The AFC South is an oddball division. The Colts and Titans (formerly the Oilers) have both relocated,
the Jaguars didn’t join the league until ’95, and the Texans joined in ’02. That doesn’t leave much of a history for great players, but there are a few thanks to the Colts time in Baltimore and the Houston Oilers.
Toni Boselli, the Jaguars 1st ever draft pick (2nd overall) in’95 was on his way to getting in this discussion, but his career was cut short by injuries. He dominated the left tackle position for six years before shoulder injuries put an end to his career. The Texans actually selected him 1st overall in the 2002 expansion draft, but he never played a down for them.
Since the Texans are too young, this is really a two team race. Bruce Matthews and Warren Moon are both in the Hall of Fame, and I don’t mean to diminish their careers by not talking about them more, but I’d just be wasting time that should be spent on Earl Campbell. Campbell won the Heisman trophy in ’77, then was the 1st overall pick in the ’78 NFL Draft, after Tampa Bay traded the pick for some Tampa Bayish reason. In his rookie year he rushed for 1, 450 yards and was named Rookie of the Year and league MVP. He lead the league in rushing in ’78, ’79, and ’80. His bruising running style cut his career short and he retired as a member of the Saints before the ’86 season. Now he struggles just to walk. Honorable mention for the Oilers goes to a right hook.
Which brings us to the Colts, and I think it’s pretty obvious considering Peyton Manning is still playing. With all due respect to John Mackey, Lenny Moore, Gino Marchetti, Raymond Barry, and the Bronx’s own, Art Donovan, this is a no-brainer.
Enough has been written and said about Johnny Unitas that I really don’t need to add any more. I was four years away from being born when he retired as a member of the Chargers, so I never saw him play, but I didn’t really need to. He won Super Bowl V, was the MVP of the league three times, won the “greatest game ever played”, and still holds the record for throwing a touchdown pass in 47 consecutive games. 47 consecutive games!
In the game following Unitas’ death in 2002, Peyton Manning wanted to wear black cleats in honor of Unitas. The NFL said, “Sure, Peyton, go ahead but we’ll fine you $25,000.” Manning, of course backed down and didn’t wear them.
Verdict AFC South = Unitas Division