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USC Football: Top 10 Trojans in NFL History

Marcus Allen makes a cut carrying the ball against the dreaded UCLA Bruins in a fierce rivalry grudge match in the 1981 season (USC Won 22-21).

USC has dominated college football and the NFL unlike any other program. The Trojan alumni have won Super Bowls, broken NFL records and earned spots in Canton.

This list represents the top 10 Trojans in NFL history. The criteria for players selected was based solely on their professional career performance.

Carson Palmer holds aloft the MVP trophy Photo by Eliot J. Schechter/Getty Images

No 10. Carson Palmer

He never won a Super Bowl but Palmer was one of best SC QB’s in the NFL and deserves credit. The 3X Pro-Bowl QB always left a little more to be desired in his playoff performances but the numbers he put up over his 14 season career speak for themselves. Had he been surrounded by more talent maybe he would be higher on this list. However, over 45,000 career yards and 294 TD’s earns him a spot on the top 10 list.

124th Rose Parade Presented By Honda Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images

No 9. Ron Yary

Offensive linemen rarely get the shine they deserve but it’d be wrong not to have this bulldozer on the list. This 7X Pro-Bowl lineman was one of reasons why the Vikings had so much success in the 70’s. Not only did Yary control the line with his physical style of play but he rarely missed playing time. He was inducted into the HOF in 2001 and definitely deserves a spot on this list.

No 8. Bruce Matthews

Clay Jr. could easily find himself in this conversation when he retires but right now let’s give credit to his uncle for having a legendary NFL career. We have another USC lineman on this list but what makes Bruce stand out was his dominance throughout his career. This guy made 14 Pro-Bowls and was part of the legendary Houston Oilers teams with Warren Moon and Earl Campbell.

Rose Bowl Game presented by Northwestern Mutual - USC v Penn State Photo by Harry How/Getty Images

No 7. Lynn Swann

Our current athletic director had one of the greatest Super Bowl performances of all time and deserves a spot on this list. The clutch catches he made in Super Bowl X alone made him a legend but when you take into account his role on the Steelers’ dynasty it’s easy to see why he’s No 7. Famously known for having ballet skills, this graceful receiver played the game with a level of elegance that was ahead of his time.

No 6. Junior Seau

This Trojan legend played the game at another level than his peers. Nicknamed the “Tasmanian Devil” for his wild style of play, this NFL Hall of Fame talent dominated at the linebacker position throughout his entire career. Players knew not to come over the middle for fear of his viscous hitting ability. He was one of the greatest NFL players from the 90’s and definitely deserves his spot on this list.

No. 5: Anthony Munoz

This Cincinnati Bengal was one of the most dominate lineman from the 80’s. For a 6’6, 280-pound tackle, his physicality and speed were off the charts. His resume speaks for itself and ultimately got him inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1998. He earned 11 Pro-Bowls and played a significant role in the resurgence of the Bengals’ franchise.

Troy Polamalu interception return

No 4. Troy Polamalu

We all know and love Polamalu for his hair and style of play. What separates Polamalu from his peers was his ability to win big games. When it mattered most, Polamalu always seemed to make a big play and seize an opportunity on the biggest stage. If you weigh in his play-making ability and consistency over the course of Troy’s career, he stands out as one of the greatest safty’s to play the game. He also won two Super Bowl championships and was the NFL Defensive Players of the Year in 2010. He ignited the Steelers’ defense and turned them into one of the most feared units during his career.

Rose Bowl Game presented by Northwestern Mutual - USC v Penn State Photo by Harry How/Getty Images

No 3. Ronnie Lott

There may not have been a tougher player in the history of the NFL than Ronnie Lott. He had his pinky finger amputated in order to avoid missing time on the field. This guy was one of the greatest defensive players of all-time. There’s a reason why he’s a 4X Super Bowl champion. He mastered the cornerback and safety positions. He put fear into the hearts of the opponents with his viscous hitting ability. This Trojan was one of the best to ever put the pads on at any level.

UCLA v USC Photo by Harry How/Getty Images

No 2. O.J. Simpson

Strictly talking about what he did on the field, it’s hard to argue that O.J. was not one of the best NFL running backs of all-time. His place in NFL history as the first RB to go for over 2,000 yards in a season will forever be a crowning achievement. He had no weaknesses as a runner. He could go outside and win with speed or run straight at the defense and overpower the opposition. Unfortunately, his playing ability is not what we’ll remember most.

Oregon St. v USC Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

No 1. Marcus Allen

The legendary Marcus Allen is the #1 NFL Trojan for a couple of reasons. In addition to his impressive resume he’s delivered one of the NFL’s most iconic moments. His Super Bowl winning performance separates him from his peers. The 74-yard touchdown run where he reverses field will never be forgotten.

His career resume is stacked like the other Trojans on the list, however winning a regular season and Super Bowl MVP puts him in a league of his own. Accomplishing all this while playing in the L.A. Coliseum has him locked in as the best Trojan to play in the NFL.