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NFL 100 All-Time Team defensive backs, special teams revealed

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  • By Around The NFL staff NFL.com
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The NFL is revealing the 100 greatest players and 10 greatest coaches in NFL history. Every Friday night at 8 ET through Dec. 27, NFL Network will announce the latest members of the All-Time Team during a one-hour special hosted by Rich Eisen and featuring Bill Belichick and Cris Collinsworth.

Below are the seven cornerbacks, six safeties, two kickers, two punters and two returners on the All-Time Team, as revealed Friday on NFL Network, along with comments from Belichick, Collinsworth and the DBs and specialists from the All-Time Team:

Cornerbacks


Mel Blount (1970-1983)


1989 Pro Football Hall of Fame Inductee... Started in four Super Bowl victories with Steelers in 1970s... Earned five Pro Bowl selections... Two-time 1st-team All-Pro... Prototype CB of era with superior speed, size, intelligence... Master of bump-and-run coverage, forcing NFL to adjust pass defense rules... One of 11 CBs in NFL history to play 200+ career games... Named 1975 NFL Defensive Player of the Year... His 57 INTs ranked 2nd in NFL during career span... Named to NFL All-Decade Team for 1980s... Selected by Steelers in 3rd round (53rd overall pick) in 1970 NFL Draft... Born April 10, 1948, in Vidalia, GA.

Deion Sanders: Those two you just mentioned (Mel Blount and Willie Brown) shaped me. They made you want to be a corner. And the bump-and-run. If it weren't for those guys, I wouldn't be sitting here today. They made it cool. ... When you meet Mel Blount today... you were a corner?

Chris Collinsworth: I don't know how I got off the line of scrimmage. He was a man. You thought you were lining up at tight end and you got a an inside linebacker playing over you. Forget catching the ball, if I got five or ten yards down the field I thought it was a good play.

Mike Haynes (1976-1989)


1997 Pro Football Hall of Fame Inductee... Notched INT in Raiders' Super Bowl XVIII win... Nine career Pro Bowls, T-6th in NFL history among CBs... Two-time 1st-team All-Pro, 1984-1985... With Raiders, teamed with HOF Lester Hayes to form one of most dominant CB tandems in NFL history... Named to NFL All-Decade Team for 1980s. Member of NFL's 75th Anniversary Team... Named 1976 NFL Defensive Rookie of Year after ranking T-3rd in NFL with eight INTs... Selected by the New England Patriots in 1st round (5th overall pick) in 1976 NFL Draft... Born July 1, 1953, in Denison, TX.

Bill Belichick: Haynes went to Arizona Sate and under coach Kush there they had a lot of good skill players. Really he was a receiver, probably should've played receiver but they had John Jefferson. So he played corner and was drafted in the first round as a corner and punt returner. ... He was long and a guy with that length, he was really a receiver playing corner.

Collinsworth: Probably one of the smoothest guys I've ever played against. You ever play against somebody that looks so easy like he's not even trying. Just gliding next to you.

Dick "Night Train" Lane (1952-1965)


1974 Pro Football Hall of Fame Inductee... Set NFL single-season record with 14 INT in rookie season, a record that still stands... Also led NFL with 10 INT, 1954... Ranks 4th in NFL history with 68 career INT, 6th with 1,207 INT return yards... Known for gambling style on field and deadly open-field tackler... Earned seven Pro Bowl selections... First-team All-Pro three times... Named to NFL All-Decade Team for 1950s... Member of NFL's 75th Anniversary Team... Signed by Rams as undrafted free agent in 1952 after four years in Army... Born April 16, 1928, in Austin, TX.

Belichick: This is a big, physical corner. Forerunner to Mel Blount and Rod Woodson -- those type of guys. This guy was a great tackler. Tough and physical. Most of his tackles were above the shoulders. ... Defensively, he was really good at sitting on those out routes and curl routes and a lot of his interceptions came on plays where he got a good break on the ball and cut the route.

Ed Reed: A man among boys.

Willie Brown (1963-1978)


1984 Pro Football Hall of Fame Inductee... Scored on 75-yard INT return TD in Raiders' Super Bowl XI win... Nine career Pro Bowls, T-6th in NFL history among CB... Five-time 1st-team All-Pro... Made Pro Bowl in each of first seven seasons after trade to Raiders, 1967-1973 seasons... Owns 54 career INTs, 39 with Raiders (tied for most in franchise history)... Member of AFL's All-Time Team... Named to NFL All-Decade Team for 1970s... Signed by Oilers as undrafted free agent, 1963... Cut in training camp, signed with Broncos and won starting CB job by midseason as rookie... Born December 2, 1940, in Yazoo City, MS.

