NFL Any Era Hall of Fame Panel

Originally Published: January 24, 2012
ESPN.com

WHAT IS #NFLANYERA?

ESPN.com and ESPN The Magazine sought a list of the 20 current players who 20 Hall of Famers (and one Hall of Fame writer) believe could play in any era of the NFL. Or to put a finer point on it -- when Mike Ditka looks at today's players, whom does he want lining up next to him or across from him? Which players today are tough enough (and good enough) to play with those players who are in the Pro Football Hall of Fame?

Use the #NFLAnyEra Twitter hashtag to get involved in the conversation or just follow along.

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#NFLANYERA TOP 20

Honorable mention and No. 20 | 19 | 18 | 17 | 16 | 15 | 14 | 13 | 12 | 11 | 10 | 9 | 8
7 | 6 | 5 | 4 | 3 | 2 | 1 | MORE: On Twitter | Facebook | NFL Blog Network

#NFLANYERA HALL OF FAME PANEL

Any EraESPN.com Illustration
MARCUS ALLEN: Sixth on the all-time touchdowns list with 145, Allen played 16 seasons for the Los Angeles Raiders and Kansas City Chiefs. Allen had his best season in 1985, when he rushed for 1,759 yards, set an NFL record with 2,314 total yards from scrimmage and was named NFL MVP. In Super Bowl XVIII, Allen rushed for 191 yards, including a 74-yard TD run -- a record at the time -- and was named the game's MVP. At the time of his retirement, after the 1997 season, Allen was the only player in NFL history with 12,000-plus rushing yards (12,243) and 5,000-plus receiving yards (5,411).
Years active: 1982-97
Elected to HOF: 2003
NFL/Super Bowl titles: 1983 Raiders (Super Bowl XVIII)

JIM BROWN: When he retired at the tender football age of 29 -- after never missing a game in his nine-year career with the Cleveland Browns -- Brown held 15 NFL records, including most yards rushing (12,312), most touchdowns (126) and highest per-game rushing average (104.3 yards). He was All-Pro in eight of the nine seasons he played. After retiring from the NFL, Brown has appeared in 52 movies and television shows, including "The Dirty Dozen," "100 Rifles," "Slaughter" and "Any Given Sunday."
Years active: 1957-65
Elected to HOF: 1971
NFL/Super Bowl titles: 1964 Browns

LARRY CSONKA: He was the offensive engine behind two Super Bowl-champion Dolphins teams, including the only undefeated team in NFL history, the 1972 Dolphins. Csonka capped Miami's second straight NFL title with 145 yards and two touchdowns in an MVP performance during Super Bowl VIII. Csonka spent his first seven seasons with the Dolphins, then the next three with the Giants before returning to Miami for his final season. He finished his career with 8,081 rushing yards and 68 touchdowns.
Years active: 1968-79
Elected to HOF: 1987
NFL/Super Bowl titles: 1972 Dolphins (Super Bowl VII), 1973 Dolphins (Super Bowl VIII)

MIKE DITKA: "Iron" Mike introduced the NFL to the concept of the modern tight end, one who could plant a defender with a block as well as outrace him down the field after a catch. Ditka averaged 19.2 yards per catch on 56 receptions and 12 touchdowns in his rookie season for the Bears. After six seasons with the Bears, Ditka played for two years in Philly and four more with the Cowboys. He also tasted Super Bowl success as a coach when the Bears shellacked the Patriots 46-10 in Super Bowl XX. Ditka is currently an NFL analyst with ESPN.
Years active: 1961-72
Elected to HOF: 1988
NFL/Super Bowl titles: 1963 Bears; 1971 Cowboys (Super Bowl VI); 1985 Bears, as coach (Super Bowl XX)

DARRELL GREEN: Considered one of the fastest men in NFL history, Green plied his trade at cornerback for a remarkable 20 seasons, all for the Washington Redskins. Green had at least one interception for an NFL-record 19 consecutive seasons. Green also holds Redskins records for most interceptions (54) and longest fumble return for a touchdown (78 yards). Green was named to the NFL's All-Decade Team for the '90s.
Years active: 1983-2002
Elected to HOF: 2008
NFL/Super Bowl titles: 1987 Redskins (Super Bowl XXII), 1991 Redskins (Super Bowl XXVI)

