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In the NFL, it is often thought that there is no greater honor than being inducted into the football Hall of Fame. Very few players get their hands on a gold jacket, complete with a bronze bust enshrined in the spiritual home of football at Canton, Ohio. For most, it is the pinnacle, but not for all.

For some, there is still additional acclaim to add to their Hall of Fame status, and that is to be named a member of an NFL anniversary team. Only three of these exclusive teams exist, a 50th, 75th and 100th NFL anniversary teams. The players that make these rosters are the cream of the crop, the best of the best, all Hall of Famers or future first ballot entries.

With 75 days to go before the start of the 2022 season, our focus will be on the 75th anniversary team, which was announced in 1994 a few months after the Dallas Cowboys’ victory over the Buffalo Bills in Super Bowl XXVIII. A selection committee consisting of league personnel and respected media personalities where given the responsibility of constructing the roster.

NFL Hall of Fame roster with one notable exception
The 75th anniversary team consisted of 50 players, five of whom were still on league rosters. Joe Montana, Reggie White, Ron Woodson, Jerry Rice and Ronnie Lott were all still plying their trades in the NFL, when they were acknowledged as some of the greatest players in the 75-year history of the league. Gale Sayers was the only player to be selected in two positions, both as a halfback and a kick returner.

Forty-nine of the 50 inductees on the 75th Anniversary team are currently residing in the Hall of Fame, with one notable exception being Billy “White Shoes” Johnson.

Billy “White Shoes” Johnson

Johnson was a 15th round selection for the Houston Oilers in the 1974 draft. Originally selected as a wide receiver, Johnson would excel as a kick and punt return specialist. He would quickly become a fan favorite in Houston, not just for his abilities as a return man, but for his “funky chicken” touchdown celebration, and distinctive white cleats, which saw him christened with his famous “white shoes” moniker.

Johnson’s touchdown celebrations are some of the first ever witnessed on an NFL field, as he pioneered a trend that has now become part and parcel of the game. Johnson played six seasons for the Oilers mainly as a return man, scoring a total of seven return touchdowns and making the Pro Bowl on two occasions.

A devastating knee injury nearly ended Johnson’s career prematurely and caused him to be out of the NFL for three seasons. He would, however, make a return with the Atlanta Falcons, and in 1983 made his third and final Pro Bowl, and was named Comeback Player of the Year.

O.J. Simpson
Although his name is now synonymous with his actions after his football career was over, Orenthal James Simpson was once regarded as the greatest running back of all-time. Simpson played college football for the University of Southern California, and his achievements for USC meant that OJ was already a national celebrity before he even reached the NFL.

A Heisman Trophy runner-up in 1967, Simpson would win by a landslide the following year, as he accumulated nearly 3,500 rushing yards and 36 touchdowns in just two seasons as a Trojan. He would go on to become the first overall selection of the 1969 NFL draft for the Buffalo Bills. OJ would refuse to sign his contract until the Bills agreed to sign him to a $650,000, five-year deal, the largest in professional sports at the time.

Simpson was a five-time All-Pro, OPTY, and, in 1973, was the regular-season MVP. In his glittering 10-year career with the Buffalo Bills and San Francisco 49ers, he scored a total of 108 TDs and racked up nearly 13,500 all-purpose yards before his infamous post-career legal issues.His 1943 season is considered by many NFL historians to be the greatest single-season performance by a pro football player. Not only did Baugh lead the league in pass completions, but he also had 11 interceptions and a punting average of 45.9 yards, which were also league-leading returns.Baugh would end his career with multiple individual and team awards, including four All-Pro nods and two NFL championships. He is widely regarded as one of the greatest of all-time. He is a proud member of the NFL 50th, 75th and 100th anniversary teams.

By Admins

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