A first-ballot Hall of Fame quarterback, elected in 1993 after a 15-year career with the San Diego Chargers. He and James Lofton are the first former players to be Hall of Fame voters.
I wanted a roster that, number one, could win and, number two, could entertain. We are an entertainment business, right? Ray Guy at 4? I didn’t want to be stuck at the end of the draft without a punter because there are so few of them that are great, and in my mind Ray Guy is the best. I was going to take Unitas, but he was taken with the pick before mine. He was a teammate of mine for one short year, and he was the best QB of all time.
I did get a couple of my Chargers teammates, and I would have been happy picking my entire San Diego team. But taking Bo Jackson pleased me, because I think if he had been able to play his entire career without being injured he’d be the best of all time.
The thing that surprised me is that nobody picked me! I am just heartbroken and distraught. I came close to doing it myself, but Terry Bradshaw was a good pick. Next time, though, we need a real commissioner. How can you be a commissioner and be a drafter? You talk about collusion, obstruction of justice, fake news, it’s all there. And deep state, whatever that means.
|One of the original innovators of the modern NFL passing game, Coryell changed the way offense was played with his vertical, downfield attack that he had popularized during his career coaching for San Diego State. The system he created, known as the Air Coryell offense, is the genesis for the diverse passing attack that we see in the league today. Coryell has been a finalist for the Hall of Fame four times.|
|A four-time Super Bowl champion and two-time Super Bowl MVP, Bradshaw was the lively, sometimes erratic face of the Steelers’ ’70s dynasty. Though his passing stats pale in comparison to today’s QBs, his cannon arm and rugged leadership came to the fore in the biggest games. The first overall pick in the 1970 draft, he was SI’s co-Sportsman of the Year in 1979 and was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1989.|
|An uncommonly speedy fullback who became the first player to rush for 1,000 yards in consecutive seasons, Perry’s career spanned 15 years in which he was a part of the 49ers’ famed “Million Dollar Backfield” for 13 of them. A two-time All-Pro and the league MVP in 1954, he was the the NFL’s all-time rushing leader until Jim Brown surpassed him. Perry was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1969.|
|One of the greatest pure athletes of any era, starring in both the major leagues and the NFL, Jackson played only four seasons for the Raiders before a devastating hip injury ended his time in football. In that brief span he proved himself to be one of the most dynamic and difficult-to-tackle running backs the game has seen.|
|A prolific and durable pass-catcher who starred in the Air Coryell offense in San Diego, Joiner played 17 seasons for the Oilers, Bengals and Chargers and retired as the league leader in receptions, yards and games played by a wide receiver. A fourth-round pick in 1969, he made the Hall of Fame in 1996.|
|A standout receiver over his eight-year career with the Chargers, Packers and Browns, the bespectacled Jefferson was the first player in NFL history to have 1,000 receiving yards in each of his first three seasons. A first-round pick in 1978, he was a two-time All Pro and a four-time Pro Bowler.|
|One of the men responsible for expanding the role of the tight end, the 6’5”, 250-pound Winslow twice led the league in receptions, operating with Dan Fouts in the Air Coryell system in San Diego. A first-round pick in 1979, he was a three-time All Pro and five-time Pro Bowler in an injury-shortened nine-year career. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1995.|
|A combo offensive and defensive tackle during his 15 seasons playing for the Chargers, Washington was a physically dominant force at 6’6”, 289 pounds. A first-round pick in 1968, he was a five-time Pro Bowler.|
|One of the key men up front for a dominant Dolphins rush attack in the 1970s, Little played 14 seasons in the NFL and paved the way for Larry Csonka, Mercury Morris and Jim Kiick. Undrafted out of Bethune-Cookman in 1967, he was a five-time All-Pro and a five-time Pro Bowler. Little was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1993.|
|A hard-nosed center, Langer was a perfectionist and a consummate professional during his 12 seasons in the NFL, which included playing every offensive down during the Dolphins’ 1972 perfect season. Undrafted out of South Dakota State in 1970, he was a four-time All-Pro and a six-time Pro Bowler. Langer was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1987.|
|A powerful pulling guard who led the way for Cookie Gilchrist and protected Jack Kemp on Buffalo’s powerful AFL teams of the mid-’60s, Shaw was a five All-Pro and a member of the AFL’s All-Time First Team. The 1999 Hall of Fame inductee is the only player enshrined in Canton never to have played a down in the NFL.|
|One of the most consistent and productive offensive linemen ever, Matthews played in more games (296, all for the Oilers/Titans) than any other positional player in NFL history at the time of his retirement. A first-round pick in 1983, he was a seven-time All Pro (earning nods at both guard and center) and a 14-time Pro Bowler. Matthews was inducted in the Hall of Fame in 2007.|
|One of the most feared pass-rushers of his generation, Dean played 11 seasons and was shipped from the Chargers to the 49ers in 1981, a move that helped spark the San Francisco dynasty and that Steve Sabol called “the greatest midseason trade ever.” A second-round pick in 1975, he was a two-time All Pro, four-time Pro Bowler and two-time Super Bowl champ. Dean was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2008.|
|One of the league’s preeminent defensive ends during his 13 seasons with the Seahawks and 49ers, Green retired with 97.5 sacks (and 116 unofficial sacks, as the stat became official during his third season), which placed him third all-time at the time of his retirement.|
