Being overlooked in a league filled with over a thousand top-notch athletes can be quite simple. There are hundreds of players in the National Football League that do not get the credit they deserve. They can affect their team in such a way, that they are the reason for the team being successful. The reason such athlete may not receive such attention can be a matter of things but at the end of the day, their stats and accomplishments do not lie. Here are the Top 10 most underappreciated players in NFL History.
These players were respected and recognized on their teams. I am simply saying that in the football society, these 10 players deserved to be talked about more. Here are a few honorable mentions. Also, there are many more players who I may not touch on. Leave a comment and tell me who you think is the most under-appreciated NFL player of all time.
Doug Flutie…Yes, Doug Flutie. Nobody respected the Magic Flutie. He was a former Heisman Trophy winner for Pete’s sake. Unfortunately, when he got the league he was deemed too short and didn’t have a strong enough arm. So he went to Canada and won 5 Grey Cups. Then he came back and took the Buffalo Bills to the playoffs. Hell, he even successfully attempted the first drop kick in the NFL since 1941!
Also, Corey Dillon was very underrated. He had the Barry Sanders treatment, being on a horrible team but still producing 6, 1,000-yard seasons with the Bengals from 1997-2002. The Bengals would not have a winning season those 6 seasons but Corey Dillon still was a threat in the NFL
The last honorable mention I must give recognition to is Henry Ellard. Ellard is top 15 in receiving yards and I am pretty sure not many people have even heard of him. The problem is probably the fact he played in the 80s with the Rams and with Jerry Rice; the greatest football player of all time. No Debate. Ellard amassed 6 1,000 yard seasons, 3 Pro Bowls, and 2 First Team All-Pro seasons. Ellard will forever be forgotten as the talented receiver he was.
10. Sterling Sharpe- Green Bay Packers (1988-1994)
595 Rec 8134 Yds 65 TDs
This player does not get the credit deserved simply because of injury, but this man was different. Sharpe was 6’0, 207 lbs of muscle that would catch the ball and hit you instead of the defender hit him. In his 7 year career, he put up 5 1,000 yard seasons and 3 Pro Bowl seasons. He was on pace to be one of the best receivers of all time. Unfortunately, he would suffer a major spine injury that would ultimately end his career. Also, the end of his career came at the beginning of Brett Favre’s. Who knows what could have been with that tandem. Maybe another ring or two?
9. Ken Anderson- Cincinnati Bengals (1971-1986)
59.3% CMP 32,838 YDS 197 TD
Ken Anderson was a solid quarterback for the Bengals of the 70s and 80s. He was a 4 time Pro Bowler and NFL MVP in 1981.Anderson was completing 60% and 70% of his passes when the league averages in that time period were in the 50s. He led the Bengals to the Super Bowl in the 1981 season. The team would ultimately lose to the San Francisco 49ers. Anderson would be the first to run what is known as the West Coast offense under then quarterbacks coach, Bill Walsh. Anderson was the pioneer of this offense that is now run by the majority of NFL offenses today. He should be in Canton one day.
8. Brian Westbrook- Philadelphia Eagles, San Francisco 49ers (2002-2010)
1385 Rushes 6335 YDS 41 TD
I am a Redskins fan, but growing up Brian Westbrook was one of my favorite players to watch. Westbrook was an absolute playmaker for those 2000s Eagles. It was fun watching him, Donovan McNabb, and Terrell Owens tear it up in that 2004 season. Westbrook may not get the attention because his stats weren’t the best but he sure as hell was a playmaker. His ability to run and catch the ball out the backfield made him a threat to the NFC East and the rest of the NFL. People need to give Brian Westbrook his respect.
7. London Fletcher- St. Louis Rams, Buffalo Bills, Washington Redskins (1998-2013)
39 Sacks 1380 Tackles 19 FF
I must admit I am a little biased with this one but I am not wrong. London Fletcher does not get the credit he is due. He was the soul of that Washington Redskins defense. He was consistent, tough, and durable. The reason he was overlooked was that he was on the Redskins. However, he was a vital reason the Redskins were in the playoffs 2012. He was outshined by RGIII’s phenomenal rookie season but still does not discredit what London Fletcher meant to that team.
6. Roger Craig- San Francisco 49ers, Oakland Raiders, Minnesota Vikings (1983-1993)
1991 Rushes 8189 YDS 56 TD
Roger Craig was an exciting running back to watch for the 80s golden age 49ers. He was the high stepping, dual-threat running back that was a key member of the 49ers dynasty. Known for his high knee running style, he amassed 1,000 yards three times and was a 1st Team and 2nd Team All-Pro. He is the first running back to have a 1,000-1,000 yard season in which he ran for 1,050 yards and 1,016 receiving yards. Craig has been overlooked multiple times for the Hall of Fame and I think it is about time Craig gets in and gets the credit he rightfully deserves.
