Monday, November 14, 2016

New York Giants All Career-Year Team

By John Turney
At Pro Football Journal we are trying to pick the best individual seasons in the history of each franchise, which we will continue today with the Giants. By "Career-year" we mean the best performances at each position, with the following rule: Only one season per player per position. For example, here, we cannot pick Lawrence Taylor’s best two seasons and use all OLBer slots.

Here is the team, First-teams on left, Second-teams on right:

Mel Hein, 1938, is the First-team center. He's still the only offensive lineman to be an NFL MVP. His backup is  Ray Wietecha, 1958 (First-team All-Pro). Our honorable mentions are Bart Oates, 1990, Greg Larson, 1968, and Shaun O'Hara, 2008.

Chris Snee, 2008 and Jack Stroud, 1960 (both All-Pros), are the First-team guards, both were All-Pro. The Second-team guards are Butch Gibson, 1931 (All-Pro), and Darrell Dess, 1963 (Second-team All-Pros). The honorable mentions are William Roberts, 1990 (Pro Bowl), Ron Stone, 2000 (Pro Bowler), and Bob Kratch, 1994 (Second-team All-NFC).
At tackle, we chose Rosey Brown, 1956, and Jumbo Elliott, 1993, for the First-team, they were clear choices.  Brown could have had a half-dozen selections, but we went with 1956 when he was the AP Lineman of the Year. Steve Owen, 1927, and Frank Cope, 1945, both All-Pros are the Second-teamers.

The honorable mentions are Brad Benson, 1986 (Second-team All-Pro, Pro Bowl),  David Diehl, 2009 (Second-team All-Pro, Pro Bowl),  Len Grant, 1932 and Tex Coulter, 1951.
Mark Bavaro, 1986 is the First-team tight end and his backup is Jeremy Shockey, 2005. The honorable mentions are Aaron Thomas, 1964, Bob Tucker, 1972 and Bob Schnelker, 1954.
Y.A. Tittle, 1963 (NFL MVP, All-Pro, 36 TD passes), is our First-team quarterback. His MVP season was a hair better than Benny Friedman's, 1929. Friedman threw for 20 touchdowns, Ruthian numbers for that era. In fact, that unofficial team record was not broken until Conerly threw 22 TD passes in 1948.

A fine group of honorable mentions is Phil Simms, 1986, Eli Manning, 2011, Charlie Conerly, 1959 (NEA NFL MVP) and Fran Tarkenton, 1970.

The modern-type fullbacks are Charles Way, 1996 (First-team), and Madison Hedgecock, 2008 (Second-team). The list of honorable mentions is headed by Jim Finn, 2005, and includes Greg Comella, 2000, and Jarrod Bunch, 1993.

Frank Gifford, 1956 (NFL MVP), and Tiki Barber, 2005 (First-team All-Pro), get the top spots at running back. The Second-team selections are Joe Morris, 1985 (1336 yards rushing, 21 TDs), and Ron Johnson, 1970 (All-Pro, led NFL in yards from scrimmage and had 12 TDs from scrimmage).
A long list of honorables begins with Tuffy Leemans, 1936 (led NFL in rushing), Gene Roberts, 1949 (All-Pro, 17 touchdowns from scrimmage),  Eddie Price, 1951 (All-Pro, led NFL in rushing), Bill Paschal, 1944 (All-Pro, led NFL in rushing). Brandon Jacobs, 2008, Rodney Hampton, 1992, and Ahmad Bradshaw, 2010.

Dave Meggett, 1989, is our choice for a Third-down back.  His backup is Tiki Barber's 1999 season. They beat out Joe Morrison, 1971 and Shane Vereen, 2015.

Steve Smith, 2008 is the pick at 3rd wide receiver. He's backed on the Second-team Lionel Manuel, 1984. The HMs are Ed McCaffrey, 1992, and Rueben Randle, 2013.

The starting receiver list was difficult to choose, but we settled on Del Shofner, 1962 (All-Pro, 53 catches-1133 yards-21.4 avg.-12 td), and Odell Beckham Jr., 2015 (Pro Bowl, 96 receptions, 1450 yards and 13 touchdowns). The Second-team choices are Ray Flaherty, 1932 (All-Pro, led NFL in receptions, yards, yards per catch, and touchdowns, a rare feat), and Homer Jones, 1967 (All-Pro, 49 rec., 1209 yards, 24.7 avg., and 13 touchdowns).

