20 Greatest Players in AFL history revealed
January 18, 2006 - Arena Football League (1987-2008) (AFL I) News Release
NEW YORK - The 20 Greatest Players in AFL history, as chosen by the 20th Season Historical Committee, were revealed today and EDDIE BROWN, the former offensive specialist for the Albany and Indiana Firebirds, was voted the greatest player in AFL history.
rank PLAYER Points
1 Eddie Brown, OS 136
2 Barry Wagner*, WR/DB 135 (3)
3 George LaFrance, OS 126 (1)
4 Jay Gruden, QB 122 (2)
5 Hunkie Cooper, WR/LB 113 (1)
6 James Baron*, OL/DL 83
7 Sylvester Bembery, OL/DL 64
8 Sherdrick Bonner*, QB 61
9 Stevie Thomas, WR/LB 59
10 Dwayne Dixon, WR/LB 56
11 Aaron Garcia*, QB 50
12 Kurt Warner, QB 49
13 Sam Hernandez, OL/DL 41
14t Cory Fleming*, WR/LB 39
14t Greg Hopkins*, WR/LB 39
16 Alvin Rettig, FB/LB 35
17t Randy Gatewood*, WR/DB 33
17t Gary Mullen, WR/DB 33
19 John Corker, OL/DL 29
20 Bob McMillen*, FB/LB 24
*Active; first-place votes in parenthesis; a player received 20 points for one first-place vote, 19 points for one second-place vote, etc. Other players who received votes were (in alphabetical order): Les Barley, Ben Bennett, Mike Black, B.J. Cohen, Gary Compton, Cecil Doggette, Clint Dolezel, Chad Dukes, Fred Gayles, Mark Grieb, Bernard Hall, Darryl Hammond, Johnnie Harris, Chris Jackson, Joe Jacobs, Andy Kelly, Andre Langley, Joe March, Kenny McEntyre, Steve Papin, Tate Randle, Durwood Roquemore, Lawrence Samuels, Calvin Schexnayder, Art Schlichter, Jermaine Smith, Clevan Thomas, Steve Videtich, Craig Walls and Herkie Walls.
"Touchdown" Eddie Brown played all 10 seasons of his career with the Firebirds. He played from 1994-2000 in Albany, including the team's ArenaBowl championship season in 1999, and then relocated with the team to Indiana in 2001. He retired following the 2003 season.
Brown's greatness is generally attributed to his intelligence and flawless hands rather than blazing speed. He had a tremendous knack for getting open and always possessed a great relationship with his coaches and quarterbacks.
"Eddie Brown was simply the best receiver to play Arena Football," says Chicago head coach and Historical Committee member MIKE HOHENSEE, who coached Brown in Albany. "I was fortunate enough to coach him and I know one thing about him that a lot of others don't - he is extremely intelligent. He is going to be a great coach one day. They called him 'Touchdown' for a reason. I don't remember ever seeing him drop a pass in the end zone. He had tremendous focus and was one of those rare players that made me a better football coach. It was a privilege to coach him."
Brown won a league MVP (1994) and two Offensive Player of the Year awards (1996, '99), was named All-Arena four times (1994, 1996, 1998-99) and MVP of ArenaBowl XIII. He is the AFL's career leader with 303 receiving TDs. Brown holds the single-game record for most touchdowns in a game with nine. He ranks second all-time in scoring with 2,064 points, receptions with 949, and total TDs with 344. He also threw seven touchdown passes.
"Eddie was a great competitor with unbelievable hands," says Colorado head coach MIKE DAILEY, who also coached Brown during his career. "He had the strongest hands I have ever seen. When the AFL first started, receivers used their hands to get separation from the defense, but Eddie would out-fight you for the ball and he knew how to position his body to get the advantage."
Brown won by a slim margin, defeating San Jose WR/LB BARRY WAGNER by only one point. Wagner won six consecutive Ironman of the Year awards from 1992-97 and three ArenaBowls, one with Orlando in 1998 and two with San Jose in 2002 and 2004. Wagner is one of eight active players on the list.
"A fierce competitor," says Hohensee about Wagner. "The best two-way player that played the game. He was someone you had to gameplan against in all three facets of the game - offense, defense and special teams. You always had to know where he was on the field. And no matter who you brought at him on either side of the ball, he could compete with them. He is the prototypical Arena Football player."
OS GEORGE LAFRANCE, who won five ArenaBowls, QB JAY GRUDEN, who won four ArenaBowls as a player, and WR/LB HUNKIE COOPER, a two-time Ironman of the Year, rounded out the top five. Arizona, Detroit, and Tampa Bay all had five former or current players on the list, which was the most of all teams. Five players played WR/LB, which was the most of any position.
BIOS FOR the remaining 20 Greatest Players
2. Barry Wagner, WR/DB: Six-time Ironman of the Year (1992-97); All-Arena (1992-97, 2002-03); Played in seven ArenaBowls; Four-time ArenaBowl Ironman of the Game (VIII, IX, XII & XIII); Won three ArenaBowls (Orlando 1998, San Jose 2002 & 2004).
