With more than a century of NFL history in our rear-view mirrors. It’s difficult to pull out one name and call that person the G.O.A.T. (even though we use that term constantly). That won’t stop us from trying though. We can name guys like Mean Joe Green, Jerry Rice, Jim Brown, and Walter Payton without fear of a ton of backlash. Philadelphia Eagles fans won’t object if guys like Chuck Bednarik, Brian Dawkins, Jason Kelce, and Reggie White are thrown into the discussion, but with the knowledge that football is played with 22 men on the field at one time, it can be a near-impossible task to point at one guy and say “he’s the best ever”.
Perhaps that’s why ESPN dropped two lists over a two-day period, the NFL’s best players ever at every offensive position (August 2nd) and their take on the NFL’s best players ever at every defensive position. The latter dropped one day later on August 3rd.
As you might imagine, that’s given us enough to have a few discussions.
Four Philadelphia Eagles legends are named as ‘runner-ups’ on ESPN’s lists of their G.O.A.T.s at every offensive and defensive position.
This one doesn’t require a ton of setup. Here’s the ESPN staff’s list of the best players at every position on offense.
- Quarterback: Tom Brady
- Running Back: Jim Brown
- Wide Receiver: Jerry Rice
- Tight End: Rob Gronkowski
- Offensive tackle: Anthony Munoz
- Guard: Larry Allen
- Center: Mike Webster
Just in case you’re interested, the aforementioned Chuck Bednarik a.k.a. Concrete Charlie was named as a runner-up at the center position. He was a two-way star for Philly during a career that stretched from 1949 to 1962, anchoring the offensive line and playing at linebacker.
He was also a member of both the 1949 and 1960 NFL Championship-winning teams, making him the only man to play for both squads. Here’s a look at the guys who made ESPN’s list of the best players at every defensive position.
- Edge Rusher, Lawrence Taylor
- Defensive Tackle, Aaron Donald
- Linebacker, Ray Lewis
- Cornerback, Deion Sanders
- Safety, Ronnie Lott
- Kicker/Punter, Adam Vinatieri
- Returner/Special Teamer, Devin Hester
Brian Mitchell, though not always remembered as a Bird, spent three seasons with Philly. He earned an honorable mention as a returner, along with Deion Sanders, Gale Sayers, Matthew Slater, and Steve Tasker.
Okay, so calling him a franchise legend might be a stretch, but that kick return in the NFC Championship Game versus the Tampa Bay Buccaneers gave us cause to cheer… for a little while anyway.
Lawrence Taylor earned 40 of 50 votes among edge rushers. Eagles great Reggie White was a runner-up at the EDGE position, earning eight. Bruce Smith and J.J. Watt both earned one vote.
At safety, as you might imagine, Brian Dawkins earned a runner-up mention, taking four of the 50 votes. Fellow runner-up Ed Reed notched 15. ESPN’s G.O.A.T. at safety, Ronnie Lott, earned 27 of the 50 votes.
We won’t go so far as saying our Philadelphia Eagles legends were snubbed. ESPN put two nice-looking lists together, but again, topics like these always get us going. This one was definitely worth a mention.