NFL Teams have sixteen weeks to prove their worth, but it's usually those special players that provided their teams with that extra burst of excellence that allow them to continue their journey into the post-season in hopes of claiming the Lombardi Trophy. Some of the greatest players in the league's history are still going strong; others are establishing legacies and rising up the ranks. Here is every NFL team's greatest player of all time.
The National Football League is home to some of the greatest athletes in modern sports history. The combinations of agility, strength, and athletic IQ is almost incomparable to any other professional sport out there. An offensive lineman's leading foot placement off the snap of the ball is just as important as a quarterback's vision or a wide receiver's ability to put their hands in the perfect position for a reception.
Since the NFL's beginning in August 1920, the organization has birthed iconic personalities and names that have been immortalized within the Football of Fame. From Barry Sanders to Jerry Rice to Lawernce Taylor to modern-day football deities such as Tom Brady, the fall and winter months are where legends are born in the NFL. Do you agree with our picks?
We're kicking off this list with a player that just so happens to still be on their respective team's active roster. Larry Fitzgerald has spent his entire sixteen-year career with the Cardinals and excelled despite not having a stable quarterback throughout the majority of his career. His wide receiver skills are amongst the greatest the NFL has ever witnessed. His route running ability is elite despite not having the speed that he once had as an NFL newcomer.
Following his reign at the University of Pittsburgh, Larry Fitzgerald was selected 3rd overall in the 2004 NFL Draft by the Arizona Cardinals, where he's played his entire career. Throughout his lengthy career, the now 36-year-old wideout has been selected to the Pro Bowl a total of eleven times thus far and currently holds second place rights for both all-time receptions and receiving yards behind only, Jerry Rice. When it is all said and done for Fitzgerald, he'll find his way to the Hall of Fame once eligible.
The Atlanta Falcons have been home to some great NFL athletes including Jessie Tuggle, Michael Vick, Steve Barkowski, Deion Sanders and modern names including Julio Jones and Matt Ryan. However, many were not able to stand the test of time like Hall of Fame, defensive end Claude Humphrey. A monster off the edge, Humphrey forced offensive coordinators and o-linemen to adjust their gameplan to contain him. However, not even a perfect gameplan could keep Claude from reaching the quarterback in meer seconds.
After finishing his collegiate stint at Tennessee State University, Humphrey was selected third overall in the 1968 NFL Draft by the Atlanta Falcons where he would play nine seasons out of his fourteen-year NFL career before heading to the Philadelphia Eagles in 1979. All six of his Pro Bowl nominations came as a member of the Falcons and he is credited for an official total of 122 sacks. Humphrey played during an era where sacks were not recorded, but by the time he was finished playing, the statisticians had to with his insane career performances.
There are a lot of words to describe Ray Lewis, but if we had to narrow it down to just one it would be intensity. His presence on the football field can felt from anywhere, even when sitting home on the couch. His knowledge of the game and willingness to do whatever he had to succeed from the middle linebacker position is why he is considered the greatest Baltimore Raven to ever lace up a pair of cleats.
After earning All-America honors while playing his college ball at the University of Miami, Ray Lewis declared himself to the 1996 NFL Draft where he was drafted 26th overall in the first round by the Baltimore Ravens. Lewis would go on to play all seventeen years of his football career with the Ravens snatching accolades like Defensive Player of the Year twice (2000, 2003), being selected for the Pro Bowl thirteen times, and gaining an All-Pro First Team roster spot a total of seven times. Lewis' work also gained him two Super Bowl champions and Super Bowl MVP for his efforts in Super Bowl XXXV. He's the second linebacker ever to win Super Bowl MVP and first to earn the honor on a winning team.
O.J. Simpson is probably the most famous Buffalo Bill player, but for all of the wrong reasons. However, the title for the New York-based franchise's greatest athlete goes to none other than former defensive end, Bruce Smith. If you haven't seen Bruce Smith play, let's just say that he'd be getting a lot of flags in today's NFL. Smith's 6'4, 280lbs frame was relentless when it came to hunting down quarterbacks and thrusting his entire body into theirs with no remorse.
