I have never been, nor ever will be a Chicago Bears fan, but I loved Walter Payton. It wasn't just for his record breaking skills as a running back, or that he was from Mississippi, it was just because he was "Sweetness." Not just on the field play where he played each game as if it were his last, but off the field as well where he just exuded class even in the face of death. Walter Payton was ranked #5 on NFL.com top 100 players of all time, 9× Pro Bowl selection, 6× First-team All Pro selection, NFL MVP, Pro Bowl MVP, Super Bowl Champion,NFL 75th Anniversary All-Time Team, and Pro Football Hall of Fame, Class of 1993. We miss your #34.
When I think of toughness, I think of Ronnie Lott. This is a dude who continued to play a game after losing the tip of his finger. Talk about intimidation, I don't know who had scarier eyes, Ronnie Lott or Mike Singletary. Ronnie scared me, and I was still a fan. Even after he left the 49ers, I still rooted for him, except for that unfortunate time he played for the Raiders. I try not to think about those days. He even worn the Chiefs red for a hot minute. Look at his awards if you don't think he is great: Rated #11 NFL Player of all-time by NFL.com, 10× Pro Bowl selection, 8× First Team All-Pro selection, 4× Super Bowl Champion, NFL 75th Anniversary All-Time Team, and of Course Pro Football Hall of Fame, Class of 2000.
#8-Cornelius Bennett, Darryl Talley, and Bruce Smith.
Yes, I am aware this is three. I always see these guys together, Cornelius-the cutie, Darryl-the crazy/witty, and Bruce-big and scary. During the early 90s, they were the reason I watched the Buffalo Bills. I loved watch these guys run rough-shot over players. If only they could have gotten over that Super Bowl hump, yet that 4 straight run was quite an accomplishment in itself. Between the three, they had 18 Pro Bowls (Bruce the most with 11 and a Pro Bowl MVP), 14 First Team All Pro selections (Bruce w/the most at 9). Bruce Smith, who holds the record for career sacks, was ranked #31 NFL Player of all time and was inducted in the NFL Hall of Fame Class of 2009.
I bet you were expecting Tony to be higher, right? Tony is still playing. He's a baby compared to most of the guys on this list. I've been a fan of TG's since I first saw him dribbling a basketball for Cal. Yes, I saw him play basketball first. (When I watch college football, it is only SEC.) I was ecstatic when the Chiefs drafted him at #13 back in 1997, and although a little worried after the first couple of seasons, he has shown time and time again why he is one of (in my opinion the greatest) the greatest Tight Ends ever. I don't have time to go into all of his record, but here is a taste of his accomplishments: 11x Pro Bowl Selection, 6x First Team All Pro, First Tight end to catch 1000 receptions, ranked #45 NFL Player of all time. Matt Ryan and the Falcons, could you please help him get a playoff win before they shine his bust in Canton?
I'll admit. I've had a crush on Rod Woodson ever since I first laid eyes on him in Pittsburgh Steeler uniform. That was initially, because, let's face it, a pretty face does not guarantee you a great career in the NFL, see Matt Leinert. Watching Rod Woodson pick off a football was a thing of beauty. I followed his career from the start even though he played for the Steelers, the 49ers, the Ravens, and even during that most unfortunate time with the Raiders. Rod Woodson's accolades include 11 Pro Bowl Selections, 2 First team All Pro selections, NFL Defensive Player of the year, NFL 75th Anniversary All-Time team, #41 NFL Player of all time, and Hall of Fame inductee, Class of 2009. Good Luck, coaching *through teeth* the Raiders' corners this year!
I hated Marcus Allen for a long time. Why, you ask? Because he was a Raider. No other reason. But then a magical thing happened, Al Davis lost his mind and let Marcus Allen go. Thank you, Crypt Keeper, because he landed in Kansas City. Even though he only played 4 years for the Chiefs, they were awesome!! I know he was on the the downside of his career, but come on, he was still delivering and going hard for my Chiefs, especially against the Raiders. Loved watching him push back a line at the end zone. Marcus Allen to his credit has 6 Pro Bowl selections, 2x First team All Pro, Super Bowl Champion, Super Bowl MVP, #85 NFL Player of all time, and Hall of Fame inductee, Class of 2003.
