In my 40-plus years on the NFL beat I think it is possible Charles Woodson is the greatest athlete I’ve ever seen play the game. He was at various points of his career easily the best corner in the game, easily the best safety, the most dangerous return man and he probably could have been an All-Pro receiver as well.
In his prime, Woodson would lock down receivers like no one else that’s ever played.
And Charles is not to be confused with another Woodson Hall Of Famer, Rod, who might not have been quite the returner or athlete that Charles was but like the guy he shares his last name with he was both the best corner in the NFL and the best safety depending on which part of his career you choose to focus on.
I’ll keep this short. I don’t care for Deion Sanders personally, but to leave him off this honor roll would be ignorant. If not a man of the greatest character, he is clearly one of the greatest football players and athletes of all time.
Mel Blount was every bit as important to the Steel Curtain defense and the Steelers’ 70’s Dynasty as Greene, Lambert, Ham or any of the other Hall Of Famers he played with.
Blount may have been the hardest hitting corner in the history of the game.
Last but certainly not least is one of my all time favorite NFL players, Darrell Green. He was small but he was tough as nails, as good a lockdown cover corner as you’ll ever see, a Super Bowl Champion and he once beat the great Bears team of the ‘80s practically by himself in a divisional playoff game going the whole way with broken ribs and returning a pick for the winning score.