Any EraESPN.com Illustration
SONNY JURGENSEN: In the early '60s, when most of the NFL still ran plays from the 3-yards-and-a-cloud-of-dust playbooks, Jurgensen took to the air, throwing for an NFL-record 3,723 yards for the Philadelphia Eagles in 1961. That record would stand for six seasons, until Jurgensen threw for 3,747 yards in 1967 for the Redskins. In his final season, at the age of 40, Jurgensen completed 64.1 percent of the 167 passes he attempted.
Years active: 1957-74
Elected to HOF: 1983
NFL/Super Bowl titles: 1960 Eagles

WILLIE LANIER: How tough was Lanier? His nickname was "Contact" for the bone-crunching tackles he made. Lanier, the quarterback of the Chiefs' Super Bowl IV-winning defense, was as sharp as he was intimidating. In 11 seasons with the Chiefs, Lanier picked off 27 passes, recovered 18 fumbles, made two AFL All-Star games, made six Pro Bowls and missed only five games.
Years active: 1967-77
Elected to HOF: 1986
NFL/Super Bowl titles: 1969 Chiefs (Super Bowl IV)

FLOYD LITTLE: Little, a 5-foot-10, 195-pound back out of Syracuse, was one of the first running backs in pro football history to be a great threat rushing or receiving. Little twice led the AFL in all-purpose yards. In 1971, Little led the NFL with 1,388 total yards from scrimmage. Two seasons later, he surpassed that total with 1,402 yards from scrimmage.
Years active: 1967-75
Elected to HOF: 2010
NFL/Super Bowl titles: None

JAMES LOFTON: Drafted by the Packers in 1978, Lofton, a wide receiver, made an immediate impact with 818 receiving yards in his first season. In nine seasons with the Pack, he went for more than 1,000 yards receiving in five seasons and missed only one game. Lofton was traded to the Raiders in 1987, and later appeared in Super Bowls XXV, XXVI and XVII with the Buffalo Bills. In 1991, at 35, Lofton went for more than 1,000 yards receiving (1,072) for the sixth and final time of his Hall of Fame career.
Years active: 1978-93
Elected to HOF: 2003
NFL/Super Bowl titles: None

WARREN MOON: After six years in the CFL, which included five straight Grey Cup titles, Moon signed with the Houston Oilers, for whom he ran the run-and-shoot offense to perfection. He threw for more than 4,600 yards in 1990 and 1991. When he retired at 44 after playing with the Oilers, Vikings, Seahawks and Chiefs, Moon had thrown for 49,325 yards and 291 touchdowns and had directed 35 game-winning drives.
Years active: 1984-2000
Elected to HOF: 2006
NFL/Super Bowl titles: None

Any EraESPN.com Illustration
JOE NAMATH: "Broadway" Joe might have been most famous for guaranteeing a Jets win over the Colts in Super Bowl III, but he had substance beneath that New York style. In 1967, at 24, Namath became the first pro quarterback to throw for 4,000 yards in a season when he amassed 4,007 yards for the New York Jets. Namath led the AFL and NFL in passing yards three times, and, of course, was the MVP when the Jets stunned the Baltimore Colts 16-7 in Super Bowl III.
Years active: 1965-77
Elected to HOF: 1985
NFL/Super Bowl titles: 1968 Jets (Super Bowl III)

JOHN RANDLE: Randle is the quintessential rags-to-riches story. An undrafted free agent from Texas A&I, the defensive lineman signed with the Minnesota Vikings in 1990. After starting only 22 of his first 48 games, Randle started in 140 straight games for the Vikings (133) and Seahawks (seven). With 137.5 career sacks, Randle, who made seven Pro Bowls in his 14 seasons, is tied for seventh on the all-time sacks list.
Years active: 1990-2003
Elected to HOF: 2010
NFL/Super Bowl titles: None

JERRY RICE: The greatest wide receiver in the history of the NFL, Rice holds nearly every career record for receiving: receptions (1,549), yards (22,895), receiving touchdowns (197), total touchdowns (208) and yards from scrimmage (23,540). In 1995, at 33, Rice set the single-season record for receiving yards with 1,848. Rice also started more playoff games (29) than anyone in NFL history and was the MVP of San Francisco's thrilling 20-16 win over the Cincinnati Bengals in Super Bowl XXIII. Rice is currently an NFL analyst with ESPN.
Years active: 1985-2004
Elected to HOF: 2010
NFL/Super Bowl titles: 1988 Niners (Super Bowl XXIII), 1989 Niners (Super Bowl XXIV), 1994 Niners (Super Bowl XXIX)

