It would be nice to report that SPORTS ILLUSTRATED's first All-Pro team was selected by a Foundation, Panel, Board, Association or Consensus, but, in truth, it's a one-man choice. All we can say is that we take our team just as seriously as other people do theirs, and we've seen each team at least three times, in the flesh or on the tube. A Betamax and access to network studios helped. When an absolute deadlock arose, we sought advice from assistant coaches and pro personnel directors.
Fourteen of our 24 All-Pros have never played in the Pro Bowl. Eight others have been there only once. You will find some names you don't recognize.
We have tried to right some wrongs. Jon Kolb of the Steelers, for instance, has never been picked for the Pro Bowl in his 10 years. He is one of our tackles. This is not an honor given for long and meritorious service, but in recognition for performance in the 1979 season.
Accusations we will have to answer:
How can you pick two guys from the Jets, Chiefs and Cardinals and no one from the Dolphins? (Well, we had Bob Kuechenberg, Bob Baumhower and Tim Foley up high but they got nosed out.)
San Diego has a sensational offense, but there isn't a single Charger on your offensive unit. How come? (Well, a lot of second-and third-and fourth-bests at their positions will do it for you.)
Where's Harvey Martin? (In Dallas.) Where are Jack Youngblood and Jack Lambert? (Probably at practice.)
You gotta be crazy not to pick Dan Fouts. Keith Krepfle over Russ Francis and Dave Casper? You gotta be kidding. How could you leave Walter Payton off? And Kenny Houston? (Hey, it's not easy. But like we said, it's our own team, so address any complaints to the author.)
Wide Receivers—Steve Largent of Seattle and Ahmad Rashad of Minnesota. The runners-up were Harold Carmichael of the Eagles, John Stallworth of the Steelers, Wallace Francis of the Falcons and John Jefferson of the Chargers. We considered: how much each man meant to his offense (and on this basis Carmichael almost made it); where most of the double coverage went; how much help each guy got from the rest of his team's offense (in Rashad's case, not much); and how important the pass game was to his team.