Fantasy Football News

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Greatest Player of All-Time Tournament: Round 2 Match-ups

Well, first round voting for "The Ultimate March Madness Bracket: Greatest Player of All-Time" has now been open for exactly a week.

A tad longer than I was planning on leaving voting open, but we've received enough votes for each match-up to close first round voting and finally post results and open up Round 2. So, without further ado here's the second round of match-ups.

Note: The paragraph summary/accomplishments for each player are the same from the first round. There was no way we were going to re-write a different one for each of the remaining 32 players.

Again, here's how you cast your vote:

1. Leave your picks in the comments section below this article (you can do so anonymously if you would like).

2. Leave your picks on our Facebook or Tumblr page.

3. Tweet us your picks @AllOutBlitz1

4. Email us your picks at benheck77@yahoo.com

5. Or you may even send us a text message at 443-988-8597.

Region 1

1 Jerry Rice (WR) vs. 9 Bruce Smith (DE)

Rice: By far the greatest wide receiver this game has ever seen. His numbers are incomparable to the rest of the wideouts both current and past. With 22,895 career yards, Rice is nearly 7,000 ahead of the second-place Terrell Owens. Going to 13 Pro Bowls and named to 10 First-Team All Pro squads over his 21 seasons, there's no doubt Rice's records will stand for years to come. Have I mentioned that the Hall of Famer has 208 total touchdowns and won three Super Bowls with the San Francisco 49ers.

Smith: If Lilly was "Mr. Cowboy," there's no doubt that Bruce was "Mr. Bill." The defensive end out of Virginia Tech was never the flashiest pass-rusher, but he sure was a dominating one. His all-time record of 200.0 quarterback sacks still stands today and the Hall of Famer spent 15 consistent seasons in Buffalo before finishing his career with the Washington Redskins. Though he never won a Super Bowl, his Bills were AFC's Super Bowl representatives for four straight seasons, and he earned 11 Pro Bowl selections as a Bill. What may be the most miraculous is that he played until he was 40 years old––at the defensive end position, no less.

4 Anthony Munoz (OT) vs. 5 Tom Brady (QB)

Munoz: One of just five offensive linemen to crack the field of 64, Munoz was a model of excellence for the Cincinnati Bengals. Anchoring Cincy's line from 1980-92, Munoz was elected 11 Pro Bowls in his 183 career starts. He was a model both on and off-the-field, winning the Bart Starr Man of the Year award in 1989 and the Walter Payton Man of the Year award in 1991. His impressive resume also includes being a 3-time winner of the Offensive Lineman of the Year award, being named to the NFL's 75th Anniversary team and the NFL's 1980 All-Decade team. Though his Bengals never won a Super Bowl, they did make two trips there in 1981 and 1988 (both losses came to San Francisco).

Brady: Tom is one of three active players on this list of all-time greats––one of two active QBs. At the age of 35, Brady still appears to have plenty of gas left in his tank. His New England Patriots have won three Super Bowls, as well as gone to two additional Super Bowls and lost. His resume includes: 334 touchdown passes, nearly 45,000 yards, eight Pro Bowls, 37 game-winning drives, two MVP awards, two Super Bowl MVP awards and 17 postseason wins in his 13 seasons.
3 Dick Butkus (LB) vs. 11 Rod Woodson (DB/KR/PR)

Butkus: Dick is still known by some as the most intimidating defender––not just linebacker––that this league has ever witnessed. During his hey days, defenders literally close-lined opposing players. And Butkus was known to rip off a running backs head and eat it for dinner. Voted to the Pro Bowl in all but one of his nine professional seasons in Chicago, Butkus clearly had the respect of his peers and even intercepted 22 passes over 119 games.

Woodson: Rod has one of the benefits of being a key piece to one of the top five greatest defenses in league history (2000 Ravens) towards the tail-end of his career. But, we all know he will always be known primarily as a Pittsburgh Steelers cornerback. A dual threat as both CB and a return man during the prime of his career, Woodson has four career kick/punt return touchdowns. But most impressively may be his NFL record 12 interception touchdowns––still one ahead of Charles Woodson and Darren Sharper. Spending 10 seasons with Pittsburgh, one with San Francisco and four with Baltimore, Woodson has 71 career interceptions (third all-time) and 11 Pro Bowl appearances.

2 Walter Payton (RB) vs 7 John Elway (QB)

Payton: "Sweetness" is arguably the greatest running back of all-time. Though his all-time rushing record (16,726 rushing yards) was surpassed by Emmitt Smith, there's still no doubt that Payton is one of the smoothest rushers we've ever seen. There are two other guys (Brown, Sanders) in this debate, but you could argue that they weren't as smooth with their feet as Payton. Walter was as graceful as they come, and he was the guy to make the jump-over-the-pile-into-the-end-zone wildly popular for running backs. Not to mention he did it the best. Mention the name Walter Payton, and it's likely that even non-football fans––especially in Chicago––would recognize the name.

Elway: For most of his career, Elway was known as a guy who could finish miraculous comebacks, but could never win the big one. From 1986-1989, Elway's Broncos made three Super Bowl appearances, but lost all three. The nine-time Pro Bowl signal caller was known for making plays with both his powerful arm and his shifty legs, accumulating 300 touchdowns through the air and 33 on the ground. He was a crafty gunslinger whose playing style finally paid off when he led his Denver squad to two consecutive Super Bowl championships in 1997 (over Green Bay) and 1998 (over Falcons), finishing his Hall of Fame career at the very top of the mountain.
Region 2

1 Lawrence Taylor (OLB) vs 8 Jim Parker (OT/G)

Taylor: Despite what LT does with his personal time, he's certainly the best linebacker of all-time, arguably even overall defender. He talked the talk and walked the walk during his prime with the New York Giants in the 1980s. With seven seasons of double-digit sack totals (132.5 throughout his 13-year career), the 10-time Pro Bowler was a feared man on the field. Chasing down ball carriers from behind and knocking off quarterback's heads, Taylor surely wreaked havoc all over the football field. Perhaps he is best-remembered for ending Washington quarterback Joe Theismann's career after he suffered a broken leg. FYI: if you're the least bit squeamish, I don't advise looking up the footage of the LT/Theismann play on Youtube. It's ugly.

Parker: Jim, who died just under two years ago in Columbia, MD, helped protect Johnny Unitas' blindside at the left tackle position from 1957-1961 before moving to guard. During his 11-year career, all spent with the Baltimore Colts, Parker made it to 10 All Pro teams and started 135 games. The two-time NFL Champion (1958 and 1959) was a premiere pass blocker throughout his illustrious, Hall of Fame career and was named to the 1950s All Decade team.

4 Otto Graham (QB) vs 5 Emmitt Smith (RB)

Graham: Otto, along with the aforementioned Sid Luckman, was one of the greatest passers of his time. Like stated before, he holds the record for most yards per pass with nearly 9.0, and was the Cleveland favorite during the 1950s. He won three NFL Championships during the decade, and led the league in passing yards during five of his 10 seasons––also led league in TDs during three of those seasons. All those accomplishments added to his nine All Pro selections and it was enough to get himself in the Hall of Fame and have his No. 14 jersey retired by the Browns.

Smith: It's tough putting the league's all-time leading rusher (18,355) at the No. 5 seed, but looking at his numbers being spread out over 15 seasons makes it a bit easier. His 1991-1995 seasons eats up a majority of his yardage (led league in rushing four of those five seasons) as the final five or six so seasons of his career appear to be just above average. But there's no doubt he's still a top 5 talent when it comes to all-time backs. Especially considering he was a touchdown machine, leading the league in rushing TDs three times and destroying his competition in career rushing TDs (164, 19 ahead of second-place Tomlinson). His yardage and touchdown totals put him in discussion for best-ever despite also having the most career attempts by far (4,409, 571 more than second-place Payton).
3 Joe Greene (DT) vs 6 Ray Lewis (MLB)

Greene: This could obviously be argued, but Greene was, in our opinion, the heart and soul of the Pittsburgh Steelers' Steel Curtain in the 1970s. Leading one of the most dominant defensive runs ever, Greene anchored a Steeler defensive line that feature himself, L.C. Greenwood, Ernie Holmes and Dwight White. The 10-time Pro Bowler and Hall of Fame D-tackle could shed two or three blockers at once and still get to the quarterback or running back. He wasn't referred to as "Mean Joe" for nothing. Named to the Pittsburgh all-time team, the towering 6'4" Greene helped Pittsburgh win four Super Bowls in the 1970s.

Lewis: We're all well aware that Lewis just retired a couple of months ago, following the second Super Bowl championship of his illustrious 17-year career. Five years from now, the 37-year old will be a first ballot Hall of Famer and in the discussion as a top five linebacker of all-time. Not only was Lewis the heart and soul of the 2000 Ravens defense, but he has also been an emotional leader on the field throughout his entire career. He's the only player in NFL history to record at least 40 sacks and 30 interceptions. He has recorded over 2,000 combined tackles (1,573 solo) and has been selected to 13 Pro Bowls. He seems to come up big in the biggest situations, and his Super Bowl XXXV MVP award should demonstrate that perfectly.

2 Reggie White (DE) vs. 7 Dick "Night Train" Lane (CB)

White: The Reggie White story is a sad one, as his life was cut short and he passed away at the age of 43 in 2004, just four short years after his career with Philadelphia, Green Bay and Carolina had ended. White, known as the "Minister of Defense," a reference to his faith and domination on the football field, was said to be one of the most gentle people off the field. But, on the field, White destroyed opposing offensive tackles coming off the edge, sacking 198.0 quarterbacks throughout his 15-year career. He is just two sacks shy of Bruce Smith for most all-time.

