Hub Arkush’s Team for the Ages — Defensive ends
For all the greats who’ve played defensive end in the modern era of the NFL, this was one of the easier positions for me to identify my selections for my Team For The Ages.
It all starts for me with Deacon Jones, the lynchpin of the original “Fearsome Foursome,” who played at a time when quarterback sacks were not an official statistic and not tabulated. But if you go back and look at the old film, Jones was one of the greatest pass rushers of all-time. He had the perfect blend of athleticism, quickness, natural strength and technique to render him un-blockable at times, and he had a flair for making the biggest plays at the biggest moments of games.
Another slam dunk for me is Reggie White, who may be remembered more for being the original Hall of Fame free agent. He was already well on his way to the Hall when he became the biggest veteran name to date to switch clubs, going from the Eagles to the Packers during the infancy of free agency in the early ’90s.
Like Jones, White was often unblockable due to his unusual size for the position and incredible natural power and strength.
Based strictly on the stats that were being kept during his entire career in Buffalo and Washington at the end, Bruce Smith is the greatest sack artist in the history of the game. As great a pass rusher as Smith was, he was also a complete end, as were Jones and White.
Impossible to run at or around, able to regularly defeat double teams and requiring game plans schemed specifically to block him, Smith would take over entire games on certain Sundays.
My fourth pick is J.J. Watt. In spite of missing the better parts of the last two seasons, Watt had a four-year stretch from 2012-2015 when he was arguably the most dominant defender in the history of the game, and having just turned 29, there is a good chance he will dominate again for years to come with a little better luck with injuries.