The National Football League's All-Decade Teams have been determined by the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s Selection Committee.
1920s | 1930s | 1940s | 1950s | 1960s | 1970s | 1980s | 1990s | 2000s
The Pro Football Hall of Fame’s Selection Committee selected the All-Decade Team of the 1950s retroactively in 1969 in celebration of the NFL’s first 50 seasons.
Pro football’s popularity skyrocketed during the 1950s. Much of the nationwide interest was the result of exposure through television. In 1951, the NFL’s championship game was televised coast-to-coast for the first time. By the middle of the decade television began broadcasting a number of regular season games. Arguably one game late in the decade truly placed the NFL into the country’s collective consciousness. That was the 1958 Championship Game won by the Baltimore Colts in overtime. The game is known as “The Greatest Game Ever Played.”
A number of superstars were on the field for that historic contest between the Colts and New York Giants. They were, however, just some of the many great players that helped the NFL grow to the next level and brought about vast expansion in the 1960s.
So, the task the Hall of Fame’s Selection Committee had before them to pick the best players of the 1950s was a difficult one indeed.
The 1950s also brought larger rosters and more specialized play. As a result, for the first time the All-Decade Team included offensive and defensive units.
College: Southern Methodist
Pro Career: 1955-1967 Baltimore Colts. HOF: 1973
Berry, a 20th-round draft pick by the Colts, he turned into one of the all-time great route runners. He retired from the NFL as the league’s all-time receiving leader. Berry caught a record 631 passes for 9,275 yards and 68 TDs during his Hall of Fame career. One of his finest performances came in the famous ’58 title game when he hauled in 12 catches for 178 yards.
College: Santa Clara; UCLA
Pro Career: 1948-1956 Los Angeles Rams. HOF: 1970
Fears was one of the NFL’s first big-number receivers. He led the NFL in receiving in each of his first three seasons and totaled 212 receptions during that span. Fears hauled in an unimaginable 84 catches in 1950 that included 18 grabs in one game. Both were records that stood for some time. In all, he amassed 400 career catches.
Pro Career: 1951-1962 Philadelphia Eagles
Walston was a consistent performer who averaged 17.2 yards per catch during his 12-year career with the Eagles. He caught 311 career passes for 5,363 yards in addition to handling the kicking duties for Philly. He retired as the NFL's second all-time leading scorer with 881 points via 46 TDs, 365 extra points, and 80 field goals.
ELROY (CRAZYLEGS) HIRSCH
College: Wisconsin; Michigan
Pro Career: 1946-48 Chicago Rockets (AAFC); 1949-1957 Los Angeles Rams. HOF: 1968
Hirsch was used more as a halfback early in his career before being moved to end. An explosive runner, he also had tremendous agility. In 1951, he led the NFL in receiving and also had 10 of his 17 TD catches come on long pass plays. In all, he caught 387 passes for more than 7,000 yards and had 60 TDs.
College: Morgan State
Pro Career: 1953-1965 New York Giants. HOF: 1975
A long-shot 27th-round draft pick in 1953, Brown joined the Giants as a 20-year-old rookie in 1953. It didn’t take long for him to earn a starting position with New York, a role he kept for the remainder of his Hall of Fame career. He was named All-NFL eight times and played in nine Pro Bowls.
BOB ST. CLAIR
College: San Francisco; Tulsa
Pro Career: 1953-1963 San Francisco 49ers; HOF: 1990
A huge player at 6’9”, 263 pounds, St. Clair was equally adept at run blocking and pass protection. He used his height to block field kicks and blocked an amazing 10 field goals in 1956. St. Clair opened the holes for a trio of 49ers’ Hall of Fame runners: Joe Perry, John Henry Johnson, and Hugh McElhenny. His flamboyant personality included his unusual taste for raw meat.
Pro Career: 1947 New York Yankees (AAFC); 1948-49 Baltimore Colts (AAFC); 1950-52 Chicago Bears; 1953-54 Baltimore Colts.
Barwegan began his career in the rival All-America Football Conference where he earned All-AAFC honors three times. After joining the Bears in the NFL in 1950, he was named first- or second-team All-NFL three straight years and also was voted to the Pro Bowl four consecutive times.
College: Ohio State
Pro Career: 1957-1967 Baltimore Colts. HOF: 1973
An exceptional player, Parker became the first full-time offensive lineman elected to the Hall of Fame. He played half of his career at guard and the other half at tackle and earned All-NFL honors eight straight seasons. He also played in eight Pro Bowls.
College: San Francisco
Pro Career: 1952-55 Detroit Lions; 1956-58 Washington Redskins
Stanfel was named All-NFL four times and voted to five Pro Bowls in his seven-season NFL career. He was one of the key performers on a Lions team that advanced to the championship game three straight seasons from 1952 to 1954. Stanfel and the Lions won the title in 1952 and ’53.