Lane: Dick, nicknamed "Night Train" Lane, went undrafted in 1952 but ended up spending 14 seasons in the league with the Los Angeles Rams, Chicago Cardinals and Detroit Lions. At the time of his retirement in 1965, at the age of 38, Lane was the league's all-time leader in interceptions, with 68. He now ranks No. 4 on the list, but the seven-time Pro Bowl cornerback returned five of those for TDs. He does still, however, hold the record for most interceptions in a single-season (14) which he accomplished as a 25-year old rookie.
Region 3

1 Jim Brown (RB/FB) vs 8 Gale Sayers (RB/KR/PR)

Brown: The bruising 6'2"/232 pound fullback was unstoppable, especially when you consider most defensive ends and tackles were about Jim's size back in his day. There were no 260-270 pound defensive ends to put him in his place. This led to an unstoppable force in what we call today "Jim Brown." He played just nine seasons with the Cleveland Browns, but he was selected to a Pro Bowl each of those seasons and broke 1,000 yards in all but two of those seasons, for a grand total of 12,323 yards and 106 TDs in a career that lasted less than a decade. His 5.2 yards per carry is eye-popping. It's clear that Jim Brown was football in the 1950s and '60s. The only season of his career that he did not lead the league in rushing yardage was when he ran for 996 and 13 TDs in 1962. The three-time MVP won a championship in 1964 and his nine-year reign will forever go down as one of the most dominating runs this league has seen.

Sayers: It's crazy to think that Sayers played just seven years in the league, yet he's in the Hall of Fame and is considered one of the best to do it. With his career cut short due to injury, Sayers was forced to walk away before the age of 30 and he's still the youngest HOF selection in league history (he was 34 at the time of election). The shifty back ran for just 4,956 yards, but led the league in rushing twice and was a very effective return specialist. Sayers has a career eight return touchdowns––6 kick, 2 punt. The four-time Pro Bowler still holds the record for most touchdowns in a rookie season, with 22 in 1965 (14 rushing, 6 receiving, 1 punt, 1 kick). Talk about a quadruple threat––rushing, receiving, punt return, kick return. One of the most elusive and durable players in league history?

4 Deacon Jones (DE) vs 5 Brett Favre (QB)

Jones: Deacon spent a majority of his 13-year career with the Los Angeles Rams, where the defensive end was known for his famous "head slap" of opposing offensive linemen. The move, later outlawed by the league, was unstoppable. Jones would simply use his large frame and long arms to slap the side of the tackle's head, which proved to make it near-impossible for Jones to be blocked. This led to utter domination and five All Pro teams while striking fear in quarterbacks and running backs, not just the lineman attempting to contain the beast.

Favre: No. 4 is the true definition of a gunslinger. In fact, I think he may have even copyrighted the term? Well okay, no not really. But not only does Favre hold the record for most career passing touchdowns (508), but he also holds the record for interceptions (336), yards (71,838), attempts (10,169), completions (6,300) and times sacked (525). Now, if that isn't the definition of a sure-fire gunslinger, then I don't know what is. His career postseason record is 13-11 in 24 starts, including a Super Bowl championship in 1996, and the 11-time Pro Bowler, whether they like to admit it or not, is still loved by Packer nation.
3 Don Hutson (WR) vs 6 Dan Marino (QB)

Hutson: Playing for the Packers in the '30s and '40, Hutson played multiple positions but was perhaps most effective at wideout. In his 11 seasons, Hutson caught passes and picked off passes as well. He is considered one of the first modern receivers in the NFL and even created some pass routes from today. At wideout, he led the league in receptions eight different times, yards seven different times and nine different times. When his career was finished, he caught 488 passes for 7,991 yards and 99 TDs, picked off 30 passes. He even did some kicking, making seven of his 17 field goal attempts and 94% of his 183 PAT attempts. True all-around star.

Marino: Certainly the best quarterback to never win a Super Bowl during his 17-year career with the Miami Dolphins. A pure pocket passer, Marino could make plays with his legs if he absolutely had to. The nine-time Pro Bowler put up a 147-93 regular season record and led the league in passing five different times. Before Peyton Manning, Tom Brady and Drew Brees came along, Dan Jr. held the single-season TD record (48) and passing yards record (5,084), which were both set during the 1984 season. It was also that season that Marino's Phins made it to the Super Bowl, only to fall to Montana's Niners, 38-16.

2 Johnny Unitas (QB) vs 7 Deion Sanders (CB/KR/PR)

Unitas: Johnny U is another player that you can't really look at the stat sheet and expect to pull results from it. I, unfortunately, never got to actually see him play, but his former teammates say he was one of the best leaders they've been around. He's been voted by numerous polls as the one quarterback that would be best to have for one game-winning drive, beating out the likes of Montana in the process. In a game completely different than today's game, Unitas was one of the most effective passers the league had seen, and he led the Colts to two NFL championships in addition to a Super Bowl V victory. Unitas stuck around until he was 40 years old and was selected to 10 career Pro Bowls.

Sanders: Not only was Sanders an excellent, shutdown corner and a devastating return man, but he also brought swagger to the National Football League. He changed the entertainment side to the NFL, and may have even brought in a whole new viewership with him when the Atlanta Falcons drafted him in the 1989 draft. Playing 13 seasons with four different teams, Sanders made an impact wherever he went. He was unlike a lot of other corners. He could defend the pass and the run on the outside, and wasn't afraid to get down and dirty. Not to mention he was a threat to score every time he got his hands on the football. He turned nine of his 53 career interceptions into touchdowns, as well as six punts and three kicks. Did I mention he also played baseball and is the only player to play in both a Super Bowl and a World Series game? Yeah, that too.
Region 4

1 Joe Montana (QB) vs 8 Merlin Olsen (DT)

Montana: Tough to argue one of the winningest signal callers in league history, and possibly the best pure pocket passer. His numbers are there, especially in terms of postseason and Super Bowl wins, and he had total control of Bill Walsh's West Coast Offense. It didn't hurt that he had Jerry Rice and John Taylor to throw passes to, but there's no doubting the long list of accomplishments that "Joe Cool" has in his back pocket. Four Super Bowl victories, including 3 SB MVPs, eight Pro Bowls, two AP MVP awards, 16 postseason wins and a career 95.6 QB rating in the postseason.

Olsen: If you wanna talk about domination on the front line, how about Merlin Olsen of the Los Angeles Rams? He anchored the defense up front for 15 seasons, and was good enough to be selected to a Pro Bowl in 14 of those years (all but his final season). Coming into the league at age 22, out of Utah State, Olsen made an immediate impact for the Rams, winning the Rookie of the Year award that season. He never missed a game, and ended up playing in 208 of them. Talk about being durable, at 6'5"/270 pounds, Olsen had no trouble shoving opposing linemen around to get to the ball carrier. His No. 74 jersey is retired and, upon retirement from the game, Olsen even made a splash as an NFL commentator and actor.

4 Sammy Baugh (QB) vs 5 Jack Lambert (MLB)

Baugh: Sammy Baugh spent 16 seasons as Washington's quarterback, dominating the passing game in the process. The nine-time All Pro is a member of the Redskins' Ring of Honor, on the list of 70 Best Redskins and his #33 jersey is retired. As a passer, Baugh threw for close to 22,000 yards and 187 touchdowns during a time that was, again, basically an all-running league. He led the league in yards four times and was considered one of the most accurate passers at the time, completing 56.5% of his career passes and leading the league in efficiency nine times.

Lambert: The final member of the 1970s Steelers squad on this bracket, Lambert is by far the best one of them all. A top 5 linebacker of all-time, Lambert was best-known for his ferocity and aggressiveness. There are famous photographs of Lambert showing that, like a lot of hockey players, Lambert was often missing some of his front teeth. If that doesn't strike fear in an opponent on a football field, I'm not sure what else would. In his 11 seasons as a Steeler, Lambert racked up nearly 1,500 total tackles, 23.5 sacks and 28 interceptions. He was an all-around impressive linebacker who was also the emotional leader of the Steel Curtain defense in the '70s.
3 Ronnie Lott (S) vs 6 Bronko Nagurski (FB)

Lott: A Niner for a majority of his 14-year career, Lott was known around the league as one of the hardest hitting defensive backs in league history. The 10-time Pro Bowler won four Super Bowls while suiting up for the Niners from 1981-1990, and recorded over 1,100 combined tackles, 63 interceptions and 16 forced fumbles. He wreaked havoc all over the football field and wasn't afraid to get a little physical. The best free safety the NFL has ever seen play the game.

Nagurski: Grange's fellow teammate with the Chicago Bears, Nagurski was a bruising fullback for the Bears from 1930-43. He spent his time on the field knocking out opposing defenses and ran for 2,778 yards and 25 TDs in 75 starts over his nine-year NFL career in Chicago. Teamed with Grange, I think it's safe to say the Bears had a bruising backfield with the 6'2" Bronko leading the way.

2 Barry Sanders (RB) vs 7 John Hannah (G)

Sanders: In our humble opinion, we'd say Sanders is the greatest running back of all-time. Though historians would likely argue against that statement and say it's Payton and stat geeks would say it's Emmitt Smith (solely based on his all-time yards and TD numbers). But, looking at the bigger picture: Is there really anyone who can compare? Barry has the best highlight reel-worthy runs, played behind one of the worst offensive lines in the league at the time, meaning he had little talent around him. Not to mention he's likely run for the most negative yardage in NFL history, but still managed 15,000+ yards for his career. You add together that he played just 10 seasons and walked away from the game completely healthy, and you have the recipe for greatest production ever, right? Sanders made the Pro Bowl all 10 of his seasons and ran for under 1,300 yards just once. With a YPC average of 5.0 for his career, you give him two or three more seasons and he probably could have come close to 20,000 yards...which shatters Smith's record. Rant over.