Following his final season at Virginia Tech University where he became known as 'The Sack Man' he took his talents to the big leagues where he was drafted first overall in the 1985 NFL Draft by the Buffalo Bills. Smith played his most prominent years with the Buffalo Bills for an insane fifteen seasons before taking his talents to the Washington Redskins in 2000 where he would play four seasons before retiring in 2003. Smith was an important piece to the Bills' four consecutive Super Bowl appearances from 1990-1993 and currently holds the NFL record for career sacks with 200. The 11x Pro Bowler was inducted into the Football Hall of Fame in 2009.
On Steve Smith's first play as a professional football player, he returned a 93-yard kickoff for a touchdown against the Minnesota Vikings in 2001. Every time Smith touched the field, he wanted to prove to his adversaries that he was the best player on the field. He wasn't afraid to express this vocally or with his play. His speed in combination with his ability to break through a tackle while remaining on his feet made him one of the most dangerous wide receivers of the 2000s and 2010s.
Hailing from Los Angeles, CA, Smith attended his collegiate years at the University of Utah before he was selected 74th overall in the third round of the 2001 NFL Draft by the Carolina Panthers. Out of his sixteen-season NFL career, Smith spent most of it with the Panthers before playing his final three seasons with the Baltimore Ravens and retiring in 2016. To this very day, Smith leads the Panthers in all-time touchdowns (67), receptions (836), and receiving yards (12,197). Until another player can even begin to reach these accomplishments, they can't be considered Carolina's best.
The Chicago Bears have one hell of an all-time team. Dick Butkus at linebacker alongside Brian Urlacher and Mike Singletary, Richard Dent at defensive end, Mike Ditka at tight end, and Devin Hester at wide receiver... Some scary stuff, but the Chicago Bears ultimate weapon of all-time has come in the form of running back Walter Payton. His ability to change direction and put his body on the line near the goal line is unmatched. There is no denying that Walter Payton can be considered the best running back off all-time.
After originally committing to Kansas State University, Payton took his talents to the historically black college his older brother attended, Jackson State University. After having four successful seasons at the Mississippi-based institution, he was drafted 4th overall in the 1975 NFL Draft by the Chicago Bears where he would play his entire thirteen-season NFL career (1975-1987). Payton would go on to hold second place in career rushing yards with a total of 16,726 and ranked fourth in career rushing touchdowns at 110. One Super Bowl ring (Super Bowl XX), nine Pro Bowl invites, and seven All-Pro First Team roster spots weren't to shabby from the kid from Columbia, Mississippi. Unfortunately, we lost Walter Payton at the tender age of just 45-years-old after he lost his battle with cholangiocarcinoma. Sweetness will be forever missed, long live, Walter Payton.
The offensive linemen got to get some love on our greatest player from each franchise list. Sorry, Chad 'OchoCinco' Johnson the honor of being the Cincinnati Bengals greatest player of all-time belongs to offensive tackle, Anthony Munoz. Munoz is not only the greatest Bengal to date, but he's also arguably the greatest offensive lineman of all-time. His poise, ability to move laterally on his toes and remain balanced is something that just can't be taught.
Munoz was not only a bulldozer on the football field while attending the University of Southern California, he also had a nice arm pitching for USC's national championship team in 1978. Obviously, Munoz elected to play football professionally and was selected 3rd overall in the 1980 NFL Draft by the Cincinnati Bengals where he would play the majority of his NFL career. In 185 starts, Munoz would go on to start 182 times. Only Jerry Rice has more First-Team All-Pro honors them he has (9) and Munoz was a crucial contributor to both Bengal Super Bowl runs in Super Bowl XVI and XXIII.
Historically, the Cleveland Browns have not had alot of success in attempting to get back to championship form, but the Ohio-based football franchise has had several notable individuals represent their franchise to best of their abilities. Yet, none of them can ever be as impactful as former running back, Jim Brown. In just nine seasons of play (1957-65), Brown revolutionized the game and was nearly impossible to bring down during his era in the NFL. Defenders would bounce off of him like pinballs as Brown would continue to drive his legs towards his endzone.