Sanders: That iconic pick-six was everything. I'm just upset he didn't high-step it.

Darrell Green (1983-2002)


2008 Pro Football Hall of Fame inductee... Won two Super Bowl titles with Redskins... Earned seven Pro Bowl selections... 1991 1st-team All-Pro... Despite lack of size, played in remarkable 20 seasons and 295 career games, both most by DB in NFL history... Intercepted pass in NFL record 19 consecutive seasons, 1983-2001... Only player age 40 or older in NFL history to record and interception... Redskins all-time leader with 54 INT, six INTs return TD... Won NFL Man of the Year award, 1996... Named to NFL All-Decade Team for 1990s... Selected by the Washington Redskins in 1st round (28th overall pick) in 1983 NFL Draft... Born February 15, 1960 in Houston, TX.

Sanders: There's not too many guys on the defensive side that's his size, but that guy was tough, man. He was tough. He played the game like ti should've been played.

Collinsworth: He ran down people that were fast. I remember him running down Eric Dickerson. I just remember thinking, you've got to be kidding me.

Deion Sanders (1989-2000; 2004-2005)


2011 Pro Football Hall of Fame Inductee... Won Super Bowls in 1994 with 49ers, 1995 with Cowboys... Earned eight Pro Bowl selections... Six-time 1st-team All-Pro, tied-most among DB... NFL Defensive Player of Year, 1994... Including playoffs, one of two players with TD in six different ways (9 INT return, 6 punt return, 3 kickoff return, 1 fumble return, 3 receiving, 1 rushing)... Among 53 career INT, ranks T-5th in INT return TD (9) and 4th in INT return yards (1,331)... Named to NFL All-Decade Team for 1990s as CB, PR... Selected by the Atlanta Falcons in 1st round (5th overall pick) in 1989 NFL Draft... Born August 9, 1967, in Fort Myers, FL.

Sanders: It's unbelievable. I'm really humbled right now. I just left my hometown of Fort Meyers, Florida, and you think about, 'man I just left two days ago where it all started. I took my kids to the little apartment in the projects where I grew up. The people that know this game, that built and established this game said that you are that guy, and that's very humbling. ... Contrary to what people believe, I never said a word on the field. I never talked junk to my opponent. Because we had respect for battles. Let's shake hands and lets get it on because this is what people came to see. ... I knew everything about my opponent -- his likes, his dislikes. And I studied coordinators, not just players. Coordinators stay, players change. Jerry Rice (toughest opponent). ... I loved that battle. I wouldn't be Prime if Jerry wasn't Jerry. ... Jerry was in a condition to run all game long and it was a challenge. ... I need the Jerrys, I need the Michael Irvins, I need the Chris Carters. I needed those guys to be who I was.

Belichick: I was scared to death to throw at him, and never did. That was rule No. 1 against Deion - throw to somebody else. Don't let him touch the ball, and don't kick it to him. Getr beat by somebody else - don't get beat by Deion Sanders.

Collinsworth: You had a little bit of a way of making people think they were open, making QBs believe that wide receiver was open, just to set the trap so that you can have the moment.

Belichick: He is not open -- that's an optical illusion. Because he will close that gap and be there when the ball is there.

Rod Woodson (1987-2003)


2009 Pro Football Hall of Fame Inductee... Had 71 career INT, 3rd-most in NFL history... Owns NFL-record 12 career INT return TD, ranks 2nd with 1,483 INT return yards... Named 1993 NFL Defensive Player of Year... Ranked T-1st in INT twice, 1999, 2002... 11 career Pro Bowls, 3rd among DB in NFL history... Six-time 1st-team All-Pro, tied-most all-time among DB... Named to NFL All-Decade Team for 1990s... Member of NFL's 75th Anniversary Team... Selected by the Pittsburgh Steelers in 1st round (10th overall pick) in 1987 NFL Draft... Born March 10, 1965, in Fort Wayne, IN.