Hannah: New England Patriots offensive guard John Hannah was arguably the best offensive lineman in history, playing 13 consistent seasons with New England. Hannah was the epitome of hard work and consistency for the New England offense, helping them get to the Super Bowl in his final season in the league (1985). That season he even was named to his ninth Pro Bowl and seventh All Pro team, as he went out on top despite losing the Super Bowl to the Chicago Bears 46-10.
- - - - -

Round 1 Upsets:

9 Bruce Smith over 8 Bob Lilly
11 Rod Woodson over 6 Peyton Manning

Unfortunately we only witnessed two upsets in the opening round, and one was a No. 8 vs No. 9 seed (barely counts as an upset). But the Woodson over Manning upset was a pretty major one at least.

Best Players to lose in First Round:

Peyton Manning
Marcus Allen
O.J. Simpson
Bob Lilly
Ray Nitschke
Gino Marchetti
Alan Page
Jim Thorpe

BEST Round 2 Match-up:

Joe Greene vs. Ray Lewis

- - - - -

VOTE AWAY!

We'll likely leave Round 2 open for a couple of days, at least.

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Elvis Dumervil: Baltimore Introduces Next Great Pass-Rusher, Reminiscent of Boulware

The defending Super Bowl champion Baltimore Ravens put to rest "FaxGate" by introducing former Denver Broncos defensive end Elvis Dumervil.

The 29-year old was forced out of Denver after an incident involving his now-fired agent Marty Magid and a fax machine. On Friday March 15––the deadline for the Broncos to restructure Dumervil's contract and have his $12 million due to him for the 2013 season fully guaranteed––the Broncos were hit with a "dead money" cap hit of $4.869 when Magid faxed the paperwork six minutes late.

Dumervil could have re-signed with the Broncos the following day, but it would have cost Denver more money. Elvis, who had been very interested in staying in Denver, fired his agent and hit the free agent market.

The Ravens and General Manager Ozzie Newsome made a move for Dumervil, signing him to a 5-year deal worth $35M ($8M guaranteed) three days ago.

Dumervil, half of Denver's "Doom and Gloom" duo over the last two seasons alongside linebacker Von Miller, spent six seasons with the Broncos after being selected in the fourth round of the 2006 NFL Draft. In 75 starts, Elvis recorded 63.5 sacks, including a league-leading 17.0 in 2009.
When healthy, Dumervil can be one of the most dominating pass-rushing forces coming off the edge. Coupled with returning veteran outside linebacker Terrell Suggs, the Ravens could have a potent passing attack on the defensive side of the ball in 2013, despite losing key pieces this offseason.

When introduced to the media yesterday, Dumervil flashed his brand new purple No. 58 jersey and talked about his exciting new venture for 2013.

Speaking of the No. 58 jersey, I can't be the only one who felt the need to reminisce about the last time there was a dominant pass-rusher coming off the edge sporting that jersey? Baltimore fans, do you remember outside linebacker Peter Boulware?

Boulware, now 38 years old and also a former fourth round pick, played his entire nine-year career playing outside linebacker for the Ravens. From 1997-2005, Boulware recorded 70.0 sacks and was selected to four Pro Bowls. Like Dumervil, Boulware had three seasons with double-digit sacks and recorded 7.0 sacks during Baltimore's 2000 Super Bowl run.
Though Dumervil played a majority of defensive end in Denver, it's pretty clear that he will likely mirror Suggs and switch to outside linebacker in Baltimore's 3-4 defense. The front line looks to be a bit crowded already, with Haloti Ngata, Terrence Cody, Arthur Jones and newly-signed Chris Canty, Dumervil has no choice but make the switch.

With top pass-rusher from last season, Paul Kruger, heading out of town for Cleveland for a boatload of cash, it appears as though the pass-rush will take a step forward in 2013. Especially with a fully healthy Suggs returning to the field in September.

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Friday, March 22, 2013

NFL History 101: Top 5 Defenses of All-Time

It's been a while since we've posted an NFL History 101 article, so I'd say it's about time for another one, don't you think?

There's been a debate for years: who has the best defense of all-time? Or at least during the Super Bowl era. The interesting thing about this debate is that there are two or three different defenses who could be considered "the greatest of all-time."

So we're here to settle the score once and for all. Here are the top 5, in addition to honorable mentions:

5. 2002 Tampa Bay Buccaneers: 12-4, Super Bowl XXXVII champions

Scoring-wise, head coach Jon Gruden's '02 Bucs may be one of the most prolific defenses ever. Meaning, if we were ranking scoring defenses, they'd be No. 1 on this list. Capped with five Pro Bowl defenders, with a possibility of three ending up in the Hall of Fame (Warren Sapp will be enshrined in August), this was surely a dominating unit.

Including a 3-0 postseason run, the Bucs scored nine defensive touchdowns. All Pro outside linebacker Derrick Brooks was responsible for five of them. In 16 games, Monte Kiffin's squad surrendered 196 points (12.2/game), recorded two shutouts and allowed 20+ points just five times. The defense and special teams was so strong in comparison to the offense, led by quarterback Brad Johnson, that two of the team's wins were thanks to Martin Gramatica field goals and no offensive touchdowns were scored.

In the postseason, Tampa Bay allowed San Francisco and Philadelphia to put up a combined 16 points while limiting them to no more than 80 yards on the ground and forcing eight turnovers. Cornerback Ronde Barber sealed a victory late in the NFC championship game by returning a Donovan McNabb pass 92 yards for a score in a 27-10 win. The Super Bowl was, aside from the 1985 Bears, one of the most dominating defensive performances in Super Bowl history.

Against the pass-heavy Oakland Raider offense with Rich Gannon, Tim Brown and Jerry Rice, Tampa Bay forced five turnovers. Three of those Gannon interceptions were returned for touchdowns (Brooks, two by Dwight Smith). The Bucs came away with an easy 48-21 victory, with 12 of those 21 Raider points coming in the fourth quarter and the game already decided.
4. 1990 New York Giants: 13-3, Super Bowl XXV champions

The '90 season was definitely a memorable one for the New York Giants, specifically on defense. The best Giants defense ever assembled, in fact. Led by three Pro Bowl defenders, two of which came from the linebacking core, head coach Bill Parcells road the defense all the way to a Super Bowl championship victory over the Buffalo Bills, 20-19.

Lawrence Taylor, the best and most-feared linebacker of all-time, led the Giants 10.5 sacks, which was his seventh consecutive double-digit sack season. But LT had plenty of help inside New York's 3-4 defensive scheme, as fellow linebackers Pepper Johnson (115 tackles, 3.5 sacks; Pro Bowl appearance and All Pro selection) and Carl Banks (50 tackles, 1.0 sack in eight starts) welded together the middle of the field. Opposite of Taylor, LILB Steve DeOssie put up the best season of his 12-year career, recording 53 tackles over 13 starts.

During a 13-3 regular season run, the defense had 12 games with multiple forced turnovers against a very tough schedule. In fact, the Giants' only three losses came against playoff-bound teams (Eagles, Niners, Bills) and they started the season with a 10-0 record. Combine this with a 31-3 Divisional round victory over Chicago, a 15-13 NFC championship win over Joe Montana's Niners and a 20-19 Super Bowl win, and you've got yourself a perfect end to a superb defensive season. The run defense even limited Chicago and San Francisco to under 40 rushing yards in the first two postseason games.
3. 1976 Pittsburgh Steelers: 10-4, AFC champions

The Pittsburgh Steelers of the '70s had multiple top 5-worthy defenses, led by Hall of Famers Mean Joe Greene, Jack Lambert, Jack Ham and Mel Blount. Though the Steelers fell to the Raiders in the AFC Championship in '76, this may have been, by far, the team's best defense of the decade. With eight of its 11 starters being named to the Pro Bowl (Greene, L.C. Greenwood, Lambert, Ham, Blount, J.T. Thomas, Mike Wagner and Glen Edwards), the Steel Curtain allowed just 9.9 points per game.

Ranked first in points allowed, total yards allowed, first downs allowed, rushing yards and rushing TDs with 46 turnovers, Pittsburgh dominated opposing offenses. Surrendering 30+ points just twice, the Steelers overcame a 1-4 start to finish with 10 wins and a postseason appearance. During the late-season playoff run, the defense allowed just 22 points over the final eight games of the regular season, which included five shutouts.

In a Divisional round 40-14 victory over the Baltimore Colts, the '76 team forced two more turnovers and allowed just 170 total yards. Though the glory run stopped there, as rival Oakland defeated Pittsburgh 24-14 the following week. Nevertheless, 1976 was one of the best defensive runs the Steelers' Steel Curtain had, even without getting a championship that season.
2. 2000 Baltimore Ravens: 12-4, Super Bowl XXXV champions

The Ravens of 2000 could be argued as the best, but I think a close second will have to do. With a porous offensive attack and a quarterback swap midway through the regular season, there's no hesitation when we say the defense is the only reason the Ravens even managed to make the postseason. In 16 games, Baltimore surrendered just 165 points (10.3/game) to opposing offenses and managed 12 wins despite the offense going 21 straight quarters without a touchdown. Miraculous.

Led by the young Ray Lewis and vets Tony Siragusa and Rod Woodson, there were no weaknesses on this unit. Siragusa and fellow defensive linemen Sam Adams, Rob Burnett and Michael McCrary anchored the front seven that ranked No. 1 against the rush. Four shutouts and eight additional games of holding the opposition to 10 points or less isn't even the most impressive part of this defense. Lewis (25), Jamie Sharper (26) and Peter Boulware (26) made up one of the youngest linebacking cores in the league, and ran sideline-to-sideline to make tackles on every play. As a whole Baltimore's defense dismantled ball carriers and swarmed on every play. It wasn't just a bring-down-the-ball-carrier defense, the 2000 Ravens were more of a stingy, punch-you-in-the-mouth kind of defense.

