The National Football League's All-Decade Teams have been determined by the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s Selection Committee.
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The 1970s had many great moments by individual players such as the NFL’s first 2,000-yard season by O.J. Simpson in 1973 or Terry Bradshaw’s two Super Bowl MVP performances. But perhaps more than the star players, the decade was dominated by dynasty teams like the Pittsburgh Steelers, Minnesota Vikings, Miami Dolphins, Oakland Raiders, and Dallas Cowboys.
So when it came time for the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s Selection Committee to spend the offseason prior to the 1980 campaign voting on the All-Decade Team, it came as no surprise that players from these leading teams were picked in large numbers. The Steelers, who won four Super Bowls in a six-year span from 1974-79, had nine members on the team including their coach. The Oakland Raiders followed with seven players, including five on the first team, and Dallas with six.
The closest voting came for the coach of the decade. Miami’s Don Shula narrowly edged the Steelers’ Chuck Noll for that honor by a vote total of 11-9. The top overall vote-getter on the All-Decade Team with 24 tallies was Raiders’ punter Ray Guy. The only other players with 20 or more votes were Simpson, Lynn Swann, Dave Casper and Jack Ham.
NFL'S ALL-DECADE TEAM OF THE 1970s
College: Southern California
Pro Career: 1974-1982 Pittsburgh Steelers. HOF: 2001
Swann, the Steelers No. 1 pick in 1974, quickly blossomed into one of the most exciting and acrobatic receivers in NFL history. He became a starting WR in his second season and marked that year with an MVP performance in the Steelers Super Bowl X victory. In all, Swann caught 336 passes and was voted All-NFL three times.
Pro Career: 1973-1983 Dallas Cowboys
Pearson was one of the most consistent pass catchers of the ’70s and was honored by being named first-team All-NFL and elected to the Pro Bowl three times. He played on six of the Cowboys’ division champion teams, all but one of those titles coming in the '70s. His finest season came in his second year when he set career-highs with 62 receptions for 1,087 yards. He led the NFL in receiving yardage during the Cowboys’ Super Bowl season in 1977.
College: Southern University
Pro Career: 1971-1983 Philadelphia Eagles; 1984 Dallas Cowboys
At 6’8” Carmichael used his great height to become a premier receiver in the NFL. He was named first- or second-team All-NFL four times and voted to four Pro Bowls in his career. A seventh round pick, Carmichael made a name for himself in his third season when he led the NFL in both receptions and receiving yards while scoring 9 TDs. That started a string of nine straight seasons with 40 or more receptions.
College: Ohio State
Pro Career: 1964-69, 1976-77 Cleveland Browns; 1970-74 Miami Dolphins. HOF: 1983
Warfield is regarded as one of the most precise route runners in NFL history. He also utilized his speed to average an astonishing 20.1 yards per catch in his Hall of Fame career. His mere presence on the field made defenses adjust and his play opened up his team’s running game. He retired with a career total of 427 catches for 8,565 yards and 85 TDs.
College: Notre Dame
Pro Career: 1974-1980, 1984 Oakland/Los Angeles Raiders; 1980-83 Houston Oilers; 1983 Minnesota Vikings. HOF: 2002
Casper earned a starting role by his third season and responded with 53 catches and 10 TDs. From that point forward, he became the decade’s premier tight end earning All-Pro honors from 1976-79 as he amassed 220 receptions and 28 TDs through the remainder of the 1970s. He had career-highs of 62 catches and 852 yards in 1978.
Pro Career: 1968-1977 Detroit Lions. HOF: 2007
No tight end in the Pro Football Hall of Fame earned more Pro Bowl selections than the seven that Charlie Sanders earned in his career. He was named all-league for the first time in 1969 and followed that up with All-Pro recognition twice more to start the 1970s decade. He finished his career in 1977 with a team-record 336 receptions.
College: Maryland State-Eastern Shore
Pro Career: 1968-1982 Oakland/Los Angeles Raiders. HOF: 1989.
Shell earned a starting position with the Raiders in 1970 and went on to become one of the greatest offensive linemen in NFL history. He earned first-team All-NFL recognition four times during a five-year period in the middle of the decade. In addition, he was named to eight Pro Bowls and selected All-AFC six times.
College: Cerritos Junior College; Southern California
Pro Career: 1968-1981 Minnesota Vikings; 1982 Los Angeles Rams. HOF: 2001
Yary was the first player selected in the 1968 draft and quickly proved why. He became Minnesota’s starting right tackle by his second season and two years later he was named All-Pro for the first of six straight years. He started in four Super Bowls for the Vikings.
Pro Career: 1971-1983 St. Louis Cardinals. HOF: 1996
Dierdorf became an anchor on the Cardinals offensive line from his right tackle position. He helped lead the team to back-to-back NFC Eastern Division titles in the mid ‘70s. Dierdorf and his offensive line mates helped pave the way for a potent offense that led the NFL in rushing in 1979; and fewest sacks allowed three times.
College: Fort Valley State
Pro Career: 1967-1979 Dallas Cowboys. HOF: 2006
Wright was moved around from tight end to defensive end and offensive tackle during his first three seasons in the NFL. He earned his permanent starting role at right tackle in his fourth season and one season later earned his first of four All-Pro honors. In all, he played in six NFC championships and five Super Bowls.
