The Best — As I See It!
Part V: Defensive Linemen
What is really fun about being a fan of a long established pro sports franchise is that you have an ever filling reservoir of players from which to choose for your list of best in a particular position. And, being a fan of the team whether it is for 50 years or five years means that you can fall back on your own personal opinion when making your own list of the best.
What follows is my list of the best Washington Redskins by squad.
Part I will cover the offensive line.
Part II will identify the best receivers.
Part III will list the best quarterbacks.
Part IV will describe the best running backs.
Part V goes into the best defensive linemen.
Part VI covers the linebackers.
Part VII will i.d. the best defensive backs.
Part VIII will discuss the best punters and field goal kickers.
Part IX will identify the best tight ends.
Again, this is my opinion. I encourage you to post your list of the best in a particular position as a comment to my article that covers that position. For example, no doubt you have your own opinions on who were the best Washington Redskins defensive linemen. Post your picks as a comment to my article.
The Best Lines
Before we make a list of individual greats who played on the defensive line, let’s take a look at the best lines.
I think the best place to start off is to select the years the Redskins made it to the Super Bowl — 1972, 1982, 1983, 1987, 1991.
The defensive line of 1972 included some of the overall best in Redskins history as well as some who may not be remembered, but deserve some acknowledgment.
DE Verlon Biggs
DT Bill Brundige
DT Diron Talbert
DE Ron McDole
The defensive line of 1982 consisted of players who made an indelible mark on our memories. Example, Darryl Grant intercepting a tipped pass from Danny White and lumbering into the endzone to clinch the NFC title.
DE Dexter Manley (6.5 sacks)
DT Darryl Grant (2.5 sacks)
DT Dave Butz (4.5 sacks)
DE Matt Mendenhall (1.0 sacks)
Tony McGee (6.5 sacks)
The 1983 defensive line included a number of potential hall of famers.
DE Dexter Manley (11.0 sacks)
DT Dave Butz (11.5 sacks)
DT Darryl Grant (2.5 sacks)
DE Charles Mann (3.0 sacks)
Tony McGee (10.0 sacks)
The 1987 squad pretty much continued the tradition set in 1983.
DE Charles Mann (9.5 sacks)
DT Dave Butz (3.0 sacks)
DT Darryl Grant (2.0 sacks)
DE Dexter Manley (8.5 sacks)
Marcus Koch (2.0 sacks)
And the 1991 line shows somewhat of a break from tradition and shows transition from 87 to 91.
DE Charles Mann (11.5 sacks)
DT Bobby Wilson (4.5 sacks)
DT Tim Johnson (3.5 sacks)
DE Marcus Koch (1.0 sacks)
Fred Stokes (6.5 sacks)
Jumpy Geathers (4.5 sacks)
It is difficult to analyze the 1972 defensive line because back then the NFL didn’t keep statistics on sacks. The later lines consisted pretty much of the same players.
Still, taking sacks into account, and the fact that many of them deserve to be in the Hall, I would select the 1983 line as the best followed by the 1987 line and then the 1991 line.
Now in terms of individuals, I took a look at the list of the 70 Greatest Redskins. It includes the following DLs:
Gene Brito (1951-1953, 1955-1958)
Bill Brundige (1970-1977)
Dave Butz (1975-1988)
Dexter Manley (1981-1989)
Charles Mann (1983-1993)
Ron McDole (1971-1980)
Diron Talbert (1971-1980)
Not on the list of the 70 Greatest Redskins, but still worthy of consideration is:
Many of us probably don’t remember much if anything at all about Gene Brito, me included. So I did a little research.
Brito was 6-feet, 2-inches tall and weighed about 230 pounds. He was said to have been quick off the ball and had a deceptive rush combined with consummate ferocity. Paul Brown, then head coach of the Cleveland Browns, said of Brito, “Brito was more in my backfield than his own.”
