19. Y.A. Tittle
A legend from pro football’s pre-merger past, even though Yelberton Abraham Tittle, Jr. did not begin his career in the NFL. Instead, he opted for the Baltimore Colts of the now defunct AAFC league in 1947. When the Colts joined the NFL but then financially folded, there was an ancillary draft of Baltimore’s players. The San Francisco 49ers nabbed Tittle in 1951 and the rest was history.
Not only did Tittle first throw the long-gaining “alley-oop” pass downfield, he is credited with coining the term. He was also the first NFL player to make the cover of Sports Illustrated, and was part of the 49ers’ “Million Dollar Backfield” along with Hugh “The King” McElhenny, Joe “The Jet” Perry and John Henry Johnson.