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Sports Then and Now



NFL at 100: Top 100 Players of All-Time – 50-26 1

Posted on February 01, 2020 by Dean Hybl

There have been many great players in the 100 year history of the NFL, but who are the greatest of the great? As part of our celebration of the NFL at 100, we have been sharing our picks for the top 100 players in NFL history.

We are breaking the selections into four groups of 25. You can read our players 100-76 and 75-51 in previous articles. This article is looking at players 50-26. We will be posting our top 25 picks in a subsequent post.

Below is a look at our picks 50-26 (the team listed is the one they were most associated with during their career).

Willie Lanier

50. Willie Lanier – Kansas City Chiefs – 8 Pro Bowls; 3 time 1st Team All-Pro: Much like was the case on offense with the quarterback position, for many years there was a perception that African American players couldn’t handle the defensive equivalent leadership position of middle linebacker. That inaccuracy was crushed in the 1960s when the Kansas City Chiefs drafted Willie Lanier from Morgan State. After playing outside linebacker as a rookie in 1967, Lanier became the starting middle linebacker during his second season and immediately earned first team All-Pro honors. In 1969 the Chiefs were number one in the AFL in rushing defense, passing defense and scoring defense and reached Super Bowl IV. Lanier had an interception in the game as Kansas City held the Minnesota Vikings to only seven points in a 23-7 victory. Dominant against both the run and pass, Lanier completed his 11 year career with 27 pass interceptions and 18 fumble recoveries.

49. Emlen Tunnell – New York Giants – 9 Pro Bowls; 4 time 1st Team All-Pro: Though not drafted out of college, Tunnell made an immediate impact at defensive back for the New York Giants. He intercepted seven passes as a rookie and 10 during his second season. A key component of the dominant Giants’ defense of the 1950s, Tunnell intercepted at least six passes in each of his first 10 seasons. He helped the Giants win the NFL Championship in 1956 and then after moving to Green Bay in 1959, helped the Packers win the Championship in 1961.  Tunnell finished his career with 79 interceptions for 1,282 yards and four interceptions. At the time of his retirement, Tunnell was the NFL’s career leader in interceptions and still ranks second all-time. He was the first African American member of the New York Giants and first African American inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

48. Dutch Clark – Detroit Lions – 0 Pro Bowls; 6 time 1st Team All-Pro: A member of the inaugural class of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, Dutch Clark was a six-time NFL All-Pro and a three-time NFL scoring champion. He rushed for 2,772 yards and passed for 1,501 yards during his career. He also served as a kicker and finished with 369 career points. He scored on a 40-yard touchdown run to help the Detroit Lions win the NFL Championship in 1935.

47. Junior Seau – San Diego Chargers – 12 Pro Bowls; 6 time 1st Team All-Pro: One of the dominant defenders of his era, Junior Seau played 20 years in the NFL and was a 12-time Pro Bowl selection. He recorded more than 1,800 career tackles, 56.5 sacks, 18 interceptions and 18 fumble recoveries. Seau helped the Chargers reach Super Bowl XXIX and was also a member of the New England Patriots team that was 16-0 in 2017 before losing to the New York Giants in Super Bowl XLII.

46. Roger Staubach – Dallas Cowboys – 6 Pro Bowls; 0 time 1st Team All-Pro: Known as “Captain America” during his decade as quarterback of the Dallas Cowboys, Roger Staubach led the Cowboys to four Super Bowl appearances (won two) and six NFC Championship Games during his career. Famous for his late-game comebacks, Staubach had a career record of 96-35 (74%) as a starter. An elusive runner, he gained 2,264 yards with 20 rushing touchdowns during his career. At the time of his retirement, Staubach was the NFL’s career leader in passer rating.

Read the rest of this entry →

Remembering Sports Greats Lost in 2013 2

Posted on December 31, 2013 by Dean Hybl

Baseball legend Stan Musial passed away in 2013 at age 92.

