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Old 12-08-2009, 11:41 AM    (permalink
descendency
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Default Players that re-defined the current game

I made a list of them. I left off some people because I don't think their play is applicable anymore, but are there any I missed? I was wondering because that term "players who will change the game forever" gets tossed around quite a bit yet really don't.

Here's my list:
Ken Anderson was what some might call a "proof of concept" or "engineering sample" for Bill Walsh. Under Walsh as OC of the Cincinnati Bengals, Anderson went from among the worst QBs in the league to the best in one years time using the then brand new West Coast Offense (which is not an actual offense nor was it founded on the west coast.) which emphasized timing between the QB and WRs. Basically Walsh believed that a play should be executable in completely pitch black conditions. While Joe Montana might get the most credit, it was Ken Anderson that proved that Walsh could take a particular kind of QB and make them produce like an elite one.

Shannon Sharpe was either too slow to be a WR or too small and weak to be a TE. No one thought he could blow by DBs and he wasn't going to be big enough to be the 6th OL on the field. Looking back now, it's obvious what they needed to do with him, but at the time it wasn't so obvious. When they got him into camp, they quickly realized what kind of talent they had in sharpe where he could make mobile blocks of LBs and DBs, was too big for DBs to cover, and too quick for linebackers to cover. He created the pass catching TE.

Laurence Taylor coming out of college was too small to play DE in the NFL. What NFL GMs failed to realize is that he was too fast *not* to play DE. Under Bill Belichick (DC) and Bill Parcells (HC), Taylor was converted to OLB in their 34 defense. His primary role was to rush the passer. What seems like common knowledge today wasn't then. The LT was just another OL. Quickly it became apparent that just any other OL could not block Taylor. They'd have to move TEs and HBs out to double team him. If you want to know how that worked out, just ask Joe Theismann, who's career was promptly ended by Taylor on what could be one of the most brutal hits in NFL history, most of which were done by Taylor.

Orlando Pace may not be the first, but he was the best "first" true left tackle. Shortly before he entered the league, Laurence Taylor (and others) created the term "blind side" tackle. The QB sure didn't know what was currently happening on that side of the field but he know what would happen if he didn't get the ball away quickly. At least that was until Orlando Pace entered into the league. While QBs still didn't have unlimited amount of time to throw, Orlando Pace's amazing athleticism and footwork combined with his huge frame (well not huge by some standard but for his athleticism yes) quickly added a counter to that free-ranging, speedy pass rusher. He would inspire coaches to move TEs Joe Thomas and Jason Smith (just to name a few) to the OT position.

Rodney Harrison is either a guy you love or you hate. Either you think he's a dirty football player or he's what football is about. However, there is one thing you can't deny, he changed the safety position possibly forever. Harrison is the only player in NFL history with 30 sacks and 30 interceptions. He could cover TEs as well as rush the passer. Harrison could drop into coverage. He was an integral part to 2 super bowl championships in NE. While some might disagree, I don't think his overall talent stemmed from his HGH use. It was just Rodney Harrison's nose for the ball that made him great. He could hit like a linebacker, cover like a safety, and rush like a linebacker. Troy Polamalu is a product of Rodney Harrison doing what he did.

Before Dan Marino came into the league, the records for passing and rushing were held by one man, Fran Tarkenton. While Marino would establish his legacy mainly as a drop back passer, he had some pretty good running ability too. However, it was nothing like Tarkenton. Tarkenton is what people wish they could have made Vince Young, Michael Vick, and others into. Tarkenton's records were "unbreakable". Enter Dan Marino, stage right. While the 1983 QB class is among the greatest ever with names like Jim Kelly, Tony Eason, and John Elway headlining the class, Dan Marino clearly stands out alone. He not only broke records that were never going to be broken, he put them where no one had ever imagined possible. Today we look back and think well Favre broke the so what... But Marino's records lasted ages and would be one of the key pieces in defining what people look at as a prototypical QB (along with Joe Montana), Peyton Manning and Tom Brady.

