Louisiana's best of the decade
Louisiana's best of the decade
After plenty of time to reflect on this season, I thought about who the top NFL players from Louisiana are over the past 10 years.
Below are my top 10 players from Louisiana over the past decade.
Peyton Manning, QB,
You could make a strong argument that Manning is not just the best football player from Louisiana in the 2000s, but also the best player in the NFL during that time.
Manning, who is the middle son of Saints' legend Archie Manning, has been stellar since his days at Newman High, then onto the University of Tennessee.
After being drafted with the top overall selection in 1998, Manning has developed into this generation's version of what Johnny Unitas was to football fans in the 1950s and 1960s.
Manning has been a nine-time Pro Bowl selection this decade and a three-time NFL Most Valuable Player winner.
The 33-year old quarterback holds the NFL record for the most total seasons with 4,000 yards passing (10), led the Colts to a victory in Super Bowl XLI and was voted that game's MVP.
Manning has led the Colts to a 115-43 record this decade, and the Colts have won 12 or more games each of the past seven seasons.
With a few games left in this decade, Manning has passed for 41,967 yards, 314 touchdowns and completed over 62 percent of his passes each season over the past 10 years.
Ed Reed, S, Baltimore Ravens
It never mattered where Reed laced up his cleats, he has been a dominant player.
Reed was a standout defensive back at Destrehan High School and became an All-American safety at the University of Miami (Fla.).
The Baltimore Ravens selected Reed with the 24th overall pick in the 2002 NFL draft, and he has developed into the most feared pass defender in the game.
The 5-foot-11, 200-pound safety has been a five-time All-Pro selection and was The Associated Press Defensive Player of the Year in 2004.
In eight seasons, Reed has intercepted 46 passes and totaled 1,255 interception return yards.
Reed has also scored 13 touchdowns. He has scored on three blocked punts, one punt, two fumble recoveries and seven interceptions in his NFL career.
New York Jets coach and former Baltimore Ravens defensive coordinator Rex Ryan described Reed as a once in a lifetime performer.
"I have been pretty lucky because I have had two once in a lifetime performers in Ed Reed and Ray Lewis," Ryan said. "Ed will go down as the greatest free safety in the game."
Alan Faneca, G, New York Jets
When you talk about the top two offensive guards in the NFL in the 2000s, the two names that top everyone's lists are Seattle Seahawks and Minnesota Vikings' All-Pro player Steve Hutchinson and current New York Jets offensive lineman Alan Faneca.
Faneca attended John Curtis Christian Middle School and later Lamar Consolidated High School in Texas, before signing on with LSU.
The 6-5, 300-pound offensive lineman started 36 games for the Tigers and allowed just one sack during his three years as a starter.
Faneca was selected with the 26th overall selection in the first round of the 1998 draft by the Pittsburgh Steelers.
The stellar offensive lineman was a seven-time All-Pro with the Steelers from 2001-07, and he consistently opened huge holes for halfback Jerome Bettis.
He was a key cog in the Pittsburgh Steelers' Super Bowl XL championship, and Faneca was named to the Steelers' 75th Anniversary All-Time Team.
He signed a lucrative free-agent deal with the Jets in 2008 and again won All-Pro honors last season.
The eight-time Pro Bowl performer will one day join Manning and Reed in Pro Football's Hall of Fame when he hangs up the cleats.
Kevin Mawae, C, Tennessee Titans
While Mawae has not gotten the publicity of Faneca, he has been just as effective. Mawae, who attended Leesville High School, was an outstanding offensive lineman with LSU in the early 1990s.
He played left tackle, left guard and center for the Tigers and his size, athleticism and versatility got him selected by the Seattle Seahawks in the second round of the 1994 NFL draft.
The 6-4 1/2, 290-pound center has been a seven-time All-Pro selection, and six of those times were in the 2000s.
The 38-year old center has been a stellar player for the Seahawks, Jets and is currently the starting center for the Titans.
Mawae, along with Jeff Saturday of the Colts, are considered the top two centers of the past 10 years.
Reggie Wayne, WR,
For most of his NFL career, Wayne has played in the shadow of future Hall of Fame wide receiver Marvin Harrison, but he has now firmly established himself as one of the top clutch receivers in the NFL.
Wayne was a standout end at John Ehret High School and later with the Miami Hurricanes. During his college career, Wayne became one of only three players in Hurricane history to catch 20 or more touchdowns in a career.
The 6-0 1/2, 195-pound end was selected in the opening round of the 2001 draft by the Indianapolis Colts with the 30th overall selection.
The three-time All-Pro selection (2006-08) has caught 663 passes for 9,207 yards and scored 62 touchdowns during his nine-year NFL career and is now the favorite target of another Louisiana great in Peyton Manning in Indianapolis.
