The Baltimore Colts were the NFL's premier franchise for nearly a decade starting in the late 1950s.
That much was confirmed over the last several months as NFL Films presented The Top 100: NFL's Greatest Players.
The list includes six former Baltimore Colts, tied for the sixth-most of any franchise in NFL history. The Chicago Bears and Dallas Cowboys each have eight players. The Packers, Rams and Steelers have seven and Baltimore Colts and Raiders are tied with six.
The Baltimore Colts players, all of whom are in the Hall of Fame, are as follows. Their overall ranking on The Top 100 is in parenthesis.
- QB Johnny Unitas (6)
- OT Jim Parker (32)
- E Raymond Berry (36)
- DE Gino Marchetti (39)
- TE John Mackey (42)
- HB Lenny Moore (94)
QB Johnny Unitas, No. 6
Unitas was honored as the second-best quarterback in NFL history behind the San Francisco 49ers' Joe Montana (No. 4 overall). The two-time NFL World Champion (1958, 1959) and one-time Super Bowl winner (1970) played 19 seasons, including 17 in Baltimore. Unitas was a 10-time Pro Bowler and three-time NFL Most Valuable Player. His record of 47 consecutive games with a touchdown pass still stands.
OT Jim Parker, No. 32
Parker was named the second-best offensive tackle and third-best offensive lineman to play the game. He was surpassed by the Bengals' Anthony Munoz and Patriots' John Hannah. Parker was an eight-time Pro Bowler during his 10-year career, despite making the switch from a run-blocker in college to protecting Unitas in the pros. The first-round pick was also a three-time All-Pro at left guard.
E Raymond Berry, No. 36
Berry, who had to wear special shoes because one leg was shorter than the other, was a long shot to even make the Colts roster after being selected in the 20th round of the 1954 Draft. A crafty route-runner, Berry made 12 catches for 178 yards and a touchdown in the Colts' 1958 NFL Championship victory. He retired after 13 years with a then-record 631 receptions for 9,275 yards and 68 touchdowns.
DE Gino Marchetti, No. 39
Marchetti was listed as the fourth-best defensive end in NFL history. The 6-foot-4, 244-pound monster was a vicious pass rusher, but was also excellent against the run. He played 13 seasons with the Baltimore Colts and was selected to a then-record 11 consecutive Pro Bowls. Marchetti made a key stop to give the Colts a chance to tie the 1958 championship despite breaking his leg in the game.
TE John Mackey, No. 42
Mackey paved the way for the pass-catching tight end and was only the second pure tight end to be inducted into the Hall of Fame. In 10 seasons, he caught 331 passes for 5,236 yards and 38 touchdowns. Mackey had big-play potential, evidenced by his 1966 season, in which six of his nine touchdown receptions came on plays of 51, 57, 64, 79, 83 and 89 yards.
HB Lenny Moore, No. 94
Moore was the perfect complement to Unitas and the passing-game as a halfback and flanker. Adept at running and receiving, Moore racked up 1,638 net yards (including 938 through the air) and 14 touchdowns in 1958. He grabbed five passes for 99 yards in the Colts' overtime championship. Moore was named to seven Pro Bowls and scored touchdowns in an NFL-record 18 consecutive games from 1963 to 1965.