NFL's All-Decade Team of the 1960s - DEFENSE

General Published on : 1/16/2010

The National Football League's All-Decade Teams have been determined by the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s Selection Committee.

1920s1930s | 1940s  | 1950s | 1960s | 1970s  | 1980s | 1990s | 2000s


The popularity of professional football exploded across the country during the 1960s with great expansion occurring throughout the decade. By 1965, a Harris Poll determined that pro football was this nation’s favorite sport. It has remained that way ever since.

The decade began with the birth of a rival league, the American Football League and ended with the two leagues coming together following a merger agreement that was signed in the summer of 1966. That deal brought about the Super Bowl, a joint draft, and ultimately a merged league starting in 1970. It also brought about the naming of not only annual All-AFL and All-NFL teams but an overall “All-Pro” team for the last three seasons of the 1960s.

When it came time for the All-Decade Team, the AFL named its All-Time team (see 50 Years After below) using members of the Hall of Fame’s Selection Committee who represented each of the AFL's clubs cities.

The entire Hall of Fame Selection Committee picked the All-Decade Team of the 1960s that included five players who had been named by the same committee a year earlier to the NFL’s 50th Anniversary All-Time Team.

50 Years After
Throughout the 2009 NFL Season, profiled the American Football League in an online exhibit called 50 Years After. The features were part of the AFL’s 50th Anniversary Season celebration. Included in the special section was a rundown on the AFL's All-Time Team - OFFENSE | DEFENSE 





College: Tennessee
Pro Career: 1953-54 Cleveland Browns, 1955-1966 Chicago Bears, 1967-69 New Orleans Saints. HOF: 1982
At 6’8”, 257 pounds, Atkins was one of the largest players of his era and as such, wreaked havoc against opposing NFL quarterbacks.  His speed and agility often allowed him to leap over blockers while on constant pursuit of the ball carrier.  He was an eight-time Pro Bowl pick.
College: Grambling
Pro Career: 1958-59 Cleveland Browns, 1960-69 Green Bay Packers. HOF: 1981
Davis was a defensive lineman who was blessed with three rare attributes – speed, agility and size.  On top of that he had the intangible skills of leadership, intelligence and dedication.  In his ten seasons with the Packers he was an all-league selection five times.  He recovered an incredible 21 opponents fumbles during his career.

College: Mississippi Vocational; South Carolina State. 
Pro Career: 1961-1971 Los Angeles Rams, 1972-73 San Diego Chargers, 1974 Washington Redskins. HOF: 1980
Although he was a defensive lineman, some would argue that he was the fastest player in the National Football League.  This speed allowed him to become perhaps the most feared pass rusher of all-time.  Credited with coining the term  "sack,” he was a two-time choice for Defensive Player of the Year.


College: Iowa
Pro Career: 1958-1962, 1964-1970 Detroit Lions
Although he is perhaps better known as a television and movie actor, Karras first gained fame as a dominating defensive tackle in the NFL.  The 1957 Outland Trophy winner as the country’s best collegiate lineman, he easily made the  transition to the pro game and was All-NFL selection by his third season.  Karras, who was selected to four Bowls, was a first- or second-team All-NFL choice nine times in his 12-year career.

College: Texas Christian
Pro Career: 1961-1974 Dallas Cowboys. HOF: 1980
Lilly, a consensus All-America in college, was the first-ever draft pick of the Dallas Cowboys.  Over the next 14 years, he became known as “Mr. Cowboy.”  He took the league by storm when he won Rookie of the Year honors in 1961. His success continued when he earned All-NFL honors for six consecutive years (1964-69).  An 11-time Pro Bowl selection, he became the Cowboys first-ever Hall of Famer in 1980.

College: Utah State
Pro Career: 1962-1976 Los Angeles Rams. HOF: 1982
Olsen, an All-America selection and Outland Trophy winner, was the Rams first round draft pick in 1962.  He found success quickly as he won Rookie of the Year honors.  Two seasons later he was named to his first All-NFL team, an honor he would earn five more times during his career.  Extremely durable, he played in a total of 208 games.


College: Illinois
Pro Career: 1965-1973 Chicago Bears. HOF: 1979
Mention Dick Butkus’ name to an offensive player who played in the 1960s and most instinctively cower in fear.  This was deservedly so, Butkus had an insatiable drive of meanness, pursuit, and tackling ability.  He had the rare ability to cover sideline to sideline and played every game as if it where his last.  Although he had a comparatively short career, the seven time all-league selection and eight-time Pro Bowl pick is considered one of the best ever.