I liked Steve Young, I didn't like Steve Young, then I loved Steve Young. I liked him when he came off the the bench to play when Joe Montana was hurt, I didn't like him when he became the full time starter after Joe was traded (I know it was the right thing, didn't mean I had to like it). I loved him when he finally lifted the Lombardi trophy as a 49er. I was devastated when concussions ended his career, but I use to love to watch him run, run, and run. Steve Young finished his career with 7 Pro Bowl selections, 3 First Team All Pro, 3 Super Bowls, Super Bowl MVP, #81 NFL Player of all time, and Hall of Fame inductee, Class of 2005.
By now, everyone who reads my blog knows that the reason I'm a Chiefs fan is because of Derrick Thomas. When Derrick Thomas took the field, the man came to play, and woe unto the poor quarterback who got into his way. Ask the Dave Krieg who he sacked a record (which still stands) 7 times in one game. He brought new meaning to pass rusher. He played 11 years in the league, all with the Chiefs before his life was cut short by complications from a car accident that left him paralyzed. He was only 33. He was named to 9 Pro Bowls, 3 All Pro First Teams, and finally, Hall of Fame Inductee, Class of 2009.
Just a good old boy from north Mississippi, who made good-great. The greatest football player of all time rank so separately by both NFL and it's fans. I had the privilege of watching most of Jerry Rice's career, (I briefly recall a stint with the Raiders, but I don't like to think about that). He may not have been the fastest, but he made it up with style and grace and broke every record he could along the way. Jerry catching a pass in mid-air, Jerry breaking away from the pack to score, Jerry at the Super Bowl. I loved every moment, especially those shared with my #1 fave. If it weren't for my guy at #1, Jerry would be #1. Take a look at his awards: 13 Pro Bowl Selections, 11 First Team All Pro Selections, 3x Super Bowl Champ, Super Bowl MVP, Pro Bowl MVP, NFL 75th Anniversary All-Time Team, too many records to count, Hall of Fame Inductee, Class of 2010. Not bad for a kid from Mississippi Valley State University. Not bad at all.
All of my football memories begin with Joe Montana. From the catch until his last day as Kansas City Chief, I have loved Joe Montana. I loved the Super Bowls, the Pro Bowls, but I love the comebacks the most. Joe Montana driving his team down the field flashing that winning confident "I know we had it" smile. I held my breath when Leonard Marshall drilled him into the ground like a rag doll and cheered him on when he returned. I became angry with the 49ers for trading him and happy when he landed with my Chiefs, which signaled the beginning of the end of my 49ers fandom. (I still root for the 49ers, but it's more out of loyalty to my grandmother's memory than anything else). Then, there was that game between Montana's Chiefs and Young's 49ers. How could you not smile when Joe won? It was Joe Montana who led the Chiefs to their last playoff victory. You hear that Chiefs? Montana, who retired as a 49er the way it should be, walked away from the game with 8 Pro Bowl Selections, 3 All Pro First Team Selections, 4x Super Bowl Champion, 3x Super Bowl MVP, 2x League MVP, ranked #4 NFL Player of all-time, Hall of Fame Inductee, Class of 2000.
I watched most of these players from the beginning of their careers. No one knew how great they would become, but they did. I was a kid who didn't care about stats. I didn't care about schemes. I just cared about rooting for my favorite players and wishing them the best.
I know you are thinking that one is missing. Shawne Merriman. Isn't he one of your faves? Yes, he is, but...well, he is only 26. He's not ready for this list yet. I wish him a great season.
Until the next time, "You're simply the best, better than all the rest...Better than anyone, anyone I've ever met" -Tina Turner.