In team sports, it’s all about finding a balance between a good offense and defense. Sometimes you can be way stronger in one area than others and still succeed, but if you have a great defense, your chances of winning are high. These players made the most defensive plays in the NFL and are some of the best in the history of American football.
If you’re a defenseman and you change the way the game is played, you know you did a great job on the field. Lawrence Taylor was drafted to the New York Giants in 1981 and in his rookie year led them to the playoffs. In his first two NFL seasons, Taylor was named the Defensive Player of the Year because it took teams that long how to figure out a way to block him. Although injuries played a role in his career, Taylor regularly scored double-digit sacks in a season, and he helped the Giants lift the Super Bowl in 1986.
When Deacon Jones was in the NFL, sacks were not officially recorded, so his numbers don’t match up to current players. All it takes though is to watch five minutes of footage to understand that Jones was a sack master. In fact, Jones was responsible for it being called a sack in the first place, and his head slap move was so effective that the NFL had to ban it. Because he was so quick and powerful, Jones could get to the quarterback quicker than anyone. Unofficially he recorded 179.5 sacks in his career, placing him third on the all-time list.
In his career, Reggie White was credited with 198.5 sacks, a number which places him second in the all-time list. Many believe White is the key reason why the Packers were able to win a Super Bowl, as he provided the excellent cover for Favre to let him throw. White was voted the NFL Defensive Player of the Year twice and was selected in the All-Decade teams of both the ‘80s and the ‘90s. During his career, he was ordained as an Evangelical minister, which meant he was given the nickname, “the Minister of Defense.”
The man was a mountain for the Chicago Bears, and for a player who was in the NFL for less than a decade, he made a big impression. For eight of the nine seasons Butkus played in the NFL, he was selected for the All-Star game. Butkus was one of the most feared defensemen of all time as playing opposite him basically meant your bones were getting a good rattling. Despite the Bears struggling to reach the Super Bowl during Butkus’ career, he was the jewel in their defense. Had his knees held out, he might have had that Super Bowl ring he probably deserved.
These are the best defenseman to ever play in the NFL and were a fearsome sight for any opposing offense. They were masters of destruction, stopping some of the best teams from playing their game time after time.