Belichick: Three guys, I'll tell a quarterback, 'Do not throw the ball anywhere near those three guys.' (Deion), (Reed) and Rod Woodson. Do not throw it near them. The return yardage on interceptions and punts alone makes him another offensive player. This guy was big, physical, in the Mel Blount range. Great guy, great competitor. He could do it all on a football field. Run, tackle, cover, man zone, return punts.

Sanders: Rod, the transition he made to safety was unbelievable because most corners, you're on your island, you're cool. Rod made that transition seamless. He was a special player.

Safeties


Ronnie Lott (1981-1994)


2000 Pro Football Hall of Fame Inductee... Driving force on 49ers defense as one of NFL's most physical safeties during four Super Bowl seasons, 1981, 1984, 1988-1989... His 63 career INTs rank T-8th in NFL history... Led NFL in INTs twice, 1986 (10), 1991 (8)... Nine career playoff INTs, tied for most in NFL history... Earned 10 Pro Bowl selections, T-4th all-time among DB... Made 1st-team All-Pro six times, tied for NFL record by DB... Named to NFL All-Decade Team for 1980s... Member of NFL's 75th Anniversary Team... Selected by the San Francisco 49ers in 1st round (8th overall pick) in 1981 NFL Draft... Born May 8, 1959, in Albuquerque, NM.

Reed: At the College Football Hall of Fame this past January, he walks up to me and puts his hand on my shoulders and was like, 'You the best. You the number one safety out of all of us. I said, 'You got nine fingers. I give it to you.' ... It just means a lot that for my play and what I've accomplished that Ronnie Lott says stuff like to me. It means a lot.

Jack Christiansen (1951-1958)


1970 Pro Football Hall of Fame Inductee... Won three NFL championships with the Detroit Lions, 1952-1953, 1957... Made five straight Pro Bowls, 1953-1957 seasons... Six-time 1st-team All-Pro, tied-most all-time among DB... Earned reputation as dominant safety, punt returner... Had 46 career INT in just eight seasons (5.8 INT per season)... One of seven players in NFL history with 10+ INT in single season twice, 1953 (12), 1957 (10)... NFL INT leader, 1953, co-leader in 1957... Owns NFL single-season record for punt return average (21.5), 1952... Eight career punt returns for TD, T-4th in NFL history... Named to NFL All-Decade Team for 1950s... Selected by the Detroit Lions in 6th round of 1951 NFL Draft... Born December 20, 1928, in Sublette, KS.

Belichick: Basically played free safety and did a good job of reading the ball. Was also a punt returner, and so he had very good ball skills. Very good athlete with good run skills.

Ken Houston (1967-1980)


1986 Pro Football Hall of Fame Inductee... Set NFL single-season record with five defensive TDs in 1971... Earned 12 Pro Bowl selections from 1968-1979 seasons, tied for most by DB in NFL history... Two-time 1st-team All-Pro... Acclaimed as NFL's premier strong safety of 1970s... Among 49 career INT, ranks T-5th in INT return TD (9)... Traded to Redskins for five players in 1973... Named to NFL All-Decade Team for 1970s... Member of NFL's 75th Anniversary Team... Selected by the Houston Oilers in 9th round of 1967 NFL Draft... Born November 12, 1944, in Lufkin, Texas.

Belichick: Houston was a pure strong safety. One of the best in the business ever, could cover, was a strong tackler, started off as a linebacker. This guy was a great strong safety.

Ed Reed (2002-2013)


2019 Pro Football Hall of Fame Inductee... Named 2004 NFL Defensive Player of Year... Earned nine Pro Bowl selections, five 1st-team All-Pro berths (both T-6th by DB in NFL history)... Known as one of football's best playmaking safeties in league history... Ranks 7th with 64 career INTs and NFL record 1,590 INT return yards... Scored seven TDs on INT returns, with nine defensive TDs ranking T-10th all-time... Nine career playoff INTs tied for most in NFL history... Led NFL in INTs three times, 2004, 2008, 2010... Named to NFL All-Decade Team for 2000s... Selected by the Baltimore Ravens in 1st round (24th overall pick) in 2002 NFL Draft... Born September 11, 1978, in St. Rose, LA.

Belichick: Ed Reed should be in the Top 100 players and the Professional Football Hall of Fame, just for his ability to block punts. Forget about everything else. I'll start with that. None better. ... A lot of blocked punts come when a guy's not picked up. With him, you had a guy to block him. They just couldn't block him. ... Brady and I, we talked about it. You've got to know where Ed Reed is on the field every time the ball is snapped. Even on the running plays because you would time those blitzes up and be like eight yards in the backfield when the ball was handed off.