3. George LaFrance, OS: Two-time AFL MVP (1989 & 1991); Two-time All-Arena (1989 & 1991); Won five ArenaBowls (1988-89, 1992, 1995-96), played in eight.
4. Jay Gruden, QB: AFL Hall of Fame (1999); Won four ArenaBowls (Tampa Bay, 1991, 1993, 1995-96); AFL MVP (1992); All-Arena (1992 & 1995); ArenaBowl MVP (1993); 88-22 (.800) career regular-season record.
5. Hunkie Cooper, WR/LB: Two-time Ironman of the Year (1999 & 2000); All-Arena (1993, 1995-97, 1999-2000); Won two ArenaBowls (Arizona, 1994 & 1997); Ironman of ArenaBowl XI; All-time all-purpose yards leader (20,587).
6. James Baron, OL/DL: Defensive Player of the Year (1999); Lineman of the Year (2001); All-Arena (1997-2002); All-Ironman (1999 & 2001); Played in two ArenaBowls (2000-01).
7. Sylvester Bembery, OL/DL: All-Arena (1988, 1990-92, 1995-96); Won two ArenaBowls (Tampa Bay, 1995-96).
8. Sherdrick Bonner, QB: All-Arena (1997-98, 2000, 2002-03); Most wins (94) by an AFL starting QB; 94-38 (.712) career regular-season record; Won two ArenaBowls (Arizona, 1994 & 1997).
9. Stevie Thomas, WR/LB: All-Arena (1992, 1996); Two-time ArenaBowl MVP (V & X); Won five ArenaBowls (Tampa Bay, 1991, 1993, 1995-96 & Orlando, 2000).
10. Dwayne Dixon, WR/LB: AFL Hall of Fame (1998); Ironman of the Year (1988); Won three ArenaBowls (Detroit, 1988-90); Holds record for most receptions in a game (20).
11. Aaron Garcia, QB: Offensive Player of the Year (2001); All-Arena (2000-01); Only QB in AFL history to throw for 100-plus TD in a single season (2001 & 2003); All-time leader with 725 TD passes.
12. Kurt Warner, QB: Two ArenaBowl appearances (1996-97); All-Arena (1996-97); 30-10 (.750) career regular-season record.
13. Sam Hernandez, OL/DL: Lineman of the Year (2000); All-Arena (1995-96, 1998, 2000, 2003); All-time sacks leader (59.0); Won two ArenaBowls (San Jose, 2002 & 2004)
14. Cory Fleming, WR/LB: Rookie of the Year (1997); Ironman of the Year (2004); All-Arena (1997-98, 2002, 2004-05); All-Ironman (1999, 2002, 2004-05); Played in two ArenaBowls (2000-01).
15. Greg Hopkins, WR/LB: Ironman of the Year (2002); All-Arena (1998, 2000, 2002-03); All-Ironman (1999, 2001-03).
16. Alvin Rettig, FB/LB: AFL Hall of Fame (1998); Won four ArenaBowls (Detroit, 1988-90 & 1992); ArenaBowl IV Ironman of the Game (1990); All-Arena (1990-92).
17. Randy Gatewood, WR/DB: Ironman of the Year (2003); All-Arena (1996-97, 1999-2000, 2003); Played in four ArenaBowls (Arizona, 1997, 2002-04), including ArenaBowl XI championship team.
18. Gary Mullen, WR/DB: AFL Hall of Fame (1998); All-Arena (1987-88, 1990); Member of four championship teams (1987, 1989-90, 1992).
19. John Corker, OL/DL: AFL Hall of Fame (2002); Lineman of the Year (1991); All-Arena (1991); Won three ArenaBowls (Detroit, 1988, 1990, 1992).
20. Bob McMillen, FB/LB: All-Arena (1999-2000); All-Ironman (2004); Won two ArenaBowls (Arizona, 1997 & San Jose, 2002); Fourth all-time in rushing yards (1,150).
The AFL's 20th Season kicks off Friday, January 27 and among the many activities, tributes and special events taking place will be a season-long celebration of the league's history. As a result, the Arena Football League formed a historical committee to select the 20 Greatest Players, Games, Moments and Teams in league history. The results will be released throughout the season (see below). AFL fans will be able to voice their opinions on the AFL's Web site, www.arenafootball.com.
Remaining 20 Seasons Tributes
20 Greatest Games February 22
20 Greatest Moments March 29
20 Greatest Teams May 17
The esteemed Historical Committee consists of a diverse mix of AFL personalities all with a strong knowledge of the league and its history. The members are: Howard Balzer, a journalist who has covered the AFL since its inception; Hunkie Cooper, a former player and current assistant coach who holds the record for career all-purpose yards; DarRyl Hammond, an active player who will begin his 16th season this year; Mike Hohensee, head coach of the Chicago Rush and the first player to throw an AFL touchdown; Joe KaufFman, the president of ArenaFan Online; George LaFrance, a former player who won five ArenaBowl championships; Bill Niro, an AFL founder; and Gene Nudo, head coach of the Arizona Rattlers, whose career has spanned 19 of the AFL's 20 seasons.
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