Not only was Brown an All-America football athlete at Syracuse University, he also excelled at basketball, lacrosse, and track & field. However, Jim Brown took his talents to the NFL where he was drafted 6th overall by the Cleveland Browns in the 1957 NFL Draft. The 9x Pro Bowler earned an NFL Championship with the Browns in 1964 and went on to lead the league in rushing eight times out of the nine years he played. With 106 rushing touchdowns and 12,312 rushing yards under his belt, Brown is still amongst the all-time leading running backs to this very day.
Defensive tackle, Bob Lilly is in the running for the greatest Dallas Cowboy of all-time after not missing a single game in his fourteen-year NFL career with the Cowboys and for his efforts in helping the Cowboys solidify their first-ever Super Bowl victory. However, his accolades and overall impact on football culture isn't as strong as running back Emmitt Smith's. Smith is the influence of every NFL running back today, his field awareness and cut-back ability allowed him to become the Hall of Fame NFL athlete he is today.
After having a legendary three-year run at the presitigous football school in the University of Florida, Smith was drafted 17th overall in the 1990 NFL Draft by the Dallas Cowboys where he would thirteen years out his fifteen year NFL career. Within those fifteen years Smith would go on to snag the all-time leading rushing yards record (18,355), rushing attempts record (4,409), and rushing touchdown record (164). The 8x Pro Bowler would stack up a total of three Super Bowl victories with the Cowboys and earn Super Bowl MVP honors for his performance in Super Bowl XXVIII. To this day, we haven't seen a running back have as much success during the Super Bowl era of football since Emmitt Smith.
Prior to his arrival in Denver, the Broncos were one of the historically bad teams in the AFC West division. It didn't take long before his prowess to rise to prominence took over and he became one of the greatest quarterbacks to play the game. John Elway's evasiveness and willingness to make a daring throw is partially the reason for his success. While names like Terrell Davis were huge contributors to the Broncos success, the Broncos might not have been as successful without John Elway leading the way.
After having an All-American collegiate career at the University of Standford, Elway was drafted 1st overall in the 1983 NFL Draft by the Baltimore Colts. Controversary surrounding Elway's unwillingness to play in Baltimore led him to be traded by the Denver Broncos where he would play all sixteen seasons of his NFL career. In those sixteen years, Elway would throw a total of 51,475 yards with a passer rating of 79.9 while leading the Denver Broncos to back-to-back Super Bowl victories in Super Bowls XXXII and XXXIII. Elway has notched one NFL Most Valuable Player Award in 1987 and nin Pro Bowl invitations.
While the Detroit Lions aren't considered a top tier NFL franchise they have had some of the greatest NFL talent put on their jersey every Sunday and pull off some amazing feats. The most amazing Detroit Lions athlete ever to grace the football field has to be one, Barry Sanders. Standing at just 5'8, Sanders is one of the most elusive and creative running backs to ever play the game. If he was able to get to outside of the field, he was nearly impossible to catch. Breakaway speed and excellent field vision allowed him to become the Hall of Famer he is today.
During his tenure as a member of the Oklahoma State Cowboys he won the 1988 Heisman Trophy in his junior year racking up 2,850 yards and 42 touchdowns. His collegiate performance at Oklahoma State led him tobeing picked 3rd overall in the 1989 NFL Draft by the Detriot Lions where he would play all ten seasons of his NFL career (1989-1998). Sanders went on to be invited to the Pro Bowl every season he played (10x) and was named NFL MVP in 1997. Sanders currently holds the third place rushing yards record with 15,269 and is ranked tenth in rushing touchdowns with 99. Though he's had a Hall of Fame career, Barry Sanders is regarded as the best player ever to not have played in a Super Bowl.
In recent years, the Green Bay Packers have been home to two of the greatest quarterbacks of the modern era in Brett Farve and Aaron Rodgers. The Packers also have a slew of Hall of Fame talent hailing from the Vince Lombardi era of their historic past. However, we're giving the Packers crown to eldest athlete on the list thus far to wide receiver, Don Hutson. It's understandable why some might argue that Don Hutson isn't the Packers greatest player to date due to the level athleticism displayed in the 1930s and '40s, but Hutson was one of football's first deep threats in existence.