Sanders: I played with him in Baltimore at the end of my career and I've never seen anything like it. You hear, but when you get there and see... Ed could have been a Hall of Fame cornerback. I'm not joking. he had the skill set, the anticipation, the hands, the feet, the speed. He had the hips. He had everything it took to be a corner. ... We knew Ed was going to get that ball. He studied his butt off, too. He prepared like no other.

Emlen Tunnell (1948-1961)


Became 1st black player inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1967... Retired as NFL's all-time INT leader with 79 (currently ranks 2nd)... Won two NFL titles, with Giants in 1956 and Packers in 1961... Posted NFL record 6+ INT in each of first 10 seasons, 1948-1957... Earned nine Pro Bowl selections, including eight straight in 1950-1957 seasons... Four-time 1st-team All-Pro... Named to NFL All-Decade Team for 1950s... Signed as undrafted free agent as 1st African American player on Giants in 1948... Born March 29, 1925, in Bryn Mawr, PA.

Collinsworth: I thought watching as a former receiver some of the catches he made, they were stunning. ... If it was in the neighborhood it was his.

Belichick: Tunnell had great ball skills and was a tremendous returner.

Larry Wilson (1960-1972)


1978 Pro Football Hall of Fame Inductee... Cat-like defender, exceptional team leader... Became NFL's top free safety, made "safety blitz" famous... Famous for once intercepting pass with both hands in casts... Had 52 career interceptions... Posted career-high 10 INTs in 1966, T-1st in NFL, including streak of seven straight games with INTs... Made Pro Bowl eight times in nine-season span from 1962-1970 seasons... Five 1st-team All-Pro berths (T-6th by DB in NFL history)... Named to NFL All-Decade Team for 1960s and 1970s... Member of NFL's 75th Anniversary Team... Selected by Cardinals in 7th round in 1960 NFL Draft... Born March 24, 1938, in Rigby, ID.

Belichick: Larry Wilson is probably the smallest guy in the entire Top 100 that we have. Undersized but as tough as they come. He's really the guy who really popularized the safety blitz. ...He played one game with casts on both hands and still intercepted a pass. ...Pound for pound, as tough a football player as there was in the National Football League.

Kickers


Jan Stenerud (1967-1985)


1991 Pro Football Hall of Fame Inductee... Kicked three FGs in Super Bowl IV win with Chiefs... Made six Pro Bowls, T-2nd most by kicker in NFL history... Was 1st pure placekicker to enter Hall of Fame... Helped usher in more accurate soccer-style FG kicking... Retired as NFL's second-leading all-time scorer (1,699 points) with then-record 373 FG made... 1st-team All-Pro, 1970... Member of NFL's 75th Anniversary Team... Entered college on skiing scholarship, joined football team as senior... Born November 26, 1942, in Fetsund, Norway.

Belichick: Montana State, talk about coming from the middle of nowhere. Stenerud went there on a skiing scholarship, ended up having a great career as a placekicker.

Adam Vinatieri (1996-Present)


Has won four Super Bowl titles in five appearances, kicking game-winning FG in SB XXXVI and XXXVIII for Patriots... Owns NFL records in (regular season and playoffs) for most career points, field goals made... Only kicker in NFL history to score 1,000+ points for two different teams... Set NFL record with 44 straight FG made, 2015-2016 seasons... Three-time Pro Bowl and 1st-team All-Pro selection... Named to NFL All-Decade Team of 2000s... Signed with Patriots as undrafted free agent after becoming all-time leading scorer at South Dakota State (since broken)... Born December 28, 1972, in Yankton, South Dakota.

Belichick: Personally with Adam, I can't enough about that kid. ... Played at South Dakota State, then played in Europe. In '96, that was his first year with the Patriots. That was my first year with the Patriots, coaching the secondary. As you said, super-clutch kicker. The kick he made against Oakland in four inches of snow was the greatest kick I've ever seen. Adam's ball was straight and it had just a little bit of draw to it, kind of when you watch those bowlers and all of a sudden it breaks right in there.

