The nature of football is highly team-centric, arguably even more so than the other Big Four North America Sports. In baseball, a pitcher or batter can stand out for a time, and point and goal scorers can make names for themselves and take over games in basketball and hockey. However, while the NFL produces plenty of stars to be sure, football is a team where no one player can lift his team to victory.
That makes the NFL, despite its many stars, a hugely team-centric affair – which in turn can cause us to overlook some fantastic players, such as these.
Fans of the Oakland Raiders know Jim Plunkett to be one of the great comeback stories in pro football. Born to blind parents, he was drafted by the New England Patriots as a #1 pick and enjoyed some success before bottoming out, being traded, and nearly being bounced out of football altogether. From that rocky place, he went on to lead the Raiders to two Super Bowls and was one of the great deep threat passers of his time.
Playing opposite Jerry Rice will lead to your being overshadowed. Still, John Taylor was a central piece of the 49ers’ attack in their dynasty years, catching the winning touchdown pass from Joe Montana, capping one of the great drives of all-time to win Super Bowl XXIII.
A vital cog in the Broncos’ two Super Bowl-winning teams, Ed McCaffrey was one of the greatly underrated wideouts of the 90s. Along with Shannon Sharpe at tight end and Terrell Davis at running back, they were finally able to help John Elway to long-overdue Super Bowl wins. Thankfully, McCaffrey may be getting a bit more attention today, as his son Christian currently starts for the Carolina Panthers.
Given how interchangeably they treat players not named “Brady,” it shouldn’t be surprising to find a Patriot on this list. Still, Troy Brown deserves some love as one of Brady’s most consistent passing targets during his time with the team in the franchise’s first decade as a dynasty.
These players are all underrated champions and deserve more attention than they get.