Recently, CBS Sports released a list of the Top 10 defensive players of all time. Jeff Kerr created this list. While it is difficult to argue with some of his takes, one thing is sure. He snubbed Alan Page.
Sometimes it seems that the Vikings of old get forgotten by fans and sports reporters. I am unsure why this happens since the Purple People Eaters are one of the most iconic groups in NFL history. The Purple People Eaters and the Steel Curtain were defining groups of the ’60s and ’70s.
Alan Page was an anchor in the Purple People Eaters. He may have been the best guy in that group, and I would argue that he is the best. So, why in the world would he not be in the top 10 best defensive players of all time?
To answer why he should be listed here, we will get into the nitty-gritty. How does he stack up against these other guys? After all, all of these guys deserve to be mentioned on the best of all-time lists.
Alan Page’s Career is Nothing Short of Legendary
If you asked a Vikings fan to describe Alan Page, what would be the first thing they would say? For me, I would say Hall of Fame pass rusher who dominated opposing offensive lineman. Although I never got to see him play as I am too young, this is clear as day.
Page was not only a great player. He helped to define who the Vikings are today. The Purple People Eaters’ motto of “meet at the quarterback” is the stuff of legends. Not only did he help define the Vikings, but he also had an amazing career.
His career stats are one of the reasons he is in the Hall of Fame today.
- 148.5 sacks
- 2 interceptions
- 3 safeties (2 of which came in the 1971 season, which is an NFL record to this day)
- 1x NFL MVP
- 2x NFL defensive player of the year
- 6x first-team all-pro
- 3x second-team all-pro
- 9x pro-bowl
- NFL 100th anniversary team
- NFL 1970s all-decade team
When looking at his career stats and awards, one thing is clear. He dominated the NFL in his time.
How Page Stacks Up Against the Rest
To paint the picture of why he should be listed in the top-10 all time, we need to compare Page to the others on that list. I will not argue against the top-5 listed. They all clearly belong there, so let’s look at 6th through 10th.
- Deacon Jones – 2× NFL Defensive Player of the Year, 5× First-team All-Pro, 3× Second-team All-Pro, 8× Pro Bowl, 5× NFL sacks leader, NFL 1960s All-Decade Team
- Dick Butkus – 2× NFL Defensive Player of the Year, 5× First-team All-Pro, 3× Second-team All-Pro, 8× Pro Bowl, NFL 1960s All-Decade Team, NFL 1970s All-Decade Team
- Bruce Smith – 2× NFL Defensive Player of the Year, 8× First-team All-Pro, 2× Second-team All-Pro, 11× Pro Bowl, 2× NFL forced fumbles co-leader, NFL 1980s All-Decade Team, NFL 1990s All-Decade Team
- Rod Woodson – NFL Defensive Player of the Year, 6× First-team All-Pro, 3× Second-team All-Pro, 11× Pro Bowl, 2× NFL interceptions leader, NFL 75th Anniversary All-Time Team, NFL 1990s All-Decade Team, NFL 100th Anniversary All-Time Team
- Ronnie Lott – 8× First-team All-Pro, 10× Pro Bowl, 2× NFL interceptions leader, NFL forced fumbles co-leader, PFWA All-Rookie Team, NFL 1980s All-Decade Team, NFL 1990s All-Decade Team, NFL 75th Anniversary All-Time Team, NFL 100th Anniversary All-Time Team
While you cannot disregard the greatness that all of these players had during their careers, it seems that Alan Page deserves to be placed above a couple of these guys. Once you consider the accolades, stats, and what each player meant to their team, I believe Page should be listed above Lott and Woodson.
Alan Page was a menace. He defined an era of the NFL and is the only player here with an NFL MVP. It is a shame that CBS Sports doesn’t have him listed on the top-10 of all time.
Mitch Massman is a life-long Vikings fan. His first heartbreak was the 1998 NFC championship game. His full-time job is as an economic development professional in rural Minnesota. He fantasizes about the Vikings winning a Super Bowl one day, but until then he will write about the Vikings. Follow him on Twitter @skol_vikings3