After winning the national championship as a member of the Alabama Crimson Tide in 1934, Hutson took his talents to Green Bay where he would play all eleven seasons of his NFL career (1935-45). Throughout that decade, Hutson would lead the league in receptions a total of eight times, as well as touchdowns a total of nine times, and receiving yards a total of seven times. Hutson took home two NFL MVP Awards (1941, 1942) and helped the Packers win three NFL Championships (1936, 1939, 1944). Hutson even led the league in interceptions one year in 1940. Honestly, there was nothing he couldn't do on the football. Hutson passed away in 1997, but his legacy lives on to this day.
The Houston Texans have only existed for twenty years, so with a young franchise, we have young talent to crown as their greatest athlete to date. While Andre Johnson did play the majority of his fourteen-year career with the Texans and become a 7x Pro Bowler, defensive end, Justin James Watt is taking the title for the Houston Texans. In a where lprotecting offensive players has become a focal point, J. J. Watt still strikes fear into quarterbacks and running backs alike. His agility and brute force terrorizes offensive linemen night in and night out when he's on the field.
After just two seasons of collegiate football at the University of Wisconsin, Watt was prepared to begin his NFL career. The 6'5, 290lbs defensive lineman was selected 11th overall by the Houston Texans in the 2011 NFL Draft and has been a member of the organization ever since. In just nine seasons with the team, Watt is responsible for 468 tackles and 95 sacks. With the season currently in play those numbers are only going to increase for the 5x Pro Bowler and 3x NFL Defensive Player of the Year. The sky is the limit for J. J. Watt as of now, all he has to do is remain healthy and the Hall of Fame will be calling his name.
While Johnny Unitas is worthy of praise for his record-setting quarterback performances, three NFL Most Valuable Player honors, and being just all around bad a**, we still have to give Peyton Manning the throne for the greatest Colt of all-time. Honestly, there is no better predecessor for Peyton Manning to have than 'The Golden Arm' Johnny Unitas himself. Watching Peyton Manning play there's just a fearlessness about him. Maybe because he was extremely calculated and prepared at all times or maybe the football gods were just on his side throughout his Hall of Fame career.
After breaking the SEC record for career wins at the University of Tennesse, the first son of Archie Manning was drafted 1st overall by the Indianapolis Colts where he would play fourteen seasons of his eighteen year career. Throughout his illustrious career, Manning has led the league in passing touchdowns four times, passing yards three times, and passer rating three times. Not to mention he's been selected as NFL MVP five times and led the Colts to victory in Super Bowl XLI. We haven't seen such a maniacially studious quarterback in the league since Manning retired in 2015.
The Jacksonville Jaguars are another young franchise that has had their fair share of good players, but none like offensive tackle Tony Boselli. Standing at 6'7 and weighing in at 325lbs, Boselli was extremely nimble and continously kept his shoulders squared to his opponents. Every offensive lineman out there should be studying Boselli and mimicking his game as much as they could if they wish to successful on the football field. Boselli defined a living brick wall during his tenure in the NFL.
After receiving All-American rights in three out of four seasons as a member of the USC Trojans, Boselli was selected 2nd overall by the Jacksonville Jaguarsin the 1995 NFL Draft. Boselli was also the Jaguars first-ever NFL Draft pick. In 1998, Boselli was honored with Offensive Lineman of the Year and earned five Pro Bowl nods, and three First-Team All-Pro roster slots in his eight season NFL career. Boselli started 90 games of the 91 he was listed active for. Unfortunately, Boselli's career was cut short due to a shoulder injury and he retired in 2002 as a member of the Houston Texans.
The Kansas City Chiefs have had several notable Hall of Fame athletes represent their franchise on Sundays including the likes of Willie Lanier, Derrick Thomas, and Tony Gonzalez. It also looks like the Chiefs might have another Hall of Fame prospect on their hands in the form of current quarterback, Patrick Mahomes. But as of right now, the title of greatest Kansas City Chiefs goes to outside linebacker, Bobby Bell. The 6'4, 230lbs linebacker was ahead of his time in regards to versatility and pure athletism. Coming off the edge, Bell caused hell for his opposition throughout the 1960s and '70s.
