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NFL History

Who is the best tight end of this generation?

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The most worthy senior candidate for 2018? It’s a Packer

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Drafting the all-time greats for MMQB

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Tony Gonzalez became the first tight end in history to catch 100 passes in a single season when he caught 102 for the Kansas City Chiefs in 2004. Witten became the second when he set the position record with 110 receptions in 2012.

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Of the 15 players identified as the best at their positions in the sport’s first 50 years, 14 of them have already been enshrined in Canton. The only one still waiting on a bust is guard Jerry Kramer.

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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.

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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.

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Stephon Gilmore was paid a king’s ransom to help the Patriots defend their Super Bowl title. Miami coach Adam Gase is working overtime to try and derail New England’s NFL juggernaut.

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Bill Belichick owns seven Super Bowl rings – five as head coach of the Patriots and two as the defensive coordinator of the Giants. He has won 237 career games, fourth most all-time behind Hall of Famers Don Shula, George Halas and Tom Landry.

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Lloyd Wells was the first full-time African-American football scout and his arrival created pro football opportunities for players at historic black colleges and universities. He signed eight future All-Pros and four Hall of Famers for the Kansas City Chiefs of the 1960s.

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Southern Cal ranks second all-time with 509 NFL draft picks. But the Trojans lead with 80 first-rounders — and a staggering 20 of them have been offensive tackles.

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Dan Rooney also was the driving force of a rule that opened the NFL door for minorities to be hired as head coaches and general managers. Fittingly, it was dubbed, “The Rooney Rule.” He practiced what he was preaching, hiring Mike Tomlin 2007.

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Football teams played only 10 home games while baseball teams played 77 home games – so for decades NFL teams were essentially playing in stadiums built for baseball. Lots of bad seats with bad site lines. But there was a nostalgic vent to some of those old ballparks.

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Greatness isn’t restricted to the quarterback position at Michigan. The Wolverines have become a football factory that churns out blue-chip offensive linemen.

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Jim Kelly was the greatest quarterback in Buffalo Bills history, but it was the USFL, he said, “where I learned the passing game.”

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Ken Stabler made a career of rescuing the Raiders, and his daughter followed in Dad’s footsteps — intervening to save his replica jersey after an irate fan threatened to burn it.

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Miami ranks fourth among NFL suppliers with 64 first-round selections. Eight of those first-rounders have been running backs, and the Hurricanes have four backs who rank among the Top 30 rushers in NFL history.

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So what will the Raiders miss most about Oakland, a city they will leave for the second time in 40 years? We asked a panel in and around the franchise.

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