In the postseason, Baltimore's defensive tear continued. Holding the Denver Broncos to just nine first downs and 177 total yards in a 21-3 Wild Card match-up was just the beginning. The following week Lewis sealed a 24-10 victory over division rival Tennessee with a 50-yard interception returned for a touchdown. In the AFC championship game, 330 pound D-tackle Siragusa knocked Oakland's quarterback Rich Gannon out of the game and the defense then picked off two Bobby Hoying passes to seal a 16-3 win. The Super Bowl was the perfect ending to a phenomenal season, shutting down Kerry Collins' Giants 34-7 and forcing five turnovers. In all, Baltimore outscored opponents 95-23 with 12 forced turnovers in four postseason games.
1. 1985 Chicago Bears: 15-1, Super Bowl XX champions

Speaking of stingy defenses, our all-time best defense during the Super Bowl era is the 1985 Chicago Bears, or the "Monsters of the Midway." Led by six Pro Bowlers, three of which are now in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, the Bears went 15-1 during the regular season and surrendered 198 points (12.2/game). Including the postseason, head coach Mike Ditka's Bear defense scored seven times and forced a league-leading 53 turnovers. Five different Bears picked off at least four passes throughout the season (Leslie Frazier, Gary Fencik, Dave Duerson, Mike Richardson and Wilber Marshall) while both Richard Dent (17.0) and Otis Wilson (10.5) finished with double-digit sack totals.

William Perry, the 325 pound defensive tackle, anchored a defensive line that helped limit offenses to just 1,319 rushing yards and 6 TDs, ranking first in attempts, yards and TDs. The lone Chicago loss came against one of the most prolific scoring offenses in the league, the 12-4 Miami Dolphins. Besides the 38 points Chicago allowed against Dan Marino's Phins, the Bears D gave up 20+ points just two other times that season (Week 1 vs. Tampa, Week 3 vs. Minnesota).

In a 3-game playoff run, including the Super Bowl, defensive coordinator Buddy Ryan's creation of the 46 defense destroyed opponents. They didn't have any trouble putting away the Giants (21-0) in the Divisional round and the Los Angeles Rams (24-0) in the NFC championship. Then Mike Singletary & Co. embarrassed the 11-5 New England Patriots in the Louisiana Superdome. Chicago led 23-3 at the half and then completely took over the second half, allowing just 116 total yards in a 46-10 victory. Craig James and Tony Collins led the way for the Pats run game, which managed just 7 yards on 11 carries. Richard Dent recorded 1.5 of the Bears' 7 total sacks and captured the game's Most Valuable Player award.
Just missed the cut:

1962 Green Bay Packers: 13-3, NFL champions
1st in points, 2nd in total yards

*Allowed just 10.6 points/game and forced 50 turnovers in 14 games under Lombardi.
*3 shutouts
*5 All Pros/2 Pro Bowlers
*5 Hall of Famers started on defense

1971 Minnesota Vikings: 11-3, lost in Divisional round
"Purple People Eaters"
1st in points, 2nd in total yards, 1st in rushing TDs

*Allowed 139 points (9.9/game)
*Allowed 30+ points just one time (30 in loss to Chargers)
*3 shutouts
*Held opposing QBs to a 40.4 rating.
*3 Pro Bowlers (Carl Eller, Alan Page, Paul Krause)
1969 Kansas City Chiefs: 11-3, Super Bowl IV champions
1st in points, 1st in total yards

*Ranked 1st in passing yards, TDs, INTs and rushing attempts, yards and TDs
*2 shutouts
*Never allowed a team to put up 30 points.
*6 Pro Bowlers (Curley Culp, Buck Buchanan, Bobby Bell, Willie Lanier, Jim Marsalis and Johnny Robinson).

1975 Los Angeles Rams: 12-2, lost in NFC championship
"The New Fearsome Foursome"
1st in points, 2nd in total yards, 1st in rushing TDs

*Allowed just 9.9 points per game, a league-best.
*Led by what is now know as the new "Fearsome Foursome" of Jack Youngblood, Fred Dryer, Merlin Olsen and Larry Brooks...the original foursome consisted of Rosey Grier, Lamar Lundy, Deacon Jones and Merlin Olsen in 1963.
*Allowed an average of 5.3 points/game during the final six games of the season.
*5 Pro Bowlers
1972 Miami Dolphins: 14-0, Super Bowl VII champions
"No-Name Defense"
1st in points, 1st in total yards

*Allowed 171 points (12.2/game)
*Still only team in history to finish regular and postseason with undefeated record.
*Six out of the 11 starters never made a Pro Bowl roster or All Pro team during their pro careers.
*4 Pro Bowlers/2 All Pros

Best nicknames for Defenses:

Purple People Eaters––1960s-70s Vikings
Steel Curtain––1970s Steelers
Doomsday Defense––Cowboys of the 1970s
Monsters of the Midway––Bears of the '40s and '80s
Orange Crush––1970s Broncos
No-Name Defense––1970s Dolphins
Gritz Blitz––1977 Falcons
Fearsome Foursome––Defensive line of the 1960s Rams
Houston Hitmen––1988 Oilers

Any other defenses you think are worth mentioning? Let us know in the comment section below!

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Thursday, March 21, 2013

Jennings Not the First Packer Favorite to Leave Green Bay for Minny

Aside from the Green Bay Packers/Chicago Bears storied rivalry––facing off with each other nearly 200 times since 1921––one of the biggest NFC North rivalries in today's NFL is the Packers/Vikings.

That's what makes Greg Jennings' departure from Green Bay this off-season that much harder for Packer Nation. He's hanging up his green and gold jersey, for a purple and gold jersey. Joining one of the most hated teams among Packer fans.

His last two seasons have been littered with injuries, missing three games in 2011 and over half the season in 2012. The injuries have limited his production while on the field as well, catching just 36 passes for Aaron Rodgers last regular season and averaging just over 10 yards per catch––a career-low for the 7-year pro.

Exactly six months shy of his 30th birthday, Jennings signed $47.5 million ($18M guaranteed) contract to play for his arch-rival for the next five years. If you're getting the 2011-12 Jennings, the Vikings definitely overpaid for his services. However, a return to his 2008-10 form would be a nice change of pace for the Vikings.

Jennings entered the league as a 2nd round draft selection of the Packers in 2006, and broke out with three consecutive 1,000 yard seasons in 2008, '09 and '10. The two-time Pro Bowler has 425 catches for 6,537 yards and 53 TDs over his 86 starts in Green Bay. But is his three superb seasons really worth $18M in guaranteed money? No, of course not. Jennings is locked up until he's in his mid-30s and I expect his production to start going downhill long before then.
We don't even know if he can return to his normal form, especially in Minnesota's offense. Two off-seasons ago, the Vikes lost top wideout Sidney Rice to the Seahawks. This off-season they dealt top wideout Percy Harvin to, guess who, the Seahawks. With the quarterback position in the air heading into this summer (acquired Matt Cassel from the Chiefs), we don't even know who will be throwing passes to Jennings.

He'll garner most of the attention from opposing secondaries, considering he's one of the few top targets on Minnesota's offense. Plus we'll of course see a heavy dose of Adrian Peterson again this season. So I'm not even sure if a healthy Jennings will manage to catch 80 passes this season.

Then again, we all know the Vikings have a history of scooping up former Packer fan favorites and ticking off the state of Wisconsin:

Brett Favre: After 16 legendary seasons in Green Bay (and one subpar season with the Jets), Favre signed a two-year deal worth $25 million. He was 40 at the time. The season before, while in New York, Favre had led the league in interceptions (22) and missed the postseason after an epic second half collapse.

So what would be the reason for giving the gunslinger $25 mil? It's still a mystery.

The deal was almost deemed genius though, as Favre was just one big play away from taking Minnesota to the Super Bowl in 2009––his first season with the team. He appeared to have revitalized his career with 4,202 yards, 33 TDs , 7 interceptions, 107.2 QB rating and a 12-4 record. The MVP candidate came up just shy in the NFC Championship against the New Orleans Saints, throwing a late interception to spoil the Vikes' hopes.

The following season, and final year of Favre's 20-year Hall of Fame career, didn't pan out quite as well. Minnesota went 5-8 in Brett's 13 starts while he threw for just 2,509 yards, 11 TDs and 19 interceptions. The 2009 season was worth nearly every penny of the $12M the Viking front office dished out to Favre, but the $13M in 2010? What a waste of precious money.
Darren Sharper: The former 14-year free safety was drafted by the Packers 1997 and established himself with the fan base, playing eight years at Lambeau. But 105 starts, 500+ tackles and 36 interceptions later, Sharper strayed for Minnesota. What did he do his first season there? Only made 51 combined tackles, picked off 9 passes and led the league in interception touchdowns (2).

In just four seasons with the Vikings, Sharper intercepted 18 passes and matched his Pro Bowl total from his Green Bay days (two; five appearances during his career). Sharper wasn't quite over the hill at the time of the signing, but there's no doubt his best days were in Green Bay.

Ryan Longwell: Kickers are technically football players, too.

Longwell, once again, was drafted by the Packers and established himself as a solid placekicker while donning the green and gold. As a rookie in 1997, Longwell led the league in extra points attempted and made, going a perfect 48-for-48.

After nine seasons with the Packers, Green Bay's all-time leading scorer was signed by the Vikings as a free agent prior to the 2006 season. He played six more years with his NFC North foe, and even hit a higher percentage of field goals while in Minnesota (81.6% with Packers, 86.0% with Vikings). How's that for sticking it to the man?

- - - - -

I'm not sure what the Packers fans are more PO'd about, the fact that Jennings strayed for their rival or that Brett Favre was the one that helped the Vikings land their coveted wideout.

According to Jennings himself, he was on the phone with Favre when he got off the plane to visit with the Vikings. And from the sound of it, it appears as though Favre was lobbying him to do what he felt was right. And apparently Jennings "felt right" leaving Green Bay.

