Now, this is the moment that I have been waiting for. After years of brainstorming, doing research and personal observation, I believe that it is time for me to construct my All-Time NFL Team. Recently, I purchased a Book by Sports Illustrated titled “Football’s Greatest”. The Book is full of Top 10 lists for every position along with lists for the Greatest Rivalries, Arenas, Coaches, etc. I have been formulating this idea for a very long time and I hope that you enjoy.
Quarterback: Joe Montana
If you are going to have an All-Time NFL Team, who would be a better choice as your QB than Joe Montana? Joe was the ultimate field general who kept his composure during the toughest times. His release and timing were precise, and he was a solid scrambler. Joe was the perfect Quarterback for the West Coast Offense because he had enough arm strength and accuracy to made the necessary passes that stretched the Defense. Montana did not throw bombs like Brett Favre or John Elway, but he made up for that with his Football IQ and flair for the dramatic in clutch situations.
Look at how he marched San Francisco down the field for the 11 play, 92 yard Drive to clinch Super Bowl XXIII. Joe’s resume is enough to make his case as the Ultimate Quarterback for the Ultimate Team. 4x Super Bowl Champion, 3x Super Bowl MVP with multiple comeback victories.
Montana’s QB Rating in the Super Bowl is 127.8, as he has thrown for 1,142 yards, 11 Touchdowns, 0 INT’s and a Completion Percentage of 68%. He could also lead his team to victory through sheer Offensive Dominance. Just watch what he did to the Dolphins in Super Bowl XIX and the Broncos in Super Bowl XXIV. For his career, Montana threw for 40,551 yards, 273 Touchdowns and finished with a QB Rating of 92.3.
Running Back: Walter Payton
If there is anybody that I am going to enlist as my Starting Running Back, it is “Sweetness”. Walter Payton was a wealth of Versatility. He could run, catch and even throw. Payton was a combination of quickness and strength. For a man his size, Walter played a very physical style. Payton always played by the motto “Never Die Easy”, and he never did. Walter spoke and carried himself like a Gentleman, but played like a Wolverine. Defenders had to force him out of bounds. He had a very fluid running style. The greatest testament to Walter’s legacy is his toughness. On November 20, 1977, Payton set a single-game record for rushing yards as he torched the Vikings for 275 yards. In that game, he had the flu with a fever of 101 degrees with a serious case of the flu. Payton was named NFL MVP that season as well. Walter’s work ethic and conditioning are what made him among the very best. He even has a Man of the Year Award named after him. Payton retired at the top of the NFL Rushing Mountain with 16,726 Rushing Yards before Emmitt Smith took the torch years later.
Full Back: Jim Brown
Jim Brown was the quintessential image of a Football Player. Brown is forever synonymous with what it means to be a Gridiron Warrior. Jim was perfectly sculpted to be the ideal Football Star. Brown was originally listed as a Fullback, but he would make a dominating combination with a player like Walter Payton in the backfield. Jim was a ferocious runner, but would be a great blocker as well. Jim Brown was one of the greatest gladiators to ever wear an NFL Uniform. Brown averaged 100 Yards Per Game over the course of a nine-year career. He made the Pro-Bowl every season and led the NFL in Rushing every season. Brown also won three NFL AP MVP Awards. Through 9 Seasons, Jim Brown finished with 12,312 Rushing Yards. With a resume like his, you could see why he is ranked number 1 on many people’s lists.
Wide Receiver: Jerry Rice
If you are going to build a Fantasy Football Team with Legends, Jerry Rice MUST be your Wide Receiver. By default, Jerry is the GOAT of all Wide Receivers. His numbers and resume far supersede every other player to ever play that position. Rice raised the standard for his position in a way that no other player did for theirs. It was not enough to give him single coverage. You needed double coverage or maybe triple. Jerry was very cerebral and fundamental in his approach to the game. His work ethic and longevity put him far above the rest of the competition. He may have had two HOF Quarterbacks, but he made them look better as well. Rice was a threat no matter what route he ran. He holds every major receiving record. Jerry was named to the NFL All-Decade Teams for both the 80’s and 90’s. In the playoffs, Jerry caught 151 passes, 2,245 receiving yards, and 22 Touchdowns. Rice is a must for any Fantasy Team. He is on the Mt. Rushmore and Mt. Olympus of Pro Football. NFL.com named him the No. 1 Player of all-time.
