AFC West all-decade honors

June, 26, 2009
6/26/09
12:00
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Bill Williamson

We're wrapping up our all-decade week with our AFC West decade awards:

Offensive player of the decade: Tony Gonzalez

 Gonzalez

It takes a lot for a tight end to be the offensive player of the decade, but Gonzalez is a worthy selection. He was dominant for the entire timeframe. He owns every NFL receiving record for tight ends.

He was consistent throughout the decade and was the face of the Chiefs until he was traded to Atlanta prior to the draft. Some teams don't value the tight end position, but a player like Gonzalez shows how disruptive the tight end can be.

  Bailey
Defensive player of the decade: Champ Bailey

When Denver acquired Bailey from Washington for running back Clinton Portis, many league observers thought the Broncos made a big mistake.

Yes, Portis was a good player in Denver and he has been good for the Redskins. But Bailey has been brilliant. He was the best cornerback in the NFL this decade and has been one of the best players in the NFL overall.

He became the face of the Denver defense as he made it one of the better units in the NFL during the middle of the decade. Bailey is not only a shutdown cornerback, but he is superb in run support and a fine tackler. Bailey is a shoo-in Hall of Famer.

  Tomlinson
MVP of the decade: LaDainian Tomlinson

Tomlinson has been the best player in the AFC West since he was the No. 5 overall pick in 2001. He helped transform the Chargers from bottom-feeder to a perennial Super Bowl contender. Tomlinson has been the premier running back in the NFL this decade and his consistency has been stunning. He has never rushed for less than 1,100 yards in a season.

He has a record-breaking 2006 MVP season under his belt and he will be a first-ballot selection to the Hall of Fame.

Team of the decade: San Diego Chargers

The Broncos have been consistent for much of the decade, but they have fallen on tough times. The Chargers are the best team in the division now and they have been consistent in the era of general manager A.J. Smith.

In the past six years, the Chargers have won the fourth-most regular-season games in the NFL with 58. This team has won three straight AFC West titles, made the AFC Championship Game in 2007 and advanced to the AFC divisional round last season. It hasn't been a spectacular decade for teams in the AFC West, but the talented Chargers have been the best team for the longest period.

Moment of the decade: Oakland advancing to Super Bowl XXXVII

The Raiders beat Tennessee to advance to the Super Bowl in January 2003 to culminate four years of knocking on the door.

It was the first and last time an AFC West team made the Super Bowl this decade; the division's Super Bowl drought is the longest in the NFL.

Things have gone downhill for Oakland since then. The Raiders were embarrassed in the Super Bowl by former coach Jon Gruden and Tampa Bay. Oakland is 24-72 in the six seasons since, the worst six-year record by any team in NFL history. But the Raiders do have the memory of having the best moment in the division this decade.

  Hall
Special teams player of the decade: Dante Hall

In his prime with Kansas City, Hall was the best returner in the NFL. He was a must-see player every Sunday. He won games for Kansas City with his impossible, turn-back-run-across-the-field touchdowns.

Seeing Hall celebrate a touchdown return with the Arrowhead Stadium crowd was one of the better sights in the league. From 2000-2006 in Kansas City, Hall returned six kicks for touchdowns and five punts for scores. He was brilliant.

  Shanahan
Coach of the decade: Mike Shanahan

Shanahan almost made it through the decade with Denver. Before his surprise firing in January, Shanahan was the dean of the division. He coached in Denver for 14 years.

While Shanahan's magic wore off in the past few years, he was the best coach in the division along with being the most senior coach. The Broncos were consistent and always seemed primed for 10 wins a season until the wheels fell off defensively in the past two years.

Shanahan may have won his two Super Bowl trophies in the 1990s, but his impact was felt in the AFC West in this decade as well.

Bill Williamson | email

ESPN Oakland Raiders reporter

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