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It’s that weird week between the conference championships and Super Bowl, which means the Pro Bowl is here. But it’s not the Pro Bowl anymore, it’s the Pro Bowl Games, including a series of flag football showdowns between the AFC and NFC in Las Vegas.
This got me thinking – if I could have any players in NFL history, who would be my ultimate flag football team?
These contests will be 7-on-7 with skill-position players only, so I have that many roster spots. I’ll allow myself one quarterback, two running backs, three wide receivers, and one tight end.
I’m taking flag football into account here. I don’t need you to be big or powerful. I need speed, agility, and a heart that just won’t quit.
The Ultimate NFL Flag Football Roster
Michael Vick (QB)
I don’t think this is a tough choice. There are successful running quarterbacks in the NFL, and then there’s Michael Vick.
At his best, Vick was one of the most dynamic players in the league. He did things that nobody thought a quarterback could do. Vick still holds the record for the most career rushing yards by a quarterback in NFL history (6,109 yards), his 22,464 passing yards and 133 touchdowns weren’t too bad either, and that’s all while spending what would have been some prime years in prison.
Easy selection – Mike Vick is my flag football team QB.
Gale Sayers (RB)
“Give me 18 inches of daylight. That’s all I need.”
This is the attitude I want from my flag football players. If you see some daylight, you spin, juke, hurdle, and hesitate your way through it.
Sayers is one of the best open-field players in NFL history. Sure, he did it a long time ago, and NFL defenses have changed quite a bit since the 1960s, but he was a talent that can’t be questioned.
As a rookie in 1965, the Bears legend accumulated 2,272 total yards and 22 touchdowns in 14 games. I’d like to see if that version of Sayers would translate to my flag football squad.
Barry Sanders (RB)
Barry Sanders was a human highlight reel.
Sanders is fourth on the all-time NFL rushing yards list, and he did it in just 10 seasons. In 1997, he racked up 2,053 yards on the ground, the fourth-best campaign for a running back in NFL history. He’s the only player to have more than one season ranked in the top 15 for most single-season rushing yards.
But I’m picking him for more than that. Elusive does not do Sanders justice. He was impossible to contain and liable to break any play into a sprint that a defender was not winning. In the context of a flag football game, Sanders would be deadly.
Jerry Rice (WR)
Let’s just get him out of the way. The widely-considered best wide receiver of all time will not be left off my ultimate flag football team.
The three-time Super Bowl winner, two-time Offensive Player of the Year, and 13-time Pro Bowler is undeniable. His career mark of 22,895 receiving yards isn’t just the most in NFL history, it dwarfs second place by more than 5,000 yards. Rice’s 197 receiving touchdowns are tops all-time by more than 40. This guy doesn’t just hold the records – he’s still running away with them two decades after retirement.
Rice is an easy inclusion. Next.
Don Hutson (WR)
Have you ever heard of Don Hutson? Maybe not, and it’s reasonable if you haven’t. He played well before the creation of the Super Bowl, and he played at a time when three yards and a cloud of dust was a religion. But for his time, he was amazing.
Hutson finished his 11-year career with 7,991 receiving yards. That doesn’t sound great to the modern ear, but consider this – he’s the only player pre-1945 to collect more than 3,400 receiving yards. Doesn’t seem too bad now, does it?
But you want to know the real reason why he’s on my team? Because his nickname was the “Alabama Antelope”. I think an antelope would make for an excellent flag football wide receiver, especially if it had two arms and opposable thumbs like Hutson. I’d also like to see how a transcendent player from the late-30s, or early-40s would get on now, and I’m willing to gamble a spot on my ultimate flag football roster to find out.
Larry Fitzgerald (WR)
In the intro, I said I wanted players with hearts that won’t quit. Larry Fitzgerald is that guy.
Fitzgerald played his entire 17-year career for only one team in an era when such commitment is uncommon. He rarely missed games for any reason, suiting up in all 16 of Arizona’s regular-season contests 13 times and never appearing in fewer than 13 showdowns in any given season. He’s one of the most beloved figures in NFL history for not just his on-field production but off-field charisma and charity works, too. He was the 2016 Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year winner.
Plus, he’s pretty good at football. He’s second on the all-time receiving list, sixth in all-time receiving touchdowns, and the greatest player in Arizona Cardinals history. I expect big things out of him on my team.
Shannon Sharpe (TE)
Shannon Sharpe was supposedly too big to be a wide receiver but too small to be a tight end, so he was drafted in the seventh round of the 1990 NFL Draft. He turned that into a Hall of Fame career.
Sharpe is fifth all-time in career receiving yards among tight ends and eighth on the position’s list of touchdown scorers. He used his size to become an outstanding receiving tight end, and that’s exactly what I want out of that position.
There have been some incredible tight ends in the NFL over the last 30 years, but I’ll take the three-time Super Bowl champion Sharpe over the rest. His role as the safety valve for John Elway and Trent Dilfer is perfect for what I want from my tight end in a flag football setting. Sharpe completes my team.