Because football is such a team sport, the individual battles that occur on the field sometimes get lost in the shuffle, especially those that happen in the trenches between the offensive and defensive lineman. Former Dolphins offensive lineman Keith Sims, who spent 11 seasons in the wars on the line scrimmage making three Pro Bowls in the process (’93, ’94 & ’95), has a couple opponents that stand out in his mind. So, The Finsiders sat down with Sims, and asked him about his 5 toughest opponents he faced during his career.
Jerome Brown, Defensive Tackle for the Philadelphia Eagles (1987-1991)
“He had the rare combination of size, speed and strength, but luckily for all of those who line up against him, he didn’t play hard on every play. But when he wanted to, he could destroy any offensive guard in the league. I faced him for the first time in preseason of my rookie year and I felt like I was blocking him pretty successfully in the first quarter, and I don’t know if I did something to piss him off or if his coaches got on him, bearing in mind that it is preseason of course. In that second quarter, he decided he was going to bull rush me and lifted me up and threw me, literally threw me into the lap of my backup quarterback Scott Mitchell. Talk about making a strong impression.”
Howie Long, Hall of Fame Defensive Lineman for the Oakland/L.A. Raiders and Super Bowl XVIII Champion (1981-1993)
“I faced him my rookie year on a Monday Night football game at Joe Robbie Stadium, and it was a back and forth battle. Talk about a welcome to the NFL moment on national television. I don’t think I gave up a sack, but boy I was holding on for dear life sometimes. It taught me a lot and it was always great battling Howie Long.”
Jumpy Geathers, Defensive Lineman for 4 NFL Teams, Super Bowl XXVI Champion with the Washington Redskins (1984-1996)
“A guy that will probably shock people. At 6’7, 290 lbs., playing for the New Orleans Saints and Atlanta Falcons, he had a move that all offensive guards feared in the NFL called the forklift. He had these really longs arms, and he was able to get into to you and he would kind of stick those arms underneath your armpit and literally lift you up like a forklift and drive you back and walk you back to the quarterback. You could block him all day long, but if let him get that leverage and get that arm in, it made for a long, long day.”
John Randle, Hall of Fame Defensive Tackle for the Minnesota Vikings and Seattle Seahawks (1990-2003)
“He was not the biggest guy in the world, but he had strong great leverage at only 6’1. But he had a motor. People talk about Jason Taylor’s motor, but John Randle had a motor twice as fast. He never stopped coming, spinning, slapping, spitting, whatever it would take. He stuck out his tongue and yelled at you as much as he could and he tried to distract you. But all the time, he was moving forward, trying to get those sacks and make those tackles.
Ted Washington, 17 year NFL Defensive Tackle (1991-2007)
“Here’s the biggest guy on my list. You know him from Buffalo, and he came into the league in the early 90s. Ted played for a lot of teams, and there was a reason why he played 17 seasons in NFL. He ended his career at about 6’5 365 pounds. For a man of that size, he was incredibly limber. First of all, your legs got exhausted from trying to drive him off the ball quarter after quarter. But every now and then, he would show you that burst of speed which kind of caught you off guard. He would lull you to sleep with that power and come with that speed.”
Bonus Selection: Bruce Smith, Hall of Fame Defensive End for the Buffalo Bills and Washington Redskins (1985-2003)
“Every though he played defensive end for the Buffalo Bills, we went head to head so many times in those division battles in the 90s for opportunities to go the Super Bowl. The Bills kept us out of the Super Bowl twice during my time in Miami, even losing in the (1992) AFC Championship Game. When he slid over the offense guard, he had this uncanny knack to get skinny. You’re talking about a guy who is 6’5 280 lbs. But he would get skinny and turn his body so it made it very difficult for us to get a good shot on him and stop his momentum. He was so wiry and so fast. He even at times, would line up on the tackle and try to beat me across my face in the A gap, and I got to tell you, he gave me a run for my money sometimes. He was so quick.”
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