A century-long debate: The biggest snubs from the NFL 100 All-Time Team
The NFL 100 All-Time Team has officially been announced in full, with 100 players and 10 coaches’ names etched in the history books, faces remembered in bust form, and images filling up a wall of the league’s legendary figures at the NFL Films studios in New Jersey.
While the laundry list of names that filled the league’s centennial team made sense in most cases, there were a few head-scratching additions and many large-scale omissions in the eyes of many. Players from the 21st century were few and far between, and some of the NFL’s greatest found themselves on the outside looking in when the dust cleared after the announcements.
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For many stars named to the team, a fan could probably name five to 10 others that could have taken their place. In their minds, there could be a full list of 100 snubs to go along with the 100 players picked to represent the league in its All-Time Team.
But, in this case, there are 10 names, in alphabetical order, that stand out as some of the biggest snubs in the selection process for the NFL 100 All-Time Team:
The Saints quarterback who just passed Peyton Manning on the all-time list for career touchdown passes in the regular season was left off the NFL 100 All-Time Team. Meanwhile, Manning, Sammy Baugh, Tom Brady, John Elway, Brett Favre, Otto Graham, Dan Marino, Joe Montana, Roger Staubach and Johnny Unitas filled out the team’s 10 quarterbacks.
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There seemed to be the opposite of a recency bias when it came to the panel’s selections for the team, as a lot of modern era players fell by the wayside in discussions of all-time greats. Much like Patriots cornerback Stephon Gilmore in the conversation for New England’s all-time corners, it may be easier to evaluate these things once the time comes for Brees to hang up his cleats.
But, it’s tough to argue against a quarterback who already holds so many records and achievements on his resume. He broke Unitas’ own record for consecutive games with a touchdown pass in 2012, and his single-season stats throughout his career have been incredible. He’s gone for more than 5,000 passing yards in a year five times, and he’s led the league in passing yards seven times throughout his career.
More concerned with touchdowns? He’s led the league in passing touchdowns four times.
There’s no question that Brees will go down as one of the league’s greatest quarterbacks of all time once all is said and done. For now, he just has to keep striving for greatness to catch the panel’s eyes for the NFL 150 team.
It appears as if the argument for years to come will be comparing Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald to former Lions wide receiver Calvin Johnson, as the former made the league’s All-Time Team, and the latter found himself sitting on the sidelines as he continues his retirement.
“Megatron” was the lifeblood of the Lions throughout his career, and holds the single-season record for receiving yards with 1,964 in 2012. He compiled 11,619 yards over the span of his nine years in the league, and did so at a time when the Lions were consistently falling apart in the NFC North, even going winless in 2008.
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Johnson’s omission may be his own fault, however, as his early retirement from the league prevented him from making more of a dent in the history books. Cumulatively, Johnson’s stats may look less impressive than players with such longevity in the league, and may make it tougher to evaluate how he would’ve done had he stuck around in Detroit.
Regardless, the lack of Johnson on the league’s list was startling to many, and will go down as one of the larger snubs out of the bunch.
For a team that’s so focused on the league’s history and the panel’s appreciation for players from older eras, you’d think they’d include Paul Krause when discussing the sport’s all-time great safeties.
The former Redskins and Vikings star is the league’s all-time leader in interceptions, compiling 81 picks throughout his 16-year career. He’s a Pro Football Hall of Famer for a reason, and it appears as if his achievements went unnoticed in the eyes of the selection panel as they compiled the list of six safeties who made the team.
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It’s tough to beat guys like Ed Reed and Ronnie Lott, but if anyone should have their picture on the wall, it should be Krause.
Terrell Owens not making the NFL 100 All-Time Team was one of the more shocking snubs out of them all, considering his placement in the league’s record books in both of the most notable categories you’d evaluate when you look at wide receivers.
During his time with the 49ers, Eagles, Cowboys, Bills and Bengals, Owens couldn’t be stopped, compiling 15,934 yards and 153 touchdowns over his 15 years in the league.
Those totals put him at third in all-time receiving yards and third in all-time receiving touchdowns, which should’ve been enough to get the attention of those selecting the NFL 100 All-Time Team’s members.
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But, the six-time Pro Bowler and five-time First-Team All-Pro came up short, with 10 other receivers getting the nod over him.