The honorables are Amani Toomer, 2002, Steve Smith, 2009, Bill Swiacki, 1948, Earnest Gray, 1983, Ken MacAfee, 1954, Plaxico Burress, 2007, Kyle Rote, 1960, Frank Liebel, 1945, Hakeem Nicks, 2010, and Victor Cruz, 2011.
Our top special team core player is Reyna Thompson, 1990 and our Second-team pick is Larry Flowers, 1983. The HMs are David Tyree, 2005, and Elvis Patterson, 1984.

Josh Brown, 2015, and Pat Summerall, 1959, take the First- and Second-team picks. Ali Haji-Sheikh, 1983 (PFW's Golden Toe), Ward Cuff, 1938, Ben Agajanian, 1949, Pete Gogolak, 1970, and John Carney, 2008 are the HMs.

Dave Jennings, 1980 (First-team All-Pro), takes the top punting slot and he's backed by Sean Landeta's 1990 (All-Pro) season. The honorable mentions are Don Chandler, 1957, (38.1-yard net average), Steve Weatherford, 2012 (39.4 net).

The top punt return season is Emlen Tunnell, 1951 (3 for touchdowns), and he's backed by Dave Meggett, 1994. They are followed by Amani Toomer, 1996, Tiki Barber, 1999, and Merle Hapes, 1942.

For such a hallowed franchise there are few solid seasons by kick returners. Our top choice is Clarence Childs, 1964 (29.0 average to lead NFL and 1 TD), followed by Willie Ponder, 2004 (26.9 avg. and 1 TD). The honorable mention is Dwayne Harris,  2015.

Michael Strahan, 2001 (AP Defensive Player of the Year, All-Pro, 73 tackles, 22.5 sacks, 6 FF), and Jim Katcavage, 1963 (All-Pro, 20½ sacks), are the top DEs. Their backups are Jack Gregory, 1972 (Consensus All-Pro) 18½ sacks, and Jason Pierre-Paul, (2011, All-Pro, 95 tackles, 16.5 sacks).

A very deep list of HMs begins with Andy Robustelli, 1956 (All-Pro), Justin Tuck, 2008 (All-Pro, 67 tackles, 12 sacks, one pick-six), Osi Umenyiora, 2005 (70 tackles, 14.5 sacks, 4 FF), Leonard Marshall, 1985 (57 tackles 15.5 sacks), Fred Dryer, 1970 (honorable mention All-NFC, Pro Bowl alternate, 12 sacks), Ray Poole, 1950, Jim Poole, 1939, and Cal Hubbard, 1928.

Arnie Weinmeister, 1952, and Al Blozis, 1943, are our defensive tackles. In their respective years (along with Katcavage in 1963) these two tackles would have been in contention for a Defensive Player of the year Awards, had there been one. We've seen film on both and they were certainly dominant. We wish we could see more, but in what is available, both were often simply a physical mismatch for the guards and offensive tackles at the time. Both were listed as tackles, but both were in 6-man lines and played what may be called a defensive end in this era, but both had defensive ends, with hands on the ground outside them and both had defensive guards to the inside. So, though they were over tackles, we will call them defensive tackles, which there were listed as.

The Second-teamers are Jim Burt, 1984 (82 tackles, 7 sacks-a high number for a nose tackle), and Rosey Grier, 1956 (All-Pro). 

The honorable mentions are Al DeRogatis, 1951, Erik Howard, 1990, Keith Hamilton, 2000 (57 tackles, 10 sacks), John Mendenhall, 1974 (Second-team All-Pro, 7 sacks), John LoVetere, 1963, Ray Krouse, 1954, Robert Harris, 1997 (58 tackles, 10 sacks), and Dick Modzelewski, 1957.

The middle linebacker is Sam Huff, 1959, and the First-team 3-4 inside linebacker Harry Carson, 1981. Huff was voted the AP Lineman of the Year, an award that included linebackers, defensive linemen, and offensive linemen. In 1981 Carson had only First-team All-Pro and had 175 tackles.

They are backed by Antonio Pierce, 2006 (MLB) and Pepper Johnson, 1990 (ILB).
The HM MLBers are Micheal Barrow, 2001, Jim Files, 1970, and Vince Costello, 1967. The ILBers who merit honorable mention are Gary Reasons, 1989,  Brian Kelly, 1982, and Carlton Bailey, 1993.