MIKE SINGLETARY: In the grand tradition of Bears Hall of Fame middle linebackers Bill George and Dick Butkus, Singletary spent his entire 12-year career with Chicago. As the bedrock of the Bears' 46 defense, Singletary helped Chicago to its only Super Bowl victory when it beat the Patriots in Super Bowl XX. A two-time AP Defensive Player of the Year (1985 and 1988), Singletary made the Pro Bowl in each of his last 10 seasons.
Years active: 1981-92
Elected to HOF: 1998
NFL/Super Bowl titles: 1985 Bears (Super Bowl XX)

DWIGHT STEPHENSON: Although a knee injury ended his career after eight seasons, Stephenson was considered the premier center in the NFL during his time. Stephenson made five straight Pro Bowls (1983-87) and was named first-team All-Pro in four consecutive seasons (1984-87). Stephenson also played in Super Bowls XVII and XIX.
Years active: 1980-87
Elected to HOF: 1998
NFL/Super Bowl titles: None

Any EraESPN.com Illustration
LYNN SWANN: Few receivers in league history were as fluid and acrobatic as Swann in his nine seasons with the Steelers. As a rookie, he led the NFL in punt return yards with 577. In his second season, he led the league with 11 touchdown receptions. Later that season, Swann was named MVP in the Steelers' 21-17 win over the Cowboys in Super Bowl X. Swann was named to three Pro Bowls and played on four Steelers Super Bowl championship teams.
Years active: 1974-82
Elected to HOF: 2001
NFL/Super Bowl titles: 1974 Steelers (Super Bowl IX), 1975 Steelers (Super Bowl X), 1978 Steelers (Super Bowl XIII), 1979 Steelers (Super Bowl XIV)

ROGER WEHRLI: A versatile defensive back for the St. Louis Cardinals in his 14-year career, Wehrli played cornerback, free safety and strong safety. Lightning-fast, Wehrli was considered one of the NFL's first shutdown corners and was a stalwart in the Cardinals' defensive backfield. He made seven Pro Bowls and five All-Pro teams, and finished his career with 40 interceptions.
Years active: 1969-82
Elected to HOF: 2007
NFL/Super Bowl titles: None

KELLEN WINSLOW: Who can forget the image of Winslow being helped off the field after the Chargers' 41-38 playoff win over the Dolphins in which he caught a playoff-record 13 passes and blocked a field goal? Winslow was named All-Pro three times and made five Pro Bowls. In addition to that legendary game in Miami, Winslow once caught five touchdowns in a game against the Raiders and had five consecutive seasons with 50 or more receptions, including 1980 (89) and 1981 (88), in which he led the league.
Years active: 1979-87
Elected to HOF: 1995
NFL/Super Bowl titles: None

RAYFIELD WRIGHT: In his rookie season, the Cowboys couldn't settle on a position for the Fort Valley (Ga.) State alum. He played tight end, offensive tackle and defensive end. But after an impressive showing against future Hall of Famer Deacon Jones, Wright established himself as one of the greatest right tackles of all time. "Big Cat" played in six Pro Bowls and five Super Bowls, winning two.
Years active: 1967-79
Elected to HOF: 2006
NFL/Super Bowl titles: 1971 Cowboys (Super Bowl VI), 1977 Cowboys (Super Bowl XII)

STEVE YOUNG: After two years in the USFL and two seasons with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Young found himself as the backup to future Hall of Famer Joe Montana. Young got his chance to be a full-time starter in 1992 and made the most of it, going 14-2 and leading the Niners to the NFC title game. Two seasons later, Young threw six touchdowns in the Niners' 49-26 rout of the Chargers in Super Bowl XXIX. Uncannily accurate, Young led the league in passing six times and retired with the highest all-time passer rating of 96.8. Young is currently an NFL analyst with ESPN.
Years active: 1985-99
Elected to HOF: 2005
NFL/Super Bowl titles: 1988 49ers (Super Bowl XXIII), 1989 49ers (Super Bowl XXIV) and 1994 49ers (Super Bowl XXIX)

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HALL OF FAME WRITER JOHN CLAYTON

John Clayton joined ESPN in August 1995 as a senior NFL writer and commentator. A recipient of the Pro Football Hall of Fame's McCann Award for distinguished reporting, he is a senior writer for ESPN.com. He is a regular contributor to ESPN's NFL coverage on television. You can follow Clayton on Twitter @ClaytonESPN.

#NFLANYERA TOP 20

Honorable mention and No. 20 | 19 | 18 | 17 | 16 | 15 | 14 | 13 | 12 | 11 | 10 | 9 | 8
7 | 6 | 5 | 4 | 3 | 2 | 1 | MORE: On Twitter | Facebook | NFL Blog Network