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
Pro Career: 1966-67 Detroit Lions; 1970-78 Miami Dolphins; 1979 New Orleans Saints; 1980-81 Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Yepremian registered three straight 100-point seasons and was named All-Pro each year during the Dolphins string of three straight seasons in which they advanced to the Super Bowl, 1971-73. In all, he scored 1,074 points off 210 field goals and 444 extra points in his career.
Pro Career: 1962-1978 St. Louis Rams
Bakken’s long career saw him amass 1,380 points off of 534 extra points and 282 field goals. He was named to a total of four Pro Bowls including two during this decade. His greatest fame came on Sept. 26, 1967 in the Cardinals win over the Pittsburgh Steelers when he became the first player in NFL history to kick seven field goals in a game.
College: Southern Mississippi
Pro Career: 1973-1986 Oakland/Los Angeles Raiders
Guy, drafted in the first round in 1973, was named first-team All-Pro six straight times in the decade. He led the NFL in punting three times in the 1970s and posted a career average of 42.4 yards and also more than 200 punts landed inside the 20-yard-line during his career.
College: Southern Mississippi
Pro Career: 1963-1977 Kansas City Chiefs; 1978 New England Patriots
Wilson led the NFL in punting four times in his career including twice during the 1970s when he captured the punting average title in 1972 and 1973. He retired with a career average of 43 yards per punt (1,072 punts for 46,139 yards).
Pro Career: 1975-1983 Denver Broncos
Upchurch made a huge splash onto the NFL scene with his electrifying returns. He led the league in kickoff returns as a rookie and claimed punt return titles in 1976 and 1978 (and added a third in 1982). In all, he average 24.8 yard per kick returns and 12.1 yards per punt returns. He had four of his eight punt returns for TDs come in his second season including a career-long 92-yard TD.
BILLY "WHITE SHOES" JOHNSON
Pro Career: 1974-1980 Houston Oilers; 1982-87 Atlanta Falcons; 1988 Washington Redskins
Johnson took the NFL by storm in the 1970s with his unique touchdown celebrations. An exciting return man, he had two of his three punt return titles in the ‘70s. In all he scored six touchdowns on punt returns and added two more via kickoff returns.
College: John Carroll
Pro Career: 1963-69 Baltimore Colts; 1970-1995 Miami Dolphins. HOF: 1997
The NFL’s all-time winningest coach had a great run during this decade marked by the NFL’s only perfect 17-0 season that came in 1972. His Dolphins teams posted winning records each year during the decade, won five AFC Eastern Division titles, three AFC championships, and Super Bowls VII and VIII.
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Pro Career: 1969-1991 Pittsburgh Steelers. HOF: 1993
Noll took over a woeful Steelers team and after finishing 1-13 in his first season quickly transformed them into the dynasty team of the 1970s. He is the only coach ever to win four Super Bowls as he guided Pittsburgh to wins in Super Bowls IX, X, XIII, and XIV. Under Noll’s guidance, the Steelers claimed the AFC Central Division title seven times in the decade.