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All Time NFL 45 Man Roster

Monday, September 19, 2011

Part of a series.  Previous post is here.

QB Joe Montana
      Peyton Manning
      Dan Marino
RB - Emmitt Smith
RB- Walter Payton
        Jim Brown
        Barry Sanders
WR - Jerry Rice
WR-  Randy Moss
         Marvin Harrison
         Terrell Owens
TE-  Tony Gonzalez
        Shannon Sharpe
C Jim Otto
G Gene Upshaw
G John Hannah
T Anthony Munoz
T Ron Yary
   OL Mike Webster
   OL Bruce Matthews
   OL Art Shell

DE Reggie White
DT Joe Greene
DE Bruce Smith
      DL Alan Page
      DL Carl Eller
      DL Merlin Olsen
      DL Bob Lilly
OLB Lawrence Taylor
ILB Ray Lewis
ILB Jack Lambert
OLB Junior Seau
       LB Jack Ham
       LB Joe Schmidt
       LB Bill George
CB Rod Woodson
S Ronnie Lott
S Ed Reed
CB Deion Sanders
      DB Mel Blount
      DB Night Train Lane
      DB Darrell Green
      DB Ronde Barber
PK Morten Andersen
P Ray Guy

QB - There's a good case to be made for Manning, Marino, Elway, Favre, and Unitas all to be ranked first.  If you order those six really in any way I'm unlikely to throw punches.  That's probably not true when Manning retires; assuming an injury doesn't dramatically speed his decline, Peyton Manning retires as the greatest quarterback in NFL history. Edit: That's how you know I wrote this piece in the offseason.

RB - I don't know if there's a good case that the four backs aren't the four best backs of all time; there's a noticeable step down to get to the next group.  Among the starters, Brown/Sanders are the best ever per game, but I'll take the career value for Smith/Payton to make them the starters.

WR - Hard after Jerry, who should be first by acclamation. The Moss/Owens movement makes their value hard to sufficiently appreciate.  Berry/Irvin/Largent, all with just one team, are in the next group.

TE - Newsome/Gates/Winslow/Mackey might be the next 4 for an AFC dominated position.

OL - That is an AFC heavy line.  Tingelhoff/Slater could replace Webster/Shell were you inclined.

DL - If you do any sort of advanced metric NFL study, what you're always struck by is how good those Vikings teams were.  That the Minnesota Vikings, in existence now for 50 years, have never won a title is a statistical anomaly

OLB - The softest inclusion in that starting linebacker group is Lambert - I'm willing to say Ray Lewis is now the greatest linebacker of all time.  Singletary/Nitschke/Hendricks could all take that last backup spot.

DB - Seau and Woodson are probably the players of the most recent vintage whose inclusion at the very top of the all time list would most surprise.  And Barber - Ronde Barber=super underappreciated by a mass public.

I'd welcome debate.  It's a challenging roster to put together.  I'm trying not to rely on previous conceptions of who the best football players were.  I think the one guy here who I am insufficiently scrutinizing is Guy.

5 comments

DennisVee said...

A pretty daunting task, narrowing down 90 years of NFL to the 45 best players. I like most of the choices, although debates could obviously be made for every position.. I think the only choice I have an immediate problem with is Ronde Barber -- you're correct in saying that he's under-appreciated, but it's hard for me to accept him on such an elite list over guys like Herb Adderly, Willie Wood, Mel Renfro, Larry Wilson, Johnny Robinson, Lem Barney, Willie Brown, Paul Krause, Emlen Tunnel, etc.... Among current players, I would probably choose Charles Woodson over Ronde...

Jim said...

The longevity really plays in his favor for me, at that position in the steroid era for offense; the picks, the sacks, the tackles - I'm not saying Barber's clearly the guy for that last spot, I'm not - but I like him in the mix of guys you mention. Without looking it up, I'd say Barber's already played more games than any of those guys except Krause (who maybe is a tick overrated as a beneficiary of that front four) and still has more value left. I wouldn't hate any of those picks as an alternative.

Blog said...

If you took George Blanda as your QB and PK, you could add somebody else to the team, thus getting more fantasy bang for your buck.

DennisVee said...

Blanda?? So, on your all-time NFL team, you want a guy who might throw four or five INTs per game and maybe makes about half of his FG tries? If you want a dual-purpose player, you'd be better off with Sammy Baugh or Yale Lary..

Jim said...

Maybe Groza, were we doing that.

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