NFC South: all-decade

Posted by ESPN.com's Pat Yasinskas

A lot of readers have been hitting the mailbag with questions about why Mike Alstott wasn't the fullback for our all-decade offense. Here are a couple of samples:

  Alstott

Chance in Evanston, Wyo., writes: I believe Mike Alstot should have been in at FB on the all decade team. What would your arguments over that be? I thought he was pretty amazing player at a position that gets very little recognition.

Ryan in Charleston, W.Va., writes: I've been watching old video's of Mike Alstott and with this all decade teams coming up, Where do you think He Fits in? I mean has there ever really been a Fullback like this guy who could open up holes for RB's then move to Running back and change the game like him.

Here are my thoughts: Lorenzo Neal got the nod on this team, probably because he's the best blocking fullback ever. In fact, when the Bucs had Neal back in the 1990s, they used him as the blocking back for Alstott and Warrick Dunn.

Don't get me wrong, I think Alstott was a wonderful player. He could do a lot of things other fullbacks couldn't do -- mainly carry the ball and catch it out of the backfield. Alstott's one of the all-time favorites among Tampa Bay fans and some of his 1- or 2-yard runs were the stuff of highlight films because of his blue-collar approach. But the fact in the NFL these days are that fullbacks are around mainly to block.

The reality about Alstott is he did a lot of things better than any fullback, but blocking wasn't one of them. He was only ordinary in that area and I might even be too generous on that.

Posted by ESPN.com's Pat Yasinskas

Our all-decade offense has been revealed and there's not one true NFC South player on it.

Sure, tight end Tony Gonzalez is now with Atlanta, but he's spent the entire decade up to now with Kansas City. You could also make a claim to fullback Lorenzo Neal, who spent a couple of years with Tampa Bay, but that was back in the 1990s.

I'm looking around for oversights, but not truly seeing any. You could start to make an argument for Drew Brees, but that ends once you realize that Tom Brady, who made the team, and Peyton Manning, who did not, are ahead of him.

What about Carolina's Jordan Gross? He might be the best offensive tackle in the league right now, but you can't really argue that he was better than Walter Jones and Jonathan Ogden over the course of the decade.

Or Carolina's Steve Smith? Marvin Harrison and Torry Holt, who made the list, each won Super Bowls and that speaks for itself. Randy Moss and Terrell Owens didn't make the list and you can make an argument for either one. But I'd put Smith right there with Moss and over Owens.

Posted by ESPN.com's Pat Yasinskas

ESPN.com's all-decade defense features three guys who spent most of their careers in the NFC South and the list of near misses from the division is even larger.

Defensive tackles Warren Sapp and Kris Jenkins join the team along with linebacker Derrick Brooks. No surprises there. For my money, Brooks was the best player from the division (ever) and the best linebacker of this decade. Sapp was the best defensive tackle through much of the decade, but Jenkins surpassed him for at least a couple of years around the middle of the decade. Makes you wonder how dominant Jenkins could have been if he'd done a better job controlling his weight.

Guys with NFC South ties, who didn't make the team (but almost did), included Julius Peppers, John Lynch, Ronde Barber and Keith Brooking. I don't think it would have been much of a stretch if any of them had been chosen.

Finally, one last note on Brooks. He continues to say he wants to keep playing after his February release by the Bucs. That sounded like a nice idea back in February, but teams haven't been lining up to sign him.

As painful as it may be, sometimes you have to realize it's over and walk away gracefully.

SPONSORED HEADLINES

Insider

NFC SOUTH SCOREBOARD