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After nearly half a century of Super Bowls, who lands on Athlon's All-Time Super Bowl Team?
As Super Bowl XLVIII approaches (Feb. 2), it seems like the perfect time to look back at Super Bowls of the past and the great players who made those games so memorable.
In selecting an all-time Super Bowl team, it is important to establish clear criteria. While there is nothing more subjective than all-time teams, this criteria certainly includes individual statistics, but performance that leads to team success carries more weight. Multiple game appearances help, so longevity counts too.
Athlon Sports' All-time Super Bowl Team
Joe Montana, QB, San Francisco
This is one of a couple of positions where there is no argument. With four Super Bowl wins, Montana has a career passer rating of 127.8, the best ever. Joe Cool tossed 11 touchdown passes to six different receivers with no interceptions. During his Super Bowl career, he threw 28 passes on third down, completing 19 of them for 14 first downs and one touchdown. There has been no one better in the big game.
Honorable Mention: John Elway, Denver; Tom Brady, New England; Terry Bradshaw, Pittsburgh; Kurt Warner, St. Louis and Arizona
Franco Harris, RB, Pittsburgh
There is no shortage of candidates at running back. Harris rushed for 354 yards in Pittsburgh’s four Super wins in the 1970s and had another 114 yards receiving. In the four games, Harris had 18 touches on third down resulting in 10 first downs and three touchdowns. And Harris is the only runner with more than 100 carries in history.
Roger Craig, RB, San Francisco
In three Super Bowls for San Francisco, all wins, Craig amassed 413 yards from scrimmage with four touchdowns, including 101 yards receiving in Super Bowl XXIII.
HM: Larry Csonka, Miami; Emmitt Smith, Dallas; Terrell Davis, Denver; John Riggins, Washington; Marcus Allen, LA Raiders
Lynn Swann, WR, Pittsburgh
Fans who saw him in the Super Bowl probably remember flying, acrobatic catches. But Swann meant more to the Steelers than just a couple of circus catches. He is second all-time with 364 receiving yards, all coming in three Super Bowls. In his first Super Bowl appearance with the Steelers, Swann was limited to punt return duty.
Jerry Rice, WR, San Francisco
Rice is another no-brainer. Let’s see: most Super Bowl receptions in a career (33), most yards receiving in a career (589) and game (215), most yards from scrimmage in a career (604), the only player to score three TDs in a game twice. Oh, and he earned an MVP. And 77 of his receiving yards and a touchdown came at age 40 for Oakland in Super Bowl XXXVII.
HM: Deion Branch, New England; John Stallworth, Pittsburgh; Andre Reed, Buffalo; Isaac Bruce, St. Louis; Larry Fitzgerald, Arizona
Jay Novacek, TE, Dallas
One of quarterback Troy Aikman’s favorite clutch targets, Novacek scored the first Dallas touchdown in Super Bowls XXVII and XXX. In three wins he totaled 148 yards and two scores on 17 catches.
HM: Shannon Sharpe, Denver/Baltimore; Marv Fleming, Green Bay/Miami
Jon Kolb, LT, Pittsburgh
The only constant along the Pittsburgh offensive line during their run of four Super Bowls in the 1970s, Kolb led the way for Franco Harris’ running and protected Terry Bradshaw in the passing game.
HM: Mark Tuinei, Dallas; Matt Light, New England
Nate Newton, LG, Dallas
Emmitt Smith became the all-time leading NFL rusher thanks in large — and we do mean large — part to Newton. In Newton’s three Super Bowls, the Cowboys scored 52, 30 and 27 points.
HM: Bob Kuechenberg, Miami; Russ Grimm, Washington
Jim Langer, C, Miami
Langer anchored the line during Miami’s back-to-back titles in the 1970s. In Super Bowl VIII, Miami rushed 53 times for 196 yards, most of it straight up the middle with bruiser Larry Csonka.
HM: Ray Mansfield, Pittsburgh; Mike Webster, Pittsburgh
Joe Andruzzi, RG, New England
In three New England wins, the Patriots rushed for 372 yards, and Andruzzi helped protect MVP Tom Brady allowing him to stay comfortable in the pocket.
HM: Jerry Kramer, Green Bay; Gerry Mullins, Pittsburgh; Larry Little, Miami
Erik Williams, RT, Dallas
The heart and soul of the Cowboys’ offensive machine was the offensive line. Troy Aikman, Emmitt Smith and Michael Irvin were the beneficiaries of the hard work done by the likes of Williams.
