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, the criteria certainly includes individual performance, but performance that leads to team success carries more weight. Multiple game appearances help, so longevity counts too.
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.
Notables: 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.
Notables: Larry Csonka, Miami; Emmitt Smith, Dallas; Terrell Davis, Denver; John Riggins, Washington; Marcus Allen, LA Raiders
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.
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.
Notables: 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.
Notables: Shannon Sharpe, Denver and Baltimore; Marv Fleming, Green Bay and 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.
Notables: 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.
Notable: 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.
Notables: 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.
Notables: 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.
Notables: Forrest Gregg, Green Bay; Norm Evans, Miami
Charles Haley, DE, Dallas/San Francisco
Haley was more of an outside linebacker in the 3-4 with San Francisco. He is the only player to win five Super Bowls.
L.C. Greenwood, DE, Pittsburgh
An integral part of the Steel Curtain, Greenwood made gold shoes famous, and made life miserable for quarterbacks Roger Staubach, Fran Tarkenton and Vince Ferragamo.
Notables: 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.
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.
Notables: Jethro Pugh, Dallas; Manny Fernandez, Miami, Alan Page, Minnesota
Jack Lambert, MLB, Pittsburgh
Lambert was in the middle of all things defensively for the Steelers. Pittsburgh would not have been 4-0 without him.
Notables: Ray Nitschke, Green Bay; Nick Buoniconti, Miami
Jack Ham, OLB, Pittsburgh
Equally adept at covering the pass as playing the run, Ham excelled as Lambert’s wing man.
Keena Turner, OLB, San Francisco
Turner joins the Steelers’ pair as the only linebacker to claim a 4-0 record. In those four games teams rushed for less than 67 yards a game against the Niners. That made life easier for Joe Montana and company.
Notables: Tedy Bruschi, New England; Mike Vrabel, New England; Rod Martin, Oakland; James Harrison, Pittsburgh
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 interceptions in both IX and XIII.
Notables: Ty Law, New England; Larry Brown, Dallas; Deion Sanders, San Francisco/Dallas; Tracy Porter, New Orleans
Jake Scott, SS, Miami
Scott intercepted Billy Kilmer twice in the Miami’s hard-fought 14-7 win in Super Bowl VII, earning MVP honors.
Notables: Troy Polamalu, Pittsburgh; Charlie Waters, Dallas; Willie Wood, Green Bay; Mike Wagner, Pittsburgh
Ronnie Lott, FS, San Francisco
Instrumental in the Niners’ four Super Bowl wins, Lott played corner in the first two wins before moving to safety. None of his nine postseason interceptions came in the Super Bowl, probably because quarterbacks avoided him.
Notables: Cliff Harris, Dallas; Dick Anderson, Miami
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.
Devin Hester, KR/PR, Chicago
His 92-yard kick return set the tone for the Bears, but the offense couldn’t deliver a win.
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 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.
Notables: Vince Lombardi, Green Bay; Bill Belichick, New England; Bill Walsh, San Francisco, Tom Coughlin, NY Giants; Jimmy Johnson, Dallas