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Famous NFL players from every state

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Ezra Shaw // Getty Images

Famous NFL players from every state

Football teams at the high school, college, and pro levels will hit the field in a matter of days to begin preparations for the upcoming season. Football is one of America's most territorial sports, evident by the “Friday Night Lights” phenomenon across small Texas towns and Saturday tailgating traditions in the Southeast. Each state, though, has a proud claim to producing some of football's toughest and most talented warriors from California to the Dakotas.

Using information from Pro Football Reference's database of NFL athletes' birthplaces, Stacker lists famous players from every U.S. state. A majority of the selections are All-Pros with an abundance of hardware, including Super Bowl trophies and plaques in the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio. Some may surprise you, as certain NFL stars have become so ingrained in the fabric of a geographical area that many fans forget they had much humbler beginnings (for example, Doug Flutie, who created so many memories in Massachusetts, hails from another eastern state). Other states—such as Florida and Ohio—churned out football stars with such regularity that debates over the most famous inevitably arise. Then, of course, there are a few shoo-ins (could we talk about football in Louisiana without mentioning the Manning family?).

The list includes several Most Valuable Players and some long-forgotten studs. No matter the location, though, football remains a prime export throughout the country. While you may not visit every legendary gridiron locale across the union, this slideshow will take you on a cross-country trip chock-full of football knowledge. Click through to find out who is the most famous NFL star from your state.

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Alabama: Terrell Owens

- Years active: 1996–2010
- Team(s): San Francisco, Philadelphia, Dallas, Buffalo, Cincinnati
- Alma mater: Chattanooga

Alabama or Auburn heavily recruit most local stars, but six-time Pro Bowler Terrell Owens played his college ball at Chattanooga, a much smaller institution. After flying under the radar in college, Owens truly made his mark in the NFL, amassing 15,934 receiving yards for five teams. Owens, who ruffled some feathers during his career, was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2018 but skipped the ceremony.

 

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Alaska: Mark Schlereth

- Years active: 1989–2000
- Team(s): Washington, Denver
- Alma mater: Idaho

Born and raised in Anchorage, Mark Schlereth toiled to make a name for himself in football. After playing at Idaho—not exactly a magnet for national TV coverage—Schlereth was taken in the 10th round of the 1989 NFL Draft. But over a 12-year career at guard, he regularly helped his team reach the biggest stage of the sport and won three Super Bowls.

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Arizona: Randall McDaniel

- Years active: 1988–2001
- Team(s): Minnesota, Tampa Bay
- Alma mater: Arizona State

Randall McDaniel spent most of his life in Arizona, starring in high school and college in the Copper State, before becoming a first-round pick of the Minnesota Vikings. In the Land of 10,000 Lakes, McDaniel made 12 Pro Bowls (nine times he was named First-Team All-Pro). After finishing his career in Tampa Bay, the guard was enshrined in the Hall of Fame.

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Arkansas: Cortez Kennedy

- Years active: 1990–2000
- Team(s): Seattle
- Alma mater: Miami (FL)

Wilson, Ark., has less than 1,000 residents, but few are remembered like Cortez Kennedy. An All-American in college, Kennedy was the third overall pick of the 1990 NFL Draft and played his entire career with the Seattle Seahawks. Kennedy, a ferocious defensive tackle, made eight Pro Bowls, was the 1992 Defensive Player of the Year, and was elected to the Hall of Fame in 2012.

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California: Tom Brady

- Years active: 2000–Current
- Team(s): New England
- Alma mater: Michigan

Although he will almost always be synonymous with the New England area, Tom Brady originated as a California kid, where he idolized San Francisco 49ers quarterback Joe Montana. Brady has surpassed Montana's achievements on the field, winning six Super Bowls and three MVP awards. In 19 seasons, Brady has thrown for over 70,000 yards and 500 touchdowns, leading many to consider him the GOAT—the greatest of all time.

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Colorado: Christian McCaffrey

- Years active: 2017–Current
- Team(s): Carolina
- Alma mater: Stanford

Christian McCaffrey's father Ed won two Super Bowls with the Denver Broncos, making this family's lineage to Colorado quite strong. McCaffrey had a legendary prep career, which landed him at Stanford and eventually the Carolina Panthers, who selected him eighth overall in 2017. In two short NFL seasons, McCaffrey has established himself as one of the game's most dynamic and explosive players—he can run, catch, and even do damage in the return game.