HM: Forrest Gregg, Green Bay; Norm Evans, Miami
Charles Haley, DE, Dallas/San Francisco
Haley was more of an outside linebacker in San Francisco's 3-4 alignment. He is the only player to win five Super Bowls.
Richard Dent, DE, Chicago
The Monsters of the Midway had a stacked roster of defensive stars but Dent won the MVP in Super Bowl XX with 1.5 sacks as the Bears gave up a total of 10 points to New England.
HM: Richard Seymour, New England; Reggie White, Green Bay; Dwight White, Pittsburgh; Willie Davis, Green Bay
Joe Greene, DT, Pittsburgh
As the heart of the front of the Steel Curtain, Greene intimidated quarterbacks, running backs and offensive linemen. In four Super wins, opponents averaged less than 100 yards rushing against Pittsburgh as Greene made life miserable for Roger Staubach, Fran Tarkenton and Vince Ferragamo.
Russell Maryland, DT, Dallas
The offense received much of the credit, but Dallas recorded eight interceptions and held teams to less than four yards a carry in their three Super Bowl wins in the 1990s. Maryland was a load up front in all three games.
HM: Jethro Pugh, Dallas; Manny Fernandez, Miami; Alan Page, Minnesota
Jack Lambert, LB, Pittsburgh
Lambert was in the middle of all things defensively for the Steelers for 11 seasons, including four trips to the Super Bowl. Pittsburgh would not have been 4-0 in the most important game of the season without him.
Ray Lewis, LB, Baltimore
Lewis is one of two linebackers to win a Super Bowl MVP (XXXV) and nearly a decade later posted seven tackles in winning his second Lombardi Trophy with the Ravens. It was his final game in the NFL.
Chuck Howley, LB, Dallas
This Cowboy is one of two at his position to ever win an MVP (V) and is the only player to win an MVP for a losing team in Super Bowl history. He also won a Super Bowl the following year with a big performance (INT, fumble recovery) in Dallas' win over Miami in Super Bowl VI. He played 13 years with Dallas.
HM: Tedy Bruschi, New England; Mike Vrabel, New England; Rod Martin, Oakland; Jack Ham, Pittsburgh; Keena Turner, San Francisco; Ray Nitschke, Green Bay; Nick Buoniconti, Miami
Herb Adderley, CB, Green Bay/Dallas
Adderley was a member of Green Bay’s first two title teams, returning an interception 60 yards for a score in Super Bowl II. He played in two more for Dallas, winning one and losing one.
Mel Blount, CB, Pittsburgh
Blount played for four winners, and contributed with an interception in Super Bowls IX and XIII.
HM: Ty Law, New England; Larry Brown, Dallas; Deion Sanders, San Francisco/Dallas; Tracy Porter, New Orleans
Jake Scott, S, Miami
Scott intercepted Billy Kilmer twice in Miami’s hard-fought 14-7 win in Super Bowl VII, earning MVP honors.
Ronnie Lott, S, San Francisco
Instrumental in the Niners’ four Super Bowl wins, Lott played corner in the first two before moving to safety. None of his nine postseason interceptions came in the Super Bowl, probably because quarterbacks avoided him.
HM: Cliff Harris, Dallas; Dick Anderson, Miami, Dexter Jackson, Tampa Bay; Willie Wood, Green Bay; Charlie Waters, Dallas; Troy Polamalu, Pittsburgh; Mike Wagner, Pittsburgh
Desmond Howard, KR/PR, Green Bay
Earned MVP honors in Super Bowl XXXI with a kick return for a touchdown, but also had two punt returns of more than 30 yards.
Adam Vinatieri, K, New England/Indianapolis
Never has there been a more clutch kicker in the Super Bowl.
Larry Seiple, P, Miami
Always a threat to take off and run (also played some tight end), Seiple kept the Redskins and Vikings bottled up in Super Bowls VII and VIII.
Chuck Noll, Head Coach, Pittsburgh
An easy choice, Noll is the only coach to win four. He won with defense, running and passing. His Pittsburgh teams were complete and dominant.
HM: Vince Lombardi, Green Bay; Bill Belichick, New England; Bill Walsh, San Francisco, Tom Coughlin, NY Giants; Jimmy Johnson, Dallas