The All-Time Notre Dame Fighting Irish NFL Team

Matt Ryan@Matlanta1989Correspondent IIDecember 13, 2009

OAKLAND, CA - JANUARY 19:  Wide receiver Tim Brown #81 of the Oakland Raiders walks off the field after the 41-24 victory over the Tennessee Titans in the AFC Championship game at Network Associates Coliseum on January 19, 2003 in Oakland, California.  The Raiders moved on to the NFL title game for the first time since 1984.  (Photo by Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images)
Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images

While Notre Dame has had some setbacks under their last few coaching administrations, this team is evidence of the enormous talent that has suited up for the Fighting Irish in Northwestern Indiana.

The talent for this team is spread out across the decades, and is not overly dominated by players from the last 15-20 years as other all-time NFL teams of different colleges would be.

Notre Dame has had famous quarterbacks and halfbacks over the years, but their best NFL feeder position may just be defensive tackle.


Quarterback : Joe Montana

Joe Cool led the 49ers to Super Bowl glory four times and is arguably the best quarterback of all-time. He is the easiest choice to make for this team.

Honorable Mentions : Joe Theismann, Johnny Lujack, Daryle Lamonica, Steve Beuerlein, Tommy O'Connel, Frank Tribucka, and George Ratterman

Busts : Brady Quinn and Rick Mirer

?: Jimmy Clausen

Halfbacks : Paul Hornung and Ricky Watters

Hornung was a gifted all-around player who helped the Packers capture four NFL championships during his career. He was the 1961 NFL MVP and also was an occasional field goal kicker as well.

Watters was arguably the league's best running back throughout the entire 1990's not named Barry Sanders or Emmit Smith. He was a great pass catcher, went to five consecutive Pro Bowls, and helped the 49ers win their fifth Super Bowl after the 1994 season.

Jerome Bettis is a future Hall of Famer and fifth all-time in rushing yards, but Hornung and Watters bring a better all-around game to this squad than "The Bus."

Honorable Mentions : Jerome Bettis, Johnny McNally, Julius Jones, Ryan Grant, and Greg Bell

Wide Receivers : Raghib "The Rocket" Ismail and Tim Brown

Ismail, the 1991 Heisman runner-up, played in the CFL briefly before his NFL and was one of the fastest players during his playing days.

Tim Brown, the 1988 Heisman winner, is a future Hall of Famer and was one of the best wide receivers during the 1990's and early 2000's. He helped the Raiders reach Super Bowl XXXVII and was a nine time Pro Bowler.

Honorable Mention : Jack Snow

?: Golden Tate

What could have been: Jeff Samardzija

Tight End : Dave Casper

"The Ghost" was the Raiders tight for their 1976 and 1980 Super Bowl winning teams and was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2002. Bavaro. He made the Pro Bowl five times and put up great numbers for a tight end during the 1970's.

Honorable Mentions : Mark Bavaro, Paul Costa, and Curly Lambeau

Offensive Tackle : George Conner and Frank Varrichione

Conner was one of the league's best offensive lineman after WWII and played eight years at Soldier Field for the Bears.

He also played linebacker and was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Varrichione was the sixth overall pick in the 1955 NFL draft by the Steelers, and also played with the Los Angeles Rams later in his career.

He played 11 NFL seasons and was a five-time Pro Bowler.

Honorable Mentions : Joe Carollo, George Kunz, Phil Pozderac, Bill Wightki and Mike Gandy

Offensive Guards : Bob Kuechenberg and Joe Scibelli

Kuechenberg played 14 NFL seasons in South Florida and was part of the Dolphins unbeaten 1972 season. He has yet to make the Hall of Fame, but has been really close to induction in recent years.

Scibelli played 15 NFL seasons with the Los Angeles Rams, helped them win five division titles and led the league in scoring twice. Not too bad, for a 10th round draft pick!

