Had Kenny Easley’s career not been cut short by severe kidney disease and, some believe, his activism on behalf of his fellow players in labor issues and the battle for free agency well before it was won partially because of his pioneering of the cause, he might have been the greatest safety of all time.
When we talk about receivers needing to play with their heads on a swivel, Easley immediately comes to mind for me. A ferocious hitter, he was a force against the run, and no receiver ever wanted to go across the middle on him. Plus, he he could play in coverage with some of the game’s best corners.
Ken Houston was a shutdown cover safety and probably decades ahead of his time in that respect. He was more than stout enough against the run, but well before the time of the catch- first, block-second tight ends, and running backs being used as third and fourth receivers, Houston could lock down wideouts seemingly effortlessly.
When I hear Ronnie Lott’s name, I immediately think of the Woodsons, and a guy who, like them, would have been a Hall of Famer at Safety or Corner, But unlike Charles and Rod, Lott was arguably more of a factor at safety than corner.
I hated to leave Larry Wilson, Johnny Robinson, Ed Reed and Eric Berry off my team, but to me, Lott, Houston and Easley are must-haves.