5. Art Monk- Washington Redskins, New York Jets, Philadelphia Eagles (1980-1995)
940 Rec 12,721 YDS 68 TD
Art Monk was one of the greatest Redskins receivers of all time. Unluckily, he would be overlooked because of his quietness and unwillingness to speak with the media. This also would cause him to be withheld from the Hall of Fame. Monk was the leader of a powerful Washington Redskin offense and helped lead them to 3 Super Bowl wins. He was a playmaker and leader. He was a model receiver for how she showed professionalism on and off the field.
4. Jim Plunkett- New England Patriots, San Francisco 49ers, Oakland/Los Angeles Raiders (1971-1986)
52.5% CMP 25882 YDS 164 TD
Now Jim Plunkett’s stats don’t jump out at you as being the best of all time. He also struggled early in his career with the 49ers and the Patriots. On the other hand, he is a two time Super Bowl champion as a starting quarterback. He was a huge part of those Super Bowl wins. He was the leader of the Raiders and was a part of the early 80s championship dominance. Plunkett was the underdog after his abysmal seasons early in his career. He was the Heisman winner out of college and 1971 Rookie of the Year but suffered 5 losing seasons.
His biggest win as an underdog came against the Redskins in Super Bowl XVIII. The Redskins were the defending champions and had a 14-2 1983 regular season. The Redskins were the favorites and Plunkett along with Marcus Allen led the Raiders to a 39-8 beating. Plunkett is highly overlooked and deserving of the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
3. Joe Jacoby- Washington Redskins (1981-1993)
The Hogs were arguably the best offensive lines in NFL history. Jeff Bostic, Russ Grimm, Mark May, George Starke, and Joe Jacoby were the original Hogs and were the heart of the 80s and early 90s Redskins teams. They set the tone of toughness and grit and were the reason for the Redskins 3 Super Bowl victories. They received their nickname from offensive line coach Joe Bugel during training camp in 1982 when he told Russ Grimm and Jeff Bostic, “Okay you hogs, let’s get running down there.” We have seen Russ Grimm enter the Hall of Fame and I think it’s time for Jacoby to get in.
A moment that sticks out is the 1982 NFC Championship Game versus the Dallas Cowboys. The Redskins would run the same play 9 straight times en route to winning the game. Jacoby helped lead that offensive line. He was a 4 time Pro Bowler and 2-time first team All-Pro. His Hall of Fame induction is long overdue.
2. Steve McNair- Houston Oiler/Tennessee Titans, Baltimore Ravens (1995-2007)
60.1% CMP 31,304 YDS 174 TD
This entry came from the E:60 special titled, Heir McNair, that I recently saw on ESPN while on vacation. It made me realize how special of a player Steve McNair was. McNair was an exciting player to watch. He was an outstanding athlete at Alcorn State in which he finished third in Heisman voting behind Rashaan Salaam and Ki-Jana Carter, while holding passing records in the Football Championship Series. He would be selected with the third overall pick in 1995.
McNair’s biggest accomplishment is taking the Tennessee Titans to it’s first and only Super Bowl appearance in which he fell one yard short of tying the game. He would win Co-MVP in 2003. McNair was a big quarterback with a rocket arm and incredible elusiveness. He is what Russell Wilson is today. A black quarterback from a small HBCU tore the league up and was entertaining to watch every Sunday.
1. Jerry Kramer- Green Bay Packers (1958-1968)
Jerry Kramer FINALLY was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in the 2018 class. This was long overdue seeing Kramer was part of Lombardi’s Packers of the 60s. Kramer was such an essential part of the 60s Packers dominance in which they would win 5 NFL championships and 2 Super Bowl championships. Kramer was an essential part of the famous “Packers Sweep”, which is a signature play in which both guards rapidly pull and lead block for Jim Taylor or Paul Hornung going outside. He was a 5-time All-Pro and a member of the NFL’s 50th-anniversary team in 1969. Up until 2018, Kramer was the only player not in the Hall of Fame. Well, Kramer finally received his due but for the longest time, Kramer was overlooked for almost 50 years and we’ll never know why.
Fun fact: Kramer also served as the Packers kicker in the 1962 and 1963 seasons. He would hit over 90 percent of his extra points and 53 percent of his field goals.