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Connecticut: Dwight Freeney

- Years active: 2002–17
- Team(s): Indianapolis, San Diego, Arizona, Atlanta, Detroit, Seattle
- Alma mater: Syracuse

For much of the 2000s, Dwight Freeney was recognized as one of the NFL's top defensive linemen. From the time he entered the league in 2002 through 2010, Freeney recorded 10 or more sacks seven times, and finished with 125.5 for his career. A seven-time Pro Bowler and Super Bowl champion, Freeney, who retired after the 2017 season, has a solid case for Hall of Fame induction.

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Delaware: Tim Wilson

- Years active: 1977–84
- Team(s): Houston (Oilers), New Orleans
- Alma mater: Maryland

The First State is not #1 in producing football talent. According to Pro Football Reference, only 35 players throughout NFL history were born in Delaware. Fullback Tim Wilson was one of the longest-tenured players, a starter for much of his career with the Houston Oilers.

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Florida: Frank Gore

- Years active: 2005–Current
- Team(s): San Francisco, Indianapolis, Miami
- Alma mater: Miami (FL)

In one of the richest states in terms of football talent, Frank Gore is a Florida guy through and through. Gore stayed in South Florida when he signed to play college ball at Miami, helping the Hurricanes win a national title in 2001. Last year, Gore played for the Miami Dolphins and moved into fourth place on the NFL's career rushing list. With 14,748 yards, Gore, a five-time Pro Bowler, might be headed to Canton after his football days are over.

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Georgia: Cam Newton

- Years active: 2011–Current
- Team(s): Carolina
- Alma mater: Auburn

Cam Newton is an Atlanta native, and even though supporters of the city's Falcons might not be so appreciative that the quarterback now plays for the rival Carolina Panthers, quite a few athletes from the Peach State have made a mark in the NFL like Newton. After leading Auburn to a national title, Newton, often nicknamed “Superman,” became the top pick of the 2011 Draft. He has made three Pro Bowls and was named league MVP in 2015.

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Hawaii: Olin Kreutz

- Years active: 1998–2011
- Team(s): Chicago, New Orleans
- Alma mater: Washington

A six-time Pro Bowler, Olin Kreutz was a rock on the Chicago Bears offensive line in the early 2000s. Kreutz, a center, was also named an All-Pro in 2006. The NFL named Kreutz on its All-Decade team for the 2000s.

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Idaho: Larry Wilson

- Years active: 1960–72
- Team(s): St. Louis (Cardinals)
- Alma mater: Utah

Rigby, Idaho, with under 4,000 residents, will likely never host an NFL team. But they can lay claim to one of the game's best defensive backs, Larry Wilson. A Hall of Famer and member of the NFL's 75th Anniversary Team, Wilson made eight Pro Bowls and was a First-Team All-Pro selection on five occasions.

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Illinois: John Lynch

- Years active: 1993–2007
- Team(s): Tampa Bay, Denver
- Alma mater: Stanford

John Lynch is the current general manager of the San Francisco 49ers, but during his playing days, he was a top-flight defensive back. In 2003, Lynch won a Super Bowl with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He also made nine Pro Bowls and is recognized in the Ring of Honor for both the Bucs and Denver Broncos.

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Indiana: Rod Woodson

- Years active: 1987–2003
- Team(s): Pittsburgh, San Francisco, Baltimore, Oakland
- Alma mater: Purdue

Rod Woodson was born and raised in Fort Wayne then stayed in state to attend Purdue. But he is just as beloved in Pittsburgh. Woodson was named to seven Pro Bowls playing for the Steelers and six times was a First-Team All-Pro. Later, he won a Super Bowl with the Baltimore Ravens and reached the Hall of Fame in 2009.

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Iowa: Kurt Warner

- Years active: 1998–2009
- Team(s): St. Louis (Rams), New York (Giants), Arizona
- Alma mater: Northern Iowa

After getting cut by the Green Bay Packers, Kurt Warner was stocking shelves in a grocery store in Cedar Falls, Iowa. Warner's stay back in his home state would not be permanent, though, as he eventually caught on with the St. Louis Rams, embarking on a Hall of Fame career. Warner was a four-time Pro Bowler, a Super Bowl champ, and two-time MVP, completing one of sports' most well-known rags-to-riches stories.

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Kansas: Barry Sanders

- Years active: 1989–98
- Team(s): Detroit
- Alma mater: Oklahoma State

Barry Sanders was one of the few football players to call it quits before the effects of old age caught up to him. Four times Sanders led the NFL in rushing, and he made the Pro Bowl in each of his 10 seasons. Sanders also counts an MVP award among his hardware, and he was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2004.