Prior to playing his college ball at the University of Minnesota, Bell won All-State honors as a quarterback in high school. While in college, he made the jump to defensive lineman, where he contributed to a National Championship (1960) and a Rose Bowl win (1962). Bell would go on to be selected 16th overall in the second round of the 1963 NFL Draft by the Kansas City Chiefs where he played all twelve seasons of his career. Throughout his stint as a Chief, Bell was a 6x AFL All-Star, 3x NFL Pro Bowler, and was selected as Defensive Player of the Year once in 1969. Bell helped the Chiefs secure a Super Bowl win in 1970 and holds the record for most interceptions returned by a linebacker with eight total touchdowns.
The Los Angeles/San Diego Chargers is another squad that has had some prominent athletes shine while members of ther organization. However, there's no denying that Junior Seau is the California-based football team's greatest athlete of all-time. Throughout the '90s you couldn't mention the San Diego Chargers without bringing up Junior Seau. He's one of the most passionate and knowledgable linebackers of his generation and had the ability to read an offense that would allow him to audible his defensive coordinator's play without causing a problem.
The Oceanside, California-bred, multifacted linebacker played his college ball at the University of Southern California where he earned All-American honors during his senior year in 1989. Seau would go on to be picked 5th overall in 1990 NFL Draft by the San Diego Chargers where he played thirteen seasons out of the twenty years of his NFL career. Seau led the Chargers to their last Super Bowl appearance in 1995 in Super Bowl XXIX. All twelve of Seau's Pro Bowl invites were when he was a member of a Chargers and the linebacker took home the trophy for Defensive Player of the Year in 1992. Unfortunately, Seau took his own life in 2012 after suffering from complications from CTE. Seau's death has sparked the conversation of player safety in the NFL.
It doesn't matter what team you're on, if you invented the term and action of 'sacking' a quarterback, you're the greatest player of your franchise, period. That just so happens to be the case for David D. 'Deacon' Jones and the Los Angeles Rams. Deacon Jones played in an era of football where quarterback sacks where not an official stat and being correctly accounted for. Fortunately, because of Jones' ruthless tenacity to get to the quarterback every play and punish the quarterback, it forced the league to ackowledge what he was doand nw he's considered the prototype for what a defensive end should be.
Jones didn't only excel on the football field, he also was a quality baseball and basketball player during his youth. Following his college football career at Mississippi Valley University, Deacon Jones was selected 186th overall in the fourteenth round of the 1961 NFL Draft by the Los Angeles Rams. Jones played eleven seasons out of the fourteen years of his career with Rams where he would rack up an unofficial number of 173.5 sacks throughout his career. To this day, that is the third-highest amount of sacks achieved by a player ever. The 8x Pro Bowler passed away from natural causes after suffering from both lung cancer and heart disease at the age of 74 in 2013. Jones' legacy will live forever for eventing the sack and being the gracious human being he was.
There's no denying that Dan Marino is one of the greatest quarterbacks of all-time. Marino had a rocket launcher for an arm and one of the quickest releases of quarterbacks in his era in the 1980s and '90s. Yet still, the Miami Dolphins organization just couldn't provide him with the support that he needed to secure the Lombardi Trophy throughout his illustrious NFL career. Lackluster defenses and only one 1,000-yard rusher during his seventeen-year stint with the Dolphins failed him for what he so righteously deserved in gaining one Super Bowl victory.
Following his college football career at the University of Pittsburgh, Marino was the final selected quarterback picked 27th overall in the first round of the 1983 NFL Draft by the Miami Dolphins. Marino spent his entire career with the Dolphins leading the team to ten playoff berths and one Super Bowl appearance in 1984 (Super Bowl XIX). Marino also set single-season records in 1984 breaking the passing yards recordwith 5,084 yards and the single-season touchdown record with 48. This performance led him to NFL MVP honors for the year. To this day, Marino is considered the greatest quarterback of all-time to never win a Super Bowl.
The Minnesota Vikings has been home to some the greatest NFL talent we've seen to date. From recrd-breaking wideout Randy Moss to Cris Carter to Adrian Peterson to Hall of Fame quarterback Fran Tarkenton, the Vikings know how to pick top-notch skill-position athletes. But, while those guys are worthy of praise, they don't live up to the hype of the leader of the Purple People Eaters, defensive tackle, Alan Page. Page simply wouldn't allow for any o-lineman to stay infront of him, he would utilize his brute strength and drive guards and centers back straight into the ball disrupting offenses at will.
