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Sports Then and Now



Best Players Not In The Pro Football Hall of Fame: Linebackers 18

Posted on July 29, 2009 by Dean Hybl
Chuck Howley is the only player to be named Super Bowl MVP while playing on the losing team.

Chuck Howley is the only player to be named Super Bowl MVP while playing on the losing team.

Our position-by-position look at the best eligible players not in the Pro Football Hall of Fame continues with a position that includes both players who served as the quarterback of the defense and others that disrupted offenses with their prowess rushing the passer.

Beginning in the 1950s and 1960s, many top middle linebackers became familiar figures as the defensive quarterback on the field. Players like Ray Nitschke, Dick Butkus, Tommy Nobis, Willie Lanier, Bill Bergey, Lee Roy Jordan, Jack Lambert, Harry Carson, Nick Buoniconti and Mike Singletary were recognized as the defensive leader for their team and every team looked to find their own stuffer in the middle.

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      The Sports Then and Now Vintage Athlete of the Month won a Bronze Star in Vietnam before going on to win American League Rookie of the Year honors and playing 14 seasons in the Major Leagues.

      Though only 5-foot-8 and 170 pounds, Al Bumbry was a four-year basketball player at Virginia State College (now University). The school restarted its baseball program during his career and Bumbry hit .578 during his senior season to earn notice from the Baltimore Orioles, who picked him in the 11th round of the MLB Draft.

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