I guess he and Favre both realized they were once again overpaying for a former Packer star. There seems to be a pattern here, doesn't there?

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Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Introducing the Ultimate March Madness Bracket: Greatest Player of All-Time Tournament

In celebration of the annual March Madness tournament officially tipping off tomorrow night, the All-Out Blitz will be holding its own March Madness-style tournament. The only difference is that you, the fans, will get to decide the outcome.

We've set up a 64-player, single-elimination bracket––just like the NCAA does with its tourney––in order to decide who is Pro Football's greatest player of all-time. With four different regions of 16, players have been seeded 1-16 (four 1 seeds, four 2 seeds, four 3 seeds, and so on...).

Below is what the bracket will look like, only with names filled in of course...for those of you unaware of how March Madness works.
The seedings and first round match-ups will be posted below and voting has officially opened up for the first round! There are numerous ways for you to cast your votes for each match-up:

1. Leave your picks in the comments section below this article (you can do so anonymously if you would like).

2. Leave your picks on our Facebook or Tumblr page.

3. Tweet us your picks @AllOutBlitz1

4. Email us your picks at benheck77@yahoo.com

5. Or you may even send us a text message at 443-988-8597.

So basically, any way your little heart desires. Our goal is to receive at least 10-12 votes per match-up, so tell your friends to vote as well! The more the merrier.

So without further ado, here are the first round matchups––including each player's seeding:

Note: Regions 1 and 2 are on the same side of the bracket, while Regions 3 and 4 are on the opposite side of the bracket. This simply means that the winners of Regions 1 and 2 will be facing off in the tournament's semifinals, and facing the winners of the Regions 3/4 semifinal.

Region 1

1 Jerry Rice (WR) vs. 16 Ladainian Tomlinson (RB)

Rice: By far the greatest wide receiver this game has ever seen. His numbers are incomparable to the rest of the wideouts both current and past. With 22,895 career yards, Rice is nearly 7,000 ahead of the second-place Terrell Owens. Going to 13 Pro Bowls and named to 10 First-Team All Pro squads over his 21 seasons, there's no doubt Rice's records will stand for years to come. Have I mentioned that the Hall of Famer has 208 total touchdowns and won three Super Bowls with the San Francisco 49ers.

Tomlinson: He's not the true "LT" (that title belongs to Lawrence Taylor), but he's certainly the flashiest running back of the 2000s and could be argued a top 10 running back of all-time. Thanks to his 13,684 rushing yards over 11 pro seasons, Tomlinson currently ranks 5th on the all-time rushing list. The 5-time Pro Bowler also broke Shaun Alexander's single-season touchdown record in 2006, with 28. That record still stands today.

8 Bob Lilly (DT) vs. 9 Bruce Smith (DE)

Lilly: The 6'5"/260 pound defensive tackle played all 14 of his seasons with the Dallas Cowboys in the '60s and '70s, striking fear in every opponent he faced. Battling through injuries and playing in 196 games, "Mr. Cowboy" was known as an aggressive pass-rusher up the middle for Dallas and was named to 11 Pro Bowls. Hall of Famer Lilly was the heart and soul of the Cowboys defense that defeated the Miami Dolphins to win Super Bowl VI.

Smith: If Lilly was "Mr. Cowboy," there's no doubt that Bruce was "Mr. Bill." The defensive end out of Virginia Tech was never the flashiest pass-rusher, but he sure was a dominating one. His all-time record of 200.0 quarterback sacks still stands today and the Hall of Famer spent 15 consistent seasons in Buffalo before finishing his career with the Washington Redskins. Though he never won a Super Bowl, his Bills were AFC's Super Bowl representatives for four straight seasons, and he earned 11 Pro Bowl selections as a Bill. What may be the most miraculous is that he played until he was 40 years old––at the defensive end position, no less.
5 Tom Brady (QB) vs. 12 Roger Staubach (QB)

Brady: Tom is one of three active players on this list of all-time greats––one of two active QBs. At the age of 35, Brady still appears to have plenty of gas left in his tank. His New England Patriots have won three Super Bowls, as well as gone to two additional Super Bowls and lost. His resume includes: 334 touchdown passes, nearly 45,000 yards, eight Pro Bowls, 37 game-winning drives, two MVP awards, two Super Bowl MVP awards and 17 postseason wins in his 13 seasons.

Staubach: Roger Staubach seems to be forgotten easily, but his accomplishments speak for themselves. Roger didn't officially enter the NFL until 1969 (age 27) after being drafted in both the AFL and NFL in 1964. He attended the Naval Academy, therefore he had military commitments to deal with prior to starting his professional playing days. When he finally did get under center for Dallas, though, Staubach ended up throwing for nearly 23,000 yards and 153 touchdowns, leading Dallas to two Super Bowl victories in the 1970s.

4 Anthony Munoz (OT) vs. 13 Ray Nitschke (MLB)

Munoz: One of just five offensive linemen to crack the field of 64, Munoz was a model of excellence for the Cincinnati Bengals. Anchoring Cincy's line from 1980-92, Munoz was elected 11 Pro Bowls in his 183 career starts. He was a model both on and off-the-field, winning the Bart Starr Man of the Year award in 1989 and the Walter Payton Man of the Year award in 1991. His impressive resume also includes being a 3-time winner of the Offensive Lineman of the Year award, being named to the NFL's 75th Anniversary team and the NFL's 1980 All-Decade team. Though his Bengals never won a Super Bowl, they did make two trips there in 1981 and 1988 (both losses came to San Francisco).

Nitschke: Though he was only voted to one Pro Bowl throughout his 15-year HOF career, Nitschke was the epitome of classic Green Bay Packers defense. Drafted by the Packers at the young age of 20, Ray played most of his career under legendary head coach Vince Lombardi. Throughout his career, Nitschke showed great skills against the pass, intercepting 25 passes and turning two of them into touchdowns. That doesn't take away from his success as a hard-hitter though, of course. His Packers won five NFL Championships and he was with the team when they won the first two Super Bowls as well.
6 Peyton Manning (QB) vs. 11 Rod Woodson (DB/KR/PR)

Manning: Ah, yes, the other active quarterback that cracked the tournament. Peyton hasn't had the most success throughout his postseason career (9-11 record), but that doesn't take away from his Super Bowl victory over Chicago while with the Colts. Not to mention he very well may be one of the best regular season quarterbacks out there. If we were to rank quarterbacks on brains and knowledge of the game, Manning would be the top signal caller by a longshot. He's basically his own offensive coordinator, which is rather impressive considering the complexity of defenses in today's game. His accomplishments speak for themselves as well: 12 Pro Bowls, four MVPs, 436 touchdowns, nearly 60,000 passing yards, 154-70 regular season record. He's also one of the funniest guys in the league right now.

Woodson: Rod has one of the benefits of being a key piece to one of the top five greatest defenses in league history (2000 Ravens) towards the tail-end of his career. But, we all know he will always be known primarily as a Pittsburgh Steelers cornerback. A dual threat as both CB and a return man during the prime of his career, Woodson has four career kick/punt return touchdowns. But most impressively may be his NFL record 12 interception touchdowns––still one ahead of Charles Woodson and Darren Sharper. Spending 10 seasons with Pittsburgh, one with San Francisco and four with Baltimore, Woodson has 71 career interceptions (third all-time) and 11 Pro Bowl appearances.

3 Dick Butkus (MLB) vs. 14 Forrest Gregg (OT)

Butkus: Dick is still known by some as the most intimidating defender––not just linebacker––that this league has ever witnessed. During his hey days, defenders literally close-lined opposing players. And Butkus was known to rip off a running backs head and eat it for dinner. Voted to the Pro Bowl in all but one of his nine professional seasons in Chicago, Butkus clearly had the respect of his peers and even intercepted 22 passes over 119 games.

Gregg: Like a lot of guys back then, Gregg played multiple positions, though he was primarily a tackle for the Green Bay Packers. The nine time Pro Bowl and Hall of Fame offensive lineman kept the backfield clean for quarterback Bart Starr and backs Jim Taylor and Paul Hornung in Lombardi's famous run-oriented offense. The game in the '50s and '60s was won in the trenches, and Gregg played a key part in Green Bay's offensive success. Following one season in Dallas to end his playing career, the 6-time NFL champ and 3-time Super Bowl champ became a coach.
7 John Elway (QB) vs. 10 Chuck Bednarik (LB/C)

Elway: For most of his career, Elway was known as a guy who could finish miraculous comebacks, but could never win the big one. From 1986-1989, Elway's Broncos made three Super Bowl appearances, but lost all three. The nine-time Pro Bowl signal caller was known for making plays with both his powerful arm and his shifty legs, accumulating 300 touchdowns through the air and 33 on the ground. He was a crafty gunslinger whose playing style finally paid off when he led his Denver squad to two consecutive Super Bowl championships in 1997 (over Green Bay) and 1998 (over Falcons), finishing his Hall of Fame career at the very top of the mountain.

Bednarik: Chuck wasn't one to give up at the end of a game. Known as the "60 minute man" in Philly, he even played on both sides of the ball. In his 14-year career with the Philadelphia Eagles, Bednarik played nine seasons as a hard-hitting middle linebacker. The other five seasons in Philly were spent at center. Perhaps the two-time NFL Champion is best known to younger fans because of a famous photograph of him standing over top of a flattened Frank Gifford. If you don't know which image we're talking about, then maybe you should re-consider your NFL knowledge and passion.

