Dan Dierdorf St. Louis Cardinals
"I look at the first couple of plays as being of extra importance. In those first few plays, I try to remove any thought my opponent might have had that that was gonna be his day.”
Dan Dierdorf excelled as an offensive lineman for 13 seasons from 1971 through 1983. He seemed destined for stardom from the moment he joined the St. Louis Cardinals as a second-round choice and the 43rd player selected in the 1971 draft.
Dierdorf, who had been a consensus All-America at Michigan in 1970, possessed size, speed, quickness, discipline, intelligence and consistency, all necessary attributes for an outstanding lineman. The 6-3, 275-pounder from Canton, Ohio, where he was born on June 29, 1949, played both guard and tackle his first two seasons before settling down as the permanent right tackle in his third season. Dierdorf, who was equally effective as a blocker on both running and passing plays, was the ring-leader of the line that permitted the fewest sacks in the NFC for five straight years in the mid-1970s. In 1975, the Cardinals set a then-record by allowing only eight sacks in 14 games.
He proved his durability by playing in every game until a broken jaw forced him out of two games in his seventh season in 1977. In 1979, he did miss 14 of 16 games because of a dislocated left knee. However, he bounced back strongly in 1980 with another all-pro caliber season. In 1982, Dierdorf unselfishly responded to a personnel emergency on the offensive line by agreeing to move to center. He not only made a smooth adjustment to the new position but he proved to be especially effective blocking against the bigger nose tackles of the new 3-4 defensive alignments he had to face.
Dierdorf was named All-Pro five seasons – from 1975 to 1978 and again in 1980. He was elected to six Pro Bowl games, missing only once from 1974 through 1980. The NFL Players Association picked him as the best overall blocker in the NFL three straight years from 1976 to 1978