Faces of the NFLNo crowds, no clock, no contact--but even lined up against the camera, the game's greatest players reveal the warrior inside

December 09, 2002

Terrell Owens
SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS

The master of the touchdown celebration doesn't wait until he
crosses the goal line to get into character. "Oh, I'm celebrating
about five yards before I get in the end zone," says the
flamboyant wideout. "If I don't have anything planned already,
then I just go off the moment, the mood or the music. Sometimes
you have to make something out of nothing."

Emmitt Smith
DALLAS COWBOYS

He's been pounding out the yards since 1990, but just when the
end seemed nigh for the future Hall of Famer, he erupted for 144
more on Thanksgiving Day--against the hated Redskins, no
less--upping his NFL career rushing record to 17,021 yards. "Why
should I be amazed?" he said afterward through his Cheshire-cat
grin. "I know what I can do. This is my job. I don't feel old at
all."

Brett Favre
GREEN BAY PACKERS

It's not the 41,584 career passing yards, or the 309 touchdown
passes, or even the remarkable 169 consecutive starts (185 if you
count playoff games, which we do). Favre is the most beloved
player in the game because, come Sunday, he's a big, beguiling
kid again, having so much fun that it doesn't matter if he's
throwing off the wrong foot or into triple coverage. "For [a
defense] to pick up on any one tendency would be tough," he says,
"when I'm not quite sure where I'm going to throw it."

Tim Brown, Jerry Rice
OAKLAND RAIDERS

Between them Brown and Rice have played in 258 road games during
their illustrious careers, and both wideouts love to silence
those hostile crowds. "To me there's no better feeling in
football than to be in Kansas City, Denver or San Diego, one of
those places where the fans are just crazy," Brown says. "You
come out of the tunnel and look around with a little smile and
think, I hope I can shut you guys up today." The desire to make
that crowd-quieting big play isn't something Brown and Rice have
to discuss. "Tim and I just look at each other," says Rice. "When
his eyes meet mine, we just know."

Bill Romanowski
OAKLAND RAIDERS

If he's on your team, you love him, but if he's on the other
side, this 15-year veteran linebacker becomes public enemy No. 1.
Once, after drawing a hefty fine for a shot that broke a
quarterback's jaw, Romanowski suggested that everything had
changed at his position since the days of Ray Nitschke and Dick
Butkus: "They didn't get fined $20,000 for hitting a quarterback
hard. They got a pat on the back."

Ray Lewis
BALTIMORE RAVENS

The intimidating presence of this All-Pro middle linebacker
haunts opposing running backs. "I think they look for me, one way
or another," Lewis says. "They might not see me, but they know
I'm coming. I love making that first lick, which I call a tone
setter."

Jeff Garcia
SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS

When he gets into a tense two-minute situation, the crafty
quarterback attempts to transfer the stress to the defense. "I
try to use reverse psychology," Garcia says. "Even though there
is a lot of pressure on you to get the ball down the field to
score, you can make it work to your advantage. It's important to
make the defense realize that you have some control."

Keyshawn Johnson
TAMPA BAY BUCS

The line between honesty and arrogance has never been more blurry
than it is with the enigmatic Johnson, who has never shied from
telling it like it is--at least from his perspective. "I'll give
the corner some sort of movement going the opposite way of where
I want to go," he says. And when the catch is made? "I'll let him
know I got the first down. I'll have some fun with him."

Brian Urlacher
CHICAGO BEARS

Trying to carry on a legacy at a position that has come to
symbolize a city--such as middle linebacker in Chicago--can be a
career killer, but the play of the 24-year-old Urlacher has
earned him favorable comparisons with his predecessors, Dick
Butkus and Mike Singletary. It doesn't hurt that Urlacher knows a
perfect hit when he delivers one: "You both know there's going to
be a collision. I lower my head, he lowers his head. Then there's
the hit. He falls. I'm standing over him. We both know who won."

Mike Alstott
TAMPA BAY BUCS

It's a sight to behold: his knees churning, arms swinging,
defenders bouncing off him as they would a rolling boulder. "I'm
trying to pound the ball, to break their back," he says simply.
"I feel their frustration."

Warren Sapp
TAMPA BAY BUCS

He's a walking contradiction, this man with the dancer's feet and
the sumo's belly, the bright grin and the wicked glare. And make
no mistake about who owns Tampa. "There's nothing like a crowd
chanting your name: 'War-ren, War-ren,'" he says. "That's crazy.
The first time I heard it, in '98, was the best time of my life.
I was in another galaxy. They were calling my name. It was my
house."

B/W PHOTO: PHOTOGRAPHS BY WALTER IOOSS JR. [COVER] FACES of the NFL a portfolio by Walter Ioos Jr. Ricky Williams, Miami Dolphins ELEVEN COLOR PHOTOS: PHOTOGRAPHS BY WALTER IOOSS JR.

HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
OUT
HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
IN
Eagle (-2)
Birdie (-1)
Bogey (+1)
Double Bogey (+2)