|An undersized tackle who played both ways, Kinard spent nine seasons with the NFL’s Brooklyn Dodgers/Tigers and the AAFC’s New York Yankees, dominating opposing lines with a unique mix of aggression and speed. Kinard was a four-time All-Pro in the two leagues and was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1971.|
|Nicknamed “Big Hands,” Johnson was a big but quick defensive tackle who specialized in rushing the passer over his 11 seasons with the Charges and Niners. A first-round pick in 1975, he was a two-time All Pro and a four-time Pro Bowler.|
|The linchpin in the middle of Vince Lombardi’s famed Green Bay defenses, Nitschke played 15 seasons for the Packers and earned a reputation as one of the toughest players in the league. Jerry Kramer once said, “Sometimes I thought of Ray as more of an opponent than a teammate, he inflicted so much damage in practice.” A third-round pick in 1958, he was a two-time All-Pro. Nitschke was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1978.|
|Known as “The Intimidator” for his aggressive style, Wilcox was one of the best outside linebackers in the league during his 11 seasons with the 49ers, dominating against the run and nullifying the new breed of pass-catching tight ends—said Mike Ditka, “Wilcox was the reason I quit when I did.” The two-time All-Pro and a seven-time Pro Bowler was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2000.|
|Known now as a longtime ESPN commentator, Jackson was the heart and soul of the Broncos defense during his 14 seasons as a linebacker in Denver. A fourth-round pick in 1973, he was an All-Pro in Denver’s Super Bowl season of 1977 and a three-time Pro Bowler.|
|A ball-hawking corner and electric return specialist for the Patriots and Raiders, Haynes instilled fear into opposing quarterbacks for 14 seasons. A first-round pick in 1976, he was a two-time All-Pro, nine-time Pro Bowler and, said Dan Fouts as he picked him in this All-Time Draft, “a man I helped put into the Hall of Fame.” Haynes was inducted in 1997.|
|Brown was already an AFL star when he came to Oakland from Denver in a famously lopsided trade, and he proved to be a perfect fit for the Raiders’ bump-and-run pass style, becoming a cornerstone of Oakland’s fearsome secondary for 12 years. A five-time All-Pro and and a member of the AFL’s All-Time First Team, he is tied for the Raiders’ all-time interception mark, with 39. Brown was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1984.|
|A versatile defensive back who switched from playing offense in college to defense in the NFL, and then played both as a safety and cornerback, Renfro was a mainstay in the Cowboys’ secondary for 14 seasons. The 1964 second-round pick was a 10-time Pro Bowler and two-time Super Bowl champion; his 52 career interceptions remain a Cowboys record. Renfro was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1996.|
|Responsible for popularizing the safety blitz, Wilson spent 13 years ball-hawking in the secondary for the Cardinals. SI’s Paul Zimmerman called the five-time All-Pro “a terrific player in space, a fearless hitter and a safety whose technique was near perfect.” Wilson was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1978.|
|A native of Norway who came to the U.S. on a ski-jumping scholarship, Stenerud played 19 seasons for the Chiefs, Packers and Vikings. A third-round pick in the so-called AFL “Red Shirt Draft,” he was a six-time Pro Bowler and was a member of the Chiefs’ Super Bowl IV championship team. In 1991 he became the first pure placekicker inducted into the Hall of Fame.|
|Often considered the best punter of all time, Guy played 14 seasons for the Raiders, winning three punting titles and three Super Bowls. The first punter to be selected in the first round of the draft, he was a three-time All-Pro and the first punter ever inducted in the Hall of Fame, in 2014.|
|Despite his 5’9”, 185-pound frame, Tasker earned a reputation as the most menacing gunner in the game over his 13 seasons with the Bills and Oilers, and is considered the best special-teams player in history. Tasker made seven Pro Bowls, all as a special-teamer (he had just 51 career catches as a nominal wide receiver) and has been a semifinalist for the Hall of Fame six times.|
The names on offense ought to be familiar to anyone who followed the Chargers of the late ’70s and early ’80s: TE Kellen Winslow (Round 3), WRs Charlie Joiner and John Jefferson (Rounds 21 and 22, respectively) and the visionary Don Coryell calling the shots. Much of Fouts’ own Hall of Fame career came with those pieces in place around him. Would those parts hum as effectively faced with the brilliant secondaries of this All-Timers league? Even more to the point, given the Team Fouts draft: Could Terry Bradshaw make a seamless transition to the “Air Coryell” attack?
Oh, and while we’re asking questions: What happened in Rounds 1 and 4? The Fouts front office opened its draft by selecting punter Ray Guy, then rounded out its special teams with kicker Jan Stenerud 36 spots later. The kicking game should be in order, but if you’re handing Coryell the keys, playing for field position and field goals isn’t exactly the way to go.
The scope of this draft naturally produced a few other oddities, and here’s one that worked in Team Fouts’s favor: RB Bo Jackson at pick No. 232, one spot after kicker Morten Andersen came off the board. Between Jackson and Joe Perry, the backfield boasts two electrifying playmakers, both of whom would be capable of further opening up Coryell’s aerial plans.
Fouts added two more former Chargers teammates, Fred Dean and Gary Johnson, to his defensive line, rounding out a unit led by LB Ray Nitschke and a stout secondary. The sleeper could be a key on both sides: Bruiser Kinard. He was a two-way player in his day, and Team Fouts might need him both as a DT and an OT given this roster’s construction.
An interesting, powder blue-tinged draft haul. Fouts put a lot of faith—maybe too much—in the familiar.
— Chris Burke