Was there some bias in selecting the top four modern-era defensive tackles for my Team for the Ages? You bet there was.
Dan Hampton is a friend of the family and famed member of the Chicago Bears organization that I grew up immersed in, and John Randle is someone I had the privilege of watching in person on multiple occasions at Soldier Field and the Metrodome. But the guess here is that multiple colleagues without similar experiences will feature both on their lists, as "Danimal" was an immovable and unstoppable force on the greatest defense in NFL history, whereas Randle might be the best undrafted player the league has ever seen.
Hampton could play inside or outside and dominate. He could rush the passer and plug the run with equal proficiency. The former first-rounder out of Arkansas would likely have even more accolades had he not kicked back and forth between tackle and end and so often been asked to eat up blockers so Mike Singletary and Otis Wilson could stuff the stat sheet.
Randle was not only the rarest of gems, unearthed from Texas A&M Kingsville as an undrafted rookie in 1990, he was a smack-talking sack machine with linebacker size, speed and stamina and defensive lineman strength and sheer force. Randle, beginning in his third season (and second as a starter) recorded eight consecutive campaigns with double-digit sacks at a time when that kind of stunning dominance and consistency seemed even more unfathomable than it does today.
Mean Joe Greene, the four-time Super Bowl champion, first-ever two-time NFL defensive MVP and, of course, the engine of the "Steel Curtain,' helped resurrect a franchise. A relentless havoc-wreaker and inspiring leader, the 10-time Pro Bowler won Rookie of the Year in 1969, when Pittsburgh went 1-13 in its first year under Chuck Noll. The Steelers improved to 5-9 in 1970, 6-8 in 1971 and, by 1972, began a streak of eight consecutive postseason appearances, seven coming after division titles and four ending in Super Bowl triumphs.
From Bradshaw and Blount to Ham, Harris and Lambert, that Steelers dynasty was brimming with Hall of Famers. And perhaps none dominated like Greene, who seemingly never relented and always set the tone of one of the top units in NFL history.
Lastly, "Manster," better known as Randy White, whose "performances [ranged] everywhere from spectacular to spectacular," according to his coach Tom Landry, was indeed a model of consistency. The lifelong Cowboy went to nine consecutive Pro Bowls. He missed merely one game in 14 seasons.
Super Bowl XII's co-MVP along with Harvey Martin, White's 701 solo tackles are third in Cowboys history to this day, and his 16-sack campaign in 1978 has only been topped (twice) by edge rusher and future fellow Hall of Famer DeMarcus Ware.
Now you've read LeGere's DT corps on his Team for the Ages — it's time to place your vote! Pro Football Weekly invites you to create a team of the 50 best players since 1967. One entrant will win an all-expenses-paid trip for two to the 2019 Big Game in Atlanta!