NFL: The All-Time Team
Every year, the AP releases its All-Pro Teams, first and second. This is the all-time first team all-pro roster. Over the NFL's history, there have been so many great players, and it was very hard to narrow it down to the one or two best players at each position. I've spent a lot of time on this, and I hope you enjoy it.
Offense: 1 QB, 1 FB, 1 RB, 2 WR, 1 TE, 2 T, 2 G, 1C
Defense: 2 DE, 2 DT, 2 OLB, 2 MLB, 2 S, 2 C,
Special Teams: 1 K, 1 P, 1 KR, 1 PR
Coaches: 1 HC, 1 DC, I OC
QB. Joe Montana
Montana made the Pro Bowl eight times and was first team All-Pro three times in his 15-year career. He was a two-time NFL MVP, winning it back to back in 1989 and 1990. He was a great regular season quarterback who finished his career with 40,551 passing yards and 273 touchdowns. He only threw 139 interceptions, which is a phenomenal TD/INT ratio.
He was great in the regular season, but Joe played the best when it counted; in the playoffs. Joe has a number of playoff records for quarterbacks including: wins (16), completions (460), passing yards (5,772), and touchdowns (45).
Montana has four Super Bowl rings and played great in those games, winning the Super Bowl MVP on three occasions. His 127.8 QB rating in the big game is the highest ever, his completion percentage was 68%, he threw for 1,142 yards and 11 touchdowns. One of his most important and amazing stats is that he never threw an interception in his four Super Bowl wins.
FB. Jim Brown
Jim Brown was a beast among men.
He played nine seasons in the NFL ,making the Pro Bowl all nine years, he led the league in rushing eight times, and touchdowns five times. Brown didn't just lead the league in rushing, he dominated the ground game. In his eight seasons leading the NFL, he averaged 416 rushing yards more then the next best player.
When Brown retired, he was the all-time career leader in rushing yards (12,312), touchdowns (106), and still holds the record for yards per carry (5.2).
RB. Barry Sanders
Sanders was one of the most talented and elusive runners in NFL history.
He played ten seasons, and made the Pro Bowl in all ten seasons. He was also voted to the All-Pro team in all ten seasons, six being first team All-Pro. He finished his career with 15,269 yards and 109 total touchdowns.
His average of 1,527 rushing yards per season is an NFL record, and his 99.8 rushing yards per game is a Super Bowl era record, along with his 5.0 yards per carry. He is the only running back to rush for over 1,000 yards in every season of his career. Sanders was voted offensive player of the year in 1994 and 1997, and also league MVP in 1997.
WR. Jerry Rice
Rice was a 13 time Pro Bowler, 12 times in San Francisco, including 11 in a row from 1986-1996, and one time in Oakland in 2002 at the age of 40. Rice was the offensive player of the year in 1987 and 1993.
He is the career leader in receptions (1,549), receiving yards (22,895) and receiving touchdowns (197), and it’s not even close.
Rice was a key component in three of San Francisco's Super Bowl titles. He holds almost every playoff receiving record: most career playoff games (28), most career playoff receptions (151), most career playoff receiving yards (2,245) and most career playoff receiving touchdowns (22). He also holds the Super Bowl records for most receptions (33), yards (589) and touchdowns (8), and was named Super Bowl XXIII MVP.
WR. Randy Moss
Randy Moss is a physical freak and one of the most athletically gifted players in NFL history.
As of 2011, he ranks second to Jerry Rice with 153 touchdown receptions, is fifth on the all-time list with 14,858 receiving yards and should jump to third after this season. His average of 11.8 touchdowns receptions per season is the all-time record, and Moss has led the NFL in touchdown catches on five occasions.
In 2007, his first year with the New England Patriots and coming off a lost year in Oakland, Moss had one of the greatest offensive seasons of all-time. He caught an NFL record 23 touchdowns passes, had 1,493 receiving yards and helped lead the Pats to an undefeated regular season.
So far, Moss has made seven Pro Bowls, been named a first team All-Pro receiver on four occasions, and was a starter on the NFL's 2000's All Decade Team.
TE. Tony Gonzalez
Tony Gonzalez is the Jerry Rice of tight ends.
He holds almost every major tight end record, including most receptions (1,069), most receiving yards (12,463), most touchdown receptions (88), most seasons with 1,000+ receiving yards (4) and most receptions in a single season (102).
Gonzalez has made the Pro Bowl 11 times, which is also a record for a tight end.
OT. Anthony Munoz
Munoz is considered by most to be the greatest lineman in NFL history.