Ray Guy is probably the prototypical Al Davis pick. (minus the 40 yard dash time). While Davis is regarded as insane today, he used the 14th overall pick to draft Ray Guy. If you haven't heard of him, you might wonder what the big deal is, but the big deal is he is a punter. The only punter ever drafted in the first round... ever. While the Raiders punting game was bad, no one expected Al Davis to draft a punter in round 1. He did. Ray Guy's reward for Mr. Davis' insane play: a punting average of over 42 yards per punt and an average hang time of over 5 seconds per punt. He became a field position weapon. Ray Guy forced the Superdome to raise it's dropped down screens from 90 feet (cough Jerry Land cough) to 200 feet. Some even regard him as a steal at 14th overall. A punter??? Yes, a punter. (and arguably the greatest punter to ever live).
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Old 12-08-2009, 11:46 AM    (permalink
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I like this thread.

For the record, Parcells used LT the way he did before Bellichick was with the Giants. Parcells was our DC during LT's rookie year, he's the one who revolutionized the 3-4.


Gayle Sayers, Allan Page, and Sam Huff quickly come to mind as guys who changed the game. Sayers brought flash to the RB position, and Huff was the first MIKE in a 4-3.

Really whats lost in this discussion is how its really moreso the coordinators who revolutionized the game with their uses of these players. The players play a huge role naturally, but you gotta give coordinators a ton of credit for the evolution of the game.

I'm of the belief that coordinators (only a select few) should be eligible to make the HOF. Some of the most brilliant coaching we've seen over the years came from coordinators moreso than HCs.
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Old 12-08-2009, 11:54 AM    (permalink
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One person I left off was Doug Plank who was the inspiration for Buddy Ryan's 46 defense mainly because no one uses the 46 defense anymore. However, Buddy Ryan (who never had hall of fame success as a coach) definitely should be mentioned as a coordinator for the hall of fame. Dick LeBeau, Monty Kiffen. Jim Johnson. (considered the holy trinity of DCs) to name 3 more as well.

I should also note that many of the people mentioned in that played before I was born. (1985) or before I was a really active football fan (mid/late 90s...). I learned about most of them through reading books.
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Old 12-08-2009, 12:26 PM    (permalink
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Can I say Roy Williams for the horse collar rule? ;)
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Old 12-08-2009, 01:04 PM    (permalink
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Tony Gonzalez has done more for the TE position then Shannon Sharpe.
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Old 12-08-2009, 01:08 PM    (permalink
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Originally Posted by njx9 View Post
dan marino as a mobile qb? um. maybe in comparison to drew bledsoe.

orlando pace? or was it anthony munoz several years earlier.
I was 99% sure I forgot someone. I guess Pace is the comparison I see more often for elite tackles coming out of high school.

Marino was semi mobile but he basically re-established the idea of the pocket passer. Or a better way to phrase that is that he came in and did it at such a high level that he re-set the way people thought about the pocket passer.

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horsehockey. gonzalez got a chance because of sharpe.
This. Tony Gonzalez would have never gotten a look if it hadn't been for Shannon Sharpe. He'd have been a mediocre WR.

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Old 12-08-2009, 01:30 PM    (permalink
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Marshall Faulk heavily influenced the way in which modern RBs are used out of the backfield. While he certainly wasnt the first to be featured as a receiver, the way he was utilized by Vermeil and Martz as the centerpiece to the greatest show on turf definitely paved the way for RBs like Westbrook to become primary receivers on their teams.
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Old 12-08-2009, 01:39 PM    (permalink
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Marshall Faulk heavily influenced the way in which modern RBs are used out of the backfield. While he certainly wasnt the first to be featured as a receiver, the way he was utilized by Vermeil and Martz as the centerpiece to the greatest show on turf definitely paved the way for RBs like Westbrook to become primary receivers on their teams.
Roger craig before marshall?
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Old 12-08-2009, 01:48 PM    (permalink
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Drew "Who cares if I'm short" Brees?
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Old 12-08-2009, 01:55 PM    (permalink
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Roger craig before marshall?
Lenny Moore!
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Old 12-08-2009, 02:00 PM    (permalink
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Drew "Who cares if I'm short" Brees?
Brees is an interesting question. While he definitely has shown a blue-print to be successful as a shorter player in the NFL, I don't see anyone else I would say that has tried to emulate him with any success. Brees definitely could be said to redefine the game though. I just wonder if he was a fluke though. I mean there have been short good quarterbacks before.