Honorable Mentions : Aaron Taylor, Randy Lemek, Andy Heck, Bill Hughes, Joe Kuharich, John Scully, Tom Thayer, George Goeddekke, Fred Wallner, and Hec Garvey

Center : Tim Grunhard

The center position maybe the toughest to pick for this team, with no player that clearly stands out. Grunhard played 11 NFL seasons with the Kansas City Chiefs and played in 169 games for them.

He was a Pro Bowler in 1999 and played on 7 playoff teams during the Schottenheimer era.

Honorable Mentions : Jeff Faine, Timmy Ruddy, Bill Walsh, Art Hunter, and Jim Shrader


Defensive Tackles : Alan Page and Bryant Young

In 1971, Alan Page was the first defensive player to win the NFL MVP and was the leader of the Purple People Eaters defense that went to four Super Bowls.

Bryant Young played for the 49ers at the height of their sucess under George Seifert and the lows for the franchise towards the mid 2000's. He played in the NFL for 14 seasons and was one of the league's top defensive tackle during his career, but was sometimes overshadowed by guys like John Randle and Warren Sapp. Young recorded 89.5 sacks during his career, was the 1994 Defensive Rookie of The Year, the 1999 Comeback Player of The Year, and a four time Pro Bowler.

Honorable Mentions : Bob Golic, Jerry Groom, Jim Flannigan, Mike Kadish, Mike McCoy, Bob Tonef, and Mike Golic

Defensive Ends : Leon Hart and Justin Tuck

Hart helped the Lions win 3 NFL titles during the 1950's and was the top pick in the 1950 draft. Justin Tuck is currently one of the best defensive ends in the NFL and could arguably go down as the best defensive end ever to come out of South Bend.

Honorable Mentions : Wayne Millner, Jim Mutscheller, Bertrand Berry, Ross Browner, Bill McPeak, Anthony Weaver, Renaldo Wynn, and Bob Dove

Outside Linebackers: Jim Lynch and Myron Pottios

During his days under Hank Stram with the Chiefs was a solid linebacker that was overshadowed by his higher profile teammates like Bobby Bell, Willie Lanier, and Buck Buchanon. He had 17 career interceptions and helped the Chiefs win Super Bowl IV.

Pottios played in the Pro Bowls during his 1st three NFL seasons with the Steelers and was part of the Washington Redskins "Over The Hill Gang". Surprisingly, this is not a very deep NFL position for the Fighting Irish.

Middle Linebackers : Nick Buoniconti

After spending the first part of his career with the Boston Patriots, Buoniconti joined the Dolphins and helped them win two Super Bowl titles. He was one of the NFL's top linebackers during his days on the gridiron.

Cornerbacks : Bobby Taylor and Todd Lyght

Taylor was overshadowed during his days with the Eagles playing next to Troy Vincent, but was a great defensive back that helped the Eagles reach three straight NFC title games.

Lyght recorded 37 interceptions during his NFL career and was one of the few bright spots for the Rams when he played for them, before "The Greatest Show On Turf" came to town.

Honorable Mention : Tom Carter

Free Safety : Dave Waymer

Although Waymer spent the majority of his career at cornerback with the Saints, he was a successful safety as well.

He has 48 career interceptions and played in the NFL for 12 seasons. Waymer was a 1987 Pro Bowler.

Honorable Mention : Pat Terrel

Strong Safety : Dave Duerson

Duerson was equally effective at both safety positions during his days with "Da Bears." He played on their 1985 Super Bowl winning team.

Special Teams

Kicker : John Carney

Carney is currently in his 22nd NFL season with the San Diego Chargers and made 460 field goals during his first 21 NFL seasons.

Honorable Mention : Jim Martin

Punter : Bob Scarpitto

Scarpitto lead the league in punting yards twice for the Broncos and was also a flanker on offense.

Kick Returner : Allen Rossum

Rossum has been one of the league's top returners during his NFL career and has recorded over 15,000 career all-purpose yards.

Punt Returner : Raghib "The Rocket" Ismail

They didn't call him "The Rocket" for nothing.


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