2 Walter Payton (RB) vs. 15 Mike Singletary (LB)

Payton: "Sweetness" is arguably the greatest running back of all-time. Though his all-time rushing record (16,726 rushing yards) was surpassed by Emmitt Smith, there's still no doubt that Payton is one of the smoothest rushers we've ever seen. There are two other guys (Brown, Sanders) in this debate, but you could argue that they weren't as smooth with their feet as Payton. Walter was as graceful as they come, and he was the guy to make the jump-over-the-pile-into-the-end-zone wildly popular for running backs. Not to mention he did it the best. Mention the name Walter Payton, and it's likely that even non-football fans––especially in Chicago––would recognize the name.

Singletary: If you're a younger fan, hopefully you don't only know who Mike Singletary is because of his days as the San Francisco 49ers head coach. Singletary played in Chicago the same time as Walter, but he played on the other side of the ball. This means, yes, he got to go up against Sweetness every day in practice. A huge role on the Monsters of the Midway defense for the Bears in 1985, still the best defense of all-time, Singletary was often seen literally barking at the opposition. He simply imposed fear and tore the heads off ball carriers. The 10-time Pro Bowler was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1998.
Region 2

1 Lawrence Taylor (OLB) vs. 16 John Mackey (TE)

Taylor: Despite what LT does with his personal time, he's certainly the best linebacker of all-time, arguably even overall defender. He talked the talk and walked the walk during his prime with the New York Giants in the 1980s. With seven seasons of double-digit sack totals (132.5 throughout his 13-year career), the 10-time Pro Bowler was a feared man on the field. Chasing down ball carriers from behind and knocking off quarterback's heads, Taylor surely wreaked havoc all over the football field. Perhaps he is best-remembered for ending Washington quarterback Joe Theismann's career after he suffered a broken leg. FYI: if you're the least bit squeamish, I don't advise looking up the footage of the LT/Theismann play on Youtube. It's ugly.

Mackey: John Mackey was around long before tight ends became known as viable passing threats. Primarily a blocker for the Baltimore Colts and San Diego Chargers during his 10-year career, the most receiving yards Mackey racked up in a single season is 814 with seven TD catches on 40 receptions. But, besides WR Raymond Berry, Unitas loved throwing to the 6'2"/224 pound Mackey. He was also involved in one of the most famous plays in the early Super Bowl games. Mackey caught a deflected Unitas pass in Super Bowl V and ran 75 yards untouched for a touchdown against the Cowboys. The play was a Super Bowl record longest receiving touchdown, until Carolina's Muhsin Muhammad came along and caught an 85-yard pass from Jake Delhomme in SB XXXVIII, of course.

8 Jim Parker (OT/G) vs. 9 Sid Luckman (QB)

Parker: Jim, who died just under two years ago in Columbia, MD, helped protect Johnny Unitas' blindside at the left tackle position from 1957-1961 before moving to guard. During his 11-year career, all spent with the Baltimore Colts, Parker made it to 10 All Pro teams and started 135 games. The two-time NFL Champion (1958 and 1959) was a premiere pass blocker throughout his illustrious, Hall of Fame career and was named to the 1950s All Decade team.

Luckman: Like most signal callers of his time, Luckman only completed just over half of his pass attempts during his 12-year career with the Chicago Bears. But Sid was also known as the best deep passer of his time, and led the league in both yards and touchdowns on three separate occasions. His average yards per pass total of 8.4 is second all-time to Otto Graham. Luckman still holds the record for most touchdown passes in a game (7), which is nearly unheard of in such a run-dominated league back then. Also his #42 jersey is retired by the Bears.
5 Emmitt Smith (RB) vs. 12 Eric Dickerson (RB)

Smith: It's tough putting the league's all-time leading rusher (18,355) at the No. 5 seed, but looking at his numbers being spread out over 15 seasons makes it a bit easier. His 1991-1995 seasons eats up a majority of his yardage (led league in rushing four of those five seasons) as the final five or six so seasons of his career appear to be just above average. But there's no doubt he's still a top 5 talent when it comes to all-time backs. Especially considering he was a touchdown machine, leading the league in rushing TDs three times and destroying his competition in career rushing TDs (164, 19 ahead of second-place Tomlinson). His yardage and touchdown totals put him in discussion for best-ever despite also having the most career attempts by far (4,409, 571 more than second-place Payton).

Dickerson: Dickerson is best-known for holding the single-season rushing yard record (2,105), which was just nine yards away from being broken by Adrian Peterson this season. He's also just one of seven running backs to break the 2,000 yard barrier. Besides that, Dickerson also broke 1,800 yards on two other occasions while suiting up for the LA Rams. Dickerson wasn't quite the same runner once he left LA for the Indianapolis Colts, but he still finished his Hall of Fame career with six Pro Bowls, 13,259 rushing yards and 90 career TDs. His yardage total puts him at No. 7 on the all-time list.

4 Otto Graham (QB) vs. 13 Mike Haynes (CB)

Graham: Otto, along with the aforementioned Sid Luckman, was one of the greatest passers of his time. Like stated before, he holds the record for most yards per pass with nearly 9.0, and was the Cleveland favorite during the 1950s. He won three NFL Championships during the decade, and led the league in passing yards during five of his 10 seasons––also led league in TDs during three of those seasons. All those accomplishments added to his nine All Pro selections and it was enough to get himself in the Hall of Fame and have his No. 14 jersey retired by the Browns.

Haynes: Mike spent his 14-year career between the New England Patriots and Los Angeles Raiders, spending seven at one place and seven at the other. Haynes first left his mark on the league when he was selected with the fifth overall pick in the 1976 draft by the Patriots and started 86 productive games with the club. In November of 1983, Haynes' contract was awarded to the LA Raiders in exchange for a 1984 draft choice and 1985 draft choice. He played the second half of his career as a Raider, tacking on 18 more interceptions over 72 games. When all was said and done, Haynes had been selected to nine Pro Bowls, was a Super Bowl Champion and had 46 career interceptions.
6 Ray Lewis (MLB) vs. 11 Tony Gonzalez (TE)

Lewis: We're all well aware that Lewis just retired a couple of months ago, following the second Super Bowl championship of his illustrious 17-year career. Five years from now, the 37-year old will be a first ballot Hall of Famer and in the discussion as a top five linebacker of all-time. Not only was Lewis the heart and soul of the 2000 Ravens defense, but he has also been an emotional leader on the field throughout his entire career. He's the only player in NFL history to record at least 40 sacks and 30 interceptions. He has recorded over 2,000 combined tackles (1,573 solo) and has been selected to 13 Pro Bowls. He seems to come up big in the biggest situations, and his Super Bowl XXXV MVP award should demonstrate that perfectly.

Gonzalez: Just a couple of days ago Tony G announced to the Atlanta Falcons that he would, in fact, return for his 17th season in 2013. This past season, in his fourth season as a member of the Falcons, Gonzalez 93 passes for 930 yards and 8 TDs...at the age of 36. Gonzalez has completely re-set the bar for receiving tight ends in the league and has paved the way for guys like Antonio Gates, Vernon Davis, Rob Gronkowski, among others. He's by far the best receiving tight end this league has ever known, and he even ranks up there with the wide receivers. While being selected to 13 Pro Bowls, like Lewis, Gonzalez is second all-time in receptions (1,242), seventh in yards (14,268) and 6th in touchdowns (103). He even finally got the chance to win his first playoff game this past postseason with Atlanta.

3 Joe Greene (DT) vs. 14 Earl Campbell (RB)

Greene: This could obviously be argued, but Greene was, in our opinion, the heart and soul of the Pittsburgh Steelers' Steel Curtain in the 1970s. Leading one of the most dominant defensive runs ever, Greene anchored a Steeler defensive line that feature himself, L.C. Greenwood, Ernie Holmes and Dwight White. The 10-time Pro Bowler and Hall of Fame D-tackle could shed two or three blockers at once and still get to the quarterback or running back. He wasn't referred to as "Mean Joe" for nothing. Named to the Pittsburgh all-time team, the towering 6'4" Greene helped Pittsburgh win four Super Bowls in the 1970s.

Campbell: One of Campbell's most famous runs is of him decking/headbutting the Rams' Isiah Robertson. It didn't go for a touchdown, but the Houston Oilers' back made runs like that rather often, using his power to outmuscle opposing defenses. But that's not all he accomplished throughout his eight-year NFL career. The No. 1 overall pick by the Houston Oilers in the 1978 NFL draft, Campbell won Offensive Rookie of the Year and then the AP MVP award the following year after leading the league in rushing yards (1,697) and TDs (19). He broke 1,300 yards and 10+ TDs in each of his first four seasons, making the Pro Bowl each time. Unfortunately, past his first four seasons he had just one more productive season before retiring with 9,407 rushing yards, 74 TDs and five Pro Bowls.
7 Dick "Night Train" Lane (CB) vs. 10 Gino Marchetti (DE)

Lane: Dick, nicknamed "Night Train" Lane, went undrafted in 1952 but ended up spending 14 seasons in the league with the Los Angeles Rams, Chicago Cardinals and Detroit Lions. At the time of his retirement in 1965, at the age of 38, Lane was the league's all-time leader in interceptions, with 68. He now ranks No. 4 on the list, but the seven-time Pro Bowl cornerback returned five of those for TDs. He does still, however, hold the record for most interceptions in a single-season (14) which he accomplished as a 25-year old rookie.

Marchetti: He didn't quite break out as soon as he entered the league, but by the time of his third season, with the Baltimore Colts, Marchetti was selected to his first of many Pro Bowls at the defensive end position. One of 11, to be exact. He played offensive tackle for Baltimore briefly, before returning to D-end. Many fellow players of his era called him the best all-around football in the game, and he wasn't afraid to play through injuries. A true warrior for 11 straight seasons from 1954-1964, a time in which he was selected to all 11 of his Pro Bowls and nine All Pro selections. He even won two NFL Championships in '58 and '59 while a Colt.

