Orlando Pace St. Louis Rams & Chicago Bears
"I've been saying that as long as I've been playing it. To me (left tackle) it's a skill position for the simple fact that nine times out of 10 you're blocking probably the best athlete on their defensive team."
Tackle Orlando Pace
was highly touted coming out of Ohio State as the first overall pick in the 1997 NFL Draft by the St. Louis Rams. The 6’7”, 320-pound Pace lived up to the billing as he made an instant impact at the pro level and became one of the finest offensive linemen of his era.
Pace was integral member of the Rams’ potent offense that transformed the franchise into a perennial winner. By his third season, Pace and his teammates entertained the NFL with its “greatest show on turf” offense that produced three straight seasons of scoring more than 500 points and ranking as the NFL’s highest rated offense (1999-2001). The ’99 Rams racked up a league-high 6,412 yards of offense en route to a 13-3 record and NFC Western division title. St. Louis advanced through the playoffs with wins over the Minnesota Vikings and Tampa Bay Buccaneers before capturing a thrilling 23-16 win over the Tennessee Titans in Super Bowl XXXIV. The victory marked the franchise’s first NFL title since 1951.
The Rams’ explosive offense continued in 2000 as Pace helped protect quarterback Kurt Warner and also opened holes for Hall of Fame runner Marshall Faulk who was named the NFL’s Most Valuable Player after scoring a league-record 26 TDs. St. Louis became the first team in NFL history to rack up more than 7,000 yards of offense, and scored 540 total points.
A year later, Pace and his teammates returned to the Super Bowl after posting a 14-2 mark in 2001 and recorded playoff wins over Green Bay and Philadelphia for the right to play in Super Bowl XXXVI. Pace started at left tackle in the game that ended in disappointment for the Rams when the New England Patriots kicked a game-winning field goal as time expired.
Pace was the forefront of the Rams dominant seasons and was named All-Pro in 1999, 2000, 2001, 2003 and 2004. He was also selected to seven consecutive Pro Bowls.
In all, Pace played in 169 career games that included 11 final contests with the Chicago Bears in 2009.
He is a member of the NFL’s All-Decade Team of the 2000s.