Saturday, February 28, 2015

Day Ten: My Favorite NFL Stars Part One

It is late. I don't know why I wait so late. Yes, I do, because lately I've been just trying to come up with topics.  Forty topics in forty days is rather a leap for me. Normally, I would write once a week and only during football season. So, this has been a bit different.  Anyway...
Tonight, in honor of my favorite players birthday, I am going to do a list of my favorite players.  I'm going to divide it into two parts.  Part one will cover retired players, while part two will cover current NFL players. These are players that I simply loved to watch play every Sunday afternoon.  Some, I just loved to watch, but all helped to make football my favorite sport.

#10-Shawne Merriman-Linebacker, San Diego Chargers.  I didn't want to like Shawne Merriman. He played for the enemy, but 1) he was cute, 2) he had that back story that would make Annie cry, and he would do the most horrible things to quarterbacks. He almost reminded me of Derrick Thomas. I know there are Chiefs fans who will hate me for saying that, but man, when Merriman was at his best he was so dang quick. Seriously, if it hadn't been for that game in Tennessee, and a bad decision to play on a bum wheel, who knows how good he could have been.  Still liked watching him play though, sue me.

#9-Junior Seau-Linebacker, San Diego Chargers.  I originally liked to look at Junior Seau.  Plus, he had an awesome name for a linebacker, SAY-ow!  Seau was a tremendous linebacker with a great smile, a big heart, and a penchant for destroying my Chiefs.  I was bummed that he (like Tony G.) never won a Super Bowl.  It's been almost three years, and I still can't believe the tragic way his life ended. He will be inducted into the NFL Hall of Fame in the Class of 2015.

#8-Steve Young-Quarterback, San Francisco 49ers. I didn't like Young at first.  He was taking Montana's place, and I didn't like it one bit. Young, though, grew on me.  Even though I always rooted for Joe to beat him when they played each other, no one was cheering louder than me when he finally won Super Bowl XXIX.  HOF Class of 2005.

#7-Ronnie Lott-Cornerback/Safety, San Francisco 49ers.  Yes, I'm aware he played for other teams, including a brief stint with the Kansas City Chiefs, but I loved watching him play for the 49ers. This guy was one of the toughest men in the NFL.  He had part of his finger amputated for goodness sakes!  HOF Class of 2000.

#6-Will Shields-Offensive Guard, Kansas City Chiefs.  Will Shields was a part of one of the greatest offensive lines in Kansas City Chiefs history, if not NFL history.  He blocked for Marcus Allen, Priest Holmes, and that guy I'd rather not talk about. 223 consecutive games, an iron man at guard. 12 time Pro Bowler, and now a member of the Hall of Fame Class of 2015.

#5-Marcus Allen-Running Back, Kansas City Chiefs.  Yes, I know he had his best years with a team that shall not be named, but when he moved over to the Chiefs, I could legitimately root for him. He was handsome and still better never lost a game to that team while he was a Chief.  Even at the tail-end of his career during his five years with the Chiefs he scored 44 touchdowns, averaged about 740 rushing yards a season, and about 230 receiving yards. HOF Class of 2003.

#4-Jerry Rice-Wide Receiver, San Francisco 49ers. Remember, this is not a Greatest of all time list. It's my favorite players list. What's not to love?  First, he's from my home state of Mississippi, and he is literally the greatest receiver to ever play the position. Fun was watching Montana to Rice, especially in that 55-10 beatdown on Elway and the Broncos, and later Young to Rice. He still holds practically every record at the position.  Yes, I know he played for other teams.  I just don't acknowledge those years.  My prerogative. HOF Class of 2010.

#3-Derrick Thomas-Linebacker, Kansas City Chiefs.  Derrick Thomas is the reason I became a Kansas City Chiefs fan. While I never have been nor ever will be an Alabama fan, I could not help but fall for this guy's play.  He was every quarterback's nightmare and still holds the single game sack record. He embarrassed more offensive lines than the law would allow, but his time was cut tragically short by an accident that claimed his life.  Hard to believe that has been 15 years. Still miss him.  RIP DT.  HOF Class of 2009.

#2-Joe Montana, Quarterback, San Francisco 49ers/Kansas City Chiefs. See what I did there. Most of these players I only acknowledged the teams that I actually would admit they played for. Joe Montana played for my two favorite teams.  He was my first football hero.  You like Tom Brady? Keep him, for me, Joe Montana is the best there is, the best there was, and the best there ever will be. Never lost a Super Bowl, Brady. Never lost a Super Bowl... HOF Class of 2000.

#1-Tony Gonzalez, Tight End, Kansas City Chiefs/Atlanta Falcons. I have followed his entire career, perhaps a little too closely. I didn't think he was going to make it at the start, but I'm glad he is stuck around for another 16 years, and in the process, became the one of the greatest (I say the greatest)tight end of all time. Watching him catch a pass was a thing of beauty, and I was fortunate enough to see him catch his 100th and 101st touchdowns in person. If Derrick Thomas made me a Chiefs fan, Tony G. helped keep me in the Red and Gold.  Although I listed the Falcons, I still haven't forgiven them for that abomination of a last season they awarded him with, and unlike most fans, I didn't feel disrespected in the least when he dunked at Arrowhead.  Alas, he was the last on this list to retire taking his trademark dunk with him.  Happy birthday, Tony Gonzalez, hope to see you with the NFL HOF Class of 2019 or 2020 depending on whether or not he actually filed that pesky paperwork...

That's it. My favorite players. Remember, not a list of the greatest of all time, just mine.

Until next time, "Winners, I am convinced, imagine their dreams first. They want it with all their heart and expect it to come true. There is, I believe, no other way to live."-Joe Montana

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