Owens definitely has a case over the three receivers on the team whose careers ended before 1960, and realistically has a gripe against four others on the team, as well. It’s a notable snub, for sure, and one that the panel may instantly regret.
How great would it have been to see that long, flowing hair on one of those NFL 100 All-Time Team busts as the panel announced Troy Polamalu’s selection to the group. Alas, the time never came, and Polamalu now earns a spot on the list of the biggest snubs.
The former Steelers safety was up there with Ed Reed and Brian Dawkins as the league’s best safeties in the 2000s, with 770 tackles, 32 interceptions and 100 pass deflections throughout his career in Pittsburgh.
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He was a star in any way the Steelers needed him, with 12 sacks to his name and 14 forced fumbles, helping the AFC North squad to two Super Bowl championships during his career.
The Defensive Player of the Year in 2010, Polamalu will likely go into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in the very near future, and should’ve been considered as one of the six safeties to make the NFL 100 All-Time Team.
“Revis Island” must not be on the itinerary for any of the panel members’ vacation plans over the next few years, as former Jets and Patriots cornerback Darrelle Revis was notably absent from the list of defensive backs on the NFL 100 All-Time Team.
Revis had an all-time season in 2009, giving up just three touchdowns throughout the year and only allowing two receivers to record more than 50 yards in a game all season.
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His worst performance of that year? He gave up five catches and 34 yards to…Randy Moss.
The seven-time Pro Bowler may not have as much of a case as guys like Charles Woodson or Champ Bailey, but if the defensive backs had more of a share of the NFL 100 All-Time Team, Revis may have been the one to squeak in.
When the finalists came out for the tight ends who could make the NFL 100 All-Time Team, there were two guarantees: former Chiefs and Falcons tight end Tony Gonzalez and former Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski. With only five tight ends picked for the team, the debate then turned to the group’s final three spots.
Many figured former Broncos tight end Shannon Sharpe would be third or fourth in line to make the team, but wound up disappointed when the Pro Football Hall of Famer was omitted from the final five.
The snub was surprising, given the fact that former Bears tight end Mike Ditka and former Chargers tight end Kellen Winslow made the list. Sharpe finished with three Super Bowl rings compared to one for Ditka as a player and none for Winslow.
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Meanwhile, Sharpe finished his career with 10,060 receiving yards, which puts him at fourth in NFL history among his tight end counterparts. He also found the end zone 62 times, which was 19 more than Ditka and 17 more than Winslow.
The key to a solid snub is the comparison to those who made it, and Sharpe beats out a key 40 percent of the five players who were picked at his position. It was a glaring oversight on the panel’s part, and one that will leave people wondering for the next 100 years.
This one was a true head-scratcher when the list of running backs was announced towards the start of the NFL 100 All-Time Team series, considering the incredible stretch LaDainian Tomlinson had throughout the 2000s.
The former Chargers and Jets running back was named the league’s most valuable player in 2006, which seems like a crazy feat given the tendency to name quarterbacks as the MVP, and the presence of Tom Brady and Peyton Manning in Tomlinson’s conference.
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He led the league in rushing yards in 2006 and 2007, and led the league in rushing touchdowns in 2004, 2006 and 2007. He was a five-time Pro Bowler, and was even a member of the NFL’s All-Decade Team for the 2000s.
But, despite holding records with 28 rushing touchdowns in a single season and 31 touchdowns from scrimmage in a season, Tomlinson couldn’t sneak into the end zone when it came to the NFL 100 All-Time Team. No running back drafted after 1990 made the team, and Emmitt Smith was the most recent running back of the bunch.
There was a ton of talent to consider in that category, and Marcus Allen was another notable omission from the group, but it’s surprising that Tomlinson couldn’t get a spot when all was said and done.
Rod Woodson made the cut for the NFL 100 All-Time Team when it came time to decide on cornerbacks, but football fans were upset to see a different Woodson off the list: former Raiders and Packers defensive back Charles Woodson.
The only defensive player to win the Heisman Trophy in the collegiate world, Woodson was a nine-time Pro Bowler throughout his career, and won Defensive Rookie of the Year after being drafted in 1998. 11 years later, he took home Defensive Player of the Year honors as a member of the Packers.
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He was a pivotal part of the Packers’ Super Bowl XLV title run, and led the league in interceptions in 2009 and 2011 during his time in Green Bay. With 65 career interceptions, 33 forced fumbles, and 20 sacks, Woodson was a force to be reckoned with.
