These Are Unarguably The 10 Greatest Tight Ends Of All Time

These Are Unarguably The 10 Greatest Tight Ends Of All Time

Who's the GOAT TE?
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Time for Round 4 of the G.O.A.T. series (here's the WR, RB, and QB lists respectively), and this time around we're looking at the tight end position. Prepare to see a lot of names you recognize this time around because the position has become entirely different in recent history.

In fact, some of the greatest tight ends to ever play are playing right now.

But enough hype, let's get to the list:

10. Jason Witten

Stats/Records: 52.1 Receiving yards per game (150th), 229 Games Started (T-25th), 10.8 Yards per Touch (65th), 68 Touchdowns (112th), 12,448 Receiving yards (21st)

Awards: 10× Pro Bowler (2004–2010, 2012–2014), 2× First-team All-Pro (2007, 2010), 2× Second-team All-Pro (2008, 2012), and Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year (2012)

Championships: ... Let's not talk about it... It hurts too much.

Since I apparently love putting players from my favorite team at the ten spot, let's go ahead and add Witten to the list with Michael Irvin. This might be the most controversial entry given the previous sentence, but Witten does legitimately belong here. It was a four-way race for the ten spot, but the numbers favor Witten too much, mostly due to longevity, but that is part of being great.

9. Ozzie Newsome

Stats/Records: 41.8 Receiving yards per game (Not top 250), 191 Games started (T-121st), 662 Receptions (53rd), 47 Touchdowns (Not top 250), 7,980 Receiving yards (98th)

Awards: 3× Pro Bowler (1981, 1984, 1985), 2× First-team All-Pro (1979, 1984), 4× Second-team All-Pro (1980, 1981, 1983, 1985), NFL Hall of Fame and NFL 1980s All-Decade Team

Championships: None as a player at the professional level.

Ozzie Newsome was on a different physical level in the 1980's, hence his place on this list. There are currently eight tight ends in the Hall of Fame, and Newsome is one of the better ones. The numbers aren't quite what some the other members on this list are, but in his era, he was nearly unstoppable.

8. Antonio Gates

Stats/Records: 52.3 Receiving yards per game (147th), 189 Games Started (T-129th), 12.4 Yards per Touch (T-51st), 114 Touchdowns (13th), 11,508 Receiving yards (30th), and NFL TE Record for Touchdowns (114)

Awards: 8× Pro Bowler (2004–2011), 3× First-team All-Pro (2004–2006), 2× Second-team All-Pro (2009, 2010), and NFL 2000s All-Decade Team

Championships: None at the professional level

Gates has simply done more with less, which is why he ranks at number eight on this list. He and Jason Witten have both been playing for 15 seasons, and while Witten has more yards, Gates has him beat in every other way. Witten and Gates can be easily compared head-to-head since their careers perfectly overlap, and Gates beats him out, then the Newsome versus Gates debate is next, with Gates going over due to longevity.

7. Rob Gronkowski

Stats/Records: 70.4 Receiving yards per game (23rd), 89 Games Started (Not Top 250 All Time), 464 Receptions (T-164th), 77 Touchdowns (T-69th(He might retire to make that permanent)), 7,178 Receiving yards (124th), and pretty much every single season TE record

Awards: 5× Pro Bowler (2011, 2012, 2014, 2015, 2017), 5× First-team All-Pro (2011, 2012, 2014, 2015, 2017), and NFL Comeback Player of the Year (2014)

Championships: Four AFC Championships & Two Super Bowls (XLIX and LI)[As of 1/23/2018]

Gronk is just physically superior to everyone else. He is bigger and stronger than most of the people on this list, which has made him the dominant force in the NFL at the tight end position. While his ability gives him the potential to the Greatest of All-Time, Gronk just can't stay healthy, which makes it hard to move him too high on the list (similar to Rodgers or Megatron on their lists).