College: Georgia Tech
Pro Career: 1955-57 Los Angeles Rams, 1959-1965 Chicago Bears, 1966 Atlanta Falcons
Morris, an All-America selection out of Georgia Tech, was one of the most consistent linebackers in the National Football League as well as one of the most aggressive.  He played a vital role in the Bears 1963 NFL Championship victory over the New York Giants.  In the game he intercepted a Y.A. Tittle pass which he returned for 61 yards. 

College: Illinois
Pro Career: 1958-1972 Green Bay Packers. HOF: 1978
When the Green Bay Packers were racking up multiple championships in the 1960s, Nitchske was a large reason why the team dominated.  One of the most respected defenders in the NFL, he was one of the hardest hitters in the league.  As rugged as he was, he possessed great speed, fast enough to intercept 25 passes during his career.  He was a three-time all-league selection.

College: Texas
Pro Career: 1966-1976 Atlanta Falcons
Nobis, an All-America at Texas, was the Atlanta Falcons first-ever draft pick.  He became an immediate star but suffered from the lack of talent around him.  Despite this lack of support, Nobis earned All-NFL honors in only his second season.  A relentless player who gave 110 percent on every play, he earned Pro Bowl honors five times during his 11-year career.

College: Penn State
Pro Career: 1963-1972 Green Bay Packers, 1973-74 Washington Redskins
Robinson was an All-America end when the Packers drafted him in the first round of the 1963 NFL Draft.  He was quickly converted to linebacker when Vince Lombardi noticed he was fast enough to cover receivers in pass coverage, with tremendous size and toughness.  Robinson always seemed to have a knack for making big plays in the biggest games. He was a three-time Pro Bowl pick during his career. 


College: Michigan State
Pro Career: 1961-69 Green Bay Packers, 1970-72 Dallas Cowboys. HOF: 1980
Adderley was the Packers first round selection in 1961 and immediately took charge in the team’s defensive backfield.  A four-time all-league selection, he intercepted a total of 48 passes during his career, returning them for 1,046 yards and seven TDs.  Selected to play in five Pro Bowls, he also served as the Packers kickoff return man and averaged 25.7 yards on 120 returns.

College: Jackson State
Pro Career: 1967-1977 Detroit Lions. HOF: 1992
Although relatively unknown when he joined Lions as a second round pick in 1967, Barney made a name for himself when he earned Rookie of the Year honors after recording a league-leading 10 interceptions, three of which were returned for TDs.  Over the next 11 years, he would log 56 interceptions for 1,312 yards and seven TDs.  The seven-time Pro Bowler also served as the team’s punt and kickoff return man and briefly as the Lions’ punter for two seasons.

College: Oklahoma
Pro Career: 1960-68 Baltimore Colts
Boyd was the definition of a ball hawk during his nine-year career with the Colts.  Only twice did he fail to intercept at least six passes in a season.   He led the NFL in interceptions in 1965 with nine and totaled 57 steals for 994 yards and 4 TDs at the end his career.


College: Arkansas Tech
Pro Career: 1959-1970 Los Angeles Rams
As a seventh round pick from a small school in the 1959 draft, not many people knew of Eddie Meador.  By the end of his 12-year career, most quarterbacks and receivers were glad to see him go.  With 46 career interceptions he had a strong nose for the ball, but Meador was also a vicious open-field tackler.  He was a six-time Pro Bowl selection during his career.

College: Utah
Pro Career: 1960-1972 St. Louis Cardinals. HOF: 1978
Wilson deservedly earned the reputation of being the toughest player in the NFL during his 13-year career.  Many times he ignored nagging injuries and broken bones to remain on the playing field.  A seven-time all-league choice and eight-time Pro Bowl pick, Wilson intercepted 52 passes during his career.  He is credited with popularizing the safety-blitz.

College: Southern California
Pro Career: 1960-1971 Green Bay Packers. HOF: 1989
Wood was a quarterback in college who made a successful transition to the defensive side of the ball with the Packers.  By his second season he was a full-time starter.  A six-time All-NFL selection and eight-time Pro Bowler, he had 48 career interceptions and led the league with nine picks in 1962.


College: Florida
Pro Career: 1956-1964 New York Giants, 1965-67 Green Bay Packers
Chandler was one of the elite punters in pro football during his playing days.  During his 12-season career, only once did he average less than 40 yards per punt in a single year.  The one year he did not attain the 40-yard mark was his final season in which he only had one punt.  By then he was used more as just the team’s kicker. In 1957 he led the NFL in punting average and in 1963 he led the league in scoring.