In 1966, Page led the prestigious football school, the University of Norte Dame to a national championship and was drafted 17th overall in the 1967 NFL Draft by the Minnesota Vikings. Page went on to become one in eleven Vikings' players to have played in all four of the Vikings' Super Bowl appearances. Page earned all nine of his Pro Bowl selections as a member of the Vikings before taking his talents to the Chicago Bears in in 1978. He also became the first defensive player in NFL history to become the league's Most Valuable Player. Following his career in football, Page went on to serve as the associate justice of the Minnesota Supreme Court until he was forced to retire at the required age of 70 in 2015.
There isn't one single player comparable to Tom Brady tht has done what he has for the New England Patriots since the team's conception in 1960. While Bill Belichick is responsible for a large portion of the franchise's success, it couldn't have been accomplished without the leadership and driving force of the team's offense in Tom Brady. To this very day, Brady never appears to rattled in the pocket or bothered by any situation he's put in. Clearly, the man is only in competition with himself and looking to be the best that he can be at all times.
After playing his college ball at the University of Michigan , Brady was selected at insane 199th overall in the sixth round of the 2000 NFL Draft by the New England Patriots. Since then, he's played all twent of his career seasons with the franchise, leading them to nine Super Bowls and six Super Bowl wins, more than any other player in NFL history. The 4x Super Bowl MVP, 3x NFL MVP, and 14x Pro Bowler is in the argument for greatest quarterback of all-time for obvious reasons. The funny thing about his legacy is that is nowhere near over. At the age of 42, he's still putting up insane numbers and shows no signs of slowing down anytime soon.
When Drew Brees first arrived in the league as a member of the San Diego Chargers many doubted his ability to get the job done. He's somewhat undersized and isn't known for being the most athletic quarterback during this current era of speedster and big arm quarterbacks. While many counted him out as just average, he took the New Orleans Saints on his back and made them one of the most dangerous teams in the NFL today. If there's any player with the heart of lion, it's Drew Brees.
After having a successful college career at Purdue University, Brees went on to be selected 32nd overall in the second round of the 2001 NFL Draft by the San Diego Chargers. Brees one the starting the starting job in San Diego in 2002, but after suffering a severe shoulder injury signed with the New Orleans Saints were he would become an instant stud. Prior to Drew Brees joining forces with the Saints , the franchise only won one playoff game in 29 years. Brees led the Saints to their first-ever Super Bowl victory in 2009 against the Indiapolis Colts and took home Super Bowl MVP honors for his performance. The 12x Pro Bowler currently ranked third in all-time passing touchdowns (522) and is set to pass Peyton Manning's 539 in the near future.
There couldn't be a more obvious choice for the Giants' greatest franchise player of all-time that linebacker, Lawrence Taylor himself. While Deacon Jones coined the term 'sack' Lawrence Taylor forced the league's hand to make the act an official stat. L.T. might be one of the game's most violent and feared linebackers of all-time and rightfully so. During his NFL tenure, Taylor single-handedly changed the way the linebacker position was played throughout the entire NFL. Unfortunately, not every linebacker has been as gifted or vicious as Lawrence Taylor.
After his All-American stint at the University of North Carolina, Taylor was selected 2nd overall in the 1981 NFL Draft by the New York Giants where he would gon on to play his entire thirteen-season career. Taylor would go to start 180 out the 184 games he's was listed active for while recording a total of 132.5 sacks throughout his career. The 3x Defensive Player of the Year played a critical part in the Giants Super Bowl XXI and XXV victories. L.T. will forever be the frontman leader of 'The Big Blue Wrecking Crew.'
While many might want to give the crown for the greatest New York Jet of all-time to Joe Namath, his main wideout and favorite target in Don Maynard stood the test of time, stretching his prime years a little further than Namath's making him the king of New York. While his era of wide receivers might not have been the most athletic, there's no doubt that if Namath threw it in his direction, Maynard was coming down with it.
The now 84-year-old played his college ball at Texas Western University and went on to b selected 109th overall in the ninth round of the 1957 NFL Draft by the New York Giants. Two years later, Maynard was cut by the Giants and took his talents to the CFL for a year before signing with the New York Titans/Jets in 1960 where he would play the majority of his career. Throughout the '60s Maynard would go on to have four 1,200-yard seasons and lead the Jets to an AFL Championship in 1968 and Super Bowl victory in 1969 (Super Bowl III).
