Let’s take a look back at the best of the best men that made (or make) careers out of only playing 20 plays per game without being a kicker. Here are the NFL’s Top 10 Non-Kicking Special Teamers Of All Time:
#10 – Mark Pike
Marv Levy called him the “best big-man special teams player” he ever saw. Pike also is the NFL’s career leader in special teams tackles. That said, he’s #10 on this list because he never made any Pro Bowls and we like our players flashy and without big white guy facemasks.
#9 – Dave Meggett
Dave Meggett became a household name for the Bill Parcells Giants in the early 90’s and went on to 2 Pro Bowls and is currently 2nd all time in punt return yardage.
#8 – Larry Izzo
After being undrafted out of Rice in 1996, he made headlines in his first training camp when Dolphins coach Jimmy Johnson said only 2 players were guaranteed to make the team – Dan Marino and the no-name Izzo. Since then he’s gone on to make 3 Pro Bowls and rank in the top 5 in career special teams tackles.
#7 – Eric Metcalf
Eric Metcalf was the Devin Hester of the 90’s and currently shares NFL record for most punt return touchdowns. While Hester will likely take that record from him, Metcalf was a proven offensive threat, which Hester still is yet to show.
#6 – Dante Hall:
Dante Hall took the league by storm in 2002 with his highlight reel kick returns, which helped earn a range of sweet nicknames: “X-Man”, “The X-factor”, “The Human Torch” and “The Human Joystick”. In 2003, he returned a kickoff or punt for a touchdown in 4 straight games. Wow.
#5 – Mel Gray
Mel Gray was a 7-time All Pro selection and was one of the first big names to make an entire career of returning kicks and hardly contributing to offense.
#4 – Vai Sikahema
While Vai Sikahema only made 2 Pro Bowls as a returner, he makes it high on the list as the guy from Tecmo Bowl with the weird name who was a sick returner. Also, knocking out Jose Canseco = bonus points.
#3 – Steve Tasker
Steve Tasker was one of the first players to make a name for himself on special teams without being a kicker or a returner. What stood out is that he was small (5ft8 185) but still played without fear and was a tackling + fumble forcing machine that made 7 Pro Bowls.
#2 – Devin Hester
Don’t need to say much here. Even after an off year last season, Hester will go down as one of the league’s greatest return men.
#1 – Bill Bates
Bill Bates was the pioneer of special teamers getting their props and more importantly, getting to the Pro Bowl. In 1984 the league essentially created a spot for him on the Pro Bowl squad since he was such a bad ass on kick coverage. Since then it has been the standard for Pro Bowl rosters to have a special teams guy. For those wondering, Bill now runs a cattle ranch in Dallas.
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