Defense! Defense! Defense!
The NFL has an extensive track record with defensive players in its ninety-six-year history. Here are the top five best defensive players to ever touch the turf!
Outside cornerback, Lawrence Taylor was drafted into the NFL by the New York Giants in 1981 and played in the league until 1993. Elected to the NFL Hall of Fame in 1999, he is widely known by his peers and NFL coaches as the NFL’s best defensive player ever. Taylor used his power and extreme speed to attack rather than react, changing the entire approach to the outside linebacker position forever. NFL coaches tried everything possible to stop him, but Taylor could not be contained as he continued to chop the ball out of the hands of any quarterback in sight.
All bragging aside, let’s talk about Taylor’s stats. He is a two-time Super Bowl champion, ten-time pro bowler, one of only two defensive players in the history of the NFL to have ever won the NFL MVP award, two-time NFL defensive player of the year, and the 1986 NFL sack leader to name a few. 1986 was a great year for Taylor. Scoring a league-best of 20.5 sacks that year, this was one of the most successful seasons by a defensive player in the history of the NFL. He is currently tied for number thirteen as an NFL sack leader with 132.5 total career sacks. Although Taylor’s personal life has been met with a fairly large amount of controversy, his work on the field cannot be discredited.
Reggie White shook up the defensive lineman position during his sixteen-year career in the NFL. Fun fact: He was hailed as the Minister of Defense due to his time as an ordained evangelical minister during his NFL tenure. White currently sits at the number two spot for having the most careers sacks in NFL history with 198. White holds a Super Bowl championship, thirteen pro-bowls, two NFL Defensive Player of The Year awards, is a two-time NFL sack leader, and is currently one of the most awarded NFL players in history. Need we say more? White is the only NFL player to have at least ten sacks in nine consecutive seasons with the NFL. White was elected to the National Football Hall of fame in 2006.Even though White is no longer with us, his legacy will live on for many decades to come.
Dick Butkus was a linebacker for the Chicago Bears for a short eight years. Unfortunately, his time in the NFL was cut short due to multiple knee injuries. However, in those short eight years, he built an astonishing rapport for viciously knocking out any opponent that came into his view. He has easily been categorized as one of the most feared tacklers of all time. Butkus made the pro-bowl consecutively every single year of his eight-year career. He was awarded as the NFL Defensive Player of the Year twice. Butkus’s numbers and stats may not be as extensive as others, but his work on the field surely holds a candle to some of the greatest in the game.
Ronnie Lott was an NFL cornerback from 1981 to 1995. In Lott’s rookie year with the San Francisco 49’ers, he played a major hand in leading the team to win the 1982 Superbowl. During Lott’s 1985 season, his pinky was crushed during a tackle of fellow NFL player, Timmy Newsome. A pinky surgery would not have allowed him to play in the 1986 season, so what did Lott do? He chose instead to amputate his finger and keep on keepin’ on as if nothing ever happened. Because of this instance and multiple others, Lott is known for knocking a playing out with no regards to how it will affect his own body.
Lott was also known for his uncanny ability to recognize and dissect a play happening before his eyes. Because of this ability, Lott was able to lead the league in interceptions twice. Lott holds four Super Bowl championships, two Defensive NFL Player of The Year awards, and a is ten-time Pro Bowler amongst many other honors. He was officially elected into The National Football Hall of Fame in 2000.
Cornerback Deion Sanders played in the NFL from 1989 to 2000. Sanders has gone down in history as the only man to play in both a Super Bowl and World Series, as he played in the NFL and MLB at the same time. Sanders is known for his speed, and he could never be out-run on his ploy to towards the ball. Though he was a master at offense, his speed and agility lead him to the top of his game on defense as well. Sanders boasts 2 Super Bowl Championships, 8 pro-bowls, and an NFL defensive player of the year award. He was officially elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2011.