Oh boy, here we go -- this one oughta be F-U-N !! With apologies to the Fearsome Foursome and the Purple People Eaters, on with the rankings:
1) Lawrence Taylor -- THE game changer....not only did he change every game in which he played, he changed the entire NFL. Offenses had to account for the off-side rush thanks to LT -- and I can't imagine anyone ever in any era dominating more than Taylor.
2) Dick Butkus -- I doubt there has every been a more feared player than Butkus (although a certain #52 in Baltimore may beg to differ). Granted I'm not old enough to have watched his every play, but every account tells of his greatness. I'm a believer!
3) Reggie White -- Impossible to block, tenacious as anything, and meaner than a snake on Sundays -- off the field, not one of my favorites, but between the chalk, a true All-Timer!!
4) Ray Lewis -- Oh Ray-Ray -- the part of his game that goes competely under-appreciated is his intelligence. Ray is the Peyton Manning of the D, and his skill set....are you kidding??? Never takes a play off -- and his true greatness lies with his innate ability to make every single teammate better.
5) Deion Sanders -- This was the hardest cut -- but Prime gets the nod over Ronnie Lott byjustthismuch. Deion's stats are one thing, but his mere presence kept most offenses from even considering his half of the field. Think about it....as a D-Coordinator, all you had to do was put #21 on one side and swarm to the other. How good do have to be for QBs to prefer to throw into double coverage than throw at you?!?!? Prime Time!!
I'll list an 'Honorable Mention' group, in no particular order. These guys are definitely worhty of consideration and mention: Ronnie Lott, Derrick Thomas, Jack Lambert, Mike Singletary, Rod Woodson, Ed Reed, Michael Strahan, Ray Nitschke, Mel Blount, NightTrain Lane, and the aforementioned Purple People Eaters and Fearsome Foursome. Hard to fit em all in -- the list is only 5 deep!
Let the games begin!