He, along with Darrelle Revis and Champ Bailey, could easily make a case to be a part of the cornerbacks selected to the NFL 100 All-Time Team.
With 10 quarterbacks selected to the NFL 100 All-Time Team, football fans heavily expected to see two former 49ers greats on the list when the credits finally rolled on the NFL Network special. But, the episode came and went, and Steve Young’s name was left off in favor of players like Brett Favre, Sammy Baugh and John Elway.
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The three-time Super Bowl champion and one-time Super Bowl MVP was a star during his time under center for the 49ers, and won league MVP twice. He was voted to seven Pro Bowls, led the league in passing touchdowns four times, and led the league in passer rating six times.
The BYU product was great in all areas of his game, and earned himself Pro Football Hall of Fame honors in the process. However, he came up short in the NFL 100 All-Time Team voting, much to the chagrin of his fans.
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The committee really is trash, bet Goodell and Jerry Jones were on it.
The list is a lot better than most people seem to think. Drew Brees, for example, is a very fair omission. He was only the 3rd best QB of his era, benefits greatly from the system he plays in, which is tailored to his relatively narrow skillset for such a high profile player and who do you leave off in favor of him? Yeah Brees has better stats than Marino, but its 20 years later – Marino was more ahead of his contemporaries than Brees is of his own, and Favre kept winning MVPs in the 90s. Those 80s-90s QBs deserve those 4 guys on the list more than the 2000s+ deserve 3. Frankly, Fran Tarkenton is the biggest QB omission, but I would say he rounds out the best 11 of all time, Brees is somewhere around 14. There’s also more QBs than there even need to be already on the list.
A lot of people, this article included, argue that the list is too old-focused, but I think that just comes down to perspective. It feels like the modern era is underrepresented until you realize that its only 20 years, while people tend to categorize the pre-superbowl era as one era, even tho thats 40 some years. If anything there’s an oversaturation of middle year players, but only in some positions.
Tomlinson is a more interesting case. The list has too many RBs to begin with (12!?), which should probably be trimmed down to 10 anyways. I personally leave OJ Simpson and Earl Campbell off, or maybe Eric Dickerson but you can’t touch any of the pre-superbowl guys, and most of the rest of the list is absolute legends. So, assuming you do 10 guys you have: Brown, Sanders, Peyton, Smith, Motley, Moore, Clark and Van Buren who are totally untouchable. For the last two slots Dickerson and Sayers, and the short list to beat them out is something like Taylor, Simpson, Campbell, Tomlinson, Peterson, Faulk, Davis. Even with 12 people Tomlinson still has to be top 2 in that last list of 7 and thats a really tall order, also considering that RB is just not as important a position as it was 40+ years ago.
The biggest issue with the last itself tho is the imbalance between offense and defense, with there being 55 offensive players, 39 defensive and 6 special teams. I’m all for special teams (tho I question their choices for P and K, Guy and Vinatieri belong idk about those other two), so I think 6 is probably the minimum they deserve, but 16 more O than D is pretty bad. Assuming we take 2 away from RB, we give those to S/CB, which sorely needs it (guys like Revis, Bailey, Polamalu and Dawkins are bad omissions). There’s also too few TEs, but I don’t know where else to pull guys off of offense – don’t wanna touch the OL, those guys are never appreciated enough.
Idk why I wrote all this, noones gonna read it.
I agree with most of your arguments except the runningbacks and kickers. The reason why there are so many runningbacks is that they are counting fullbacks and halfbacks I would leave OJ on there because he was probably the best player in all of the 1970s and rushed for 2000 yards in a 14 game season. if he had 16 games he would have smashed Eric Dickerson’s single-season rushing record. which brings me to my next point. You can’t take Dickerson off the team because he set the single-season rushing record. For kickers, I would leave Jan Stenerud because he is the first placekicker in the hall of fame. Right now I think Vinetari belongs on this list but I think he will be surpassed by Justin Tucker.
I find it appalling that RAY NITSCHKE #66 Green Bay Packers isn’t on this team 5 time NFL champ including 2 Super Bowl Championships! Also on the 50 and 75 year teams! Whoever left this magnificent Middle Linebacker off the team should be banned from voting! #DISGUSTING! Oh BTW also the MVP of the 62’ title game against the the Giants!