Wide Receiver: Randy Moss
Randy Moss was simply electrifying. He had freakish speed and athleticism that was hard to match up with for any Cornerback. Moss would burn his defender in a matter of seconds. Randy Moss has to be the best pure athlete to play Wide Receiver. His numbers and his game speak for themselves no matter how much he himself spoke. Along with Jerry Rice, Randy Moss changed the game for Wideouts of the Modern NFL. Randy has 982 Career Receptions to go with 15,292 Receiving Yards and 156 Touchdowns. He ranks fourth in Receiving Yardage and second in TD’s behind Jerry Rice. Moss is the all-time leader in Touchdowns per season with 11.8.
Tight End: Tony Gonzalez
This is another deep position like Wide Receiver, but Tony Gonzalez was the standout for me. He is one of the Golden Standards for Tight Ends across the board. When it comes to Tight Ends, you could consider Gonzalez the Jerry Rice of his position. Tony holds nearly every major record including most receptions (1,325), receiving yards (15,127), along with touchdowns (111). He also holds the record for most 1,000-yard seasons for a Tight End (4), as well as most receptions in a single season (102). Gonzalez also holds the record for most Pro-Bowl selections for a Tight End with 14. When Tony Gonzalez is nominated for the Hall of Fame, there is no doubt that he is bound to be first-ballot.
Offensive Tackle: Anthony Munoz
The Greatest Offensive Lineman in NFL History by a very large consensus. Anthony Munoz was legendary at the front line, as he made 11 Pro-Bowls. Out of those 11 Pro-Bowl Selections, Munoz was named First-Team All-Pro 9 times. He also won the Offensive Lineman of the Year Award three times (1981, ’87, ’88). Anthony was the anchor of the Bengals Offense, as he helped them reach their only Super Bowl appearances (XVI, XXIII). Both of those games were narrow losses to the San Francisco 49ers. I guess it is the most classic form of irony that Munoz covers the Offensive Line for a team with two Niners (Montana and Rice). Side note: the guy must be pretty tough to play with a mangled pinky finger.
Offensive Tackle: Rayfield Wright
Did you think that I would not add any Cowboys flavor to this list? If so, you have to be sadly mistaken. Rayfield Wright was one of the anchors for the Cowboys front line during the 70’s. Wright was the one doing the dirty work and holding the offense together while Roger Staubach received the lion’s share of the praise. Rayfield’s presence at the front line is essential for any team to run effectively.
Offensive Guard: Gene Upshaw
Long before he became known as the Chief of the NFL Players Union, Gene Upshaw was one of the greatest and most respected Offensive Linemen in NFL History. Gene was the anchor and backbone of the Raiders Offense during the 1970’s. Upshaw was an outstanding Offensive Guard as he battled some of the greatest Defensive Linemen of his time. He even overwhelmed HOF D-Lineman Alan Page when the Raiders defeated the Vikings in Super Bowl XI. Gene battled Mean Joe Greene during the wars with the Pittsburgh Steelers. Gene Upshaw has been battle tested as he has been a two-time Super Bowl Champion, Six-Time Pro-Bowler, and has been named to the NFL 75th Anniversary Team and 70’s All-Decade Team.
Offensive Guard: Larry Allen
The Greatest Offensive Guard in Cowboys History. Larry Allen was one of the premiere O-Linemen of his Generation. Allen was a model of consistency through the various changes of the Dallas lineup. Larry’s physicality is something much needed for the lineup that I desire to create.
Center: Mike Webster
“Iron” Mike Webster was the Center for the Pittsburgh Steelers Dynasty in the 70’s. He was part of the Offensive Line that kept the Steelers Offense on their feet to march to greatness. Terry Bradshaw owes much of his success to Webster for being great at hiking the ball. Webster had one of the longest tenures in team history with 15 Seasons in Steel Town. He was part of 4 Super Bowls and 9 Pro-Bowls while making the 75th Anniversary Team, 70’s All-Decade Team and 80’s All-Decade Team.
Defensive End: Reggie White
In order to build the Ultimate Defense, the Minister of Defense must be at the Front Line. Reggie White was a force to be reckoned with. Even though Reggie preached about grace and mercy, he brought chaos to the opposing Offense. White has to be one of the best front seven players of all-time with the way that he was able to shed the blockers without much difficulty. After an outstanding career in College, Reggie had a brief stint in the USFL before it closed. Once White joined the NFL, he signed with the Philadelphia Eagles and became the unquestioned leader of that Defense. He enjoyed back to back seasons as the NFL Sack Leader (1987, 1988). In the strike shortened 1987 Season, Reggie set an Eagles record for most sacks in a single season with 21. After eight outstanding seasons with Philly, White brought the Sack to the Pack when he joined the Green Bay Packers in 1993. Reggie’s experience and leadership helped lead the Packers in winning Super Bowl XXXI along with Brett Favre’s MVP Season. Reggie White finished his career as the All-Time Leader in Sacks with 198. Reggie averaged 13.2 Sacks Per Season, which is an NFL Record. White also made 13 Pro-Bowl Teams with 10 First-Team All-Pro Selections and 3 Second-Team Selections. Reggie was in the Pro-Bowl for every season except his first and his last. He made the 75th Anniversary Team, along with the 80’s and 90’s All-Decade Teams. Following his death, Reggie White was inducted into the Pro Football HOF in 2006. Bruce Smith may have broken the record, but Reggie will always be regarded as the Greatest Defensive End of All-Time.