Punters


Shane Lechler (2000-2017)


NFL's all-time leader in gross punting average (47.6 yards per punt)... Finished season 1st in punting average four times, 2003-2004, 2007, 2009... Ranked in NFL's top two in punting average 12 times in 18 seasons... Earned 1st-team All-Pro honors six times, most by punter in NFL history... Made seven Pro Bowls, tied with HOF Ray Guy for most in NFL history by punter... Named to NFL All-Decade Team of 2000s... Selected by Oakland Raiders in 5th round of 2000 NFL Draft... Born August 7, 1976, in East Bernard, TX.

Belichick: Lechler had a tremendous career. He was a big, powerful guy. I mean, he could pound the balls.

Ray Guy (1973-1986)


2014 Pro Football Hall of Fame Inductee... Played in seven AFC championship games, three Super Bowls (winning 3 titles with Raiders)... Averaged under 40 yards only once in 14 NFL seasons (42.4 career gross average)... Had only three of 1,049 punts blocked... Made seven Pro Bowls, tied for most by punter in NFL history... Three-time 1st-team All-Pro, T-3rd most by punter all-time... Named to NFL All-Decade Team for 1970s... Member of NFL's 75th Anniversary Team... Selected by Raiders in 1st round (23rd overall pick) of 1973 NFL Draft, the 1st punter ever picked in 1st round... Born December 22, 1949, in Swainsboro, GA.

Belichick: First-round pick out of Southern Miss. Who takes a punter in the first round? But Al Davis took a Hall of Famer. Ray could hit for big distance, had great flexibility. When you watch him punt, he's classy. He's got the full follow-through. As classy a punter as you could get.

Returners


Devin Hester (2006-2016)


NFL-record 19 career kick/punt return TD, including 14 by punt (most in NFL history). In each of first two seasons, broke NFL single-season record for kick/punt return TD (5 in 2006, 6 in 2007)... Only player to return opening kickoff of Super Bowl for TD (SB XLI vs Colts)... One of 6 players to score two kick/punt return TD in same game on multiple occasions... Led NFL in punt return average twice, 2010-2011... Four-time Pro Bowl selection... Three-time 1st-team All-Pro... Selected by the Chicago Bears in 2nd round (57th overall) of 2006 NFL Draft... Born November 4, 1982, in Riviera Beach, FL.

Sanders: That guy there in that Super Bowl (XLI), I remember after we did the pregame show, we ran up under the tunnel in Miami. And I said, "He's going to house this thing." And as he got it and as he cut, when he cut, I saw him find daylight, I ran from up under the tunnel, down to the end zone that he was going to. I was trying to meet him there. I'm barefooted, running out there on the field and he housed that thing. I was in tears I was so proud of him. This guy to me is the greatest returner ever. Ever.

Billy "White Shoes" Johnson (1974-1988)


Became popular over his "Funky Chicken" dance, one of first players to celebrate after scoring... Posted eight career kick/punt return TD, including six by punt (T-9th in NFL history)... Ranked in top 10 with 3,317 career punt return yards (7th) and 11.8 punt return average (8th, min. 75 returns)... Led NFL in punt return average twice, 1975, 1977... Three-time Pro Bowl selection... 1st-team All-Pro, 1977... Member of 75th Anniversary All-Time Team... Named to NFL's All-Decade Team for 1970s and 1980s... Selected by Oilers in 15th round of 1974 NFL Draft... Born January 27, 1952, in Boothwyn, PA.

Sanders: Shoes had a tremendous influence on me. When I played in Fort Myers and I would score, I would go beside the goal post and do the Billy White Shoes Johnson (dance). You had to do it! It had to be done! When I met him in Atlanta, it was unbelievable. It was like meeting a hero you grew up watching. He was phenomenal.

Coach


Joe Gibbs (1954-1973)


1996 Pro Football Hall of Fame Inductee... Three-time Super Bowl Champion (XVII, XXII, XXVI) with three different quarterbacks... Four total Super Bowl appearances... Three-time NFL Coach of Year (1982, 1983, 1991)... Had 124-60-0 regular season record, 16-5 in postseason... Won 1982 NFC title and four NFC East crowns... Born November 25, 1940, in Mocksville, NC.

Belichick: He was a great competitor of ours with the Giants. He went head-to-head twice a year, sometimes three times a year in the playoffs. Joe was a very disciplined coach. Really popularized the one-back offense. He really believed in the running game, but they threw it down the field as well.

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