How Well Do You Remember the Best NFL Players of the 80s?


By: John Miller

6 Min Quiz

Image: shutterstock

About This Quiz

Forget 21st century NFL football. After all, this era is mostly stained by the puke-inducing rampage of Bill Belichick and Tom Brady. Let’s step back into a grittier age, before basketball-on-turf overtook the gruesome power game of the ‘80s NFL. Do you think you really know anything about the best players of the 1980s?

Back then, the shotgun snap was still a futuristic quirk. Guys like Dan Marino and Joe “Cool” lined up under center wondering if they’d pass for a first down or wind up crushed under the massive fists of Bruce Smith or Randy White. Do you remember the offensive dynamos and defensive monsters who ruled the ‘80s?

As in the current era, dynasties were a thing in the 1980s. But what do you really know about the men who made the 49ers, Redskins and Bears tick? Do you remember their nicknames and their records? Some of them leveraged their stats to make the Hall of Fame, and others went on to lucrative Hollywood and broadcasting careers.

From Dan Marino to John Hannah to Jerry Rice, there was no shortage stars in the ‘80s NFL. Grab the pigskin and go — let’s see if you dodge the rush or get snowed under by the Minister of Defense!

Running back Walter Payton played for which great ‘80s team?

Payton, or "Sweetness," was a legendary running back who won Super Bowl XX with the Bears. He died in 1999 of a rare liver disease at the young age of 45.


His last name is a U.S. state and he played for San Francisco. Who is he?

With his rugged looks and "Joe Cool" personality, Joe Montana was the ultimate NFL quarterback. He led the 49ers to four Super Bowl victories, and three times he was the game’s MVP.


In each of his first four seasons, RB Eric Dickerson earned at least ______ rushing yards.

Dickerson literally hit the ground running in his first four seasons. He rushed for more than 1,800 years each of those years on his way to lasting NFL glory.


James Lofton was a savvy wide receiver who first made his mark in the NFL with which team?

Lofton played for an amazing 16 years as a receiver and gained fame with the Packers. He was remarkably fleet-footed, a surefire deep threat in every game he played.


What position did San Francisco star Jerry Rice play?

No receiver has more TDs or receptions than wide receiver Jerry Rice, who is sometimes flatly called the best player ever to grace an NFL field. He helped the 49ers win three Super Bowls but was never once voted regular season MVP.


Ronnie Lott was an ‘80s star and he may have been the best ever at his position, which was ____.

Lott was one of the most intelligent (and vicious) safeties ever. Not only did he make the Pro Bowl four times as a safety, he repeated the feat as a cornerback.


Howie Long was a star defensive end for ______.

Long played 13 rough and tough years with the Raiders as a defensive end. He’s now a bona fide celebrity who appears in movies and offers commentary on NFL games.


True or false, did John Elway throw more interceptions than TD passes during his first three seasons?

Elway was one of the most highly anticipated QBs ever to come out of college. But in his first three years he actually threw 52 interceptions to 47 TDs.


Which ‘80s star was often called "the Minister of Defense"?

Reggie White was a defensive tackle who also happened to be an ordained preacher. "The Minister of Defense" is still second all-time on the sack records list.


What position did Anthony Munoz play?

Munoz was the big, beefy, offensive tackle for the Bengals. Some pundits call him one of the finest offensive lineman ever in the NFL.


Morten Andersen was a well-known ______ for the New Orleans Saints.

Andersen is the all-time leading scorer in NFL history, and he played most of his career with the Saints. The star kicker is still the all-time leading scorer for both New Orleans and Atlanta.


Steve Largent was known as ________.

Largent was the slow guy with the sure hands and the shifty hips — once he grabbed the ball, he was a possession receiver who was tough to tackle. He made the Seahawks’ offense dangerous on every play.


Bills star Bruce Smith was a defensive end who holds which coveted NFL record?

Smith is the guy who tallied exactly 200 sacks in his iconic career with the Bills. He’s still the all-time sacks leader ahead of Reggie White.


Dan Fouts quickly helped the ______ rise from the bottom of their division to playoff contenders.

Fouts had the beard and the big arm, which he used to launch the Chargers from has-been doormats to championship hopefuls. He was one of the best QBs of the ‘80s.


What position did Chargers star Kellen Winslow play?

Winslow was a star tight end for the San Diego Chargers in the ‘80s. He was a first-round pick out of Missouri, where he was a college All-American.


Mike Webster played for both the Steelers and the Chiefs. He was a ______.

Webster was one of the best centers of the ‘80s, one who started with the Steelers and retired with the Chiefs. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1997.


Roger Craig is still regarded as of of the best 49ers running backs ever. Where did he play college football?

Craig was a star RB for coach Tom Osborne at Nebraska. He wasn’t picked until the second round of the NFL draft, and he was a steal for San Francisco, becoming the first player in NFL history to score three TDs in a Super Bowl.


Art Monk was a Hall of Fame wide receiver who played for the ______.

Monk was a big, bruising Redskins wide receiver who never hesitated to grab passes over the middle. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2008.


Randy White was a crazy-good defensive tackle in the ‘80s. Who did he play for?

White was a defensive tackle who wrecked offenses along with the rest of the Cowboys defense. He went to the Pro Bowl five consecutive seasons during the ‘80s.


Russ Grimm was originally supposed to play center for the Redskins. Instead, he wound up playing which position?

Coming out of college, Grimm was meant to play center. But he was eventually slotted at guard, where he became one of the most forceful offensive linemen of his era.


Eric Dickerson FINISHED his career with which team?

Dickerson and his funky glasses made history with the L.A. Rams. But at the end of his career he bounced through three teams, finally retiring with the Falcons in 1993.


True or false, was guard Bill Fralic the second overall pick in the 1985 draft?

Fralic was an obvious star from the get-go — he was the second pick of the ‘85 draft. He immediately started with the Falcons and became regarded as one of the best guards in the entire league.


Jim Covert was a fantastic tackle with the Bears. In college, he was a two-time All-American at _____.

At Pitt, Covert honed his OT skills and became a two-time All-American. In 1983, the Bears took him in the first round, and he immediately showed his potential by becoming an All-Rookie.


Ozzie Newsome was a Hall of Fame ______ for the Cleveland Browns.

Newsome was a tight end for the Browns from ‘78 to ‘90, where he played well enough to earn a place in the Hall of Fame. He was also a consensus All-American at Alabama during his college days.


Who was often called "The Diesel"?

John Riggins made his mark with the Redskins as an indomitable running back nicknamed "The Diesel." When would-be tacklers approached, he often just steamrolled them.


What position did Miami star Dwight Stephenson play?

Stephenson was a celebrated center for the Dolphins in the ‘80s. He was the guy who snapped the ball to another Miami great ... Dan Marino.


John Hannah is often called one of the best _____ of the ‘80s.

Hannah was a standout guard for the Patriots, and he was a first-round draft pick in ‘73. In his 13-year career, he missed just five games.


Joe Jacoby is still one of the most famous linemen in Redskins history. In what round of the draft was he selected?

Jacoby played well in college at Louisville but went entirely undrafted. The Redskins took a chance on him and he became a four-time Pro Bowl star.


Deron Cherry was a safety for which team?

Cherry originally tried to make the Chiefs as ... a punter. Later in 1981, he returned as a safety, and it was all uphill from there, as he became a six-time Pro Bowler and five time All-Pro.


In 1983, RB John Riggins ran for a then-NFL record 24 TDs. How old was he that season?

Most NFL RBs are knocked out of the league in one way or another before they hit 30. Riggins was a jaw-dropping 34 years old when he set the record of 24 rushing TDs.


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