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NFL at 100: Top 100 Players of All-Time – 100-76 0

Posted on November 16, 2019 by Dean Hybl

One of the cool parts of the NFL celebrating 100 years in 2019 is remembering the great moments and players that have helped shape the history of the game.

The NFL Network has been sharing their selections for the top moments, game-changers, teams and characters. Soon they will be unveiling their list of the top 100 players in NFL history.

In a sport that has seen great change and evolution over 100 years, creating any comprehensive all-time list is going to be subjective and open to interpretation.

That is likely even more pronounced when trying to choose the top 100 players of the NFL’s first 100 years.

Some will certainly rely heavily on statistics as a guide, but my opinion is that while individual season statistics and the number of seasons leading the league in a statistical category can help identify greatness, career and all-time statistics are not as helpful and can be misleading when trying to pick an all-time team.

Whether it is related to the number of games played each season, move from playing both ways to position specialization or rule changes that impact offensive production, there has been enough change over the history of the game that I believe reduce the importance of career statistics.

 That is why for the Sports Then and Now list of the Top 100 Players in NFL history we chose to give greater emphasis to other factors. The things we looked at when choosing our top 100 included All-Pro and Pro Bowl selections, number of times leading their league in statistical categories, how they compared to other players from within their era and peak performance. Team success was given greater weight in ordering quarterbacks, but played only a minor role in selecting players from other positions.

The result is a Sports Then and Now Top 100 list that I fully expect to look very different than the list that will be unveiled on the NFL Network beginning on November 22nd. For our list, we made sure not to forget those players from the 1920s-1950s whose career statistics are well below players from future decades, but who were clearly all-time greats.

The distribution of players by era for the ST&N Top 100 is very interesting: 1920s-1930s: 8; 1940s-1950s: 13; 1960s: 24; 1970s: 15; 1980s: 12; 1990s: 12; 2000s: 8; 2010s: 7. However, 14 of our top 20 played a majority of their career after 1980.

This is the first of four posts over the next couple weeks announcing the ST&N Top 100. This one includes players 100-76.

100. Larry Wilson – St. Louis Cardinals – 8 Pro Bowls; 5 time 1st Team All-Pro: The creator of the safety blitz, Wilson was a hard-nosed player who was one of the top defensive players of the 1960s. He registered 52 career interceptions and scored seven defensive touchdowns during his career.

99. J.J. Watt – Houston Texans – 5 Pro Bowls, 5 time 1st Team All-Pro: When healthy, J.J. Watt has clearly distinguished himself as an all-time great. He has earned first-team All-Pro in each of the five seasons in which he has been healthy throughout the year and was named the NFL Defensive Player of the Year three times in his first four years. Unfortunately, a recent injury that has ended his 2019 season marks the third time in the last four years that he has played in eight or fewer games.

98. Adrian Peterson – Minnesota Vikings (primary team) – 7 Pro Bowls; 4 time 1st team All-Pro: A three-time NFL rushing champion, Adrian Peterson was the most dominant running back in the NFL during his 10 seasons in Minnesota. After suffering a major knee injury in 2011, the next season he rushed for 2,097 yards, which is the second highest single season total in NFL history.

97. Derrick Brooks – Tampa Bay Buccaneers – 11 Pro Bowls; 5 time 1st team All-Pro: Often over-shadowed by more flamboyant teammates, Derrick Brooks was the steady leader of a Tampa Bay defense that was among the best in the league for nearly a decade. In their Super Bowl winning season in 2002, Brooks was the NFL Defensive Player of the Year as he returned three interceptions for touchdowns during the regular season and had another score in the Super Bowl.

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Earl Morrall: The Perfect Backup 0

Posted on November 16, 2019 by Dean Hybl
Earl Morrall

In a career that started in 1956 and ended in 1976, the Sports Then and Now Vintage Athlete of the Month was never really a leading man, but he seemed to be part of the supporting cast for many huge moments in NFL history.

The second overall pick in the 1956 NFL Draft out of Michigan State, Earl Morrall joined a San Francisco 49ers team that already included the famous “Million Dollar Backfield” of Y.A. Tittle, Hugh McElhenny, Joe Perry and John Henry Johnson.

Morrall started four games during his rookie season, but just before the start of the 1957 season was traded along with guard Mike Sandusky to the Pittsburgh Steelers in exchange for linebacker Marv Matuszak and two first-round draft picks.