There are a ton of Raiders alumni that could be argued as the franchise's greatest player of all-time. Bo Jackson, Charles Woodson, Ken Stabler, Marcus Allen, Time Brown, Howie Long, the list goes on... However, the talent of the Raiders' offensive linemen throughout the 1970s went unmatched. So, we're giving the Raiders' crown to none other than Hall of Fame offensive guard, Gene Upshaw. While Art Shell and Jim Otto were also apart of that great o-line Upshaw was team's o-line enforcer.
Following his collegiate football career at Texas A&I University, Upshaw was picked 17th overall in the 1967 NFL Draft. Upshaw would go on to play his entire career as a member of the Raiders starting in 207 out 217 games he was listed active for. The 6x Pro Bowler was a member of the team's two Super Bowl victories in Super Bowl XI and XV and was nominated for three First-Team All-Pro roster spots throughout his career. Unforunately, Upshaw tragically passed away at the age of 63-years-old days after finding out he had pancreatic cancer in 2008. Gene Upshaw will be remembered for his contributions to game of football forever.
With only one Super Bowl victory under their belt and a plethora of quality alumni in their all-time roster, the Philadelhpia Eagles have some rather questionable choices for their all-time greatest player in history. While Chuck Bednarik did play a total of forteen seasons with the Eagles, he wasn't nearly as successful as defensive end Reggie White who only spent eight years with the franchise. At 300lbs, White was one the most nimble and spry defensive ends of his time. Also, don't sleep on his strength too, he will bull-rush you right into your quarterback with ease.
After winning SEC Player of the Year honors in his final year at the University of Tennessee, Reggie White was selected 4th overall in the 1984 Supplemental Draft by the USFL's Memphis Showboats. Once the USFL collasped, White signed a contract with the Philadelphia Eagles where played eight seasons with team racking up 124 sacks in the 121 games he played with the franchise. During his tenure with the Eagles, White became the only player in NFL history to notch 20 or more sacks in just 12 games. The 13x Pro Bowler would never win a ring with the Eagles, but would find success with the Green Packers winning Super Bowl XXXI.
The Pittsburgh Steelers is another one of those franchises that continues to breed some of the greatest NFL talent known to man. From Rod Woodson to Terry Bradshaw to Jack Lambert, and Jerome Bettis, the list of Steeler greats flows for what seems like an eternity. But, there will never be another NFL defensive tackle like 'Mean' Joe Greene. Greene would erupt through an offensive line a time bomb hurling his body relentlessly at any quarterback or running back in his path. We have to imagine it wasn't too fun being on the other side of the ball from him.
After closing out his All-American collegiate football career at Northern Texas State University, Joe Greene was selected 4th overall in the 1969 NFL Draft by the Pittsburgh Steelers were he would play his entire career. Greene became an immediate impact player winning Rookie of the Year in 1969. The 6'4 defensive tackle would also become the centerpiece to the Steelers' patented 'Steel Curtain' defense that helped solidify four NFL Super Bowl Championships (Super Bowls IX, X, XIII, XIV) for the Steelers. With ten Pro Bowl nods, five First-Team All-Pro roster slots, and two Defensive Player of the Year Awards, 'Mean' Joe Greene is regarded as one of the NFL's greatest talents to ever take the field.
While Steve Young was the main provider for Jerry Rice's touches, Rice's individual accolades are simply untouchable. During an era where receivers weren't as coddled as they are today, Jerry Rice achieved the impossible. Rice made the game look effortless. While he wasn't the fastest receiver the world has ever seen, his route running ability could ditch your team's greatest cover corner with ease. His hands were soft and pillowy, instantaneously stopping football's that looked like speeding bullets without a single bobble.