He was a 6'6" 278 pound force on the Bengals line for 13 years. He made his first of 11 straight Pro Bowls in his second season, and nine of those years he was named a first team All-Pro lineman. Munoz was the Offensive Lineman of the Year on three occasions; winning it in 1981, 1987, 1988.
In 2010, he was ranked No. 12 on the NFL Network Top 100: NFL's Greatest Players, which was the highest ranking for an offensive lineman
OT. Forrest Gregg
Vince Lombardi once said "Forrest Gregg is the finest player I ever Coached."
Lombardi coached many Hall of Fame players, including Bart Starr, Ray Nitschke, Jim Taylor, Paul Hornung, Herb Adderley, Willie Wood and Willie Davis. That is a great list of players, so Lombardi saying Gregg in the finest he's ever coached should be enough to merit his spot on this list.
Gregg was a nine-time Pro Bowler and seven-time first team All-Pro lineman in his 15 years with the Packers. He was also a part of all five of the Packers championships during the Lombardi Era.
OG. John Hannah
Hannah was a first ballot Hall of Fame guard for the New England Patriots.
He is often regarded as the best guard ever to play the game. In 1981, he was on the cover of Sports Illustrated with the words; "The Best Offensive Lineman of All Time."
Hannah was a nine-time Pro Bowler and a seven-time first team All-Pro guard. He was selected to the 1970's and 1980's all-decade teams and the NFL's 75th Anniversary Team.
He was part of the 1978 Patriots team that set a still NFL record of 3,165 rushing yards.
OG. Bruce Matthews
Bruce Matthews is one of few players to have started at every position on the line; he's played both tackles, both guards and the center position.
Matthews made an NFL record 14 Pro Bowls, nine of them as a guard and five as a center. He's also a seven-time first team All-Pro lineman, making six of them at guard.
He is one of the most durable players of all-time. At the time of his retirement, he had played more games than any player in history (296), and he started 229 consecutive games. He never missed a game due to injury and played more seasons than any other lineman (19).
C. Jim Otto
Otto was one of the most durable lineman ever to play; he played and started all 210 games of his career.
He made 12 Pro Bowls in his career from 1961-1972, and was a first team All-Pro center on 10 occasions, which is an NFL record.
Otto was 6'2" 255 pounds, and was one of the hardest working players ever to put on an NFL uniform.
DE. Reggie White
White played 15 seasons in the NFL, making the Pro Bowl in every season but his first and last. White was a first team All-Pro defensive end eight times, six consecutive times from 1986-1991 with the Eagles, and two more times with the Packers.
He finished his career with 198 sacks, which was the NFL record at the time. Each of his first nine seasons he had double digit sack totals, which is an NFL record. In 1987, he recorded 21 sacks (In 12 games!) which is the third highest single season total ever, this helped him to win the first of his two Defensive Player of the Year awards. His second D-POY award came with the Green Bay Packers when he was 37 years old.
Reggie averaged 13.2 sacks per season in his career, which is the NFL record since sacks have been recorded.
DE. Deacon Jones
Deacon Jones isn't a huge name among the average fan, but he is without a doubt one of the greatest defensive players of all-time.
He played 15 seasons in the NFL, making the Pro Bowl 8 times and first team All-Pro on 5 occasions. Deacon was Defensive Player of the Year in 1967 and again in 1968. Jones was noted for coining the "sack", but the sack wasn't an official stat during his playing time. Unofficially, he has 173.5 to 179.5 sacks, which is good for third on the all-time list.
Jones registered yearly sack totals of 21 (1967), 22 (1968) and 22 (1964). Since the NFL has been keeping track of sacks, no player has had more than one season of more than 20 sacks. Jones did it 3 times in a five-year span, and he did it in a 14 game regular season!
DT. Bob Lilly
Lilly was the first ever draft pick of the Cowboys, the first to go to the NFL Hall of Fame, and remains one of the greatest players in franchise history. He had the moves and speed of a D-end and the size of a D-tackle.
He played his first three seasons at defensive end, and made the Pro Bowl once. Landry moved him to defensive tackle during the 1963 season. In 1964, his first full season as a defensive tackle, he made his first of 10 straight Pro Bowls, and was a first team All-Pro tackle.
Lilly was the uncontainable and unstoppable force of the Cowboys original “Doomsday Defense.” He led the Cowboys’ defense to Super Bowl IV, where they shut down the Dolphins offense and won the game 24-3. The Dolphins still remain the only team not to score a touchdown in a Super Bowl.