Bobby Mitchell said of Brito, “Gene Brito had great movements for a defensive end. He was almost like a Dexter Manley.”
Brito was selected to the Pro Bowl four times (1955, 1956, 1957 and 1958).
After the 1957 season he was traded to the Los Angeles Rams. But in 1961 he was diagnosed as having a disease similar to Lou Gehrig’s disease and his health deteriorated. he died in 1965. He was just 39 years old.
Bill Brundige was a major player for George Allen’s “Over the Hill Gang.” Although sacks were not officially tallied by the NFL, he figured that he had 18 sacks in 1973 alone. That line got 53 sacks total for the season. The third highest in team history.
Dave Butz played for the St. Louis Cardinals and the Redskins. In his career he got 35.5 sacks in 216 games. He was selected to one Pro Bowl (1983) and the NFL 1980s All-Decade Team.
Dexter Manley played for the Phoenix Cardinals (1990) and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1991) after leaving the Redskins prior to the 1990 season. He also played in the Canadian Football League for the Ottawa Rough Riders. He had an official total of 97.5 sacks in his NFL career but his true total was 103.5. He is not being credited with six sacks in his rookie year because the NFL didn’t officially recognize sacks as a statistic until 1982. He also played in one Pro Bowl (1986) and was selected as an All-Pro twice (1986, 1987).
Diron Talbert played for the Los Angeles Rams (1967-1970) and the Redskins (1971-1980). In 186 games he recovered 10 fumbles. There are no sack stats. He played in one Pro Bowl (1974).
Ron McDole played in Super Bowl VII (1972), was selected to the All-Time All-AFL Second Team, selected AFL all-star twice (1965,67). He also holds the record for the most interceptions by a lineman (13).
Charles Mann also played for the San Francisco 49ers (1994). He won two Super Bowls as a Redskin (Super Bowl XXII and Super Bowl XXVI) and one Super Bowl with the 49ers (Super Bowl XXIX).
In 11 seasons with the Redskins he played in 163 games, garnered 82 sacks and made 784 tackles. He played in four Pro Bowls (1987, 1988, 1989, 1991). In 1987 the United Press International (UPI) selected him to the 2nd team all-conference and the Associated Press (AP) named him to the 2nd team All-NFL. In 1989, UPI selected him to the 2nd team all-conference and in 1991 AP named him to the 2nd team all-NFL.
Selecting the best is subjective. A lot of intangibles are taken into account including the reputation of the player. Some had a more fierce reputation than others. An example of this is Charles Mann, who was kind of a quiet guy, and Dexter Manley, who was the fiercer of the two.
So, here I go. Here are who I consider to be the best as I see it:
Dexter Manley. I don’t understand why Manley didn’t get selected to more Pro Bowls. But based on his career sacks and his reputation, I have to give him the number 1 position.
Charles Mann. His sacks stat is good and he played in four Pro Bowls. He was also selected to the all-NFL team twice.
Gene Brito. We don’t have anything on his sacks. But he did play in four Pro Bowls. That’s got to say something. Moreover, the Skins defensive line wasn’t too impressive during the 1950s. Brito seemed to have done things pretty much on his own.
Dave Butz. Being selected to the NFL 1980s All-Decade Team has to put him high on anyone’s list.
Bill Brundige. He said that he had 18 sacks in one season alone at a time when the NFL didn’t recognize sacks as an official statistic. That’s high compared to anyone on this list.
Honorable mention should go to Diron Talbert, Ron McDole and to Darryl Grant. I’m giving Grant a nod because of that interception in the NFC title game that finished off Danny White and the Dallas Cowboys. McDole gets an honorable mention but is not on the list of greatest because his career honors came mostly in the AFL/AFC.
I think there should also be a nod toward the best reserves — Jumpy Geathers, Fred Stokes, and Tony McGee. On passing situations these guys have to be included as some of the best.
So, now it’s your turn. Who do you rate as the best on the defensive line and why.