Any time you make a list like this, it’s always subjective. What I think is fun to watch might not be what you think is fun. I’ve also included both pro and college players on the list. As most of the college football I watch is Ohio State, they, of course, are all Buckeyes. Like I said, this list is subjective.
10. Steve Smith, WR, Carolina Panthers
When drafted in the 3rd round in 2001, not a lot was expected from Smith, who many thought was too short to play WR. In fact, during his first 2 seasons, he was mostly used as a returner. After returning 5 kicks (2 kickoffs, 3 punts) for touchdowns during that time, the Panthers realized how big of a weapon he could be and began to increase his role in the offense. In his first season starting, he caught 88 passes for 1110 yards and 7 touchdowns. He also plays a lot taller than he actually is. Smith routinely makes catches that someone his size should never be able to make.
9. AJ Hawk, LB, Ohio State Buckeyes
While AJ has been a decent pro, he’s not as good now as he was in college. At Ohio State, he dominated games. In the 2006 Fiesta Bowl, he won the game’s Defensive MVP award, sacking Notre Dame’s Brady Quinn twice, also stopping him on another play from converting a crucial fourth down attempt.
8. Randall Cunningham, QB, Philadelphia Eagles
Cunningham was the first truly mobile quarterback the NFL ever saw. He made plays with his feet that no quarterback before him could even attempt. Plus, he made it look easy. He was also pretty good when throwing the ball, a true dual-threat.
7. Troy Smith, QB, Ohio State Buckeyes
Troy hasn’t had much of a chance to show what he can do in the pros, but he was awesome as a Buckeye. Smith, the 2006 Heisman Trophy winner, was another dual-threat QB, throwing for 54 touchdowns in his two-and-a-half years as the Buckeye’s QB, while rushing for 14 more. He cemented his status as a Buckeye legend on November 18, 2006 in the #1 Buckeyes 42-39 victory over the #2 Michigan Wolverines. He threw for 316 yards and 4 touchdowns.
6. Eddie George, RB, Ohio State Buckeyes/Tennessee Titans
George is one of the greatest running backs in college football history. He also had a stellar NFL career until he made the mistake of going on the Madden cover and falling victim to the curse. He’s also victim to his own running style. He ran over defenders, causing each carry to take a toll on his body, but watching him run people over was something great.
5. Peyton Manning, QB, Indianapolis Colts
Yes, Manning has had some great receivers (Harrison, Wayne), but he also has made decent receivers look awesome (Garcon, Collie, Stokely). Some people claim that he chokes in the playoffs, but if the Colts had a defense that was above average, he would have more than one Super Bowl ring. In my opinion, he’s the best QB to ever play the game.
4. Brett Favre, QB, Green Bay Packers
With all of his, “I’m retiring, just kidding, I’m coming back” nonsense, and the fact that he played like crap in 2 of his final 3 seasons, it’s sometimes hard to remember how much fun it was to watch him play. He was fearless on the football field, yet he played the game as if he was a child in his backyard. His ability to improvise when a play broke down was truly exciting to behold, and the smile on his face when he turned a sure 5 yard loss into a 10 yard gain made you forget that he was being paid to play the game.
3. Cris Carter, WR, Minnesota Vikings
During his career, it was said about Carter that he only caught touchdowns. Carter caught almost everything thrown his way, including balls that nobody thought it was possible to catch. When he retired, he had 1101 receptions with 130 touchdowns, both second only to Jerry Rice. The fact that he’s not in the Hall of Fame right now is a travesty.
2. Lawrence Taylor, LB, New York Giants
Lawrence Taylor, in my opinion anyways, is the best linebacker to ever play the game. He revolutionized the position. Linebackers today owe their careers to him. Taylor dominated games. He was probably the first defender that offenses had to game plan specifically against. Of course, I’d recommend not watching his sack of Joe Thiesmann, because it’s kind of gross.
1. Barry Sanders, RB, Detroit Lions
You never knew what you were going to see when you watched Barry run. He made ordinary runs look extraordinary, and turned bad plays into great ones. Had he not abruptly retired when he did, it would be him that holds the all-time rushing record, not Emmitt Smith. Emmitt is nowhere near as good a back as Barry was.