Marshall Faulk, HB, St. Louis Rams
Most regard Faulk as one of the elite all-purpose backs of the 1990s, but don't underestimate the impact he made in the 2000s with the St. Louis Rams.
The former Carver High School standout was selected to seven Pro Bowls, and three of those selections were in 2000, 2001 and 2002.
Faulk was the NFL MVP in 2000 and the NFL Offensive Player of the Year in 2000 and 2001.
The San Diego State University star back rushed for 12,279 yards, and 5,578 of those yards were in the 2000s, along with 51 rushing touchdowns, before retiring after the 2006 season.
Faulk also caught 767 passes during his pro career, and 383 of them were in the 2000s, for 3,023 yards and 22 of them went for scores.
Of Faulk's 136 career touchdowns, 73 were in the 2000s, and he will also be another Louisiana product to enter the Hall of Fame.
Pat Williams, DT,
When you talk about the top run-stuffing defensive tackles in the 2000s, Williams will come up heavily in that discussion.
Williams was an excellent defensive lineman at Wossman High School in Monroe before attending Navarro Junior College and Northeastern Oklahoma A&M College. Despite only starting eight games as a junior at Texas A&M Williams earned Second-Team All-Southwest Conference honors in 1995. He had a solid senior season for the Aggies, but he was passed up by all NFL teams on draft day in 1997.
Williams signed a free-agent contract with the Buffalo Bills and quickly established himself as one of the real strong young interior defensive linemen in the game.
After eight seasons with the Buffalo Bills the 6-2 1/2, 325-pound Williams signed a lucrative free-agent deal with the Vikings. Williams has teamed up with Kevin Williams (no relation) to form the "Williams Wall," and the best defensive tackle tandem in the NFL over the past five seasons.
The 37-year old defensive tackle has been selected to the All-Pro team each of the past three seasons and he has racked up 591 tackles during his NFL career.
Eli Manning, QB, New York Giants
The youngest son of Archie Manning has played in the huge shadow of older brother Peyton, but he has established his own niche in the NFL.
Like Peyton, Eli had a tremendous high school football career at Newman. He signed with Ole Miss and developed into one of the top college quarterbacks in the early 2000s and was named the SEC Offensive Player of the Year in 2003.
The All-SEC performer was the top overall selection in the 2004 draft by the San Diego Chargers, and his rights were traded away to the New York Giants minutes later after Manning refused to play for the Chargers.
Eli split starting time with Kurt Warner in 2004 but became the full-time starter for the Giants in 2005.
Manning has led the Giants to postseason play each of the past four seasons.
The 6-4, 220-pound quarterback had a storybook 2007 season when he led the Giants to a 10-6 record and a wildcard playoff spot. The Giants won three games on the road to play the unbeaten New England Patriots in Super Bowl XLII.
The Manning-led Giants posted the biggest Super Bowl upset since Super Bowl III, defeating the Patriots 17-14, and Manning was named the game's MVP.
Eli earned All-Pro honors for his play for the first time in 2008.
Kevin Faulk, HB, New England Patriots
Faulk was considered the top football player in the state of Louisiana when he came out of Carencro High.
He later went on to be one of the top running backs in LSU and Southeastern Conference history.
The 5-8, 205-pound workhorse back rushed for 4,557 yards and scored 42 touchdowns in 41 games for the Tigers.
The New England Patriots selected him in Round 2 of the 1999 draft, and he quickly established himself as one of the top all-purpose backs in the NFL.
While Faulk was not a heavy-duty back in the NFL like he was at LSU, he is regarded as one of the league's top pass receivers out of the backfield and a tremendous pass blocker.
Faulk has rushed for 3,464 yards and scored 16 touchdowns for the Patriots. He has caught 418 passes for 3,605 yards and scored 15 touchdowns as a receiver.
Aeneas Williams, CB/S, Arizona Cardinals/St. Louis Rams
The last selection was a tough choice between Williams and Carolina Panthers quarterback Jake Delhomme, but I went with Williams, who I think will one day end up in the Hall of Fame.
Williams, a standout performer at Southern University, was considered one of the elite cover cornerbacks in the NFL in the 1990's after being in picked in the third round of the 1991 draft.
The 5-10, 195-pound defensive back was an All-Pro performer eight times during his pro career, and two of those times were in 2001 and 2003.
The former Fortier High standout intercepted 55 passes during his pro career, and 14 of those were in the 2000's.
He returned three of those 14 interceptions for touchdowns.
Williams quietly retired after the 2004 season, but goes down as one of the all-time great football players to come out of Louisiana.
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