro Bowls and won three Super Bowls while playing his entire career for the Dallas Cowboys.
Every team wants a fullback like Johnston. Few are lucky enough to ever get one.
For my money, Barry Sanders is the greatest running back in NFL history.
I mean, just watch this.
Sanders shocked the football world when he retired following the 1998 season at just 30 years old and healthy, but left behind a body of work few can match in NFL history.
Only Walter Payton and Emmitt Smith have rushed for more yards than Sanders (15,269). He made the Pro Bowl 10 times and was a six-time All-Pro selection.
Sanders was a home run threat every time he touched the ball, and his ability to break tackles and juke defenders is unmatched in NFL history.
No one is even close.
Few players have fundamentally changed the way their position is played. Lawrence Taylor did it at LB. Jim Brown did it at RB. Randy Moss did it at WR.
Moss is perhaps the most dangerous WR to ever play. During his prime, he was practically uncoverable downfield. His combination of speed, size and jumping ability made him a constant thorn in the side of opposing defenses.
While playing in Minnesota and New England, both offenses adopted the play I like to call “drop back and heave.” It’s a pretty simple premise. The quarterback takes a long drop and buys as much time as he can before hurling the ball as far downfield to an inevitably open Moss.
As a Packers fan, it crushed me every time.
Randy Moss is a seven-time Pro Bowl selection with 14,858 career receiving yards and 153 touchdowns. He was the greatest wide receiver of the ‘00s and one of the greatest receivers of all time.
Was there ever a doubt?
Jerry Rice is far and away the greatest wide receiver in NFL history.
I don’t even really know what to say about him, so I’ll just let his records speak for themselves:
Most Receiving Yards, career: 22,895
Most Receiving Yards, season: 1,848
Most Receptions, career: 1,549
Most Touchdowns, career: 197
Most Yards from Scrimmage, career: 23,540
Wow. And those are just the big ones.
In short, Jerry Rice is in a class by himself.
Joe Montana didn’t have the greatest arm. He didn’t make the most Pro Bowls. He doesn’t have the greatest statistics.
But he is the greatest quarterback of the 25 years.
When I set out criteria for selecting this spot (in particular), I decided that I would pick the player that I would want leading my team in a Super Bowl.
As a four-time Super Bowl Champion and three-time Super Bowl MVP, I think it’s obvious why Montana is the choice.
Joe Montana was rated the No. 4 NFL player of all time by NFL.com. He was selected to eight Pro Bowls and has a career 92.3 passer rating.
But more important than any of that, he got the job done when it counted. That’s what makes a great quarterback.
Let the arguing begin.