Defensive End: Deacon Jones
Long before Reggie White, Deacon Jones was the Most Dominant Defensive Lineman of his Era.
Jones was ruthless in his pursuit of the Quarterback, as he was a master of blitzes. Even though Sacks were not recorded during his time in the NFL, Deacon Jones has been listed as having 173.5 to 179.5 unofficial Sacks, as he is also known for coining the term “Sack”. Jones was an 8-time Pro-Bowler and 5-time First-Team All-Pro Selection. He registered yearly sacks of 22 (’64), 26 (’67) and 24 (’68). No other player has had that many seasons with 20 or more Sacks.
Defensive Tackle: “Mean” Joe Greene
There is no doubt that “Mean” Joe Greene was the leader of the Steel Curtain Defense. He was the first player that the Steelers drafted when they started to build their dynasty. Greene was the general and cornerstone of one of the greatest Defense in NFL History. Greene’s impact led to four Super Bowl Trophies in the 1970’s. He was a mix of intensity, strength, and quickness. His accolades speak for themselves. Joe was a 10x Pro-Bowl Selection, along with 5 First-Team All-Pro Selections. Greene was named to the 75th Anniversary Team, 70’s All-Decade Team, the Pittsburgh Steelers 50th Anniversary Team, and the Steelers All-Time Team. Greene was also named Defensive Player of the Year twice (’72, ’74). He has the most Outstanding Resume of any Steelers Defensive Player ever. You could call Mean Joe “Mr. Steeler”.
Defensive Tackle: Bob Lilly
The Ultimate Irony of this team is that I have the best Defensive Lineman in Cowboys History lined up next to the best Defensive Lineman in Steelers History. Here we have “Mr. Steeler” lined up with “Mr. Cowboy”, as both men were the first draft picks to build winning teams. Nothing else needs to be said about Mr. Lilly. His dominance transcended beyond what he did for the Cowboys. Bob Lilly’s dominance translated into greatness all across the NFL.
Outside Linebacker: Lawrence Taylor
Without question the Greatest Outside Linebacker of all-time. By many, he is considered the Greatest Defensive Player ever. Lawrence Taylor was a tremendous defender who created fear in the Offense that stood opposite of him. LT was the cornerstone of the Giants Defense that won two Super Bowls under Bill Parcells. Lawrence revolutionized the Defensive side, because of how quickly he was able to get to the Quarterback or Running Back. Offenses were forced to create a two Tight-End system because of Taylor. However, that did not stop him or slow him down when it came to his mission which was to seek and destroy. LT was a true Terminator on Defense. He is only the second Defensive Player to win NFL MVP. Taylor has been a 10x Pro-Bowler and 10x All-Pro with 3 DPOY Awards among many other accomplishments. LT is the quintessential linebacker that other players model themselves after.
Outside Linebacker: Jack Ham
This is the third Steeler added to this team. Jack Ham was one of the best playmakers for Pittsburgh’s monstrous Defense during their glory days. He was the perfect complement to Jack Lambert and Andy Russell. Along with those 4 Super Bowls, Ham was named to the Pro-Bowl 8 times and a First-Team All-Pro 6 times. He also holds the NFL Record for most Career Forced Fumbles by a Linebacker with 53.
Middle Linebacker: Dick Butkus
Dick Butkus was a frightening figure at Middle Linebacker. He had the speed to tackle from sideline to sideline with the tackling strength of a defensive lineman. Butkus personified Gridiron Toughness. Dick Butkus made the Pro-Bowl each of his first eight seasons with five First-Team All-Pro Selections. He was named to the NFL 75th Anniversary Team, along with the 60’s and 70’s All-Decade Teams. Considered by many to still be the greatest to play Middle Linebacker. His teammate also makes a very strong case.
