We know who made the latest all-decade team ... but we need more

Photo courtesy of USA Today

Clark Judge

The NFL earlier this week announced its 2010-19 all-decade team, and by now you know who made it and who did not. What you don’t know, however, is how they line up.

In other words, who made the first team and who made the second.

And you don’t know because there was no division of talent in the NFL’s press release Monday. When the league announced the 53 players chosen to the team by the Hall’s board of selectors, it didn’t separate them into first and second teams. It simply listed them by position.

For example, there are two quarterbacks – Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers. And there are four running backs – Adrian Peterson, Frank Gore, LeSean McCoy and Marshawn Lynch. And four wide receivers. Two tight ends. Four tackles. And …

I think you get the idea.

What you don’t get, however, is what we had in the 1970s … and ‘80s … and ‘90s … and 2000s. And that’s a breakdown of first-and-second team members. You have to guess, though with eight unanimous choices – including Brady and Peterson – you can start filling out part of your first team.

But who are the starting linebackers? There are six, and I know Von Miller is a starter because he was a unanimous choice, too. But how about the other two? And what about cornerback? Or safety?

Some people don’t care, but I know 48 who should. And that’s the Pro Football Hall-of-Fame’s board of selectors. Because having “first-team all-decade” on your resume can help clinch a bust in Canton.

In fact, it did just that three years ago. When Morten Andersen was a finalist in 2017, supporters rallied around his first-team designation for two consecutive all-decade teams – essentially saying, “How can we exclude someone who was the best at his position for 20 years?”

And they didn’t. He was elected to the Class of 2017.

Now, of course, we don’t know who’s first or second team, and my hope … my plea … is that the NFL corrects that in the near future. Because it’s another measuring stick – and an important device – in sorting out the raft of qualified candidates for Canton.

So how is that done? Good question. I had someone close to the league tell me it’s not the NFL who makes those designations. It’s Canton. Only one problem: Canton didn’t tabulate the latest votes. The NFL did. So when I contacted the Hall for an explanation, it referred me immediately to the NFL office.

And for good reason.

The Pro Football Hall of Fame’s only role here was as a conduit between the league and Hall-of-Fame voters, with the NFL distributing, collecting and counting the ballots. And it was the league that made this week’s announcement.

Readers immediately noticed there was no identification of first-or-second team and wondered why. So did I. So I looked into it, and what I discovered is that the last time the NFL made an announcement on an all-decade team (Jan. 31, 2010) the press release for the 2000s’ team read as it did this week.

There were two quarterbacks, Tom Brady and Peyton Manning. There were four running backs, Shaun Alexander, Jamal Lewis, Edgerrin James and LaDainian Tomlinson. There were four wide receivers. Two tight ends. Four tackles. And so on.

There was no first-or-second team designation.

Furthermore, when you look at the NFL’s annual Record and Fact Book, the bible for researchers, there’s is no designation there, either, for all-decade teams. It simply lists players by position.

However, two weeks after the NFL's announcement in 2010 (2/15/10, to be precise), the Hall-of-Fame's website divided the all-decade team into first and second units, with the text noting that "perhaps the biggest debate for the group came with the vote for the quarterback position. In the end, three-time Super Bowl champion Tom Brady narrowly edged four-time MVP Peyton Manning for the first-team nod."hen 

Somebody had to do that, be it in Canton or New York City, and I implore that somebody to step forward now. If we had it the past four decades, there’s no reason we can’t have it now.

And we should.

We had it in the 1990s when the first-and-second-team choices were announced by the NFL in conjunction with the release of the all-decade team. And we had it in the 1970s and '80s when the first-and-second team members not only were identified immediately but the votes cast for each were made public, too.

“It’s a matter of consistency,” said a league source. “Is it a big deal? No, not really. But is it inconsistent? Yes. No question.”

I agree. Here’s hoping someone at 345 Park Avenue does, too. Only the NFL knows who pulled the most votes, and only the NFL can tell us ... or Canton ... those results. So, please, do it. Inquiring minds want to know.

Comments (7)
No. 1-3

good story which fills out some of the background on the decision, and I agree to be consistent and assist voters both teams should be announced, perhaps the voters collectively could press the league to release the vote totals in a call for transparency of the process and voting

Clark Judge
Clark Judge


Believe we should. On the 1980s' team, for instance, John Anderson was a backup LB. He had one vote. But that's the same team that LT was on. So imagine LT and John Anderson named to the same team with no separation ... just all-decade LBs (no disrespect to John, but ...). Really need to have these guys identified as first or second-team.


It would be great to see total votes as well first/second distinction. And who just missed (although I know that wont' happen). At least on wikipedia, they have vote totals for 1970s and 1980s teams, but not for any other decades.

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