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Four Former Pitt Panthers Included in List of NFL Team GOATs

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Pitt, Los Angeles Rams star defensive tackle Aaron Donald.

The “GOAT (greatest of all time) debate” in sports is neverending. Former New England Patriots and Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady is commonly referred to as the GOAT, but every NFL team has its own GOAT.

FanDuel, a popular sportsbook, unveiled its list of the GOATs of every NFL team, and four Pitt Panthers made the list: Larry Fitzgerald (Arizona Cardinals), Aaron Donald (Los Angeles Rams), Dan Marino (Miami Dolphins) and Darrelle Revis (New York Jets).

It’s just a media-made list, but it does show how Pitt boasts a deep pool of talented college and NFL alumni.

Darrelle Revis — New York Jets

The New York Jets selected Revis with the 14th pick in the 2007 NFL Draft, and he went on to put together his Hall of Fame professional career.

In 11 NFL seasons with the Jets, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, New England Patriots and Kansas City Chiefs, Revis racked up 496 tackles (411 solo), nine tackles for loss, 29 interceptions (three returned for touchdowns), 139 pass breakups, four forced fumbles and 12 recoveries.

He is a seven-time Pro Bowler, four-time first-team All-Pro and a member of the PFWA 2010s All-Decade team. He also won Super Bowl XLIX with the Patriots in 2015.

Revis, obviously, is one of the greatest athletes to come out of Western Pennsylvania. He starred at Aliquippa High School in the early 2000s, winning two WPIAL Class-2A titles and the 2003 PIAA Class-2A state championship in which he scored five touchdowns three different ways — blocked field goal, punt return and three rushing.

He stayed home at Pitt for college, playing for Walt Harris in the mid-2000s, and he quickly emerged as one of the best defensive backs in the Big East. In 35 games at Pitt, he racked up 80 tackles (66 solo), five tackles for loss, eight interceptions and returned two for touchdowns — and he scored two more punt return touchdowns.

Aaron Donald — Los Angeles Rams

Donald officially announced his retirement on March 15, and it was the conclusion of one of the greatest careers in NFL history — a first-ballot Hall of Fame legacy and a legitimate claim as the defensive football player of all time.

Donald was a first round selection out of Pitt in 2014, following an All-American four-year career in Pittsburgh. He racked up 181 tackles (115 solo), 66 tackles for loss, 29.5 sacks, forced six fumbles and defended 10 passes during his career.

Donald’s senior campaign of 59 tackles (43 solo), 28.5 tackles for loss, 11 sacks, four forced fumbles and three passes defended rounded out one of the best defensive efforts in Pitt history — and college football history.

In 10 seasons in the NFL, he racked up 543 tackles (340 solo), 176 tackles for loss, 111 sacks, 24 forced fumbles and seven recoveries and 21 pass breakups — cementing himself as one of the greats in just 10 seasons.

Donald made the Pro Bowl every season of his career, and after his latest All-Pro nod, he was honored as the best at his position all but twice in his career — his rookie season (in which he won Defensive Rookie of the Year) and his second to last season (missed six games).

Larry Fitzgerald — Arizona Cardinals

Fitzgerald only spent two seasons at Pitt, but he made an impact that cannot — and will not — be forgotten any time soon. And that impact has continued to this day.

In those two seasons at Pitt from 2002-03, he recorded 161 receptions for 2,677 yards and 34 touchdowns. His sophomore campaign (92 receptions for 1,672 yards and 22 touchdowns) earned him Heisman runner-up honors.

Fitzgerald was perhaps the best player in college football in the 2003 season as he won the Biletnikoff Award, the Walter Camp Award, the Big East Offensive Player of the Year honor and was named a unanimous All-American. And there’s a legitimate argument to be made that he should’ve won the Heisman Trophy, too.

His dominance carried over to the NFL after being selected with the third pick in the 2004 NFL Draft by the Arizona Cardinals. Despite a career in which he played with a revolving door of quarterbacks, Fitzgerald will go down as one of the greatest wide receivers in NFL history.

In 17 seasons, all with the Cardinals, he recorded 1,432 receptions (second all-time) for 17,492 yards (second all-time) and 121 touchdowns (sixth all-time). And he added 57 receptions for 942 yards and 10 touchdowns in the postseason — including one of the greatest individual postseasons in 2008.

Dan Marino — Miami Dolphins

Marino is perhaps the greatest player in NFL history to never win the Super Bowl, up there with Fitzgerald, and certainly one of the best quarterbacks in NFL history.

When Marino retired in 2000, he held more than 40 NFL single-season and career passing records, many of which have since been broken, including passing attempts, completions, passing yards and touchdown passes. He won the NFL MVP in 1984, NFL Comeback Player of the Year in 1994 and the Walter Payton Man of the Year award in 1998.

He finished his illustrious NFL career with 61,361 passing yards and 420 touchdowns on 4,967-of-8,353 pass attempts, leading the NFL in passing yards five times, touchdowns three times and completions six times. He was a nine-time Pro Bowler and six-time All-Pro.

Marino was enshrined in the College Football Hall of Fame in 2003, the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2005 and the Pitt Hall of Fame in 2018.

Marino grew up in South Oakland, starring at Central Catholic before attending his hometown Pitt Panthers. He led the Panthers to their greatest success until the ACC title in 2021, winning 33 games over three seasons from 1979-81. He completed 693-of-1,204 pass attempts for 8,597 yards with 79 touchdowns and 69 interceptions.

Sandy Schall, Coldwell Banker
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E-Dub
E-Dub
25 days ago

I know this was a ridiculous clickbait article in the height of the NFL offseason, but to have four Pitt guys named as the GOAT of an NFL franchise is just crazy. And it probably should have been five (Dorsett) and arguably six (H. Green).

katuracassells@gmail.com
katuracassells@gmail.com
25 days ago
Reply to  E-Dub

Definitely agree with Dorsett and Hugh Green was Lawrence Taylor while at Pitt.

Giovanni
Giovanni
24 days ago
Reply to  E-Dub

I’d throw in Mike Ditka, and maybe Bill Fralic. Great tradition we all hope returns some day soon…

E-Dub
E-Dub
24 days ago
Reply to  Giovanni

Ditka’s problem for purposes of this list is that he played for the Bears. No way he’s gonna be voted the GOAT Bear over Dick Butkus and maybe even Walter Payton.

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