By William Bixby
John Riggins – The Diesel was big and fast. John Riggins was a big man whonever shied away from contact, but who could also outrun most defensive backs who tried to catch him. At 6’3 and 230 lbs., Riggins was rumored to run a 4.4 40 yard dash. He used his size and weight to meet linebackers in the hole and destroy the secondary. Once Riggins got to the sideline, he had already scored. He is still 12th in NFL history in total touchdowns, 6th in rushing touchdowns, and 16th in career rushing yards.
Dick “Night Train” Lane – Players knew that the “Night Train” was coming whenever the football was in the air. Unlike Deion Sanders who was only a threat to intercept the football and score, the Night Train was also known to lay down the big hit on a receiver if he could not take the ball. And despite delivering big hits and scaring receivers with his physicality, he also did very well taking the ball from opponents. Dick “Night Train” Lane is still fourth on the all-time list of interceptions and holds the record for interceptions in a season, and holds the single season record for interceptions with 14. He did that in the era of football when teams only played 12 games per season.
Warren Moon – Warren Moon is the most underrated quarterback in the history of the NFL. His NFL career almost never came to past. He did not get significant playing time until his senior year in high school, his coach tried to convert him to another position at Washington, and the NFL initially did not want a Black quarterback. But, Moon finished his career as the professional football leader in touchdowns, pass completions, and pass attempts.
Derrick Brooks – A coach needs a special middle linebacker to play the Tampa Two defense, and Derrick Brooks was exceptional. Though he was smaller than preferred for a linebacker at 6′, he made up for his height with sideline to sideline speed, the ability to read plays correctly, and sure tackling. Brooks won a Defensive Player of the Year award and was an 11-time Pro Bowler in 14 years. He always found his way to the football, was rarely fooled by a play, and when he created a turnover, he scored. Derrick Brooks is also tied for the lead in interception touchdowns by a linebacker.
Randall Cunningham – Cunningham has more touchdowns than Troy Aikman, more passing yards than Terry Bradshaw, and a better passer rating than John Elway, yet he is not in the Hall of Fame. Randall Cunningham was the original scrambling quarterback, and he had a cannon for an arm. He was so talented that he was called to play for the Minnesota Vikings at the age of 40 years old. And with his arm, his ability to buy time with his legs, and a stable of thoroughbred receivers, he made them the Vikings a contender.
Deacon Jones – Deacon Jones could be the all-time sack leader if the NFL actually recorded sacks for his entire career. This 6’5 monster terrorized quarterbacks for seasons in the NFL. According to Deacon himself, he had multiple twenty sack games and football historians realize that he might be telling the truth. Jones created chaos and hit the quarterback constantly throughout his career. In fact, he actually coined the phrase “sack”.
Drew Bledsoe – The worth of a quarterback is often measured by the touchdowns that he scored and the passing yards that he acquired, and Drew Bledsoe’s statistics match and surpass some of the greatest quarterbacks in NFL history. He was selected to four Pro-Bowls, and was amongst the leaders in passing attempts and passing yards in his best years. However, the true value of Bledsoe lied in his unique ability to prepare his successor for the toughest position to learn in the NFL. Drew Bledsoe was known for his big arm and his willingness to throw the deep ball. He went over 3,000 yards in a season nine times and is tied with Warren Moon for the fourth spot in NFL history for most 3,000 yard seasons. Bledsoe taught Tom Brady, J.P. Losman, and Tony Romo how read defenses and get the ball to receivers down the field.
Eric Dickerson – Eric Dickerson is one of the most unique running backs that ever played in the NFL. At 6’3″ and 220 lbs. he was a huge NFL rusher. He was strong in the hole and could not be caught in the open field. Dickerson still holds the NFL record for rushing yards in a single season with 2,105.
Kurt Warner – Kurt Warner is one of the most accurate quarterbacks of all time, and he almost did not play in the National Football League. He sacked groceries and played in the CFL before making it to the NFL, but once he got his chance to play football at the highest level, he never looked back. Kurt Warner is a two-time league MVP, a Super Bowl MVP, and a four time Pro Bowler. He is still eighth all-time in passer rating, fourth in passing yardage per game and passing completion, and third in net yards per passing attempt. Warner headed the most prolific passing attack in NFL history and seemed to never miss an open receiver. More so, when given time in the pocket, he often threw receivers open by leading them away from defenses. He was one of the best passers of his generation.
Warren Sapp – No defensive tackles outside of Deacon Jones and Reggie White were as chaotic and unrelenting as Warren Sapp. He faced constant double-teams on the interior of the line, but still got into the backfield for 96.5 career sacks, 100 total sacks including the playoffs, and countless tackles for losses.