6. Shannon Sharpe

Stats/Records: 49.3 Receiving yards per game (T-187th), 169 Games Started (T-258th), 12.3 Yards per Touch (T-54th), 62 Touchdowns (T-152nd), 10,060 Receiving yards (45th), and NFL Record for most receiving yards in a game by a TE (214)

Awards: 8× Pro Bowler (1992–1998, 2001), 4× First-team All-Pro (1993, 1996–1998), Second-team All-Pro (1995), NFL Hall of Fame, NFL 1990s All-Decade Team, and Denver Broncos 50th Anniversary Team

Championships: Three AFC Championships and Three Super Bowls (XXXII, XXXIII, and XXXV)

Shannon Sharpe, aka "Mr. Milds & Yak," was a big play waiting to happen. Ozzie Newsome (#9) referred to him as "a threat," which sums up Shannon Sharpe pretty well. Sharpe followed in the footsteps of his big brother, and became one of the greats, but he was not quite the dominant force that the other guys were.

5. Dave Casper

Stats/Records: 35.5 Receiving yards per game (Not Top 250 All-Time), 101 Games Started (Not Top 250 All Time), 378 Receptions (Not Top 250 All-Time), 53 Touchdowns (T-221st), and 5,216 Receiving yards (124th)

Awards: 5× Pro Bowler (1976–1980), 5× First-team All-Pro (1976–1980), NFL Hall of Fame, and NFL 1970s All-Decade Team

Championships: One AFC Championship and One Super Bowl (XI)

"The Ghost" earns the number five place on this list almost entirely because of his legendary moments. Sharpe was always a threat for a big play, but Casper was a threat for a legendary play, such as "Ghost to the Post" and "The Holy Roller."

"The Ghost" would haunt the dreams of his opponents because it is one thing to be afraid of being on the losing end of a game, but it is a new level of fear when you have to worry about being on the losing end of a historical moment (hi, Baltimore Colts and LA Chargers).

4. Mike Ditka

Stats/Records: 36.8 Receiving yards per game (Not Top 250 All-Time), 98 Games Started (Not Top 250 All Time), 427 Receptions (T-203rd), 43 Touchdowns (Not Top 250 All-Time), and 5,812 Receiving yards (203rd)

Awards: 5× Pro Bowler (1961–1965), 5× First-team All-Pro (1961–1965), NFL Rookie of the Year (1961), NFL Hall of Fame, NFL 75th Anniversary All-Time Team, and Chicago Bears No. 89 retired

Championships: One NFC Championship, One NFL Championship (1963) and One Super Bowl (VI) [As a player in the NFL (he had more championships as a coach)]

"Iron Mike" Ditka was tough as nails (iron nails), which led to him being not only a great receiver but a great blocker as well. Ditka started his career on an amazing note, and continued through his career in Chicago, but took a step back in Philadelphia and Dallas. Still, Ditka was the first TE to be inducted into the NFL Hall of Fame, which pretty much sums up his career as a pioneer of the position.

3. Kellen Winslow Sr.

Stats/Records: 61.8 Receiving yards per game (T-55th), 94 Games Started (Not Top 250 All Time), 541 Receptions (T-112th), 45 Touchdowns (Not Top 250 All-Time), and 6,741 Receiving yards (150th)

Awards: 5× Pro Bowler (1980–1983, 1987), 3× First-team All-Pro (1980–1982), Second-team All-Pro (1987), NFL Hall of Fame, NFL 75th Anniversary All-Time Team, NFL 1980s All-Decade Team, and San Diego Chargers Hall of Fame

Championships: None at the professional level

Kellen Winslow was a game-changer at the TE position, and he was the pioneer of the modern TE that is more of a receiver who can play the line or the slot. Kellen Winslow really earned his place ahead of Ditka on this list because of one game, "The Epic in Miami." I'll let you read about the game on your own, but to summarize, Winslow had one of the greatest single man efforts in the history of the NFL, which is definitely worthy of being third on this list.

