Wednesday, November 18, 2020

Consensus Early NFL All-Time Team

 By John Turney

Over the past couple of years, Chris Willis of NFL Films and author of several essential books on the early NFL has posted the All-time teams as chosen by many of the All-Time greats such as Don Hutson, Johnny Blood, Sammy Baugh, and others. Willis even has his own team, based on his heavily-researched series of the top players in the pre-WWII era.

For comparison purposes here is a chart of all those teams. We think it is a fair representation of the consensus of those teams and gives readers unfamiliar with that era who the best players of that era were. 

Top row—Center: Mel Hein, Guards Dan Fortmann and  Mike Michalske
Bottom row—Tackles: Cal Hubbard, Turk Edwards, Joe Stydahar, and Link Lyman
(votes for tackle very close)

Top row—Ends: Bill Hewitt and Don Hutson
Bottom row—T QB: Sammy Baugh; Single Wing TB:  Dutch Clark

Top Row—Fullback Bronko Nagurski; Blocking back Father Lumpkin; Halback Red Grange
Second row—Halfhback George McAfee; Halfback Cliff Battles, HB-FB Clark Hinkle
Bottom— Halfback Steve Van Buen

Steve Van Buren is sort of an anomy because he played mostly after World War II and he got four votes, one more than Grange and Hinkle and the same as McAfee. Like the voting for the tackles, it was too close to call. So you can make up your mind as to who you want in your backfield.


  1. What did you guys think of RB Tony Latone ?

  2. Brian, the Pottsville people raved about him in a couple books pertaining to the 20s and he apparently had a real nose for the end zone according to the meager stats we have, but with no film, no numbers, and no living person who saw him play, I don't think any evaluation is possible....your thoughts?

  3. From what I have read about him Jim, he rushed for more yards, scored more TDs and had a better average than Red Grange during the 20s ... another great but forgotten early professional player like the Nesser brothers and Herb Sacksteder ...