Nov. 29, 1999
Nov. 29, 1999

Table of Contents
Nov. 29, 1999

20th Century Celebration
Sports Illustrated 20th Century Sports Awards


Otto Graham

This is an article from the Nov. 29, 1999 issue

He won four AAFC titles, three NFL championships, two player of
the year awards and a much-deserved tag as pro football's
nonpareil winner.

"Otto Graham played for 10 years with the Cleveland Browns
beginning in 1946, and the Browns were in a league championship
game every one of those seasons. If you're looking for a record
that will never be matched, that's a good place to start."
--PAUL ZIMMERMAN SI, Aug. 17, 1998

Dick Butkus

This is the legacy of the fiercest defensive player the game has
ever known: seven All-Pro selections, eight Pro Bowls,
innumerable ballcarriers terrified.

"If every college football team had a linebacker like Dick
Butkus...all fullbacks would soon be three feet tall and sing
--DAN JENKINS SI, Oct. 12, 1964

Joe Montana

A third-round draft choice, he became the greatest clutch player
in NFL history, with four Super Bowl wins in four tries and
three Super Bowl MVP Awards.

"Montana often leads us into thinking that pro football is
scripted in storybook fashion, that he is the white-hatted,
all-American Comeback Kid for whom the impossible just happens.
But his triumphs are forged from real talent."
--RICK TELANDER SI, Sept. 19, 1994

Jim Brown

In nine seasons he rushed for 12,312 yards and 106 touchdowns,
won an NFL-record eight rushing titles and never missed a game.

"It is possible that had he continued to play, he would have put
all the league's rushing records so far out of reach that they
would have been only a distant dream--like DiMaggio's hitting
streak--to the runners who followed him. As it is, his most
telling number is 5.22, which was Brown's average yards per
carry over nine years."
--PETER KING SI, Sept. 19, 1994

Red Grange

A collegiate runner of such mythic status that despite his
rather pedestrian professional career, his mere participation in
the pro game in 1925 did nothing less than save the sport.

"The weekly newsreel clips that made the rounds of the movie
houses back in those days took the images [of Grange] and
enhanced them.... They stoked the illusion of speed and made
even more impressive the other eerie components of his long
touchdown runs: the sublime shifts and feints, the paralyzing
stiff arms, the breathtaking bursts of speed. Reviewing those
reels now, you get the impression that if Red Grange were not,
indeed, a Galloping Ghost, he surely must have seen one."
--JOHN UNDERWOOD SI, Sept. 4, 1985

Don Hutson

Before Hutson--he of the 488 catches, 99 touchdown receptions,
five consecutive scoring titles and two straight MVP
awards--there was no such thing as double coverage.

"He was an unexplained force in the NFL, a meteor that lit up
the sky. An original. A legend."
--PAUL ZIMMERMAN SI, July 7, 1997