2. John Mackey

Stats/Records: 37.7 Receiving yards per game (Not Top 250 All-Time), 34 Games Started (Not Top 250 All Time), 331 Receptions (Not Top 250 All-Time), 38 Touchdowns (Not Top 250 All-Time), and 5,236 Receiving yards (203rd)

Awards: 5× Pro Bowler (1963, 1965–1968), 3× All-Pro (1966–1968), NFL Hall of Fame, NFL 1960s All-Decade Team, and Baltimore Ravens Ring of Honor

Championships: One AFC Championship, One NFL Championship (1968), and One Super Bowl (V)

The third part of the tight end trinity from the 1960's and 1970's, Mackey was the most athletic of the bunch (Ditka was the muscle and Casper was the play-maker). The big reason why Mackey does not quite have the numbers that his trinity partners had was because of an early retirement for Mackey after injuries overcame him. While Mackey played, however, he was nearly unstoppable including a 75-yard touchdown in Super Bowl V and breaking a ridiculous amount of tackles.

1. Tony Gonzalez

Stats/Records: 56.0 Receiving yards per game (T-98th), 254 Games Started (8th), 11.4 Yards per Touch (T-61st), 111 Touchdowns (16th), 15,127 Receiving yards (6th), and NFL Records for receiving yards (15,127) and receptions (1,325) by a TE

Awards: 14× Pro Bowler (1999–2008, 2010–2013), 6× First-team All-Pro (1999–2001, 2003, 2008, 2012), 4× Second-team All-Pro (2002, 2004, 2006, 2007), and NFL 2000s All-Decade Team

Championships: None at the professional level

Tony G was the simply the culmination of the evolution at the TE position. Gonzalez was a basketball player before deciding to exclusively playing TE, which made him bigger and stronger than everyone else, plus he was athletic enough to play well versus everyone defense he went against. Ditka started the trend that led to Winslow, and Winslow stated the trend that gave us Tony G, and Gonzalez became the blueprint for the modern TE, but the blueprint is still the G.O.A.T.


All data was pulled from profootballreference.com, NFL.com, and Profootballhof.com

Cover Image Credit: Facebook

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To The Coach Who Ruined The Game For Me

We can't blame you completely, but no one has ever stood up to you before.
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I know you never gave it a second thought, the idea that you're the reason I and many others, never went any farther in our athletic careers.

I know you didn’t sincerely care about our mental health, as long as we were physically healthy and our bodies were working enough to play. It’s obvious your calling wasn’t coaching and you weren’t meant to work with young adults, some who look to you as a parent figure or a confidant.

I also know that if we were to express our concerns about the empty feeling we began to feel when we stepped onto the court, you wouldn’t have taken the conversation seriously because it wasn’t your problem.

I know we can't blame you completely, no one has ever stood up to you before. No one said anything when girls would spend their time in the locker room crying because of something that was said or when half the team considered quitting because it was just too much.

We can't get mad at the obvious favoritism because that’s how sports are played.

Politics plays a huge role and if you want playing time, you have to know who to befriend. We CAN get mad at the obvious mistreatment, the empty threats, the verbal abuse, “it's not what you say, its how you say it.”

We can get mad because a sport that we loved so deeply and had such passion for, was taken away from us single-handedly by an adult who does not care. I know a paycheck meant more to you than our wellbeing, and I know in a few years you probably won’t even remember who we are, but we will always remember.

We will remember how excited we used to get on game days and how passionate we were when we played. How we wanted to continue on with our athletic careers to the next level when playing was actually fun. We will also always remember the sly remarks, the obvious dislike from the one person who was supposed to support and encourage us.

We will always remember the day things began to change and our love for the game started to fade.

I hope that one day, for the sake of the young athletes who still have a passion for what they do, you change.

I hope those same athletes walk into practice excited for the day, to get better and improve, instead of walking in with anxiety and worrying about how much trouble they would get into that day. I hope those athletes play their game and don’t hold back when doing it, instead of playing safe, too afraid to get pulled and benched the rest of the season.

I hope they form an incredible bond with you, the kind of bond they tell their future children about, “That’s the coach who made a difference for me when I was growing up, she’s the reason I continued to play.”

I don’t blame you for everything that happened, we all made choices. I just hope that one day, you realize that what you're doing isn’t working. I hope you realize that before any more athletes get to the point of hating the game they once loved.

To the coach that ruined the game for me, I hope you change.

Cover Image Credit: Author's photo

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Folsom Street Fair

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