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Kentucky: Champ Bailey

- Years active: 1999–2013
- Team(s): Washington, Denver
- Alma mater: Georgia

Later this summer, Champ Bailey will be inducted into the Hall of Fame, recognized as one of football's most durable and talented defensive backs. Bailey was a 12-time Pro Bowler and registered 52 interceptions during his career. Bailey also collected three First-Team All-Pro nods.

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Louisiana: Peyton Manning

- Years active: 1998–2015
- Team(s): Indianapolis, Denver
- Alma mater: Tennessee

The Mannings are almost as synonymous with Louisiana as beignets and crawfish, so it's a no-doubter that one of the state's favorite sons would be featured here. Archie Manning played for the New Orleans Saints, but son Peyton has the gaudier stats. Along with two Super Bowl rings, Peyton was named to 14 Pro Bowls, won five MVPs, the Comeback Player of the Year Award, and several other honors to go with 71,940 passing yards and 539 touchdowns.

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Maine: John Bunting

- Years active: 1972–82
- Team(s): Philadelphia
- Alma mater: North Carolina

For 11 years, John Bunting was a sturdy linebacker for the Philadelphia Eagles, even competing in Super Bowl XV. After his career, Bunting embarked on a coaching career that over two decades would take him through the NFL and eventually at the head job at the University of North Carolina, from 2001 to 2006.

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Maryland: Doug Flutie

- Years active: 1986–89; 1998–2005
- Team(s): Chicago, New England (2), Buffalo, San Diego
- Alma mater: Boston College

Revered in the New England area, Doug Flutie was born in the small town of Manchester, Md. Some of the quarterback's most famous exploits on the gridiron took place at Boston College, and he later played for the New England Patriots, retiring with the team at age 43. Flutie made one Pro Bowl and was the 1998 Comeback Player of the Year.

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Massachusetts: Howie Long

- Years active: 1981–93
- Team(s): Oakland/Los Angeles (Raiders)
- Alma mater: Villanova

Younger football fans may recognize Howie Long from his time on TV, but before he hit the studio he was hitting quarterbacks with regularity. Long tallied 84 sacks during his career and was an eight-time Pro Bowler. In 1984, he captured a Super Bowl ring and 16 years later was enshrined in the Hall of Fame.

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Michigan: Antonio Gates

- Years active: 2003–Current
- Team(s): San Diego/Los Angeles (Chargers)
- Alma mater: Kent State

In 16 years with the Chargers franchise, Antonio Gates has accumulated 955 receptions, 11,841 receiving yards, and 116 touchdowns. Gates is currently unsigned, but don't count out a return—before last season, the Chargers did not sign Gates until September. A former college basketball player, he has made eight Pro Bowls. His Hall of Fame candidacy will be an interesting case; in 2015, Gates was suspended for use of performance-enhancing drugs.

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Minnesota: Larry Fitzgerald

- Years active: 2004–Current
- Team(s): Arizona
- Alma mater: Pittsburgh

Larry Fitzgerald's father is a noted reporter at the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder—during Super Bowl XLIII, Larry Fitzgerald Sr. was in the press box to watch his son compete on the sport's grandest stage. While Fitzgerald's family remains in Minnesota, the younger Larry has become revered in Arizona, where he's dominated the record books for the Cardinals. Fitzgerald, an 11-time Pro Bowler, has accumulated 16,279 receiving yards and 116 touchdowns. Off the field, he's been recognized as one of the NFL's most caring figures, winning the Walter Payton Man of the Year award in 2016.

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Mississippi: Jerry Rice

- Years active: 1985–2004
- Team(s): San Francisco, Oakland, Seattle
- Alma mater: Mississippi Valley State

Emerging from the small football program at Mississippi Valley State, Jerry Rice became the NFL's all-time leader in receiving yards (22,895). Rice, a 13-time Pro Bowler, three-time Super Bowl champion, and 10-time First-Team All-Pro, reached the Hall of Fame in 2010. That year, he was also recognized by the NFL as the best player ever.

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Missouri: Ezekiel Elliott

- Years active: 2016–Current
- Team(s): Dallas
- Alma mater: Ohio State

When Ezekiel Elliott is on the field, he's proven to be one of the NFL's most effective running backs in just three seasons. Elliott has led the league in rushing twice already; last year, he also showed what a potent receiver he could be, pulling in 77 catches for 567 yards. A two-time Pro Bowler, Elliott is also a fantasy football dreamboat.

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Montana: Jerry Kramer

- Years active: 1958–68
- Team(s): Green Bay
- Alma mater: Idaho

At the age of 82, Montana native Jerry Kramer finally earned induction into the Hall of Fame. Kramer, an offensive lineman and kicker, was a finalist 10 times before getting the nod. During his career, he won two Super Bowls, was named First-Team All-Pro five teams, and won five NFL championships (before the advent of the Super Bowl).

