FOX Sports NFL scribe Alex Marvez recently ranked the 16 best special teams players in league history, a list that included three players with credentials in the defensive backfield: Longtime Cowboys safety Bill Bates, Hall of Fame cornerback Deion Sanders, and current Falcons receiver Devin Hester, who played cornerback at the University of Miami.
The rest of the list consists of kickers, punters, some returners who played receiver and/or running back, and is topped by Bills receiver/gunner Steve Tasker. Considering some DBs who may have been worth an honorable mention, some that come to mind are Rod Woodson, Allen Rossum and Ed Reed, who excelled as a returner and as a gunner.
Here are Marvez’s write-ups on his picks for the all-time great special-teamers who also spent time in the secondary:
8. Bill Bates (1983-1997)
The first player voted to the Pro Bowl solely for his special-teams acumen, Bates was known more for his gunner skills than his snaps at safety. His 15 seasons playing or Dallas are tied for the most in franchise history.
5. Deion Sanders (1989-2005)
The impact Sanders made when high-stepping into the end zone is still felt more than two decades later when younger generations of returners emulate his flamboyant style. Besides being a Pro Football Hall of Fame cornerback, returning nine picks for scores, Sanders also returned nine punts and kickoffs for touchdowns.
2. Devin Hester (2006-current)
The most prolific punt returner in NFL history, Hester logged his record-setting 20th career return for a touchdown with Atlanta in 2014. He also holds or is tied for 21 Chicago Bears franchise records.