The NFL 100 All-Time Team serves as the marquee series within the celebration of the league's 100th season. The unveiling of the team started last week with the running backs and two head coaches and will continue by position on a weekly basis. Up next are linebackers and defensive linemen, of which the Giants have five finalists: Harry Carson, Sam Huff, Andy Robustelli, Michael Strahan and Lawrence Taylor.
The members of the team will be announced Friday night at 8 p.m. ET on NFL Network, followed by a live reaction show.
Charged with unveiling the highest echelon of players and coaches spanning the league's 100-year history, NFL Media enlisted Bill Belichick, Cris Collinsworth and Rich Eisen as hosts of NFL 100 All-Time Team. Over six episodes, Eisen, Collinsworth and Belichick will be joined by special guests to discuss the results of a 26-person blue ribbon panel tasked with formulating the roster of 100 players and 10 coaches named "The Greatest" in their respective positions.
In building the structure of the team, the organizing committee researched various commemorative team compilations done by other leagues and organizations.
Ultimately, a 100-player team was decided upon, with a specific number of players – unranked – across the following positions: quarterbacks (10), running backs (12), wide receivers (10), tight ends (five), tackles (seven), guards (seven), centers (four), defensive ends (seven), defensive tackles (seven), linebackers (12 – six inside, six outside), cornerbacks (seven), safeties (six), kickers (two), punters (two) and kick returners (two).
Members of the 26-person blue-ribbon panel are:
League Voters: Joel Bussert (Former NFL Vice President of Player Personnel and League Historian), Joe Horrigan (42-year Pro Football Hall of Fame Executive), Chris Willis (NFL Films Historian)
Coaches: Bill Belichick (six-time Super Bowl-winning Head Coach), Tony Dungy (Pro Football Hall of Famer and Super Bowl-winning Head Coach), Dick LeBeau (Pro Football Hall of Famer and two-time Super Bowl-winning Defensive Coordinator), John Madden (Pro Football Hall of Famer and Super Bowl-winning Head Coach), Don Shula (Pro Football Hall of Famer and Super Bowl-winning Head Coach), Dick Vermeil (Super Bowl-winning Head Coach)
Personnel: Ernie Accorsi (18-year NFL General Manager), Gil Brandt (Pro Football Hall of Famer and two-time Super Bowl-winning General Manager), Charley Casserly (14-year NFL General Manager and three-time Super Bowl Champion), Bill Polian (Pro Football Hall of Famer and Super Bowl-winning General Manager), Ron Wolf (Pro Football Hall of Famer and Super Bowl-winning General Manager)
Players: Dan Fouts (Pro Football Hall of Fame quarterback and veteran broadcaster), Ron Jaworski (former NFL quarterback and veteran broadcaster), Ozzie Newsome (Pro Football Hall of Famer and two-time Super Bowl Champion General Manager), Art Shell (Pro Football Hall of Famer, two-time Super Bowl Champion and former Head Coach)
Media: Dave Anderson (Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist with the New York Times who covered the NFL for more than 50 years), Judy Battista (NFL Media National Columnist and Reporter), Jarrett Bell (Pro Football Hall of Fame voter and USA Today NFL Columnist), Chris Berman (ESPN anchor since 1979), Rick Gosselin (Pro Football Hall of Fame voter and former Dallas Morning News Columnist), Peter King (Pro Football Hall of Fame voter and veteran sportswriter), Don Pierson (Author and veteran sportswriter), Charean Williams (Pro Football Hall of Fame voter and veteran sportswriter and president of the Pro Football Writers Association)
The "greatness" theme is also central to the series The NFL 100 Greatest, which counts down the greatest NFL memories in five categories – Plays, Characters, Games, Game Changers and Teams. The series features more than 400 interviews with celebrities, current NFL stars and Legends that will air across 20 one-hour episodes with four episodes dedicated to each topic.
"It's hard to put into words the amount of time and dedication put forth on this project over the past year across our Network, NFL Films and Digital Content teams," said Hans Schroeder, Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer, NFL Media. "Paying homage to 100 seasons of the NFL is a daunting task, and I could not be prouder of the coordination and caliber of work done by our talented group of storytellers."