Lawrence Taylor, 1986, and Carl Banks, 1987 (101 tackles, 10.5 stuffs, 9 sacks, First-team All-Pro), are the outside linebackers. Taylor was the NFL MVP in 1986, and had 20.5 sacks and 85 tackles. Taylor had several others great seasons and Banks' 1989 season was also looked at closely.

The Second-team is Brad Van Pelt, 1978, and Jessie Armstead, 1997. In 1978 Van Pelt was Second-team All-Pro, 100 tackles, 3 interceptions and two sacks while Armstead had 132 tackles, 13.0 for losses, 3.5 sacks and two picks and was All-Pro. In 1999 Armstead had 9.0 sacks, 14.5 stuffs, 124 tackles and was a Pro Bowler. We easily could have gone with 1997 over 1999, they were that close.

Bill Svoboda, 1956, Cliff Livingston, 1961, Howie Livingston, 1944, John Cannady, 1951, and Harland Svare, 1958, are the honorable mentions at linebacker.

Dick Lynch, 1963 (All-Pro, 9 picks for 251 yards and 3 for TDs), and Erich Barnes, 1961 (All-Pro, 7 INTs and 2 pick 6s), are the First-team cornerbacks. The Second-team picks are Willie Williams, 1968 (10 picks), and Mark Haynes, 1984 (All-Pro, 7 picks).

Tom Landry, 1954, Perry Williams, 1984, Mark Collins, 1989, Jason Sehorn, 1997, and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, 2015, are the honorable mentions at corner.

Emlen Tunnell, 1956 (Consensus All-pro) is the top left/strong safety.  Antrel Rolle, 2013 (Pro Bowl, 98 tackles, 6 picks), is the Second-team pick. We chose five honorable mentions at LS/SS:  Stevie Brown, 2012 (8 picks for 307 yards), Gibril Wilson, 2005 (112 tackles, 3 sacks, 2 picks), Shaun Williams, 2002 (91 tackles, 2 sacks, 2 picks), James Butler, 2008 (68 tackles, 3 picks), and Dick Nolan, 1959 (5 picks). One note, if Landon Collins continues his 2016 season as he began it, he may jump very high on this list and even eliminate some of the honorable mentions.

The right/free safeties on the first team had a tie Otto Schnellbacher, 1951 (11 picks, led league) and Jimmy Patton, 1958 (All-Pro, 11 picks to lead NFL). Both had monster years. The Second-team is Spider Lockhart, 1968 (Pro Bowl, 8 picks for 130 yards and two scores). Lockhart's 1970 season was also considered when he had 5½ sacks 4 INTs and was Second-team All-Pro.

Frank Reagan, 1947, and Terry Kinard, 1987, merit honorable mentions are free safety. Kinard was a Pro Bowler in 1988 (85 tackles, 8 PDs), the following year, but in 1987 he had 5 interceptions for 163 yards and one touchdown to go with 54 tackles and 13 passes defended. The top fifth defensive backs are First-teamer Emmanuel McDaniel, 2000 (6 picks in 3 starts). The Second-teamer is Trumaine McBride, 2015. Odis McKinney, 1979,  Kevin Dockery, 2006, Kenny Phillips, 2008, and Terrell Thomas, 2008.

George Martin, 1985 (10 sacks, a pick 6), is the designated pass rusher. Justin Tuck, 2007, is the Second-team pick. The HMs are Jerome Sally, 1985, Robert Ayers, 2014, and Casey Merrill, 1984.

Agree or disagree? Post in the comments section below.


  1. I believe when Mel Hein was picked as the first MVP in the NFL it was as much for his contributions to the defensive accomplishments of the Giants that season. While he is the clear pick for offensive center, my father, who saw both Hein and LT play, would have put him ahead of LT on defense as well.

    1. Great comment. I appreciate it very much. I love to learn who peers had to say in that era since there is so little film to see and therefore hard to form any kind of opinion except to rely on experts and players of that era.

    2. I guess Hein played defense better than Dick Butkus because Lawrence Taylor was better than Butkus according to former Giants GM George Young.

  2. Is there any known film of Hein the Linebacker? Would love to see that. Makes sense with the likes of Butkus and Nobis being great on the interior O Line and LB.

    1. Yes there is footage. Look him up on

  3. I'm sure Al Blozis was a monster DT in his day, but he did only play 2 seasons. He played just 23 games, so I'd have to give him HM status. He just didn't have the long term body of work.