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“We’ve finally got that first step, where one of us is in now,” Grimm said. “I think that’ll put a little bit more light on some of the guys I played with.”

A left guard as adept in run blocking as pass protection, Grimm currently is the assistant head coach of the Arizona Cardinals.

Jackson had 128 sacks officially _ in his rookie year of 1981 sacks were not yet kept by the NFL _ and was a four-time All-Pro. He was a key to the Saints’ turnaround from laughingstock to playoff team.

Randle did even better with 137 1/2 sacks, the most for a defensive tackle in league history.

Then there are Rice and Smith, both unstoppable forces during their unequaled careers.

Rice had a record streak of 274 consecutive games with a catch; 11 straight 1,000-yard receiving seasons; 22 touchdown catches in 12 games of the strike-shortened 1987 season; and final totals of 1,549 receptions for 22,895 yards and 197 touchdowns.

Like Rice, Smith put his record-setting numbers far beyond established standards. While Rice did it with explosive grace, Smith’s game was powerful and persistent.

He rushed for 18,355 yards and 164 touchdowns, and also had the most carries (4,409) for a career. Playing a position with an average life span that can be measured on one hand, Smith was a force for all of his 13 seasons in Dallas and nearly reached 1,000 yards in his last of two seasons in Arizona.