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Nebraska: Mick Tingelhoff

- Years active: 1962–78
- Team(s): Minnesota
- Alma mater: Nebraska

After spending much of his life in Nebraska (including a college career), Mick Tingelhoff endeared himself to Minnesotans over 17 seasons with the Minnesota Vikings. The Hall of Famer made six Pro Bowls as a center and astoundingly never missed a start (his streak of 240 consecutive starts is third most all time).

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Nevada: Steven Jackson

- Years active: 2004–15
- Team(s): St. Louis (Rams), Atlanta, New England
- Alma mater: Oregon State

Because of their output and the pounding their bodies incur, running backs usually don't see many years in the limelight. But in his nine years with the St. Louis Rams, Steven Jackson was consistently one of the game's premier backs—he rushed for over 1,000 yards every season except for his rookie campaign. A three-time Pro Bowler, Jackson was also a great receiver out of the backfield.

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New Hampshire: Sherman White

- Years active: 1972–83
- Team(s): Cincinnati, Buffalo
- Alma mater: California

New Hampshire doesn't possess the history of churning out NFL studs like California, Texas, or Florida, but Sherman White, a native of Manchester, was a solid contributor for 12 years between the Cincinnati Bengals and Buffalo Bills. Taken with the second pick of the 1972 Draft, White eventually replaced Walt Patulski in Buffalo—the player who went #1 in 1972.

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New Jersey: Franco Harris

- Years active: 1972–84
- Team(s): Pittsburgh, Seattle
- Alma mater: Penn State

Many Western Pennsylvanians claim Franco Harris as their own, but the running back who caught the Immaculate Reception, was born and raised in neighboring New Jersey. Harris starred at Penn State and later won four Super Bowls with the Pittsburgh Steelers. He finished his career with nine Pro Bowl nods and a spot in the Hall of Fame.

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New Mexico: Ronnie Lott

- Years active: 1981–94
- Team(s): San Francisco, Los Angeles (Raiders), New York (Jets)
- Alma mater: USC

A ball hawk in the truest sense of the definition, defensive back Ronnie Lott twice led the league in interceptions, and finished his career with 63 picks. In 10 years with the San Francisco 49ers, Lott made nine Pro Bowls and won four Super Bowls. He is one of several stars from the 1980s 49ers teams to reach the Hall of Fame.

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New York: Rob Gronkowski

- Years active: 2010–18
- Team(s): New England
- Alma mater: Arizona

Although he is now a favored son of New England, tight end Rob Gronkowski hails from the enemy territory of New York. “Gronk” won three Super Bowls, was a four-time First-Team All-Pro selection, and, thanks to his ebullient personality, became one of football's most recognizable stars during his nine years in the NFL. With his retirement after February's Super Bowl win, opportunities abound for Gronkowski, who has dabbled in pro wrestling and television.

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North Carolina: Julius Peppers

- Years active: 2002–18
- Team(s): Carolina (2), Chicago, Green Bay
- Alma mater: North Carolina

Julius Peppers was born in Wilson, N.C. before playing football and basketball at the University of North Carolina. The Carolina Panthers used the second pick in the 2002 NFL Draft to keep Peppers in-state, and he rewarded them with eight Pro Bowl seasons and 97 sacks. Peppers, who finished his career with 159.5 sacks, now works with the Panthers front office.

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North Dakota: Pete Retzlaff

- Years active: 1956–66
- Team(s): Philadelphia
- Alma mater: South Dakota State

Over 11 seasons with the Philadelphia Eagles, Pete Retzlaff made five Pro Bowls and won an NFL championship in 1960. The Eagles retired his number and inducted him into their Hall of Fame; later he worked as the team's general manager.

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Ohio: Russell Wilson

- Years active: 2012–Current
- Team(s): Seattle
- Alma mater: Wisconsin

In such a football-proud state, Russell Wilson currently stands above them all—at least in terms of salary. Recently, Wilson signed a $140 million contract, making him the NFL's highest-paid player. His numbers aren't too shabby either; Russell is a Super Bowl champion and five-time Pro Bowler, with 25,624 career passing yards.

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Oklahoma: Steve Largent

- Years active: 1976–89
- Team(s): Seattle
- Alma mater: Tulsa

Born in Tulsa, Steve Largent stayed home for college before embarking on a 14-year NFL career in Seattle. There, he built a Hall of Fame resume, including seven Pro Bowls. Largent returned home after his playing career and became a congressman.

