Top 10 NFL Players of the 40s

The Top Ten
1 Sammy Baugh

Slingin' Sammy Baugh, one of football's all-time greatest passers and certainly the first pure passer in National Football League history. His records, honors and awards is only one half of what made him a legend. Hall of Fame great Bill Dudley once said "The best, as far as I'm concerned. He could not only throw the ball, he could play defense, he could punt the football, he ran it when he had to. He and I roomed together, and he was a football man. He knew football, played it, and everybody had a lot of confidence in him".
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2 Steve Van Buren

It's a debate to whether he or Chuck Bednarik wasn't the greatest Philadelphia Eagle of all time, but there's no doubt he's the greatest Eagle running back of all time. Here's the facts to prove it, He was the first NFL Player to score 10 rushing touchdowns in a season (15 in 1945), he did that feat two more times and was also the first NFL player to rush for 1,000 yards in a season more than once (1,146 in 1949 was his second, his first 1,008 was in 1947) A True Eagle Hall of Fame great.
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3 Sid Luckman

Easily the greatest Bears quarterback of all time, and for 4 years (1940-43), he was the greatest 4-year quarterback in the history of the National Football League. It began with a 73-0 laughter against the Formerly Washington Redskins in the 1940 NFL Championship. His t-formation would soon in the years to come being copied by all NFL teams, 1941 was more of the same another NFL championship. Then 1943 was his best, as he completed 110 passes for 2,194 yards and 28 touch downs. And yet another NFL crown for this legend.
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4 George McAfee

Now you see him, now you don't. He was just that one of the NFL's most elusive runners of this decade. This man can become a game breaker at any time. In his NFL debut, he had a 93-yard kickoff return, a touchdown run and a TD pass. His first two years were filled with big plays - stirring punt and kickoff returns, interceptions, runbacks, dramatic runs, McAfee scored touchdowns in each of the Bears' championship game wins - and then he was gone to serve his nation in battle during World War 2. But what a thrill to see him run.
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5 Charlie Trippi

As of 2021, he's the oldest living Pro Football Hall of Fame star. Back in the 40s, he was the tonic that the Chicago Cardinals need to end years of bad seasons to form a contender. He was part of the dream back field that included Paul Christman, Pat Harder, Marshall Goldberg and later Elmer Angsman. As a rookie he was a multi talented player as a punter, runner, wide receiver,kickoff returner, and in one game on defense he returned an interception 59 yards for a TD. In the Championship game, he was the player of the game as he had a combined 206 yards in the Cardinals' only NFL Championship win.
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6 Dante Lavelli

When Don Hutson retired at the top of his game after the 1945 NFL season, the search was on to see who would be the next great Wide receiver in Pro Football. Enter Dante Lavelli, now he didn't played in the NFL until 1950, but before that he DID play pro football at the All American Football Conference for all 4 years with one big dominant team, the Cleveland Browns. With him as Otto Graham's go to guy, the Browns were the class of the AAFC and Lavelli put up big numbers there including his big year of 1947, when he caught 49 receptions for 799 yards and 9 touchdowns, truly a football immortal.
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7 Alex Wojciechowicz

In the battle field on the gridiron, he as an iron man and played on 2 great teams, the Detroit Lions and the Philadelphia Eagles, normally offensive line men don't get the credit they deserve for their hard work, But Alex was different, he was a 60-minute man who played offense and defense. As an Eagle in 1944, he intercepted 7 passes. In 9 seasons with the Lions, he played 86 games, 61 as a starter. The Pro Football Hall of Fame said "On the field...he was all business, one of the last of the 'iron man' of football, a center on offense, and a sure tackling linebacker with unusually good range, on defense."
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8 Bob Waterfield

He and Norm Van Brocklin created pro football's first ever quarterback duo for the Los Angeles Rams. 2 championships would do it in 1945 and 1951. He and Brocklin also created pro football's first ever qb controversy. But Waterfield hold his own as a great leader. Elroy "Crazy Legs" Hirsch said "He was the greatest footballer I ever saw. Not only was he mechanically the best, but when he walked into the huddle and called a play, he gave you the sureness that this was it. This would work."
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9 George Connor
10 Charley Brock
The Contenders
11 Bill Dudley
12 Bulldog Turner
13 Tony Canadeo
14 Bill Willis
15 Ed Sprinkle
16 Bill Osmanski
17 Marion Motley
18 Pete Pihos
19 Mac Speedie
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