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45 Years Ago: The Rumble in the Jungle 0

Posted on October 30, 2019 by Dean Hybl

While the greatest victory of Muhammad Ali’s career was perhaps over the U.S. Government, it could certainly be argued that he had no greater win in the boxing ring than his victory over George Foreman in the Rumble in the Jungle 45 years ago on October 30, 1974.

Though the 32-year old Ali had been a great champion, he had lost more than three years at the peak of his career due to his battle with the U.S. Government and in the three years since his return to the ring had never quite reached the level of greatest displayed earlier in his career.

He had posted a 15-2 record since returning to the ring and avenged both defeats, but the undefeated 25-year old Foreman was 40-0 in his career and wasn’t just winning fights, he was demolishing opponents.

Ali’s two defeats had been to Joe Frazier and Ken Norton. Foreman’s fights with both Frazier and Norton ended in the second round. He knocked Frazier down six times before their fight was finally stopped. Norton, who had famously broken Ali’s jaw in their first fight, was knocked out by Foreman in the second round.

There are many things about the Rumble in the Jungle that are now famously part of boxing lore.

One thing that made the fight notable was that it was being fought in Zaire, Africa. Ali had fought oversees several times previously, but never in Africa.

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Sid Luckman: Chicago Bears Legend 0

Posted on September 28, 2019 by Dean Hybl
Sid Luckman

After years of struggling to find a consistent quarterback, the Chicago Bears now hope third-year player Mitchell Trubisky will be their quarterback for years to come. As the Sports Then and Now Vintage Athlete of the Month we are recognizing the best quarterback in Chicago Bears history.

Chosen out of Columbia–where he played tailback–with the second pick in the 1939 NFL Draft, Sid Luckman spent 12 seasons as the quarterback for the Bears and led them to five NFL Championship Game appearances and four titles.

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New England Patriots’ Dynasty is NFL’s Greatest 0

Posted on September 16, 2019 by Hammad Basharat

The New England Patriots dynasty is the most successful in NFL history, eclipsing the past feats of the Green Bay Packers, Pittsburgh Steelers, San Francisco 49ers and Dallas Cowboys. Since 2000, the franchise have won six Super Bowls, appearing in nine in total in the period.

New England have dominated the AFC East, winning their division 15 out of the 18 seasons following the arrival of Bill Belichick and Tom Brady. The duo have been the source of their imperious hold over the rest of the league, morphing from plucky underdogs in Super Bowl XXXVI to comparisons of the evil empire from the Star Wars movie series. Their reputation and their excellence has seen them backed as a leading contender for Super Bowl LIV, although the Kansas City Chiefs are the favorites in the Betfair betting tips for the 2019 season. New England are perhaps the safest bet for the title given that they have appeared in the AFC Championship game every year since 2011.

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Paul Henderson Scores the Most Famous Goal in Ice Hockey History 1

Posted on August 11, 2019 by Joe Garcia

Every single Canadian who was at least five years old in back in 1972 can tell you exactly where they were on Sept 28th 1972. That’s the day Paul Henderson scored the most dramatic and famous goal in hockey history with just 34 seconds to go in the final contest of the eight-game Summit Series between Canada and the USSR.

The two nations went to to toe with the first four contests being held in Canada and the last four in  the Soviet Union.

Canada stood still that September afternoon with classes canceled across the country while television sets were wheeled into school auditoriums for students to witness the most important hockey game ever.

To many, it was a lot more than just a sporting event. There were many political overtones to the series as it was seen as the capitalist way of life in North America against the Communism of the Eastern Bloc. In 1972 the Olympic Games were purely for amateur athletes which the Soviet hockey players were classified as. Many players on the squad were recruited from the famous Central Red Army while the Canadian team consisted entirely of professional NHL players.

After getting a first glimpse at the Soviets, many who had holes in their socks and sweaters, most Canadians believed their country would have no problem sweeping all eight games. 

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    • Earl Morrall: The Perfect Backup
      November 16, 2019 | 10:46 am
      Earl Morrall

      In a career that started in 1956 and ended in 1976, the Sports Then and Now Vintage Athlete of the Month was never really a leading man, but he seemed to be part of the supporting cast for many huge moments in NFL history.

      The second overall pick in the 1956 NFL Draft out of Michigan State, Earl Morrall joined a San Francisco 49ers team that already included the famous “Million Dollar Backfield” of Y.A. Tittle, Hugh McElhenny, Joe Perry and John Henry Johnson.

      Morrall started four games during his rookie season, but just before the start of the 1957 season was traded along with guard Mike Sandusky to the Pittsburgh Steelers in exchange for linebacker Marv Matuszak and two first-round draft picks.

      Read more »

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