This is just a team that, in my humble opinion, is compiled of the greatest players of all time at each position. Here we go:
(Note: All statistics given are for 16-game averages)
QB: Otto Graham
Cleveland Browns (1946-55)
I give Graham the edge over Montana because of the era Graham played in. While Montana
has better numbers than Graham, when you look at their numbers in comparison to the other players of their respective eras, the gap between Graham and his competition is greater than the gap between Montana and his competition. Graham was a 7-time first team All-Pro and a 3-time UPI NFL MVP. In the 4 years he and the Browns were in the AAFC, they won the league championship every year. In the 6 years they were in the NFL, they went to the NFL Championship game all 6 years and won it 3 times. He is the all-time leader in yards per pass attempt. His record as a starter in the NFL was 57-13-1.
Runner-up: Joe Montana
RB: Jim Brown
Cleveland Browns (1957-65)
Jim Brown is the pretty clear choice for me.
Some people say Barry Sanders, but while Barry had home run potential, he had too many negative runs. Jim Browns runs might not have been as pretty but they were more productive. Although officially listed as a FB, I have Brown as a fullback because he was always his team’s feature back. In 1999, Sporting News ranked him as the greatest football player of all time. Brown played 9 seasons in the NFL. In those 9 seasons, he led the league in rushing yards 8 times and in rushing touchdowns 5 times. He was a 9- time Pro Bowler and an 8-time first team All-Pro. Jim Brown dominated and is the best RB
Runner-up: Barry Sanders
WR: Don Hutson
Green Bay Packers (1935-45)
While Hutson may not have gaudy numbers when compared to today’s players, his numbers compared to others of his time are un-real. Let’s take his best year, 1942. He had 74 receptions. While that may not sound that groundbreaking, consider that Pop Ivey was second in the NFL in receptions with 27.
Hutson had more than twice as many receptions as the man who finished second. Hutson had 1,211 receiving yards. Ray McLean finished second with 571 yards, less than half of Hutson’s total. Hutson had 17 receiving touchdowns. Ray McLean finished second with 8 receiving touchdowns. Hutson once again more than doubled the runner up. Hutson led the NFL in receptions 8 times, in receiving yards 7 times, and in receiving touchdowns 9 times. He was also first-team All-Pro 8 times.
WR: Jerry Rice
San Francisco 49ers (1985-2000)
Oakland Raiders (2001-04)
Seattle Seahawks (2004)
Although I don’t have Rice as the best receiver of all-time, I don’t deny his greatness.
It was close between Rice and Hutson, but I gave the nod to Hutson for basically inventing the position and for being so far ahead of his contemporaries. Rice led the NFL in receptions twice, in receiving yards 6 times, and in receiving touchdowns 6 times. At the age of 40 in the 2002 season, he had over 1,200 receiving yards. He was a 13-time Pro Bowler and a 10-time All-Pro. He is the all-time leader in receptions, receiving yards, receiving touchdowns, and all-purpose touchdowns.
WR: Lance Alworth
San Diego Chargers (1962-70)
Dallas Cowboys (1971-72)
This was a very difficult decision. I had to decide between Alworth, Marvin Harrison, and Randy Moss. While Moss and Harrison has had slightly better numbers, I ended up going with Alworth because of he was better in comparison to his contemporaries than Harrison and Moss have been to theirs. Alworth may be the best deep threat of all-time.
He averaged 18.9 yards per reception over his career, including the 1965 season where he averaged 23.2 yards per reception. Alworth led the league in receptions 3 times, in receiving yards 3 times, and in receiving touchdowns 3 times. He was a 7-time Pro Bowler and a 6-time first-team All-Pro.
Runners-up: Marvin Harrison, Randy Moss
TE: Mike Ditka
Chicago Bears (1961-66)
Philadelphia Eagles (1967-68)
Dallas Cowboys (1969-72)
This was a tough one. I considered three players: Ditka, Kellen Winslow, and John Mackey.
While Winslow is the best receiver, I’m going to go with Ditka as my starter and Mackey as my runner-up. Why? Blocking. This team already has enough receiving threats, so I put extra emphasis on blocking here. I have Ditka barely edging out Mackey because they’re about equal offensively and I regard Ditka as the better blocker. Ditka was a 5-time Pro-Bowler and a 2-time All-Pro. He helped lead his teams to 2 NFL Championships.
Runner-up: John Mackey
T: Anthony Munoz
Cincinnati Bengals (1980-92)
Munoz is the clear choice here. He is arguably the greatest offensive lineman of all-time. Munoz, who started 183 games, is the quintessential left tackle. He was the 4-time NFLPA Offensive Lineman of the Year. He was selected to the Pro Bowl in 11 consecutive seasons and was a 9-time first-team All-Pro. In 1999, Sporting News ranked him as the 17th greatest football player of all time, the highest rank of any offensive lineman. He also caught four touchdown passes in his career. It doesn’t get any better at the tackle position than Anthony Munoz.
G: John Hannah
New England Patriots (1973-85)
What Anthony Munoz is to the tackle position, John Hannah is to the guard position.
Like Munoz, Hannah started 183 games and was the 4-time NFLPA Offensive Lineman of the Year. He was a 9-time Pro Bowler and a 7-time first-team All-Pro. In 1999, Sporting News named him the 20th greatest football player of all time. In 1981, Sports Illustrated labeled him The Best Offensive Lineman of All Time. While you could argue that Munoz now deserves that distinction, it’s safe to say that Hannah is the best guard of all time.
C: Mel Hein
New York Giants (1931-45)
This was a close call between Hein and Mike Webster.
I decided to give the nod to Hein because he was a two-way player and because he was the 1938 NFL MVP. Hein was extremely durable. Despite being a two-way player, he never missed a game in his NFL career. Hein played for the New York Giants for 15 seasons, starting 153 games. During his time with the Giants, the team had just 2 losing seasons and appeared in 7 NFLChampionship games, winning 2 of them. In 1999, Sporting News named him the 74th greatest football player of all time. Hein was a 4-time Pro Bowler and a 5-time first-team All-Pro.
Runner-up: Mike Webster
G: Gene Upshaw
Oakland Raiders (1967-81)
I gave Upshaw the nod over Jim Parker because, unlike Parker, Upshaw played his entire career at guard.
Upshaw started in 207 consecutive games with the Raiders. He also played in 24 postseason games. During Upshaw’s time with the Raiders, the team had only one losing season and appeared in 9 conference championship games and 3 Super Bowls, including Super Bowls XI and XV, which the Raiders won. In 1999, Sporting News named him the 62nd best football player of all time. Upshaw was a 7-time Pro Bowler and a 5-time first-team All-Pro.
Runner-up: Jim Parker
T: Forrest Gregg
Green Bay Packers (1956-70)
Dallas Cowboys (1971)
Forrest Gregg was a pretty clear pick for me here. There have been other great tackles, but they just don’t stack up to Gregg.
Gregg played in 188 consecutive games for the Green Bay Packers. Gregg helped lead the Packers to 5 NFL titles and won another with the Cowboys in his last season. In 1999, Sporting News named Gregg the 28th best football player of all time. He was a 9-time Pro Bowler and a 7-time first-team All-Pro.
It’s easy to see why Vince Lombardi said, “Forrest Gregg is the finest player I’ve ever coached.”