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Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Vrabel makes SI's All-Decade Team



From Peter King's "All-Decade Team: NFL"

December 8, 2009

Defense

LB
Mike Vrabel
Teams in 2000s: Steelers, Patriots, Chiefs
Seasons in 2000s: 10
There are scores of players who have a better statistical résumé than Vrabel in the decade (50 sacks, 11 interceptions, 17 forced fumbles), but he's here because of his versatile playmaking skills and ability to play all over the linebacking corps. The three-time Super Bowl champions are going to be represented on this defense, the same way the rock-ribbed, team-minded Steelers are with Aaron Smith. Vrabel came to New England cheaply when the Patriots had no money to spend in 2001 free agency, and he was the keystone of that class in the franchise's construction of the team of the decade.

LB
Ray Lewis
Team in 2000s: Baltimore Ravens
Seasons in 2000s: 10
My Defensive Player of the Decade. Lewis was the NFL Defensive Player of the Year in 2000 and 2004, and the Super Bowl MVP in Baltimore's rout of the Giants in 2001. He made one of the most amazing plays I've ever seen, running halfway across the field in Super Bowl XXXV to catch Tiki Barber from behind on an end sweep. He'd be the captain of this team, for sure.

LB
London Fletcher
Teams in 2000s: Rams, Bills, Redskins
Seasons in 2000s: 10
I've got an athlete, Ray Lewis, playing sideline to sideline, and now I'll take a tackling machine to clean up the run game. I gave Fletcher a nickname, the black Seau, he loved back in the Rams' glory days, and he produced like Junior, average 140 tackles a year and missing zero games because of injury in the decade. Fletcher edges Zack Thomas, James Farrior and Brian Urlacher not only because of his production but also for his durability and leadership.

LB
Derrick Brooks
Team in 2000s: Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Seasons in 2000s: 9
"The one edge no one will ever have over me is the mental edge of knowing players,'' Brooks said last year when he painstakingly went over video of Adrian Peterson while showing me how he prepared for games. He watched how runners planted their feet and turned and how they deked so nothing would surprise him on game day. It helped him catch Peterson -- and stun Peterson -- on a pass out of the backfield in a Bucs-Vikings game.

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