Wednesday, June 22, 2016

1955-1965 All-Mid-Decade Teams

By John Turney

A couple of months ago we chose a 2005-2015 All-Mid-Decade Teams and a 1995-2005 team  as well as  1985-95 and 1975-85  1965-75 to represent the best players from that era, realizing that just an All-Decade team that began in 1960, 1970, 1980, etc., was a bit arbitrary.

Now, here is our 1955-1965 All-Decade team:

Jim Ringo was first an All-Pro by NEA in the mid-1950s and continued that status  until Mick Tingelhoff came along and we thought Ray Wietecha was next best. The guards are particularly strong in this decade as are the tackles. Both Second-teamers here are Hall of Famers. 

Unitas was an easy choice at quarterback and Tittle was just as easy to back him up. John David Crow gets an honorable mention behind our six backs. We divided the receivers into split end and flanker as this was the era that those positions became defined, though Lenny Moore spent a lot of time as a flanker as did Frank Gifford. J.D. Smith joins Crow as an honorable mention

Gino Marchetti and Doug Atkins were the best, though Robustelli did have more All-Pro honors than Atkins, when you looked at the sack numbers, Atkins was ahead. Jim Katcavage is one of the really good underrated defensive ends, he was a good strong-side end and an excellent rusher.

The tackles were close, each had positives and negatives. Lipscomb had a knock of not going all-out all the time, Grier was not a tremendous pass rusher but a superb run stopper. McFadin got the nod for his work in the AFL. In the early 1960s he would have been a candidate for the AFL Defensive Player of the Year more than once, if such an award existed.

Art Donovan and Ernie Stautner are honorable mentions as is Bob Gain.

Schmidt was the best of the new position, middle linebacker. George, who spend a lot of time as a nose guard in five-man lines and Huff shared the backup spot. It was too close to call. George being better versus the run and in pass rush, Huff, better in coverage.

Forrester and Fortunato were to top outside backers in the new 4-3 scheme the league adopted in this decade and Walker edged Currie and Hazeltine with this pass rush prowress. He was almost not qualified in that he came into the league in 1958, and in this exercise we like to have players contribute over the entire decade as much as possible. There was a solid honorable mention at OLBer as well, Larry Morris.

The Night Train was the dominant corner and Woodson next. The backups were close, solid players all. Petitbon narrowly beat out Lindon Crow, he was late to the party, but was the top left safety in the game and got the nod.

In Ray Nitschke's books it was always mentioned how he was a demon on special teams before he secured a dull-time starting spot at MLB in 1962. Whitsell's skill was blocking kicks and punts. 

The returners were the ones most effective for the length of the 10-year period. 

Art by Merv Corning, Mark Gardener and George Bartell.

Agree, disagree? Let us know in comments section below.


  1. The Yale Lary and Night Train Lane drawings are historically inaccurate. Detroit did not start wearing a home jersey with silver numbers outlined in white until 1972. Lary retired in 1964 and Lane retired in 1965 when Detroit's home numbers were solid silver.

    1. I think the artists were trying to capture the edge of the tackle twill numbers, outside the sewing line, that gave the illusion of a white edge. I don't think they are depicting an actual white outline

  2. Hi - great, great stuff. I love these lists, written by knowledgeable football folks and with color added about players/positions. They always spark debate ... so where is Forrest Gregg? Everything I've read IDs him as an all-time great and this appears to be 'his' team. Was his exclusion an oversight or was he just over-rated (in your opinion)? Same question applies to Yary and Shell, who excelled at this position in the 70's. I'd love to hear your opinion.