No QB has made the hall of fame in the last 20 years (playing in that time) who was shorter than 6'2", so he definitely is an interesting question. I see him more an anomaly than a new rule.
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Old 12-08-2009, 02:04 PM    (permalink
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Anthony Munoz
Kellen Winslow Sr
OJ Simpson


Very few modern players (from the 80s up) changed the game really. Believe it or not, as much as we talk about the game changing over the years, it really hasn't changed that much at all.

The only player from the 80s up that changed the game that I can think of off the top of my head were LT and Randy Moss.

Maaaybe Brian Dawkins. If not Dawkins, then Ronnie Lott before him.
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Old 12-08-2009, 02:30 PM    (permalink
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KWSr changed the TE position, not Sharpe really. The 3-4 defense has been around long before LT came into the league, though he was really the best 3-4 OLB ever. He was the #2 overall pick in the draft, so it's not like teams didn't think he had a position in the NFL. Pace is tha man, but Anthony Munoz was a true franchise left tackle before him. The NFL has been a passing league for a long time, lots of great left tackles over the years.
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Old 12-08-2009, 02:34 PM    (permalink
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If we're going to talk tight ends who changed the game, John Mackey has to be up there. He came way before guys like Winslow and Sharpe, he was one of the first real big time receiving threats at the position.
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Old 12-08-2009, 02:36 PM    (permalink
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Dick Nighttrain lane
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Old 12-08-2009, 03:07 PM    (permalink
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dan marino as a mobile qb? um. maybe in comparison to drew bledsoe.
I think I'd give the mobile QB credit to Randall Cunningham.
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Old 12-08-2009, 03:21 PM    (permalink
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Dick Nighttrain lane
yeah, he only completely changed how the rules of the passing game were laid out after he close-lined every receiver in his vicinity.
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Old 12-08-2009, 03:22 PM    (permalink
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I think I'd give the mobile QB credit to Randall Cunningham.
fran tarkenton.
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Old 12-08-2009, 03:27 PM    (permalink
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Anthony Munoz
Kellen Winslow Sr
OJ Simpson


Very few modern players (from the 80s up) changed the game really. Believe it or not, as much as we talk about the game changing over the years, it really hasn't changed that much at all.

The only player from the 80s up that changed the game that I can think of off the top of my head were LT and Randy Moss.

Maaaybe Brian Dawkins. If not Dawkins, then Ronnie Lott before him.
I was gonna say Randy, too. He hasn't necessarily ushered in a new breed of WR, but that's just because no one is on his level athletically, even now that he's gotten older.

Lott or maybe Dawkins is good, too. I'm young so I can't comment on it for sure but I'd imagine before Ronnie Lott there weren't a lot of safeties that were the calibre of the dominant playmaking safeties of today like Ed Reed, Troy Polamalu and Sean Taylor(RIP). Those kind of safeties seem to be almost necessary for a truly dominant defense now. They can do everything out there.
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Old 12-08-2009, 03:32 PM    (permalink
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Ty Law and the Pats secondary mugging the Rams in the superbowl?
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Old 12-08-2009, 03:44 PM    (permalink
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Munoz before Pace, I know it seems Homerish but since some non-Bengals fans beat me to it I think I'm in the clear in this one :)

Also, while people are claiming Marino as immobile, when asked "To what do you attribute your success in the NFL to" he was quoted as replying "my feet" (maybe not exact, but very close). When Marino played, pocket awareness wasn't really a term people used at the time. Marino was well aware of the guys around him, the timing it took for guys to get to him and the sounds they were making when close, and used that to his advantage by moving around in the pocket. No, he wasn't fast, but his footwork was amazing, and that's what people mean they say he was "mobile".
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Old 12-08-2009, 04:19 PM    (permalink
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fran tarkenton.
Franie was a great scrambler, Roger Staubach probably introduced athletecism to the position.
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Old 12-08-2009, 04:28 PM    (permalink
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Roger Staubach probably introduced athletecism to the position.
Uhmm....what?
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Old 12-08-2009, 04:40 PM    (permalink
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Uhmm....what?
Am i not speaking english?
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Old 12-08-2009, 04:43 PM    (permalink
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Bernie Kosar for his side arm delivery.
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