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The all-time best of two legendary franchises

Packers' five best offensive players

1. Brett Favre, QB, 1992-2007

Though the end in Green Bay was messy, we cannot forget that Favre is the NFL's all-time leader in completions, passing yards, victories for a starting quarterback, touchdown passes and most consecutive starts. Not only is he the greatest quarterback in Packers history, you could argue he is the greatest quarterback in NFL history.

2. Forrest Gregg, OT, 1956-1970

Gregg played in a then-record 188 consecutive games, was a nine-time Pro Bowl pick and a seven-time first-team All-Pro and is in the conversation about the greatest offensive lineman in NFL history. Vince Lombardi once said, "Forrest Gregg is the finest player I ever coached."

3. Bart Starr, QB, 1956-71

From 1960 to 1967 with Starr at quarterback, the Packers went 62-24-4 and won six division titles and five NFL championships, including the first two Super Bowls. And he was MVP of those two Super Bowls. He retired as the most accurate passer in league history.

4. Jim Taylor, FB, 1958-66

When Taylor retired, he was the second-leading rusher in NFL history. In 1962, he led the NFL in rushing — the only time Jim Brown didn't win the rushing title in his career. Taylor still holds the Packers team record for touchdowns and was the franchise's all-time leading rusher until Ahman Green broke his record in 2009.

5. Don Hutson, WR, 1935-45

Maybe Ahman Green, the franchise's all-time leading rusher, should be in this spot. Or Donald Driver, the team's all-time receptions leader. You could consider WRs James Lofton and Sterling Sharpe. But we're going old-school with Hutson, an eight-time All-Pro who caught 99 touchdown passes, which was an NFL record that stood until 1989.

Packers' five best defensive players

1. Ray Nitschke, LB, 1958-72

When we think of the Packers as a franchise, this grizzled middle linebacker with that rough-and-tumble last name is the first player we think of. He epitomized Vince Lombardi's legendary teams of the 1960s. He is the only linebacker on the NFL's 50th and 75th anniversary teams.

2. Reggie White, LB, 1993-98

White made his reputation with the Eagles but solidified it when he joined the Packers in 1993 and eventually led them to two Super Bowl appearances and a victory in Super Bowl XXXI. Despite spending only six seasons in Green Bay, White became (at the time) the Packers' all-time sacks leader.

3. LeRoy Butler, S, 1990-2001

The first defensive back in NFL history to record 20 sacks and 20 interceptions. The former Florida State star was a four-time Pro Bowl selection and All-Pro, and he earns special recognition on this list by being credited with inventing the "Lambeau Leap."

4. Willie Wood, S, 1960-71

Wood was an undrafted free agent who went from college quarterback to star safety. In a nine-year stretch from 1962 to 1971, Wood was All-NFL nine times. Wood finished his 12 NFL seasons with 48 interceptions.

5. Herb Adderley, CB, 1961-69

Adderley was a halfback when he joined the Packers, but he switched positions and became one of the game's best-ever cornerbacks. In nine seasons with Green Bay, he had 39 interceptions and returned seven for touchdowns, which until this year was a share of the team record.

Steelers' five best offensive players

1. Terry Bradshaw, QB, 1970-83

No quarterback has won more Super Bowls than Bradshaw's four. Bradshaw was the key to the team's second two, as he proved by being named MVP in Super Bowls XIII and XIV. As a starter, he was 107-51 in the regular season and 14-5 in the postseason.

2. Mike Webster, C, 1974-88

During his 15 seasons in Pittsburgh, Webster was a nine-time All-Pro. He was a member of both the NFL's Team of the 1970s and 1980s. You can debate that Webster was the greatest center in NFL history.

3. Hines Ward, WR, 1998-present

The best receiver in Steelers history, and that's a history that includes Hall of Famers John Stallworth and Lynn Swann. In fact, Ward has more career receptions (954) than Stallworth (537) and Swann (336) combined. He also is one the best blocking receivers in NFL history.

4. Franco Harris, RB, 1972-83

He remains the Steelers' all-time leading rusher with 11,950 yards. He was a nine-time Pro Bowl pick and Super Bowl lX MVP and was the key figure in the most famous play in team, and possibly league, history: 1972's Immaculate Reception.

5. Jerome Bettis, RB, 1996-2005

This was a tough choice. We could've gone with John Stallworth or Lynn Swann. We hated leaving out seven-time Pro Bowl C Dermontti Dawson. In the end, we settled on Bettis, second on the franchise's all-time rushing list. He rushed for more than 1,000 yards in each of his first six seasons with the Steelers.

Steelers' five best defensive players

1. Jack Ham, LB, 1971-82

While other members of the Steel Curtain defense get more attention, ask anyone who followed them closely and knew football and they will tell you that Ham was the unit's most consistent player. He was the best outside linebacker in NFL history until Lawrence Taylor came along.

2. Mel Blount, CB, 1970-83

The best cover corner of his era. He was so good and strong that the NFL changed the rules of how defensive backs could defend receivers. He had 57 interceptions in his career, which is remarkable considering most teams avoided throwing in his direction.

3. Joe Greene, DT, 1969-81

A 10-time Pro Bowl pick and one of the most dominating interior defensive linemen in history. He was the key cog in Pittsburgh's smothering run defense, and he collected 781/2 sacks. He did all these things despite being double-teamed on practically every down.

4. Jack Lambert, LB, 1974-84

One of the meanest and most intimidating players to ever suit up in the NFL. He was the face of the Steel Curtain defense. He could play the run, rush the quarterback (231/2 sacks) and play pass defense (28 interceptions).

5. Ernie Stautner, DT, 1950-63

Modern-day Steelers fans will howl over Troy Polamalu not making this list. He is a six-time Pro Bowl selection and one of the best big-play defensive players in the game. Stautner is often overlooked because the Steelers were an awful franchise before 1972. But this hard-as-nails tackle was a 10-time All Pro.

The Green Bay Packers. The Pittsburgh Steelers. They are, arguably, the NFL's two most storied franchises. The Packers date to the start of the NFL in 1921 and have more NFL titles (12) than any other team. The Steelers go back to 1933 and have won more Super Bowls (six) than any other team. So with a week to go before Super Bowl XLV, let's take today to look back at the best players of these historic franchises.

The all-time best of two legendary franchises 01/29/11 [Last modified: Sunday, January 30, 2011 12:44pm]
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