2 Reggie White (DE) vs. 15 Mike Ditka (TE)

White: The Reggie White story is a sad one, as his life was cut short and he passed away at the age of 43 in 2004, just four short years after his career with Philadelphia, Green Bay and Carolina had ended. White, known as the "Minister of Defense," a reference to his faith and domination on the football field, was said to be one of the most gentle people off the field. But, on the field, White destroyed opposing offensive tackles coming off the edge, sacking 198.0 quarterbacks throughout his 15-year career. He is just two sacks shy of Bruce Smith for most all-time.

Ditka: As I mentioned before, Tony Gonzalez paved the way for receiving tight ends today...but Mike Ditka paved the way for Gonzalez. Perhaps Ditka is best-known widely for his work as the head coach of the best defense of all-time––the Chicago Bears. But before he became head coach Ditka was catching passes coming off the line for the Chicago Bears, Philadelphia Eagles and Dallas Cowboys. Ditka was as hard-headed as they come, but that didn't take away from his production on the field. In 12 seasons, Ditka caught 427 passes for 5,812 yards and 43 TDs. Unheard of for a TE of the time.
Region 3

1 Jim Brown (RB/FB) vs. 16 Jack Ham (OLB)

Brown: The bruising 6'2"/232 pound fullback was unstoppable, especially when you consider most defensive ends and tackles were about Jim's size back in his day. There were no 260-270 pound defensive ends to put him in his place. This led to an unstoppable force in what we call today "Jim Brown." He played just nine seasons with the Cleveland Browns, but he was selected to a Pro Bowl each of those seasons and broke 1,000 yards in all but two of those seasons, for a grand total of 12,323 yards and 106 TDs in a career that lasted less than a decade. His 5.2 yards per carry is eye-popping. It's clear that Jim Brown was football in the 1950s and '60s. The only season of his career that he did not lead the league in rushing yardage was when he ran for 996 and 13 TDs in 1962. The three-time MVP won a championship in 1964 and his nine-year reign will forever go down as one of the most dominating runs this league has seen.

Ham: Jack Ham was the perfect fit for the Pittsburgh Steelers, playing along the outside while Jack Lambert anchors the middle of the defense. Sure, it may have helped the eight-time Pro Bowler to play around so many Hall of Famers on the Steelers' Steel Curtain in the '70s, but Ham did his part as well. He was a great pass defender and even intercepted 32 passes over his 12-year career. His four Super Bowl championship rings probably look great on his mantle. A little-known fact is that Ham holds the record for most forced turnovers by a linebacker with 53, and his No. 59 jersey is retired by Pittsburgh.

8 Gale Sayers (RB/KR/PR) vs. 9 Steve Young (QB)

Sayers: It's crazy to think that Sayers played just seven years in the league, yet he's in the Hall of Fame and is considered one of the best to do it. With his career cut short due to injury, Sayers was forced to walk away before the age of 30 and he's still the youngest HOF selection in league history (he was 34 at the time of election). The shifty back ran for just 4,956 yards, but led the league in rushing twice and was a very effective return specialist. Sayers has a career eight return touchdowns––6 kick, 2 punt. The four-time Pro Bowler still holds the record for most touchdowns in a rookie season, with 22 in 1965 (14 rushing, 6 receiving, 1 punt, 1 kick). Talk about a quadruple threat––rushing, receiving, punt return, kick return. One of the most elusive and durable players in league history?

Young: The left-handed signal caller for the San Francisco 49ers had the unfortunate duty of backing up legendary Joe Montana for a couple seasons. Luckily he finally got his chance to shine as the starter after two subpar seasons in Tampa Bay and four seasons behind Montana. His first season as the starter was unsuccessful (5-5 as starter), but in 1992 a legend was born. Young went on a roll and became one of the league's best dual-threat quarterbacks, using both his powerful arm and leg strength to make plays with the ball. Throughout the rest of his career, Young made it to seven Pro Bowls and posted an 8-6 postseason record, including his own Super Bowl ring. He still holds the record for most TD passes in a single Super Bowl (6) in a dominating 49-26 win over the San Diego Chargers in '94.
5 Brett Favre (QB) vs. 12 Mel Blount (CB)

Favre: No. 4 is the true definition of a gunslinger. In fact, I think he may have even copyrighted the term? Well okay, no not really. But not only does Favre hold the record for most career passing touchdowns (508), but he also holds the record for interceptions (336), yards (71,838), attempts (10,169), completions (6,300) and times sacked (525). Now, if that isn't the definition of a sure-fire gunslinger, then I don't know what is. His career postseason record is 13-11 in 24 starts, including a Super Bowl championship in 1996, and the 11-time Pro Bowler, whether they like to admit it or not, is still loved by Packer nation.

Blount: Ever wonder what forced league officials to implement a pass interference rule? Well Mel Blount likely had something to do with this. The very aggressive and oversized 6'3" Blount, another member of the Steelers 1970s defense, manhandled opposing receivers and was an early version of a shutdown corner. There's no doubt receivers disliked lining up against him, and Blount's 57 career interceptions indicates that the five-time Pro Bowler made a huge impact on defense.

4 Deacon Jones (DE) vs. 13 Terry Bradshaw (QB)

Jones: Deacon spent a majority of his 13-year career with the Los Angeles Rams, where the defensive end was known for his famous "head slap" of opposing offensive linemen. The move, later outlawed by the league, was unstoppable. Jones would simply use his large frame and long arms to slap the side of the tackle's head, which proved to make it near-impossible for Jones to be blocked. This led to utter domination and five All Pro teams while striking fear in quarterbacks and running backs, not just the lineman attempting to contain the beast.

Bradshaw: Say what you want about Pittsburgh's defense and the Hall of Famers the gunslinging Bradshaw had around him on the offensive side of the ball (Franco Harris, Lynn Swann, John Stallworth, Mike Webster, etc.). Though his numbers appear to be subpar, Bradshaw was the orchestrator of the offense and certainly played his part in the four Super Bowl championships. The quarterback put up an astounding 107-51 record during the regular season and, in 19 postseason starts, went 14-5.
6 Dan Marino (QB) vs. 11 Lance Alworth (WR)

Marino: Certainly the best quarterback to never win a Super Bowl during his 17-year career with the Miami Dolphins. A pure pocket passer, Marino could make plays with his legs if he absolutely had to. The nine-time Pro Bowler put up a 147-93 regular season record and led the league in passing five different times. Before Peyton Manning, Tom Brady and Drew Brees came along, Dan Jr. held the single-season TD record (48) and passing yards record (5,084), which were both set during the 1984 season. It was also that season that Marino's Phins made it to the Super Bowl, only to fall to Montana's Niners, 38-16.

Alworth: In 11 seasons, nine of which were spent with the San Diego Chargers, Alworth led the league in receiving three times. Catching passes from quarterback John Hadl, Alworth finished his Charger career with 9,584 receiving yards and 81 TDs. His yardage is still a franchise record, but he was recently surpassed in TDs by current tight end Antonio Gates (83 during his career). Alworth's No. 19 jersey is retired by San Diego and he still holds the record for most 200-yard games (5).

3 Don Hutson (WR) vs. 14 Marshall Faulk (RB)

Hutson: Playing for the Packers in the '30s and '40, Hutson played multiple positions but was perhaps most effective at wideout. In his 11 seasons, Hutson caught passes and picked off passes as well. He is considered one of the first modern receivers in the NFL and even created some pass routes from today. At wideout, he led the league in receptions eight different times, yards seven different times and nine different times. When his career was finished, he caught 488 passes for 7,991 yards and 99 TDs, picked off 30 passes. He even did some kicking, making seven of his 17 field goal attempts and 94% of his 183 PAT attempts. True all-around star.

Faulk: Tough to compare these two––clearly two completely different eras, just like a lot of these first round match-ups. But at least Faulk is also a dual-threat. Faulk, a member of the St. Louis Rams' Greatest Show on Turf when they won the Super Bowl in 1999, caught 767 balls for nearly 7,000 yards in addition to his 12,000+ career rushing yards. The elusive Faulk was a threat every time he touched the ball, which is why the passing attack of Kurt Warner's was so effective, with Isaac Bruce and Torry Holt running routes. But the fact that Faulk was so effective through the air made him that much scarier as a guy coming out of the backfield. He was a TD machine, putting the ball in the end zone 100 times on the ground and 36 more times through the air.
7 Deion Sanders (CB/KR/PR) vs. 10 Jim Thorpe (TB/FB)

Sanders: Not only was Sanders an excellent, shutdown corner and a devastating return man, but he also brought swagger to the National Football League. He changed the entertainment side to the NFL, and may have even brought in a whole new viewership with him when the Atlanta Falcons drafted him in the 1989 draft. Playing 13 seasons with four different teams, Sanders made an impact wherever he went. He was unlike a lot of other corners. He could defend the pass and the run on the outside, and wasn't afraid to get down and dirty. Not to mention he was a threat to score every time he got his hands on the football. He turned nine of his 53 career interceptions into touchdowns, as well as six punts and three kicks. Did I mention he also played baseball and is the only player to play in both a Super Bowl and a World Series game? Yeah, that too.

Thorpe: I have a feeling not too many people have heard of Jim Thorpe. But, believe it or not, Thorpe, an Olympic athlete, was one of the people responsible for the up-and-coming of early football in the 1920s. Voted the greatest athlete of the twentieth century––beating out the likes of Babe Ruth, Wayne Gretzky, Muhammad Ali, Michael Jordan, Jack Nicklaus among others––Thorpe thrived at basically every sport he tried. He played for the Canton Bulldogs, which was in the Ohio League, the league that came just before the National Football League.

