Thursday, June 13, 2019

Players of the Decade—1980s

By John Turney
This is number fourteen in a series of picking players of the decades. We began with 1915-25, the 1920s, the 1925-35 period, the 1930s1935-45, the 1940s1945-55 the 1950s, 1955-65, the 1960s, 1965-75, the 1970s, 1975-85 and now the 1980s

Here are the picks for the decade of the eighties—

1980s Player of the Decade
Joe Montana
No explanation needed.

1980s Defensive Player of the Decade
Lawrence Taylor
Again, no explanation needed.

1980s Player of the Decade Runner-Up 
Anthony Munoz
From 1980-90 Anthony Munoz won Offensive Lineman of the Year Awards in 1981, 1982, 1986, 1987, 1988, 1989, and 1990 from four organizations including the NFLPA and the NFL Alumni. He was First-team All-Pro every season from 1981-90 with nine of those being consensus All-Pro.

Munoz edges out Dwight Stephenson on the basis playing the whole decade and being a Lineman of the year seven times (Stephenson won similar/same awards five times). So, Stephenson secures an honorable mention.

For honorable mentions, we are going with two more—one is Dan Marino who exploded onto the scene in 1983 and put up amazing numbers. He was the MVP in 1984 and from 1984-86 he averaged 41 touchdown passes, remarkable for that era. The other is Eric Dickerson whose best seasons happen to coincide with Marino.

Most traditional folks would have gone with the offensive skill guys over Munoz. Well, as great as they were, their peaks were great, but what about 1987-89 when Marino's W-L record was below .500 and he averaged 19 picks per season? Not awful, but was it up to the greatness/consistency of Munoz?

Dickerson, actually, was more consistently at the top of his came more often in the 1980s than Marino. Marino had an MVP, though, Dickerson didn't. Marino got to a Super Bowl, Dickerson didn't. Dickerson's two flaws were his skill sets. He was not a good blocker or a special receiver and he fumbled a lot. A lot.

But of course, most coaches would live with Marino's picks and Dickerson's fumbles in order to get the great upside of both. However, we would take Anthony Munoz's 1980-89, 90 over Marino's and Dickerson's 1983-89, 90. He had a better decade than anyone other than Montana.

1980s Defensive Player of the Decade Runner-Up
Ronnie Lott
Lott was like Lawrence Taylor in a lot of ways. He began as one of the top players in the NFL from day one. He was All-Pro almost every year, he won more titles but never did win a Defensive Player of the Year award, though in 1986 he would have won in a usual year but L.T. was just too dominant for Lott to get traction. So, being second to L.T. is not too shabby.

We give Mike Singletary an honorable mention. while he did have two Defensive Player of the Year Awards we still think Lott was a better player and had a better decade. So, Samurai Mike is stuck with an honorable mention slot and being behind L.T. and Ronnie Lott is not too shabby.

Next up: 1985-95


  1. Great player picks and I love to try to stir the pot and be part of lively debate and discussion on this site. Thanks guys...

    I disagree on Taylor and Lott though.
    I believe that Lott was Defensive Player of the Decade because he was in on alot more turnovers than Taylor, even though we all know Taylor was the master of the strip fumble sack. Lott was better in postseason as well, and if I am not mistaken, was one of only three rookie CBs to win a SB, with Johnson of Pittsburgh and Marsalis of KC, being the other two. Playing corner and then safety like a LB, I believe Lott was more effective in stopping the run, than Taylor as well. Close on the vote either way.

    1. I understand...but LT was the Defensive Player of the Year 3 times. Lott, none. Lott has edge in rings, but Taylor was more dominant in our view.

    2. Brian wolf.......Lott was more effective in stopping the run? I never saw Lott get set in a stance at the Line Of Scrimmage. I never saw Lott blow up both a blocker and a ball carrier on 4th and short.

      Look up "Lawrence Taylor run defense" on YouTube.

      Then after you've done that revisit your comment about Lott being a better run defender than Taylor.