Notre Dame and Alabama top 10 NFL players
- Published: Dec. 4, 2012 at 08:11 p.m.
- Updated: Jan. 7, 2013 at 09:09 p.m.
Alabama and Notre Dame. Two juggernauts of college football will face each other tonight in the BCS National Championship Game in Miami. Both collegiate powerhouses are factories for producing NFL players. Here's our list of the top 10 NFL players each school has produced:
1. Joe Montana - Notre Dame
The most clutch quarterback in NFL history, Joe Montana led the 49ers to four Super Bowl wins. He also appeared in eight Pro Bowls, and was a first-ballot inductee into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
2. Paul Hornung - Notre Dame
A versatile player, Hornung helped lead the Green Bay Packers to four championships and the inaugural Super Bowl title back in 1967. Playing halfback, quarterback and kicker, Hornung led the NFL in scoring for three consecutive seasons. His record for points scored in a single season stood for 46 years, until LaDainian Tomlinson broke it in 2006.
3. George Connor - Notre Dame
During his time with the Bears, George Connor played both offensive and defensive tackle, but really made his presence known when he converted to linebacker, paving the way for future Chicago greats like Dick Butkus and Mike Singletary.
4. Curly Lambeau - Notre Dame
Few men have left as big of a mark on the NFL as Curly Lambeau. As a player, coach and owner, Lambeau is the bench-mark of an NFL renaissance man. He helped make the Green Bay Packers relevant before Vince Lombardi made them legendary, and to honor that achievement the most iconic stadium in professional football bears his name - Lambeau Field.
5. Alan Page - Notre Dame
Alan Page redefined the defensive tackle position so much, he is the only defensive lineman to ever be named league MVP. Part of the fearsome "Purple People Eaters," Page certainly made an impact on the NFL after leaving Notre Dame.
6. Leon Hart - Notre Dame
Leon Hart was the definition of the term "football player." During his Notre Dame days and beyond, he put his 6-foot-4-inch, 260-pound frame to work, whether it be blocking, receiving or rushing the passer. A Heisman Trophy winner, Hart also helped lead the Detroit Lions to three league championships while in the NFL.
7. Dave Casper - Notre Dame
Gronkowski who? Back before tight ends were in vogue, Dave "The Ghost" Casper was haunting defensive coordinators' dreams. Casper revolutionized the tight end position as a Raider, and was Ken Stabler's most reliable receiver. He consistently made plays in the crunch, most notably the "Ghost to the Post" in the 1977 Divisional Playoff game against the Baltimore Colts.
8. Tim Brown - Notre Dame
In a position dominated by diva-personalities, Tim Brown was all business, and the heart and soul of the Raiders during the 90s. When Brown retired, he was second all-time in receiving yards, third in receptions and third in touchdowns. Oh, and he also returned punts and kick offs. The only thing holding Brown back from the Hall of Fame might be the fact that he never won a Super Bowl during his storied career.
9. Jerome Bettis - Notre Dame
Jerome "The Bus" Bettis made a career out of rolling over defenses, but his quick feet were what made him an even greater threat, and one of the best running backs in NFL history. When Bettis called it quits, he was the fifth all-time leading rusher, and went out on top, as a Super Bowl champion. His signature game may have been against the Chicago Bears during that Super Bowl season, when he rushed for more than 100 yards at the age of 34 - all of which came in the second half.
10. Wayne Millner - Notre Dame
Wayne Millner was drafted in the eighth round in 1936, but it only took one season before his value was made apparent. Millner helped lead the Washington Redskins to the 1937 title by catching touchdown passes of 55 and 78 yards. Let that sink in, two touchdown receptions of over 55 yards in 1937! Millner was later enshrined in the Hall of Fame, at the time becoming the third Notre Dame player to receive such an honor.
1. Don Hutson - Alabama
Few players have been as dominant as Don Hutson was during his 11-year NFL career. Hutson was the first modern receiver, blazing past defenders on his way to winning three championships with the Green Bay Packers. Just how dominant was he? Hutson is the only player in NFL history to lead the league in receiving eight times.
2. John Hannah - Alabama
Widely regarded as one of the best offensive linemen to ever play, John Hannah made a name for himself bullying opposing defensive lineman for 13 seasons with the New England Patriots. With textbook technique and legendary toughness, Hannah helped the 1978 Patriots set a single-season rushing record with 3,165 yards, a record that still stands today.
3. Bart Starr - Alabama
The MVP of Super Bowl I and II was Vince Lombardi's field general when the Packers ruled the NFL. Starr preferred to remain in the shadow of Lombardi, and let his play speak for itself. Time and time again, Starr would come up with the perfect pass or perfect play. No play was more iconic than his legendary QB sneak in the Ice Bowl, a play he told Lombardi to call when they spoke on the sideline.
4. Ozzie Newsome - Alabama
In his first year in the NFL, Ozzie Newsome was named the Browns offensive MVP. From there, Newsome put together a Hall of Fame worthy career, catching 662 passes for 7,980 yards and 47 touchdowns. He terrorized opposing secondaries for 13 years with his rare combination of size and speed, before being inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1999.
5. Derrick Thomas - Alabama
One of the most dominant outside linebackers to ever play the game, Derrick Thomas specialized in rushing the passer and making big plays. Thomas finished his career with 126.5 sacks, and holds the record for the most sacks in a single game with seven. He was a nine-time Pro Bowler, and was enshrined posthumously into the Hall of Fame in 2009.
6. Joe Namath - Alabama
"Broadway Joe" is probably best known for guaranteeing the New York Jets' victory in Super Bowl III over the Baltimore Colts, a guarantee he delivered on with a 16-7 win. Aside from all his swagger and celebrity, Namath wasn't without his share of aerial accomplishments. In 1967, he became the first QB in NFL history to throw for more than 4,000 yards in a season.
7. Dwight Stephenson - Alabama
Undersized by typical NFL standards, Dwight Stephenson dominated much larger defensive lineman with his quickness, and savvy. With Stephenson leading the way, the Miami Dolphins gave up the least sacks in the NFL for six straight seasons. Stephenson's career was sadly cut short by a serious knee injury in 1987. Otherwise, his list of accolades would surely be longer.
8. Ken Stabler - Alabama
A four-time Pro Bowl selection, Ken Stabler helped lead the Oakland Raiders to a Super Bowl championship in 1977, and was named NFL MVP in 1974. Known for his clutch play under pressure, Stabler was the QB of two of the most iconic plays in NFL history - "The Ghost to the Post" and "The Holy Roller."
9. Cornelius Bennett - Alabama
During his 14 NFL seasons, Cornelius Bennet helped lead five teams to Super Bowl appearances, yet never managed to bring home the Lombardi trophy.� Regardless, Bennett was a constant presence at left outside linebacker throughout the '90s, recording 71.5 sacks, seven interceptions and 27 fumble recoveries in his career.
10. Shaun Alexander - Alabama
Before injuries derailed his career, Shaun Alexander was the toast of the NFL at running back in the early 2000s. He set the NFL record for single-season touchdowns with 28, before LaDainian Tomlinson broke it the following season. Alexander also led the league in rushing and was named NFL MVP in 2005.