Some NFL players become legends who stand the test of time. Most casual fans are familiar with the greats of the past, such as Walter Payton and Joe Greene, and they’re definitely familiar with newer Hall of Fame inductees like Brett Favre and Jerry Rice. One of the most appealing things about the NFL is the possibility of watching someone who is destined for greatness. The following three players are right in the midst of amazing, legendary careers.
New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady is considered by many to be the “Greatest Quarterback of All Time.” This four-time Super Bowl champ has a ton of other accomplishments, as if Super Bowl champ four times over isn’t enough, he’s grabbed quite a few other honors, including three Super Bowl MVPs, two first-team All-Pro selections, and has been selected to 11 Pro Bowls. Oh, and we have to mention that he is the current active leader for passing touchdowns, playoff games, game winning drives, and comebacks.
Brady was selected in Round 6 of the 2000 NFL Draft and was the 199th player overall. To say he flew under the radar is an understatement, and the six quarterbacks that went in the draft before him didn’t exactly become household names – in fact, only two experienced solid playing time in the NFL.
Brady’s career stats are very similar to a few very well-known legends themselves, including Dan Marino, John Elway, and Joe Montana, all of which have been inducted into the NFL Hall of Fame. There is little doubt that Tom Brady will also be selected once his playing career is over, likely on the first ballot.
All Hail J.J. “Swatt”
J.J. Watt is a popular defensive end with a huge wingspan, well known for his aggressive playing style and his ability to bat down passes even with two offensive linemen hanging off him. His efforts have not gone unnoticed, either. He’s snagged the AP Defensive Player of the Year award three times, has been selected to the Pro Bowl four times and has also landed four selections to the first team All-Pro. These are terrific honors, considering he only entered the NFL in 2011.
Watt was selected by the Houston Texans in the first round (11th overall) and made an impact right away, clocking in 20.5 sacks his second season (the most in the league, which he again achieved in 2015 with 17.5 sacks). He was also awarded the Bert Bell Award (Player of the Year) in 2014 and has even brought one interception back to the house (after barreling down 80 yards of field).
His game stats closely resemble a few other amazing players, notably Muhammad Wilkerson, Geno Atkins, and the mighty Warren Sapp, who was inducted into the NFL Hall of Fame in 2013. While defensive players aren’t always as well-known as their flashier offensive counterparts, J.J. Watt is one of the most easily recognized defensive ends in the game. He has many good years left in him, and will likely continue to make a positive impact on his team (and the game as a whole).
Adrian Peterson (nicknamed “All Day”, or “A.D.”) was drafted in the first round of the 2007 NFL draft and has basically never looked back. The agile, quick, and deceptive running back has smashed his way through defensive lines for the past nine seasons. He was selected as the Offensive Rookie of the Year in his inaugural year and is the current active leader for rushing touchdowns and rushing yards per game.
The honors don’t stop there, though. Peterson has been selected to the Pro Bowl seven times, to the First Team All-Pro four times, and was the 2012 AP Offensive Player of the Year. He snagged the league-wide rushing title three times, and topped out at 2,097 yards in 2012 (incidentally, only six other players have ever topped 2K, and Peterson was very close to securing the top overall spot that year).
Peterson’s style and stats are similar to other players, such as Clinton Portis, Shaun Alexander, and Eddie George. Whether any of these fellas wind up in the Hall of Fame is still up in the air, but “A.D.” may wind up with a bust of his own one day considering his continued success (his last rushing title was last season, in fact).
The Legend Continues
Living legends are definitely a sight to see, and it’s a good idea to claim your seat if one of these guys rolls into town. There is no telling the future, but it’s a safe bet that these three players have already secured their places in the history books.
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