Throughout our lives as sports fans, we go through the tragic fact that our favorite players will hang up the cleats at some point. Which then makes me reminisce about some guys who made me infatuated with the game of football. So I comprised a very hard thought list of the top 10 guys I miss watching play football. Now remember I’m only in my 20’s so this just counts for who I got to PHYSICALLY see play so please don’t get too up in arms over the selections, but here we go.
#10- Jared Allen: This fu man chu sporting behemoth of a maniac was one of the most entertaining defensive ends the league has ever seen. His sheer power was impressive, but his wild attitude and crazy celebrations made the dude so fun to watch, you rooted for him to even get a sack on your team’s QB.
#9- Dante Hall: For those of you who don’t recognize this man, this is “the Human Joystick”. The only return man ever to be better than Devin Hester. Hall never made too much of an impact as a receiver, but coach Dick Vermeil chose him as a returner and man was that a great move. Dante had a knack for being able to somehow prevail and part the seas every time he returned a ball. He made special teams something to pay attention to and if that’s not special, I’m not sure what is.
#8- Pat McAfee: Nobody gave a damn about punters until Pat McAfee came around. The Plum area native took the league by storm as a punter who got drafted which rarely happens. His antics like getting his mugshot turned into a famous tee shirt, and being the only punter to conduct celebrations after a boomer or precise coffin corner landed him in stardom. He was a trailblazer and gave punters a good name and drew more attention to their unique skills. And still to this day is one of the most entertaining people on television.
#7- Brian Urlacher: This ladies and gents is one of the greatest linebackers of all time. He was just a big angry beast who looked like he could have had an alternate career in pro wrestling. He was all business and struck fear into other opponents. Watching everyone’s mood change when this guy set foot on the field was incredible.
#6- Chad (Ochocinco) Johnson: So homeboy literally changed his last name at one point to be “8-5” in Spanish… He also wore a future hall of fame jacket at a game. He raced a RACE HORSE, he joined a pro soccer team, wore gold grills in a game. He was the fastest man in the NFL at one point, possibly the sharpest route runner ever, and one of the all time greats at trash talk. As crazy as this man was and as sad of a fall off as he had, I’d do a lot to see him play again.
#5- Mike Alstott: This guy is the closest thing to X- Men villain Juggernaut that we’ve ever seen. White running backs weren’t really a thing in that era and he was just about the only one. And was by far one of the strongest men in the game. His neck pad and large shoulder pads added to an already massive frame. Watching him steamroll defenders got you out of your chair. If only players like him still existed.
#4- Troy Polamalu: This flyin’ Hawaiian is arguably the greatest safety of all time. 2x Super bowl Champ and defensive player of the year are only a small testament to his talent. Watching him make interceptions with his finger tips, or literally hurdle an entire offensive line for a sack, or lay out a crossing wide receiver. He was hands down one of the most entertaining players to ever enter the league.
#3- Michael Vick: Everyone will always sadly remember Mike Vick for the dog fighting scandal, but I remember him as a football player. I remember the QB who would lead each game in rushing yards. The guy who was a cheat code on Madden. A guy who could beat you with his legs or stop dead in his tracks and throw a bomb over your secondary’s heads. He was one of few mobile quarterbacks to see that much success. If it wasn’t for off the field issues, Vick would be considered a legend word wide.
#2- Calvin Johnson: Megatron. The prototype of a wide receiver. The perfect specimen of just absolute freak athleticism. His gigantic 6’5 265 lbs build on top of the stickiest hands in the league made him quite possibly the greatest pure talent receiver we’ve ever seen. If it wasn’t for his early retirement at age 30, he would have broken the few records he didn’t already have with ease. This is by far probably the best overall talent I got to witness growing up.
#1- Jerome Bettis: Growing up as a kid, my favorite athlete PERIOD was the Bus. The fact that this man was genuinely over weight and still was as fast and nimble as he was is remarkable. The guy was built like an offensive linemen, but ran the ball like dump truck/ cheetah hybrid. For his stature, to finish his career as the 5th all time leading rusher in NFL history and stay at 7th now even after 13 years of retirement should tell you something. Well that and his gold jacket and bust at Canton. I never saw a player with such raw power and speed like that before. The best combination runner of all time. He of course was my childhood hero so this one is biased. But I’d give just about anything to see him suit up in black and gold again.
Well folks there you have it. Hope the justifications were enough for you, but that’s my final list. I’d love to see or hear about yours, so send em in!