Thirteen Pro Football Hall of Famers. Fifteen players with at least one Super Bowl ring. Players who finished their careers as the all-time rushing and interception leaders. A Heisman Trophy winner. Dominating performers regarded by many as the best to ever play the game.
Legend after legend after legend.
A fantasy team?
No, it’s the 50th Anniversary Senior Bowl All-Time team, announced by game officials after counting thousands of ballots from fans who voted in the spring of 1999 as part of the game’s 50th Anniversary Celebration.
And a quick glance at the players who made the team reads like a “Who’s Who” of all-time college and pro football greats.
Joe Namath. Walter Payton. Steve Largent. Jerry Kramer. Ed “Too Tall” Jones. “Mean” Joe Greene. Ray Nitschke. Franco Harris. The list goes on and on, and they serve as the perfect reminder of the game’s impressive history which helped ignite the celebration of five decades of Senior Bowls.
“The All-Time Team balloting was a perfect way to kickoff our special 50th Game Celebration,” said Senior Bowl President Steve Hale. “The balloting also served as a reminder of the unmatched legacy of the many great players who have played in Mobile since our game’s inception in 1950, and we were very pleased to see the tremendous participation on the part of the fans and the outstanding job they did in selecting this special team.”
Fans were asked to vote for the players based on their entire football careers — both collegiate and professional — and not simply their performance in the Senior Bowl, although many of the players who made the team also enjoyed outstanding Senior Bowl games.
The most hotly-contested race was for the game’s best-ever quarterback. With four of the greatest signal callers in NFL history — Joe Namath, Terry Bradshaw, Dan Marino and Brett Favre — vying for the top spot, fan balloting was pretty evenly split among the impressive quartet.
Namath, the first player in NFL history to throw for over 4,000 yards in a season and who passed for 246 in Senior Bowl 65, edged out Bradshaw, a fellow member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame and the MVP of Senior Bowl 70, for the honor with 1,230 votes to Bradshaw’s 1,066. Marino, the NFL’s all-time leading passer, and Favre, the only player in league history to win three-straight MVP awards, finished with 902 and 861 votes, respectively.
The team’s leading vote getter was kicker Morten Andersen, who easily led all kickers with 3,116 votes or 76 percent of the total votes cast.
Other top vote getters were the NFL’s all-time leading rusher Walter Payton at running back; Pro Football Hall of Famers Steve Largent at wide receiver, Gene Upshaw at offensive line and Joe Greene at defensive line; former Alabama All-American and Dallas Cowboys great Lee Roy Jordan at linebacker; and 1998 Pro Football Hall of Fame inductee Paul Krause, the NFL’s all-time interception leader, at defensive back.
Even though the group of players who made the elite team represents many of the greatest players to ever play the game, the list of players who didn’t make the team stand as perhaps an even greater testament to the quality of players who have played in the Senior Bowl since its inception.
Seven members of the Pro Football Hall of Fame — Bradshaw, Doak Walker, Frank Gifford, Jim Taylor, Kellen Winslow and Sam Huff — were on the ballot but didn’t garner enough votes to make the team, while two other Hall of Famers — quarterback Len Dawson and linebacker Joe Schmidt — didn’t even make the final ballot. The NFL’s all-time leading passer, Dan Marino, didn’t make it, nor did several other NFL greats such as Thurman Thomas, Sterling Sharpe, John Stallworth, Alex Karras and Dick Anderson, just to name a few.
Since 1950, a grand total of 3,075 players have played in Mobile’s annual talent showcase. From that list of names, a master ballot of the game’s best-ever players was submitted to National Football League coaches and general managers. Their votes were then calculated to determine the names which appeared on the official ballot from which fans selected the all-time team.
50th Anniversary Senior Bowl All-Time Team
(As selected by fan voting)
Pos Name School Year in Senior Bowl
Year in Senior Bowl
“Mean” Joe Greene
North Texas State
Ed “Too Tall” Jones
Lee Roy Jordan
Official Website of the Senior Bowl: All-Time Senior Bowl Roster.