About this week's Giants finalists:
Carson played his entire 13-year NFL career with the Giants. An inside linebacker, he was selected to play in nine Pro Bowls, including seven in a row from 1982-88. Carson led the Giants in tackles six times, was a two-time All-NFL first team selection and was a leader throughout his career and the sole captain of the 1986 Super Bowl champion. Carson joined the Giants as a fourth-round draft choice in 1976 from South Carolina State, where he never missed a game in four seasons, was a two-year captain and a Little All-America selection by the Associated Press. A defensive end in college, Carson successfully moved to linebacker with the Giants so quickly and so successfully that he was voted to NFL All-Rookie team. Carson played 173 games in a Giants uniform – tying him with Keith Hamilton for seventh all-time – and he was a punishing run defender who also intercepted 11 passes. Carson had 17 sacks, 14 fumble recoveries and seven forced fumbles. He had 25 tackles (20 solo) in a Monday night game against Green Bay in 1982 and seven tackles in the Giants' 39-20 victory over Denver in Super Bowl XXI. During his prime, Carson was the best run-stopping linebacker in the NFL. In the seven seasons from 1981 to 1987, Giants' opponents averaged only 3.59 yards per rushing attempt, a remarkable achievement for so long a period. During that time, Carson was credited with 856 tackles, including 627 unassisted tackles.
Huff became an immediate star at middle linebacker after he was drafted by the Giants in the third round in 1956 following an All-America career at West Virginia. He played in five Pro Bowls and was named All-NFL four years. Huff won recognition for his great individual efforts against the premier running backs of his era, including Jim Brown of Cleveland, Rick Casares of Chicago and Alan Ameche of Baltimore. He was named the NFL's Outstanding Lineman in 1959. Huff anchored a defense that helped the Giants reach the championship game in 1956, 1958, 1959, 1961, 1962 and 1963. He was traded to the Washington Redskins prior to the 1964 season and served as a color analyst on the Redskins radio broadcasts for many years.
Robustelli was drafted by the Los Angeles Rams in 1951 and played on two Rams championship teams. In 1956, Wellington Mara traded for Robustelli, who provided a tremendous lift in the Giants' title drive that season. Robustelli, who stayed with the Giants through the 1964 season, played on a winning team in 13 of his 14 pro seasons. He played in eight NFL championship games and seven Pro Bowls. Robustelli was named All-NFL seven times, two with the Rams and five with the Giants. Robustelli was a durable player who missed only one game in his 14-year career.
Strahan played his entire career with the Giants from 1993-2007. A standout as both a run stopper and pass rusher, Strahan joins Hall of Famer Mel Hein, Phil Simms and Eli Manning as the only players in Giants history to play 15 years with the team. Strahan played in a franchise-record 216 regular-season games. He was a four-time first-team All-Pro (1997, 1998, 2001 and 2003), a seven-time Pro Bowler and the 2001 NFL AP Defensive Player of the Year. Strahan had 141.5 career regular season sacks, which is the Giants' franchise record and the fifth-highest total in NFL history. Strahan holds the NFL single-season record with 22.5 sacks in 2001. He also led the NFL in 2003 with 18.5 sacks and is the only Giants player to twice lead the league in sacks. Strahan was a captain of the 2007 Giants team that won Super Bowl XLII.
Taylor joined the Giants as the second overall selection of the 1981 NFL Draft and played his entire 13-year career for the team. When Taylor retired, he was the NFL's No. 2 all-time sack leader with 132.5. That total does not include the 9.5 he accumulated as a rookie in 1981 before the sack was an official statistic. Taylor established an NFL record by appearing in 10 consecutive Pro Bowls from 1981-1990. He was named the NFL Rookie of the Year in 1981 and the NFC's Defensive Player of the Week nine times (the award was established in 1984), as well as the conference's Defensive Player of the Month twice, in October 1986 and September 1989. Taylor was a unanimous choice to the NFL's All-1980s team. He was a unanimous selection as the NFL's Most Valuable Player in 1986, when he had a career-high 20.5 sacks, 105 tackles, five passes defensed and two forced fumbles.