Pro Career: 1949-1962 Philadelphia Eagles. HOF: 1967
“Concrete Charlies” was one of the NFL’s toughest players during this era. He holds the distinction of being one of the league’s last “iron men” after playing 58 minutes in the 1960 NFL Championship Game. In all, he played in eight Pro Bowls and was named the NFL’s all-time center for the NFL’s first 50 seasons. He also spent time at linebacker during his Hall of Fame career.
Pro Career: 1946-1955 Cleveland Browns (AAFC/NFL)
After leading the Browns to four straight AAFC titles, he brought his magic to the NFL when the Browns joined the league in 1950. He continued his winning ways as the Browns captured the NFL crown in 1950, 1954 and 1955. Including his AAFC stats, Graham threw for more than 23,000 yards and 174 touchdowns in his 10-year career. He led the AAFC in passing all four years and added two more passing titles in the NFL in 1953 and his final season in 1955.
Pro Career: 1948 Chicago Bears; 1949 New York Bulldogs; 1950-58 Detroit Lions; 1958-1962 Pittsburgh Steelers. HOF: 1967
Layne was regarded a clutch performer with great leadership skills as he guided the Lions to three NFL titles during the 1950s. In all, he threw for nearly 27,000 yards and 196 touchdowns in his Hall of Fame career. He was also a dynamic scrambler and racked up 2,451 yards and 25 TDs on the ground.
NORM VAN BROCKLIN
Pro Career: 1949-1957 Los Angeles Rams; 1958-1960 Philadelphia Eagles. HOF: 1971
A true star among stars in the NFL during the 1950s, Van Brocklin was a high-powered passer who amassed more than 23,000 yards and 173 TDs. He went out in style by leading the Eagles to a championship and earning league MVP honors in his final season. Van Brocklin, who led the NFL in passing three times, still holds the record of 554 yards passing in a game in 1951.
College: Southern California
Pro Career: 1952-1960, 1962-64 New York Giants. HOF: 1977
Gifford’s persona allowed him to gain stardom off the field in the large New York market and helped grow the NFL’s appeal among fans. His contribution on the football field was marked by his multi-dimensional abilities. He was voted to a total of eight Pro Bowls at three different positions – halfback, flanker, and defensive back.
College: San Francisco
Pro Career: 1952, 1954-58 Chicago Cardinals; 1959-1962 Los Angeles Rams; 1963 Detroit Lions; 1964-66 Philadelphia Eagles. HOF: 1972
A U.S. Olympic track medalist, Matson demonstrated his electrifying style that produced a Hall of Fame career in the NFL. He was named All-NFL four times with the Cardinals before he was shipped to the Rams in exchange for nine players. He totaled 12,844 all-purpose yards in his career.
Pro Career: 1952-1960 San Francisco 49ers; 1961-62 Minnesota Vikings; 1963 New York Giants; 1964 Detroit Lions. HOF: 1970.
Nicknamed “The King,” McElhenny exhibited one of the most exciting running styles of his era. He was one of four Hall of Famers in the 49ers’ famed “Million-Dollar Backfield.” By the time he retired he had combined for more than 11,000 yards and 60 touchdowns. He had 5,281 yards rushing; 264 catches for 3,247 yards; and more than 2,800 yards on punt and kickoff returns.
College: Penn State
Pro Career: 1956-1967 Baltimore Colts. HOF: 1975
The NFL’s Rookie of the Year in 1956, Moore went on to record a Hall of Fame career highlighted by 12,451 combined net yards and 113 career touchdowns. An All-NFL pick five times, Moore scored a touchdown in a record 18 straight games from 1963 to 1965. After injuries slowed him in 1963, Moore rebounded with one of his finest seasons when he scored 20 touchdowns and was named the Comeback Player of the Year in 1964.
Pro Career: 1955-1960 Baltimore Colts
A bruising 218-pound runner, Ameche is best known for his game-winning one-yard run in the famous 1958 NFL Championship Game. He was a key contributor to a powerful Colts team that won back-to-back NFL titles to close out the decade of the 1950s. He received All-NFL honors as a rookie. Ameche was voted to four Pro Bowls during his six-season career.
College: Compton Junior College
Pro Career: 1948-1960, 1963 San Francisco 49ers (AAFC/NFL); 1961-62 Baltimore Colts. HOF: 1969
Perry is the first player in NFL history to rush for 1,000 yards in back-to-back seasons. Nicknamed “The Jet” because of his great quickness at the start of plays, he rushed for 9,723 yards in his career including two seasons in the defunct All-America Football Conference. He also had 260 career catches.
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College: Ohio State
Pro Career: 1946-1959, 1961-67 Cleveland Browns (AAFC/NFL). HOF: 1974
Nicknamed “The Toe” because of his kicking abilities, it should be noted that Groza is also a Hall of Fame tackle. He earned All-NFL honors at tackle six times and was named the NFL’s Player of the Year in 1954. He played in four AAFC championships and nine NFL title games including 1950 when he kicked the game-winning field goal. He totaled 1,608 points in 21 seasons.