DT. "Mean" Joe Green
"Mean" Joe Greene was the center piece of the dominant "Steel Curtain" defense of the 1970's that won four Super Bowls in six seasons.
Mean Joe was a 10-time Pro Bowler, and five-time first team All-Pro defensive tackle. He was named Defensive Player of the Year in 1972 and 1974. Greene was part of the 1976 Steelers that allowed less than 10 points per game and shut out an NFL record five opponents.
Mean Joe's defining moment was Super Bowl IX, in which he recorded an interception, forced fumble and a fumble recovery. His spectacular performance propelled the Steelers to a 16-6 victory over the Minnesota Vikings.
OLB. Lawrence Taylor
L.T. made the Pro Bowl every one of his first 10 seasons, and first team All-Pro nine times in his first nine seasons. He was Defensive Player of the Year three times, his rookie season in 1981 (only rookie ever to win award), 1982 and 1986. He is one of two defensive players to win the NFL MVP Award (1986).
Taylor finished his career with 132.5 sacks, which, at the time, was good for the second highest total ever. In his 1986 MVP season, he started all 16 games for the 14-2 Giants, recorded 20.5 sacks and lead the Giants to a Super Bowl title. His dominance on defense led the New York Giants to two Super Bowl titles, despite having average offenses.
L.T. is one of the most intimidating defensive players of all-time, and he revolutionized the linebacker position. Many experts believe him to be the greatest defensive player of all-time.
OLB. Jack Ham
Jack Ham is the second player from the legendary "Steel Curtain" defense that made this team.
He was a great balance of brains, speed and strength. He could play pass defense as good as the top safeties, was a feared hitter, and was considered by his peers to be one of the smartest players in the league.
Ham made eight Pro Bowls (1973-80) and was selected a first team All-Pro linebacker six times (1974-79).
Ham, just as "Mean Joe", was a major part of all four Steelers Super Bowl victories in the 1970's.
MLB. Dick Butkus
Butkus was a scary figure at middle linebacker; he had the speed to tackle from sideline to sideline, and he also had the size and strength of most defensive lineman of the time. Throughout his playing days, he was known as one of the most feared players in the NFL.
In his rookie season, Butkus led the Bears in tackles, forced fumbles, fumble recoveries and interceptions. Butkus made the Pro Bowl each of his first eight seasons, and he was named first team All-Pro five of those years. He finished his career with over 1,000 tackles, 22 interceptions and 27 fumble recoveries, which was the NFL record for fumble recoveries at that time.
Butkus was voted to the NFL's 1960’s and 1970’s all-decade team, as well as the NFL's 75th Anniversary team.
MLB. Ray Lewis
Ray Lewis is one of the most accomplished defensive players in NFL history.
He has been to 12 Pro Bowls, selected a first team All-Pro linebacker on seven occasions, is a two time recipient of the NFL Defensive Player of the Year Award (2000 and 2003) and was named MVP of Super Bowl XXXV while leading his team to a dominate victory over the Giants.
He is an absolute beast, and gives it his all on every play. If there's a player out there with more heart and passion for the game then Lewis, I've yet to see him.
So far, his career totals are 1,452 tackles, 16 forced fumbles, 30 interceptions and 38.5 sacks. Last season, he became the second member of the 30-30 club (30 sacks and 30 picks), joining Rodney Harrison.
Now that is one hell of a resume.
S. Ronnie Lott
Lott finished his career with 63 interceptions and 1,113 tackles.
He made the Pro Bowl ten times, and he was first team All-Pro 6 times. He was voted to the NFL Hall of Fame in 2000; his first year of eligibility. He is also a member of the NFL's 1980’s and 1990’s All Decade teams, as well as the NFL’s 75th anniversary team. And, he was also a major part of of four 49ers Super Bowl titles during the 80's.
Lott is considered one of the toughest and hardest hitting players ever to step onto an NFL field. In a 1985 game against the Cowboys, Lott’s pinky finger was crushed and mangled in a collision with running back Timmy Newsome. He left the game to get it taped up, but once it was, he endured the pain and went back into the game. At the end of the season he had the choice between amputating his finger or getting surgery that would repair the finger but would cost him playing time. Lott chose to get the top of his finger amputated because he didn’t want to miss any games.
Well I don't know if Lott has more heart then Ray Lewis, but he certainly has just as much (because honestly I think Ray would have made the same decision).
S. Ed Reed
Your'e probably thinking to yourself, "wow this guy is a biased Ravens fan." Well actually I'm not. I originally had Paul Krause in this spot, but after comparing and looking at film of Krause, Ken Houston and Ed Reed, I decided to give the nod to Reed.