Baseball legend Stan Musial passed away in 2013 at age 92.

Unfortunately, one of the inevitable aspects of every year is that we must say goodbye to some memorable greats from the sports world who passed away during that year.

2013 was no different as the sports world lost a number of all-time greats along with many others who may not have ended their careers in a sports Hall of Fame, but who left their own marks on the history of sports.

During the year we reflected on the passing of several athletes at the time of their death including Stan Musial, Pat Summerall, Earl Weaver, Deacon Jones, Art Donovan, Bum Phillips and Ed Herrmann. You can remember the legacies of these sports stars by clicking on their name to read the original articles.

In addition to these seven, there were many other well-known figures from the sports world that we lost in 2013. Below are brief remembrances of some of those greats.

Miller Barber – Professional Golfer – 82 years old
After winning 11 PGA Tour tournaments, but never finishing better than fourth in any Major, Barber was one of the early stars of the Senior Tour. He won 24 Senior Tour tournaments, including the Senior PGA Championship in 1981 and three Senior U.S. Open Championships in a four-year period.

Walt Bellamy – NBA Hall of Famer – 74 years old
The first pick of the 1961 NBA Draft, Bellamy averaged 31.6 points per game as a rookie, but still finished nearly 19 points per game behind NBA scoring champion Wilt Chamberlain (who averaged 50.4 ppg). He went on to average 20.1 points and 13.7 rebounds per game during a 14 year career in which he played for five different franchises.

Paul Blair – Major League Baseball Outfielder – 69 years old
An eight time Gold Glove winner, Blair was a key member of two World Series Champion teams with the Baltimore Orioles. He also won two World Series as a member of the New York Yankees during his 17 year career. Read the rest of this entry →

Remembering Deacon Jones, the Secretary of Defense 1

Posted on June 04, 2013 by Dean Hybl

Deacon Jones was twice the NFL Defensive Player of the Year and recorded 20 or more sacks in four seasons.

Deacon Jones was twice the NFL Defensive Player of the Year and recorded 20 or more sacks in four seasons.

The NFL lost an all-time great with the death this week of Hall of Fame defensive end David “Deacon” Jones at the age of 74.

While he will be remembered as a revolutionary defender who invented the term “sack” and the now-outlawed “head slap”, Jones was more than just another great player.

At a time when African American players were just gaining wide-spread acceptance, Jones beat the odds to become one of the best players of his generation.

Born in Eatonville, Florida (near Orlando), Jones attended Hungerford High School and then South Carolina State. After just one season, Jones lost his scholarship after being involved with the Civil Rights Movement. He then played one season at Mississippi Vocational College (now Mississippi Valley State) before being drafted in the 14th round of the 1961 NFL Draft by the Los Angeles Rams.

Though unheralded, Jones soon established himself as a rising star and became part of one of the greatest defensive lines in NFL history. During the 1960s, the “Fearsome Foursome” developed into a key component of the turnaround of the Rams from a perennial loser to a consistent playoff contender.

When Jones joined the Rams in 1961, Lamar Lundy was already on the squad as a defensive tackle. The year after Jones, Merlin Olsen was drafted by the Rams and became one of the best defensive tackles in NFL history.  The line was complete when Roosevelt “Rosey” Grier was traded to the Rams from the Giants in 1963.

Over the next three seasons, the defensive front became one of the best in football, but the Rams were still unable to develop into a winning team. Read the rest of this entry →

  • Vintage Athlete of the Month

    • Early Wynn: 300 Game Winner
      August 1, 2020 | 8:37 pm
      Early Wynn

      The Sports Then and Now Vintage Athlete of the Month pitched in four decades, was a veteran of World War II and is one of only two pitchers to finish with exactly 300 career victories.

      Hall of Famer Early Wynn began his career as a 19-year old in 1939 by pitching three games for the Washington Senators. After spending the 1940 season in the minors, he went 3-1 with a 1.58 ERA in a brief stint in the majors in 1941.

      Read more »

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