(Mel Blount photos courtesy of the Pittsburgh Steelers)
Talk of Fame Network
When New York Jets' wide receiver Brandon Marshall last year named the best cornerback in NFL history, he made two mistakes. First of all, he put Darrelle Revis at the head of the pack. OK, that's his opinion, and it's a free country ... so we'll give him a mulligan. But, second, he didn't even bother to include Hall-of-Famer Mel Blount in the conversation.
So what? So we just asked Hall-of-Fame cornerback Rod Woodson on the latest Talk of Fame Network broadcast to name his top cornerback … ever … and, sorry, Brandon, but Darrelle Revis didn't make the cut. Mel Blount, star cornerback on Pittsburgh’s Steel Curtain defense of the 1970s, did.
“Mel Blount, to me, is the best corner to ever play in the National Football League,” said Woodson, now an assistant coach with the Oakland Raiders. “If you ever met Mel, first of all, he’s a huge corner. He’s 6-4-ish. He wears these huge cowboy boots, this 10-gallon hat (and) this huge belt buckle. But he’s just so long and so fast and so fluid as an athlete.
(Rod Woodson photo courtesy of the Baltimore Ravens)
“He was before his time. And when they make a rule up because you’re just destroying receivers down the field you’re doing something right. So putting that five-year chuck rule in there was really for Mel Blount because he was dismantling receivers down the field.”
A tall, fast and physical corner, Blount was so effective with his aggressive "bump-and-run" coverage that the NFL enacted a rule midway through his career to make physical play downfield illegal -- a change that became known as "the Mel Blount Rule."
But that didn't deter Blount. He not only was an all-decade choice who played on four Super Bowl winners; he was a six-time All Pro named to the NFL’s 75th anniversary team and chosen the NFL’s Most Valuable Defensive Player in 1975 when he led the league with 11 interceptions.
Like Woodson, who followed him to the Steelers in 1987, Blount was used as a kickoff returner early in his career. Unlike Woodson, he never was moved to safety and played with only one franchise, the Steelers, where his number 47 jersey is no longer issued.
“I just think he could’ve played in any era,” said Woodson. “And if you think now, everybody’s trying to find a Mel Blount in 2016. So what he had and what he was … way back then … was before his time.”