Monday, April 25, 2022

Pro Football Journal All-1970s Underrated

By John Turney
To make this team these players cannot have been selected to the Official NFL All-Decade Team or be in the Hall of Fame but they can have been selected All-Pro or been voted to Pro Bowls. Their careers can have spilled over from the 1960s a bit and into the 1980s (a bit). Mostly, they are 1970s players who were, in our view, somewhat overlooked in the annals of history. 

Also note that this is not some definitive list, anyone could make their own list with totally different players and it would be just as valid, but we like ours. So, enjoy—
QB—Bert Jones
Ret—Terry Metcalf
ST—Rusty Tillman

There were several centers to choose from but we went with Bob Johnson who was tall (6-5) and solid his entire career. Doug Wilkerson was one of the naturally strongest guards in the NFL and one of the fastest. He was good in pass protection and could pull and lead sweeps as well as any of the guards of his era. We picked Bob Young over Ed White because we'd put White more with a 1975-85 underrated team but they were similar strong-men players.  
Bob Chandler
Bob Chandler was the ideal possession receiver and Harold Jackson was a great deep threat but also could work underneath, he was not a one-trick pony. Raymond Chester started the decade as a Pro Bowler (1970-72) and ended it as one (1979). 

Bert Jones will always be underrated because injuries just ruined his career. In terms of talent, we think he was right there with John Elway and Aaron Rodgers (arm, legs, brains—the whole package). 

Chuck Foreman and Lydell Mitchell were dual threats, running and receiving who could get you 1,000 yards on the ground and catch 50-60 passes as well. 

Lyle Alzado
Cedrick Hardman
Alzado cheated. We suspect he's not the only one that did in the 1970s. And 1980s. And beyond. He was a good run defender and a guy who could also get to the quarterback. Hardman led the NFL in sacks in the 1970s though he was not all the conscientious about stopping the run.

Sherk was the NEA Defensive Player of the year n 1976 was always in on a lot of tackles and came back from a knee injury in 1977 to play well in 1978 and 1979 (12 sacks that year). Larry Brooks gave some of the best guards (Gene Upshaw and John Hannah) tough times. He was devastating at the point of attack and pursued well and could get good inside pressure as well. 
Jerry Sherk

Larry Brooks
Bill Bergey could get into holes and make stops and could also show up in coverage and pick off passes and had that proverbial "nose for the football". Van Pelt was a tall, athletic linebacker who was always playing his guts out for the Giants. Villapiano was making a lot of big plays for the Raider defenses in the 1970s, picking off passes, and making big hits. He was someone who was always noticeable.

Lemar Parrish was someone teams avoided throwing at because he had the ability to wreck a game plan. He was smart, somewhat of a gambler, a poor man's Deion Sanders in a way. He was also an excellent returner in his first few years. Willie Buchanon toiled for some poor Packers teams and came back from a couple serious injuries and still was productive. As coverage goes, he was as good as any.

Smart and tough describes Jake Scott. He was great with the Dolphins then was still very fine finishing off his career with Washington. Bill Thompson never had a bad year including when he began as a cornerback in 1969 through 1981, just a smart, steady, coach-on-the-field type.

John James was in the shadow of Ray Guy but he had a good net average and got his punts off quickly enough to avoid having too many blocked. Fritsch had a good average and had a good leg and seemed to make a lot of clutch kicks.

Billy "White Shoes" Johnson and Rick Upchurch overshadowed Terry Metcalf who could take both a kick or a punt back on you and was an excellent receiving back as well. Several special teams demon could have been picked, all of them are underrated but we went with Tillman. He was a key to George Allen's special teams in the 1970s and later became one of the best-ever special teams coaches in the NFL, most notable with the Seahawks. 


  1. Loved watching Jerry Sherk. One of my favorites.

  2. Sherk had great ball reactions. I think with one or two more good seasons he could have been hall of famer. Larry Brooks is more deserving of the hall than a guy like Sapp in my opinion.

  3. Agree about Sherk great player. For the safeties I have to go with Tommy Casanova 3x Pro bowl/1x all-pro in 6 seasons before he retired to become a doctor in his native Louisiana

  4. I often wonder if Chuck Foreman would be better recognized historically if he hadn't played in the same division as Walter Payton. Although one of the league's top backs, he couldn't even be touted as the best in his own division.

  5. Excellent article. I would substitute offense guard Gale Gillingham for Bob Young.

    1. The only thing is GIllingham only played about half of the 1970s . . . he would be a great pick for a mythical 1965-75 Underrated Team.

      These other guys just played more in the decade . . . just my view