Middle Linebacker: Ray Lewis
Ray Lewis was a True Warrior in Football. Ray was an absolute beast and gave more than 100% on every play. His athleticism at MLB was explosive and fun to watch in his prime. Lewis raised the bar for what a Linebacker should be, as he is the most accomplished of his generation. Ray is also one of the most accomplished players across the history of the NFL. As a two-time Super Bowl Champion, Ray was named Super Bowl MVP in SB XXXV as the Ravens wiped out the Giants 34-7. He has also been to 13 Pro-Bowls (most for a Middle Linebacker), a 7-time First-Team All-Pro, 3-time Second-Team All-Pro, 2-time NFL DPOY (Defensive Player of the Year), along with a spot on the NFL 2000’s All-Decade Team. Lewis is tied with Lawrence Taylor for most All-Pro Selections. Ray finished his career with 1,336 Tackles, 41.5 Sacks, 67 Pass Deflections and 17 Forced Fumbles. Ray Lewis is without question a First-Ballot Hall of Famer.
Strong Safety: Ronnie Lott
Ronnie Lott defined the meaning of “Strong Safety”. He was the most intimidating player on those Niners teams that won four Super Bowls in the 80’s. Ronnie came with the force and intensity of a linebacker with brilliant coverage skills. Lott could inflict damage as a Safety and as a Cornerback since he played both positions during his career. He was the deciding factor Defensively for San Francisco as Montana and Rice were the deciding factors Offensively. Lott made the Pro-Bowl 10 times, First-Team All-Pro 8 times, the 75th Anniversary Team, as well as the 80’s and 90’s All-Decade Teams. He was the cornerstone and face of the Niners Defense. Ronnie Lott finished his Career with 1,146 Tackles, 63 Interceptions, 16 Forced Fumbles and 5 Touchdowns from INT’s. That is true dedication anytime you can still play at a high level with an amputated finger.
Free Safety: Ed Reed
Ed Reed is the definition of a “ballhawk” because of how he is able to lock his eyes on the football while still covering his assignment. His instincts have been amazing which have also helped him be a very effective cover safety, play the run along with being a devastating hitter. In only his third season, Ed Reed was named NFL DPOY (2004). That season, Reed became the Interception Leader for the first of three seasons (’04, ’08, 2010). He also led the NFL in INT Return Yards (’04, 2010). Ed’s phenomenal speed helped him become the NFL All-Time Leader in Interception Return Yards (1,590). Ed Reed has carved a legacy of greatness for us to witness. A legend in the making and future Hall of Famer.
Cornerback: Deion Sanders
The greatest multi-threat that the NFL has ever seen. “Prime Time” Deion Sanders has to be the most decorated Cornerback besides Ronnie Lott. Deion’s speed made him exceptional in any form of coverage (4.27 in the 40-yard dash). Prime Time’s versatility made him a threat in other areas of the field, from special teams to even on offense as a wide receiver. Deion may smile and joke, but he was a thinking man’s player when it came time for business. After playing five seasons with the Atlanta Falcons, Deion signed with the San Francisco 49ers in 1994. Even though the Niners were a well-decorated team rooted in tradition, Sanders added even more importance to their already strong Defense. Prime Time won the NFL DPOY Award that season as the Niners won their 5th Super Bowl. Deion was only in San Fran for one season, but he made a huge impact. When his time with the Niners ended, Deion signed with the Dallas Cowboys as he became the highest paid defensive player at that time. Just like with the 49ers, Deion joined a team that has already proven themselves as Champions. Sanders helped to elevate the Cowboys Defense for them to win Super Bowl XXX. Deion became an 8-time Pro-Bowler and an 8-time All-Pro Selection. Sanders finished his career with 53 Interceptions, as he joined the NFL 90’s All-Decade Team along with a place in the Hall of Fame. Deion made a major impact on the NFL as a brilliant coverage defender.
Cornerback: Dick “Night Train” Lane
This is not a name that most modern fans may not know, but Dick “Night Train” Lane is one of the greatest players ever regardless of position. Night Train was to Football what Sugar Ray Robinson was to Boxing. He was an innovator and trailblazer before his sport reached a larger mainstream audience. In his first season, Lane recorded 14 Interceptions (NFL Record for most in a Single Season). For his career, Night Train had 68 Interceptions with 1,207 INT return yards. Lane was the original ballhawk and left a huge impact on the game with his great cover skills. He made 7 Pro-Bowls, and 10 All-Pro Teams (6 1st-Team, 4 2nd-Team). Lane was the highest-ranked Defensive Back on the Sporting News list of the 100 Greatest Football Players (19).
Kicker: Adam Vinatieri
There has never been a better big-game Kicker than Adam Vinatieri. Adam was the one that the Patriots depended on to help them win their first three Super Bowls because of his Game-Winning Field Goals. Vinatieri would also help the Colts win in Super Bowl XLI. He holds the record for most postseason FG’s (42), most FG’s in a Super Bowl (7), most career points (187) among others. Adam is the ideal Kicker anyone would want on their team.
Vaughn Resper Jr.
Spark Sports NFL Analyst