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Mer
10-30-2003, 01:46 PM
John Elway's scariest opponents

By John Elway
Special to NFL.com

With Halloween approaching, allow me to take this time to share with you some thoughts about the scariest guys I faced throughout my NFL career. Forget about Freddie Krueger or that Jason guy from "Friday the 13th" -- these are the monsters that appear in my nightmares:

1. Howie Long, Raiders: His quickness was one of his great strengths, and he did a great job anticipating the snap count. He was able to disrupt blocking schemes. Plus, he was the toughest guy for me to draw offsides. Great pass rushing ability. Smart player.

2. John Randle, Seahawks: Always plays 110 percent. Great quickness. He has an energy level like nobody else. Always talking, Randle can get in the head of younger players. When he was with the Vikings, he used the crowd noise in the Metrodome to his advantage. Great pass rushing ability. It was like there was a full moon every time I played against him!

3. Lawrence Taylor, Giants: One of the great linebackers of all time. He could rush the passer and play pass coverage. Like most teams, we always had to change pass protection to block him with a lineman, because we didn't want a back blocking him in pass protection. Of course, we weren't always able to do that. Taylor could dominate a game -- he played possessed.

4. Bruce Smith, Redskins: A great athlete who could rush the passer and play the run. He could speed-rush over the top and bull-rush an offensive lineman. When he was with the Bills, we always had to pay special attention to him, but he still made big plays.

5. Derrick Thomas, Chiefs: Another great pass rusher with great speed. He had all the moves. Thomas used the Arrowhead Stadium noise to his advantage. He could play outside linebacker as well as defensive end -- a playmaker from either spot. Not a big talker -- quiet but deadly.

6. Gill Byrd, Chargers: This guy had my number! I threw more interceptions to him than anybody else. He played for my dad at San Jose State -- I don't know if my dad gave him any tips on me, but Byrd made my life miserable many times. I added many game balls to his collection!

7. Neil Smith, Chiefs: He played on the opposite side of Derrick Thomas. Neil and Derrick used to have races to see who would get to hit me first! He almost blew both my knees out on the same play! Eventually, he ended up as my teammate with the Broncos -- and there was no one happier than me to see him switch teams!

8. Reggie White, Packers: This guy was a monster. He could do it all -- the strongest man I ever saw on a football field. I saw him club 320-pounders and send them absolutely flying. He is arguably the greatest D-lineman ever to play. A minister off the field but an animal on it!

9. Brett Favre, Packers: You can never feel safe with this guy. No matter what the score is, you haven't won until the clock is at 0:00. He's one of the greatest playmakers the game has ever seen.

10. Jack Lambert, Steelers: My first pro game was against the Steelers in Pittsburgh. My first snap ever, I had to stare at Jack. He had no teeth and was slobbering and spitting. At that point, I wasn't sure professional football was for me! I started clicking my heels together and saying, "There's no place like home! There's no place like home!" As it turned out, I'm glad Auntie Em didn't hear me!

My two hardest hits
1. Billy Ray Smith, Chargers: He came untouched on a blitz and hit me so hard I was looking out my ear hole.

2. Zach Thomas, Dolphins: He also came untouched on a blitz that was supposed to be picked up. He hit me on my left side and it felt like he put my left shoulder blade up through my right ear!

LawDog
10-30-2003, 01:54 PM
Cool post, Mer!

NYCHIEFSFAN
10-30-2003, 02:20 PM
definately a cool post!

I could read all day about Elway taking hits from players, especially Neil Smith and Derrick Thomas :)

Almost Heaven
10-30-2003, 03:29 PM
thanks to elway and the broncos, smith got the ring every player desires, in DENVER

Hoss
10-30-2003, 04:02 PM
he took the hits but got the rings! one of the greatest to ever play the game! what a true hoss!

ReasonableChief
10-30-2003, 04:10 PM
It is fun to hear what players have to say after they've left the game. I'm hard pressed to name many players who were better than him.

There's no way he could make a comeback, is there?

I think the Broncos should activate him and just have him stand on the sidelines in uniform. I bet he could still run the two-minute drill and his arm still has some life in it.