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Rushmore Sunday: NFC East Tight Ends

It's Sunday, which means it's time for another edition of Rushmore Sunday -- a look at the greatest players in NFC East history, position by position. So far, we've delved into quarterbacks, cornerbacks, talent evaluators, running backs, wide receivers, safeties, offensive linemen, linebackers and coaches. This week, let's take a look at key blockers and pass catchers: the tight ends.

The Rushmore rules are simple: pick the four who most deserve being part of the division pantheon. No more than four, no fewer than four. They don't necessarily have to be "the best" in the literal sense of the word, but they need to be an important part of the game's lore. The job is tough again this week because there have been so many good ones in the NFC East.

Here's my Rushmore of NFC East tight ends:

  • Jason Witten, Dallas Cowboys -- I don't like starting with a modern player, but Witten is one of the best TEs who ever played. He currently sits third in all-time receptions for a TE, although that's at least partly a product of the pass-happy era he's played in. That said, he's appeared in 7 Pro Bowls and is a two-time first team All-Pro selection. An effective blocker and dangerous receiver with size, speed and strength, Witten would have been at home in any era.
  • Keith Jackson, Philadelphia Eagles (also Miami and Green Bay) -- I know, I know...Jackson played just 4 seasons in the NFC East. However, he was a dominating presence for Philly, and he was selected first-team All-Pro in each of his first three seasons.
  • Mark Bavaro, New York Giants and Philadelphia Eagles (also Cleveland) -- I almost demoted Bavaro to Commemorative Plaque status because while he played 9 seasons, he was elite for just two. Still, in those two seasons he was first-team All-Pro twice, and he helped the Giants win the 1986 Super Bowl. A road-grader of a blocker, at his peak Bavaro was also a tough cover who was nearly impossible to tackle one-on-one.
  • Jerry Smith, Washington Redskins -- A two-time Pro Bowler who also was first-team All-Pro one time, Smith was one of the original pass-catching threats at TE. He was a legit home-run threat, who retired with 421 receptions and 60 touchdowns -- both records for a TE at the time. 

Commemorative Plaques

These are the guys who were close to the pantheon, but not quite in it. While they don't get their likeness dynamited into the side of a cliff, they at least rate a high-quality commemorative plaque hung at a popular viewing area. The plaques go to: 

  • Don Warren, Washington Redskins
  • Jay Novacek, Dallas Cowboys
  • Clint Didier, Washington Redskins
  • Billy Joe Dupree, Dallas Cowboys
  • Chris Cooley, Washington Redskins
  • Howard Cross, New York Giants
  • Jean Fugett, Dallas Cowboys and Washington Redskins

So, that's the Rushmore List of NFC East tight ends. Who should move from the "commemorative plaques" section and who should come down from the cliff? Who's not on the list that should be there? Post your list in the comments. Just remember, you get only four selections, so if you want to add someone, one of the guys I chose needs to come down. There's only room for four.