Since the Super Bowl is this week, I thought I’d write a little bit about some of my all-time favorite players.
Terry Bradshaw – Forget about the goofball persona on Fox. Here’s what you need to know about the Blond Bomber: he played in four Super Bowls, and in each one he threw a TD pass in the fourth quarter. He wasn’t always great, but he was the greatest when it mattered the most.
Barry Sanders – Nothing against Emmitt Smith, but if Sanders had run behind that Cowboys line, he would’ve hit 2,000 yards a season. Quite simply, Barry Sanders was the best runner I’ve ever seen carry the football.
John Hannah – I know you’ve never heard of him. He played left guard for the Patriots twenty years before Tom Brady, but he was one of the best lineman to ever play the game. He was one of the first guys to incorporate power-lifting into his training regimen. In his prime, each of his thighs measured 32 inches. The man was a beast.
Joe Greene – Speaking of beasts. No one dominated the trenches like Mean Joe. He was the best DT to play the game.
Mark Bavaro – He played TE for the Giants in the late 80’s / early 90’s. Before he blew out his knee, he was the most dominant TE in the game. The urban legend is that during training camp his rookie season, after a blocking drill, Lawrence Taylor went to Bill Parcells and asked, “Where’d you get this guy?” He played the game the way it’s supposed to be played.
Mike Webster – Personally, my all-time favorite player. Iron Mike played 245 games in the NFL as a center. At one point, he had started 150 consecutive games for the Steelers, and if memory serves, during that stretch, he never missed a single play. The tragic side to that is the fact that he died from complications from repetitive concussions.
Reggie White – The Minister of Defense was the best defensive end I’ve ever seen play. In his prime, he was unblockable. In the Super Bowl with the Packers against the Patriots, there was a point where the Patriots had started driving down the field and looked to be taking control. White on three consecutive plays embarrassed the tackle trying to block him and single-handedly ended the drive. I always thought he should’ve been MVP of the game for that.
Jerry Rice – No one, and I mean no one, played the game better than Jerry Rice. There simply are enough words to describe how dominant he was in his prime. 208 career TD’s. Enough said.
Walter Payton – While Barry Sanders was the best runner and Jerry Rice the best receiver, Walter Payton was the greatest football player to ever strap on pads. He was a great runner, a great receiver, a good passer, and one of the most dominant blockers of his day. Ask a couple of linebackers he picked up on blitzes. Sweetness might have weighed 185 pounds, but he was one of the strongest guys in the league. Jack Youngblood told a story about Payton hitting him with a stiff-arm near the sidelines one time. Youngblood played in the Super Bowl with a broken bone in his leg, so he was a pretty tough man. He said when Payton hit him, he thought he was gonna die. Walter Payton was also one hell of a person, and the world was a better place while he was still alive.
The rest of this week, I’m gonna chronicle my top 5 at each position.