The Best NFL Centers
By Andrew Parker - June 28, 2023

On most plays, a member of the offensive line known as the center raises the ball. The moment he snaps, he must be prepared to block. The effectiveness of the offensive line depends on the center. Pre-snap signals from centers are typically used to ascertain the pass rush tactics of the opposing team. This skill that some of the greatest centers of all time mastered, helping to create some of the best offensive units in NFL history.

At the start of the AFL’s expansion, Jim Otto spent all 15 years of his playing career with the Oakland Raiders. Otto was an All-Pro or reached the Pro Bowl for all but his final two years. Otto spent 11 consecutive years on the first team of the All-Pros in the AFL (and later, the NFL after the merger). However, this run isn’t factored into the NFL record book because it started when the AFL was still a separate league.

Mike Webster played with the Pittsburgh Steelers for 15 of his 17 seasons in the NFL. As the Steelers won four Super Bowls in the 1970s, he assisted in blocking for Franco Harris, a running back who is now a Hall of Famer. Harris has six consecutive 1000-yard running seasons after Webster as the main blocker. Webster started 150 consecutive games for the Steelers during this period, which lasted from 1976 to 1986. Webster spent six of those years as an All-Pro. Thanks to his extensive career, he was included on the all-time Hall of Fame teams for the 1970s and 1980s.

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Jeff Saturday played center for the Indianapolis Colts for 13 of his 14-year NFL career. Peyton Manning, a Hall of Fame quarterback member, received Saturday’s snap. With the protection on Saturday, Manning broke passing records and earned many MVP awards. In 2006, Manning and the Colts defeated the Chicago Bears in the Super Bowl, thanks partly to Saturday. In his last season, Saturday played for the Green Bay Packers. Even though Manning represented the AFC in the Pro Bowl and Saturday represented the NFC, Saturday was still permitted to play for the AFC and throw one final pass to Manning.