To this point, Reed might not have the total career resumes of Krause and Houston, but that is because he's still playing. Reed hasn't made as many Pro Bowls as Krause or Houston, but he's been selected a first team All-Pro safety as many times as them combined (5). I don't believe Krause or Houston were ever as good as Reed in their primes.
Reed was named NFL Defensive Player of the Year in his third season in the league (2004). In nine seasons he has 54 interceptions and has led the league three times in that category. Including last season, in which he only played 10 games. Reed is also second all-time in interception return yards and should break the record next season.
Reed is the definition of "ball hawk", but that is not his only strength. Reed is a great cover safety, can play the run and is a devastating hitter.
CB. Dick "Night Train" Lane
"Night Train" Lane isn't a name the average fan may know, but they should. Not only is he one of the greatest cornerbacks the game has ever seen, or one of the greatest defensive players ever, Lane is one of the greatest football players ever, regardless of position.
As a child, Lane was literally found by a woman in a dumpster, she took him in and raised him. After high school, he went to Junior College for a year, but dropped out to join the military. In 1962, at the age of 24, Lane showed up at the Rams training camp looking for a job. He tried out as a receiver, but was switched to cornerback and made the team.
In his first season, he snagged 14 interceptions, which was and still is an NFL record, and he did that in a twelve-game season. He played one more season with the Rams before being traded to the Cardinals and later the Lions.
In 14 seasons, "Night Train" had 68 picks and 1,207 interception return yards. He made seven Pro Bowls and was selected a first team All-Pro three times. Though he was snubbed from both honors several times in his career (most likely because he was a black player in the 50's and 60's).
Not only was Lane a great cover man and ball hawk, he was one of the most vicious hitters the game has ever seen. He loved derailing opponents at the head and neck, which was a legal play at the time, this was known as the "Night Train Necktie."
"Night Train" was the top-ranked defensive back on the Sporting News list of the 100 Greatest NFL Players, and was ranked No. 2 on the NFL Network's list of most devastating hitters.
If they made a movie about "Night Train's" life and career, I would be the first in line to watch it.
CB. Deion Sanders
Deion is one of the best pure athletes the NFL has ever seen.
"Prime Time" played his first five seasons in Atlanta, before joining the 49ers in 1994. He only played one season in San Francisco, but it was a very important one for both him and the Niners. He picked off six balls, and he returned them for a league leading 303 yards and three touchdowns. That season, the 49ers won their only Super Bowl in the post-Montana era. The next season, Deion went to the Dallas Cowboys, and what did they do? Well won the Super Bowl of course. That would also be their last championship to date.
During his career, he made eight Pro Bowls and was selected a first team All-Pro cornerback on six occasions. He has the NFL record with 19 non-offensive touchdowns; nine interceptions returns, one fumble return, three kick returns, and six punt returns. He had 53 career interceptions, but never led the league in a single year. This was due to the fact that he was such a great cover corner and quarterbacks rarely threw the ball his way.
Sanders was never a hard hitter, but he didn't need to be. He made a major impact in every game he played in because of his great cover skills and ball skills. Those skills make him the best cover corner in NFL history.
K. Adam Vinatieri
Many people don't consider kickers athletes, and they may be right. Even though they're not "athletes" per se, they are without a doubt a vital part of every NFL team.
Adam Vinatieri may not have the biggest foot of any kicker, and if you need a 55-yard field goal in the second quarter, he may not be your guy. But, if it's the fourth quarter, the game is on the line and all you need is a field goal to win or tie, he's definitely your guy.
There has never been a better big-game, clutch-situation kicker than Vinatieri. He had one of the most famous field goals in NFL history in the "Tuck Rule" game against the Raiders in the 2001 AFC Championships. He hit a 45-yarder in blizzard conditions to send the game to overtime. In overtime, he hit another field goal to win the game. In the Super Bowl, he hit a 48-yarder on the final play of the game to secure the upset and the Pats first Super Bowl Title. Two years later, in the Super Bowl against the Panthers, Vinatieri hit a 41-yard field goal with 4 seconds left to once again win the game for the Patriots.
He left the Patriots after the 2005 season, he kicked a total of 18 game-winning field goals with less then a minute left while with the team.
Vinatieri holds the postseason records for most field goals (42), for consecutive games with 3+ field goals (4), for most career points (187), for most field goals in single postseason (14), for most field goals in the Super Bowl (7), for most total points in a single postseason (49) and most field goals in a single postseason game (5).
