The HBCU provided opportunity for talented black players in the once-segregated South to play football. And did they ever. The HBCU have produced 31 Pro Football Hall of Famers, including eight members of the NFL’s 75th anniversary team.
Teez Tabor was a two-time first-team All-SEC cornerback in college football’s toughest conference. But when he ran a 4.54 at the NFL scouting combine, his stock dropped – and it wasn’t until that 53rd overall pick that the Lions stopped his slide.
The Baltimore Colts won three consecutive AFC East titles with Kunz as their right tackle before a back injury limited him to one game in 1978 and kept him sidelined in 1979. With Kunz absent, the winning stopped. The Colts finished 5-11 both seasons.
A lightly-recruited two-star recruit out of high school, Davis blossomed in his four years at Western Michigan, becoming the only player in FBS history with 300 career catches, 5,000 yards and 50-plus touchdowns. His 5,285 receiving yards stand as a FBS record.
With Lance Alworth, Michael Irvin, Antonio Gates, LaDainian Tomlinson and Roger Craig as his targets, Unitas would be the best player in any league. Who are you going to double? Are you going to put a linebacker on Tomlinson? Someone will always be open and my quarterback will find him.
Joe Mixon set an Oklahoma single-season record for all-purpose yards last season with 2,331 on runs, receptions and returns. He scored 16 touchdowns in 2016, including five in one game against Texas Tech.
With a healthy Derek Carr plus playmakers Marshawn Lynch and Amari Cooper on offense and Khalil Mack and Bruce Irvin providing the edge rush on defense, the Raiders are as talented as any team west of the Massachusetts state line.
The Detroit Lions haven’t won an NFL title since 1957 and have gone longer without playing for an NFL championship than any other franchise. The Packers, on the other hand, have won championships with three different quarterbacks since then – Hall of Famers Bart Starr and Brett Favre plus Aaron Rodgers.
The Patriots have owned the division ever since Tom Brady took over at quarterback in 2001. New England has won the East in 14 of the 16 seasons Brady has been the starter, including the last eight years in a row.
Since Tom Brady took over as quarterback of the Patriots in 2001, New England has won 14 division titles, seven AFC championships and five Lombardi Trophies. He’s back in 2017 at the age of 40 and so are the franchise’s lofty expectations.
GM John Lynch and coach Kyle Shanahan inherited a 49ers team that finished 31st in the NFL in offense and 32nd in defense. A total rebuild was in order and the new hierarchy took a giant step in that direction. The 49ers wheeled and dealed for 10 draft picks and also brought in 10 veterans through free agency and trades.