2 Johnny Unitas (QB) vs. 15 Gene Upshaw (OL)

Unitas: Johnny U is another player that you can't really look at the stat sheet and expect to pull results from it. I, unfortunately, never got to actually see him play, but his former teammates say he was one of the best leaders they've been around. He's been voted by numerous polls as the one quarterback that would be best to have for one game-winning drive, beating out the likes of Montana in the process. In a game completely different than today's game, Unitas was one of the most effective passers the league had seen, and he led the Colts to two NFL championships in addition to a Super Bowl V victory. Unitas stuck around until he was 40 years old and was selected to 10 career Pro Bowls.

Upshaw: Oakland's 17th overall pick in 1967, Upshaw anchored the lef side of the Raider offensive line for 15 seasons. The two-time Super Bowl champion and seven-time All Pro led the way for Raider backs and helped protect Kenny "The Snake" Stabler for well over a decade. Upshaw passed away at the age of 63 in 2008, but not before starting 207 games for Oakland at guard and serving a long tenure with the NFLPA after retirement from the game.
Region 4

1 Joe Montana (QB) vs. 16 Randy White (DT)

Montana: Tough to argue one of the winningest signal callers in league history, and possibly the best pure pocket passer. His numbers are there, especially in terms of postseason and Super Bowl wins, and he had total control of Bill Walsh's West Coast Offense. It didn't hurt that he had Jerry Rice and John Taylor to throw passes to, but there's no doubting the long list of accomplishments that "Joe Cool" has in his back pocket. Four Super Bowl victories, including 3 SB MVPs, eight Pro Bowls, two AP MVP awards, 16 postseason wins and a career 95.6 QB rating in the postseason.

White: Randy White, Ed "Too Tall" Jones and Harvey Martin made quite a team for the Dallas Cowboys front line in the 1970s and '80s. Nicknamed the Doomsday Defense, White led the way with his strength up the middle while Jones and Martin attack from the outside. It was the perfect trio, and it was all made possible by White. During the back end of his 14-year career plugging up the middle for Dallas, White raked in 52.0 sacks (from 1982-88, when sacks became an official stat). Unofficially, Martin had 114 sacks (team record) while Jones accumulated 106. But White's 111 sacks and over 1,100 career tackles looks much more impressive considering he accomplished this primarily from the defensive tackle position.

8 Merlin Olsen (DT) vs. 9 Alan Page (DT)

Olsen: If you wanna talk about domination on the front line, how about Merlin Olsen of the Los Angeles Rams? He anchored the defense up front for 15 seasons, and was good enough to be selected to a Pro Bowl in 14 of those years (all but his final season). Coming into the league at age 22, out of Utah State, Olsen made an immediate impact for the Rams, winning the Rookie of the Year award that season. He never missed a game, and ended up playing in 208 of them. Talk about being durable, at 6'5"/270 pounds, Olsen had no trouble shoving opposing linemen around to get to the ball carrier. His No. 74 jersey is retired and, upon retirement from the game, Olsen even made a splash as an NFL commentator and actor.

Page: As you can probably tell by now, the league has never been short of dominating figures on the defensive line. This 6'4" D-tackle played 12 of his 16 professional seasons with the Minnesota Vikings, where he played alongside Gary Larsen and Jim Marshall. Among the three of them, Page attracted the most attention, yet was also the most effective. Page was inducted into the Hall in 1988 and, since retirement, has gotten himself into politics in the Minnesota area.
5 Jack Lambert (MLB) vs. 12 Marcus Allen (RB)

Lambert: The final member of the 1970s Steelers squad on this bracket, Lambert is by far the best one of them all. A top 5 linebacker of all-time, Lambert was best-known for his ferocity and aggressiveness. There are famous photographs of Lambert showing that, like a lot of hockey players, Lambert was often missing some of his front teeth. If that doesn't strike fear in an opponent on a football field, I'm not sure what else would. In his 11 seasons as a Steeler, Lambert racked up nearly 1,500 total tackles, 23.5 sacks and 28 interceptions. He was an all-around impressive linebacker who was also the emotional leader of the Steel Curtain defense in the '70s.

Allen: Coming out of USC, Allen had the potential to end his NFL career as the best running back of all-time. Sadly, thanks to a feud with Raiders owner Al Davis, Allen didn't not wind up being a top 5 running back. But, his stats are still nothing to wave a stick about, as he racked up over 12,000 yards and 123 TDs on the ground despite Davis spending years trying to find a replacement for Allen. Had he been given the sole starting spot at running back, like he deserved, he would likely still be the all-time leading rusher, not Smith, Payton or Sanders. Allen's career is a lot of what ifs, yet he's still a very underrated runner, in our opinion.

4 Sammy Baugh (QB) vs. 13 Red Grange (RB/FB)

Baugh: Sammy Baugh spent 16 seasons as Washington's quarterback, dominating the passing game in the process. The nine-time All Pro is a member of the Redskins' Ring of Honor, on the list of 70 Best Redskins and his #33 jersey is retired. As a passer, Baugh threw for close to 22,000 yards and 187 touchdowns during a time that was, again, basically an all-running league. He led the league in yards four times and was considered one of the most accurate passers at the time, completing 56.5% of his career passes and leading the league in efficiency nine times.

Grange: Another Thorpe-like figure, Red Grange was one of the first top runners. Playing for the Chicago Bears and New York Yankees in the mid-20s, early '30s, Grange led the way for early professional football and was a college football icon. Many fields have been named after Grange and statues of him have been introduced at high schools and college all over the country.
6 Bronko Nagurski (FB) vs. 11 O.J. Simpson (RB)

Nagurski: Grange's fellow teammate with the Chicago Bears, Nagurski was a bruising fullback for the Bears from 1930-43. He spent his time on the field knocking out opposing defenses and ran for 2,778 yards and 25 TDs in 75 starts over his nine-year NFL career in Chicago. Teamed with Grange, I think it's safe to say the Bears had a bruising backfield with the 6'2" Bronko leading the way.

Simpson: Lets put his personal life aside for a minute and look at O.J. the football player. Coming out of USC just before Marcus Allen arrived, Simpson didn't quite make an immediate impact with the Bills, but he finally broke out during his fourth season as Buffalo's starter. The following year, by far his best season, Simpson broke the 2,000 yard barrier and added 12 scores. Simpson capped his career with three more 1,000 yard seasons over his final six years before the six-time Pro Bowler finished with two subpar seasons in San Francisco. His career numbers total 11,236 yards and 61 TDs.

3 Ronnie Lott (S) vs. 14 Willie Lanier (LB)

Lott: A Niner for a majority of his 14-year career, Lott was known around the league as one of the hardest hitting defensive backs in league history. The 10-time Pro Bowler won four Super Bowls while suiting up for the Niners from 1981-1990, and recorded over 1,100 combined tackles, 63 interceptions and 16 forced fumbles. He wreaked havoc all over the football field and wasn't afraid to get a little physical. The best free safety the NFL has ever seen play the game.

Lanier: The eight-time All Pro, alongside teammate Bobby Bell, was a large reason why Hank Stram's Kansas City Chiefs won Super Bowl IV in 1969. The NFL Man of the Year winner in 1972, Lanier's career was one of the most consistent in Kansas City Chiefs history, picking off 27 passes from the middle linebacking position. He even made history by becoming the AFL's first african american middle linebacker when he started his career at age 22 in 1967.
7 John Hannah (G) vs. 10 Raymond Berry (WR)

Hannah: New England Patriots offensive guard John Hannah was arguably the best offensive lineman in history, playing 13 consistent seasons with New England. Hannah was the epitome of hard work and consistency for the New England offense, helping them get to the Super Bowl in his final season in the league (1985). That season he even was named to his ninth Pro Bowl and seventh All Pro team, as he went out on top despite losing the Super Bowl to the Chicago Bears 46-10.

Berry: By far Unitas' favorite target for the Baltimore Colts, Berry enjoyed 13 successful seasons as the Colts' top target. The six-time All Pro and two-time NFL Champion caught 631 passes for 9,275 yards and 68 touchdowns at split end, enjoying his best season in 1960 with 74 catches, 1,298 yards and 10 TDs. He broke 1,000 just once over his career, but caught 9, 10 and 14 TDs in consecutive seasons for the Unitas-led Colts.

2 Barry Sanders (RB) vs. 15 Bart Starr (QB)

Sanders: In our humble opinion, we'd say Sanders is the greatest running back of all-time. Though historians would likely argue against that statement and say it's Payton and stat geeks would say it's Emmitt Smith (solely based on his all-time yards and TD numbers). But, looking at the bigger picture: Is there really anyone who can compare? Barry has the best highlight reel-worthy runs, played behind one of the worst offensive lines in the league at the time, meaning he had little talent around him. Not to mention he's likely run for the most negative yardage in NFL history, but still managed 15,000+ yards for his career. You add together that he played just 10 seasons and walked away from the game completely healthy, and you have the recipe for greatest production ever, right? Sanders made the Pro Bowl all 10 of his seasons and ran for under 1,300 yards just once. With a YPC average of 5.0 for his career, you give him two or three more seasons and he probably could have come close to 20,000 yards...which shatters Smith's record. Rant over.

Starr: Sorry for the incredibly long rant above, we just feel strongly about Sanders being the best running back we've ever seen. But don't let that take away from what Starr did in Green Bay. Under the legendary Lombardi, the Packers ran the Power I quite often, giving Starr the role of "game manager" while under center. However, the four-time Pro Bowler did consistently produce for the Packers over a very long 16-year career, and didn't hang up his cleats until he was 37 years old. He doesn't quite get the credit he deserves for the Packers' two victories in Super Bowl I and II, though he did manage to win MVP both games. He also led Green Bay to five NFL championships.
Just missed: Michael Irvin, Fran Tarkenton, Sam Huff, Randy Moss, Kellen Winslow Sr., Willie Brown, Mike Webster, Bobby Bell, Herb Adderley, Ozzie Newsome, Jim Otto, Darrell Green, Tony Dorsett, Troy Aikman, Art Shell, Steve Van Buren, Bruce Matthews.

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