Pro Career: 1967-68 San Diego Chargers; 1969-1980 Miami Dolphins. HOF: 1993
One of the few members of the Pro Football Hall of Fame who went undrafted, Little joined the Dolphins after two seasons in San Diego. He was noted for his effectiveness as the lead blocker on Miami’s power sweep that helped the Dolphins lead the AFC three straight years and the NFL twice in a row in rushing to start the decade.
College: Michigan State
Pro Career: 1973-79, 1985 Buffalo Bills; 1980-84 Cleveland Browns. HOF: 2003
DeLamielleure proved his value immediately after the Buffalo Bills drafted him in the first round of the 1973 draft. He earned a starting position as a rookie on the Bills’ famous “Electric Company” offensive line that opened up holes for O.J. Simpson to become the NFL’s first 2,000-yard rusher. Extremely durable, he was named a first-team All-NFL pick six straight years from 1975 to 1980.
Pro Career: 1973-1985 New England Patriots. HOF: 1991
Widely regarded as the premier guard of his time, Hannah was voted All-Pro 10 straight times starting in 1976 and spanning through his last season in the mid ‘80s which also resulted in him being named to the first team of the NFL’s All-Decade Team of the 1980s. He became the first longtime Patriots player enshrined in Canton.
College: Texas A&I
Pro Career: 1967-1981 Oakland Raiders. HOF: 1987
Upshaw stepped into the starting left guard spot on Oakland’s front line as a rookie. He was vital cog in the Raiders success that made them one of the decade’s dominant teams. In all, Upshaw played in 10 AFL or AFC championship games and started at left guard in three Super Bowls.
College: South Dakota State
Pro Career: 1970-79 Miami Dolphins; 1980-81 Minnesota Vikings. HOF: 1987
Langer, a free agent signee by the Dolphins in 1970, combined his impeccable work ethic with sound fundamentals to assure that he rarely missed a blocking assignment. His effort on the football field earned him All-Pro honors four straight seasons in this decade. He played in three AFC championships and three Super Bowls for Miami.
Pro Career: 1974-1988 Pittsburgh Steelers; 1989-1990 Kansas City Chiefs. HOF: 1997
Webster joined the Steelers as one of four future Hall of Famers drafted by Pittsburgh in 1974. He quickly turned into one of the NFL’s most consistent centers during his lengthy career. It earned him a place on both the All-Decade Teams of the 1970s and the 1980s. He was also one of two centers named to the NFL’s 75th Anniversary All-Time Team in the mid-‘90s.
College: Louisiana Tech
Pro Career: 1970-1983 Pittsburgh Steelers. HOF: 1989
The Steelers transition from perennial losers to the dynasty team of the 1970s was greatly helped when Pittsburgh used its first overall pick in the 1970 draft on Bradshaw. A charismatic leader who called his own plays, Bradshaw had a penchant for throwing deep balls. A two-time Super Bowl MVP, Bradshaw led the Steelers to four Super Bowl championships over a six-season span in the ‘70s.
College: New Mexico Military Institute; Navy
Pro Career: 1969-1979 Dallas Cowboys. HOF: 1985
The former Heisman Trophy winner delayed his pro football career for four years while he served in the Navy. The 27-year-old rookie played sparingly at first. He took over as the permanent starter midway through 1971 and developed into one of the league’s great QBs. Known for his guiding the Cowboys to many last minute comeback wins, Staubach also won four passing titles in the decade.
Pro Career: 1970-79 Oakland Raiders; 1980-81 Houston Oilers; 1982-84 New Orleans Saints
The left-handed Stabler was the perfect leader on offense for the high-flying Raiders of the ‘70s. Four times in the decade he threw for 20 or more TDs as he led Oakland to six AFC Western Division crowns. His finest year came in the Raiders 1976 championship season when he threw a career-high and league-leading 27 TDs and 103.4 passer rating.
College: City College-San Francisco; Southern California
Pro Career: 1969-1977 Buffalo Bills; 1978-79 San Francisco 49ers. HOF: 1985
The first overall draft pick in 1969, O.J. Simpson became one of the most exciting runners in NFL history. Starting in 1972 he rushed for 1,000 yards and was an All-Pro pick each season through 1976. In 1973, he became the first player ever to rush for 2,000 yards in a season. In all, he won four rushing titles in the decade.
College: Jackson State
Pro Career: 1975-1987 Chicago Bears. HOF: 1993
Named to both the 1970s and 1980s All-Decade Teams, Walter Payton was a bona fide star from the very beginning of a NFL career from which he retired as the league’s all-time leading rusher. He reached the 1,000-yard mark for the first time in his second season. It was the first of a then-record 10 times that he reached the 1,000-yard plateau.
Pro Career: 1978-1984 Houston Oilers; 1984-85 New Orleans Saints. HOF: 1991
Campbell’s start in the NFL was so spectacular he earned a place on the NFL’s All-Decade Team despite the fact he only played in two seasons in the 1970s. He led the NFL in rushing, was named All-Pro, and voted to the Pro Bowl in each of his first three seasons.
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College: Penn State
Pro Career: 1972-1983 Pittsburgh Steelers; 1984 Seattle Seahawks. HOF: 1990
Harris, who gained more than 12,000 rushing yards in his Hall of Fame career, went over the 1,000-yard mark as a rookie. It was the first of eight times he’d rush for 1,000 yards, all but one coming in this decade. He retired with 100 career touchdowns (91 rushing, 9 receiving).