For Thanksgiving, it seems appropriate that we can bring you a genuine legend of the NFL, a man who was integral to his team’s success and without whom this list definitely wouldn’t be complete.
Green Bay Packers (1953-1963)
Philadelphia Eagles (1964-1967)
Head Coach, Buffalo Bills (1975-1976)
WHY IS HE IMPORTANT
It is fitting that Jim Ringo is the first center to make it onto our list, as it was he who really defined the modern way of playing that position. Considered undersized when he was drafted out of Syracuse in 1953, he played for four unsuccessful coaches before the Packers hired Vince Lombardi.
Under the League’s most famous coach of all, Ringo went from being a well-regarded player on an underperforming side to a key component of the best team in the NFL. Because he was (still) not as heavy as other centers, he was as mobile as a tackle or guard. This meant that he could ‘pull’ like the rest of the line did, allowing Lombardi and his coaches to design plays that other teams were simply not equipped to cope with. Without Ringo, Lombardi’s famous ‘power sweep’ would not have worked, and the Packers would not have been the team that they became under him.
Ringo was eventually traded to the Eagles and enjoyed three more solid – though less successful – years before retiring. He then became a well-respected offensive line coach, developing the legendary ‘Electric Company’ line in Buffalo that blocked so successfully for OJ Simpson. He even spent a season as the franchise’s head coach, but won only three games. He retired for good in 1988 and died in 2007.