P. Shane Lechler
Lechler has the highest career punting average in NFL history at 47.3 yards per punt.
He has led the league in punting average five times in his career, and he has only averaged under 45 yards per punt once in his 11-year career. Lechler's career average is higher then Ray Guy's highest single season total.
He is a six-time Pro Bowler and has also been selected a first team All-Pro punter six times.
KR. Gale Sayers
Sayers is most known for his flashy play at running back, but he was also an explosive kick returner.
Sayers had six career kick returns for a touchdown, and he recorded all six in the first three years of his five-year career. It only took him 56 returns to get those six touchdowns, which is an NFL record. He also held the record for career kick returns for 30 years, but recently, Josh Cribbs and Leon Washington have surpassed him (8 and 7). Sayers has only returned 91 career kicks, which is the lowest total for any player with at least six touchdowns. He is the only player in league history to average over 30 yards per kick return for a career (30.6).
PR. Devin Hester
He is the second Bear return man on this team, and, just like Sayers, he was dominate right from the beginning.
Hester returned a punt for a touchdown in his first career game, and he added two more to that total his rookie season. The next year, he returned four punts for touchdowns, and last season (2010) he added three more to take his career total to 10. Hester is tied with Eric Metcalf for most career punt return touchdowns, but Metcalf has about double the career returns.
Hester holds the Super Bowl Era record for career yards per punt return (12.4). Last season he averaged 17.1 yards per return, which is the highest single season average since 1974, and is third all time in the SB Era.
He is a three-time Pro Bowler and first team All-Pro return man.
Head Coach: Vince Lombardi
In 1959, Lombardi became the coach of the worst team in the league, the previous season the Packers had gone 1-10-1.
The very next season, he led the Packers to a 7-5 record and was named coach of the year. In his second year, he took the Packers to their first Championship game in 16 years. They faced the Philadelpia Eagles, they had a chance to win it on the final play of the game, but were stopped just short of the end zone. After the game, Lombardi told his players they would never lose another championship game, and he kept his word.
They went on to win five NFL Championships in the next seven seasons, including the first two Super Bowls.
Lombardi went on to coach the Redskins in 1969 and they finished second in there division.
In ten seasons as a head coach, Lombardi never had a losing season. Including the playoffs, he had a career record of 105-35-6, that is the highest winning percentage for anyone who has coached at least 100 games (regular season plus postseason).
Offensive Coordinator: Paul Brown
"Father of the Modern Offense"
He took the head coaching job of the Cleveland Browns in 1946. Through his first 10 season he was 105-17-4 and won seven championships (4 AFC and three NFL). His 86.1 winning percentage is the highest ever through a coach's first ten years, and his seven championships is the most ever for an entire career. In total, Brown coached 25 seasons in the NFL, is fifth all-time with 213 career wins and had a 67.2 winning percentage.
So there is his head coaching resume. Now to why he is the offensive coordinator...
Well, first of all, his nickname is "Father of the Modern Offense." In his 17 seasons as Browns head coach, they finished in the top five for total yards in 12 seasons, and the top five in points 14 times. Brown's nickname is evident in his quarterback's play. In a running back's league, the Browns used a high power passing game, and it couldn't have worked better. Brown instituted an offense that was the predecessor to the West Coast Offense of his protege Bill Walsh.
In ten seasons under Brown, Graham led the league in passing yards five times, completion percentage four times, touchdowns three times and passer rating four times. In a league where only a handful of quarterbacks could post a 70+ QB rating, Graham had a 94+ rating on five occasions.
Brown was a coach ahead of his time. He saw that, in a running back's league, the best way to win was with the passing game. He was the first coach of the Cleveland Browns and, in his first 10 seasons, he took them to 10 championship games and won seven of them
Defensive Coordinator: Tom Landy
Landry is one of the most innovative coaches in NFL history.
He invented the popular 4-3 defense and the "flex defense" system. The flex defense altered the alignment to counter what the offense might do. He invented the use of keys (analyzing offensive tendencies) to do this.
Landry created the "Doomsday Defense" squads. These defenses were very skilled at executing the "flex defense" and had great size and speed. He coached many great defensive players like Bob Lilly, Chuck Howley, Randy White, Too Tall Jones, Harvey Martin, Cliff Harris and many others.
In Landry's two Super Bowl victories as the Cowboys head coach, they gave up a total of 13 points. In his first victory, Dallas defeated the Dolphins 24-3, they remain the only Super Bowl team not to give up a touchdown.
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