After being selected 16th overall in the 1985 NFL Draft by the San Francisco 49ers, Jerry Rice would spend sixteen years out of his twenty-season career with the Bay Area squad. To this very day, Jerry Rice holds an insane fourteen NFL records including most career receiving yards (22,895), most career receptions (1,549), and most career touchdown receptions (197). It also doesn't hurt that he's a 3x Super Bowl Champion, 1x Super Bowl MVP (XXIII), 13x Pro Bowler, and 10x First-Team All-Pro recipient. There's no denying that Jerry Rice is the greatest receiver of all-time.
Hall of Famer, Walter Jones, and current Seahawks quarterback, Russell Wilson, are in the conversation for greatest Seattle Seahawk of all-time. However, there's something about undersized, white guy receivers that is oddly satisfying and appeasing to watch. And while Steve Largent may fit the description, he's definitely worthy being the Seahawks' greatest player. At 5'11, Largent proved why he was the one defensive coordinators needed to plan for.
After two seasons at the University of Tulsa, Largent was selected 177th in the fourth round of the fourth round of the 1976 NFL Draft by the Houston Oilers. After four preseason games with the Oilers, the team cut ties wih Largent and the Seahawks signed him as a part of an expansion agreement. Largent would go on to represent the Seahawks his entire thirteen-season career. By the time, Largent retired in 1989, he held records for all major receiving categories including most receptions in a career (819), most receiving yards in a career (13,089), and most touchdown receptions (100). Most of which have been broken since then, but a still a feat for the 7x Pro Bowler regardless.
It's only right that the hometown hero, Derrick Brooks, be crowned as the Tampa Bay Buccaneers greatest player to date. Ok, so, Brooks might not exactly be from Tampa Bay, but he was born in Pensacola, Florida and he did spend his collegiate football years as a member of the Florida State University Seminoles. So, close enough. Derrick Brooks was one of those linebackers that had superior vision and would always find himself at the right place at the right time to make the right play. His aggressive style of play and smothering effect on receivers and running backs caused dysfunction for his opposition.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers traded multiple second round picks to the Dallas Cowboys in order to select Derrick Brooks 28th overall in the 1995 NFL Draft. Tampa Bay would be the only destination where Brooks would play professional football for fourteen seasons. Within that decade and a half, he was the centerpiece to the team's championship defense that defeated the Oakland Raiders in Super Bowl XXXVII. The 11x Pro Bowler never missed a single regular-season game throughout his Hall of Fame career.
Longevity is the name of the game for our greatest athlete pick for the Houston Oilers/Tennessee Titans representative. While guys like Warren Moon and Steve McNair have uplifted the franchise, they still can't compare to former offensive lineman, Bruce Matthews. There wasn't a position on the front line that he couldn't play and there wasn't anything that he couldn't excel at. He was light on his feet and had the ability to be an anchor for his quarterback and running backs with ease.
After earning All-America honors during his stint at the University of Southern California, Matthews was selected 9th overall in 1983 NFL Draft by the Houston Oilers/Tennesse Titans where he would play his entire nineteen-season NFL career. Throughout those years, Matthews played every position on the line including center, both guard positions, both tackle positions, and long snapper. Matthews holds the second longest streak of consecutive games started with a total of 293. As consistent as he was, the 14x Pro Bowler earned his spot in the Football Hall of Fame.
Last, but not least, the honor for the greatest Washinton Redskin alumni goes to none other than NFL OG, Sammy Baugh. While times might have been a lot simpler during his era in the NFL from the 1930s to the 1950s, Baugh single-handedly helped revolutionize the game via his pure athleticism. Baugh played both sides of the ball and wasn't afraid to give up his body or let the ball fly when running dominated the league during that time.
Born in Temple, Texas, Baugh led Texas Christian University to two bowl game wins during his tenure at the institution. The first a 3-2 victory over LSU in the 1936 Sugar Bowl and the second a 16-6 victory over Marquette in the first annual Cotton Bowl Classic in 1937. His efforts at TCU led him to be picked 6th overall in the 1937 NFL Draft by the Washington Redskins where he played his entire NFL career from 1937-1952. During his NFL career, Baugh predominantly played quarterback, but also played safety and punter as well. Baugh averaged an NFL record of 51.4 yards per punt in 1938 (still a record) and caught 31 interceptions of his own throughout his career. His willingness to pass the ball through the air led the Redskins to two NFL Championships in 1937 and 1942. Baugh will forever be remembered for taking the game to the next level.