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Oregon: Ndamukong Suh

- Years active: 2010–Current
- Team(s): Detroit, Miami, Tampa Bay, Los Angeles (Rams)
- Alma mater: Nebraska

Ndamukong Suh carries a bit of a reputation but has proven to be one of the NFL's most feared defensive players. Suh has notched 56 sacks over nine seasons, but his contributions often aren't shown in stat sheets. Taking on two offensive linemen at once and altering opposing team's game plans, Suh has been rewarded with five Pro Bowl nods, and three First-Team All-Pro selections.

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Pennsylvania: Dan Marino

- Years active: 1983–99
- Team(s): Miami
- Alma mater: Pittsburgh

Choosing the best quarterback to come out of western Pennsylvania is like asking a parent to choose a favorite child, But given Dan Marino's time in college in Pittsburgh, we shine a light on this Hall of Famer. Marino was born and raised in Pittsburgh before becoming the face of the Miami Dolphins. His Hall of Fame career includes nine Pro Bowls, an MVP award, 61,361 passing yards, and 420 touchdowns. When Marino retired in 1999, he was the NFL's all-time leader in passing yards, a mark that has since been passed by four quarterbacks.

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Rhode Island: Al Del Greco

- Years active: 1984–2000
- Team(s): Green Bay, St. Louis/Phoenix (Cardinals), Houston/Tennessee (Oilers), Tennessee (Titans)
- Alma mater: Auburn

Al Del Greco's 1,584 career points put him just outside of the top 20 (he's 21st). Del Greco made 77.3% of his field goals over an 18-year career, and off the field he was quite the accurate putter; he was a staple in celebrity golf tournaments, and in 2014 was named head coach of the golf team at Samford University.

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South Carolina: A. J. Green

- Years active: 2011–Current
- Team(s): Cincinnati
- Alma mater: Georgia

In recent years, few wide receivers have been potent deep-ball threats like A. J. Green. For the Cincinnati Bengals, Green has made seven Pro Bowls, totaled 8,907 receiving yards—second on the Bengals all-time and averaged 14.8 yards per reception.

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South Dakota: Adam Vinatieri

- Years active: 1996–Current
- Team(s): New England, Indianapolis
- Alma mater: South Dakota State

Still kicking—literally—at age 46, Adam Vinatieri has made 690 field goals in a career that began way back in 1996. Vinatieri has four Super Bowl rings, three Pro Bowls, and might be a future resident of the Hall of Fame.

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Tennessee: Reggie White

- Years active: 1985–98; 2000
- Team(s): Philadelphia, Green Bay, Carolina
- Alma mater: Tennessee

Reggie White was known as the “Minister of Defense”—he was actually a minister off the field—and more than a few quarterbacks may have said a prayer when seeing #92 line up across from them. White tallied 198 sacks in his Hall of Fame career that included 13 Pro Bowl appearances and a Super Bowl title.

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Texas: Drew Brees

- Years active: 2001–Current
- Team(s): San Diego, New Orleans
- Alma mater: Purdue

Hailing from the state that was the inspiration for “Friday Night Lights,” Drew Brees is an apt representative of Texas. Both underdog and superstar, the diminutive Brees has thrown for 74,437 yards and 520 touchdowns. He's also heralded as a 12-time Pro Bowler, Super Bowl champ, and two-time Offensive Player of the Year. In his current home of New Orleans, Brees proved his philanthropic side in supporting the city after Hurricane Katrina.

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Utah: Steve Young

- Years active: 1985–99
- Team(s): Tampa Bay, San Francisco
- Alma mater: BYU

Utah was the base for Mormon pioneer Brigham Young. One of Young's descendants is Steve Young, who had a Hall of Fame career with seven Pro Bowl nods, three Super Bowl wins, and two MVP awards. Young was one of the most efficient quarterbacks of his day and now works as a football commentator.

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Vermont: Steve Wisniewski

- Years active: 1989–2001
- Team(s): Los Angeles/Oakland (Raiders)
- Alma mater: Penn State

An offensive lineman doesn't always have the most glamorous of jobs, but Steve Wisniewski ground his way to becoming an anchor of the Raiders offense, and his work did not go unnoticed. Wisniewski made eight Pro Bowls, and he was named to the NFL's All-Decade Team of the 1990s.

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Virginia: Bruce Smith

- Years active: 1985–2003
- Team(s): Buffalo, Washington
- Alma mater: Virginia Tech

Bruce Smith, a Virginia native, remains beloved in Buffalo for not only helping the Bills reach four Super Bowls but also for his 200 career sacks and numerous other accolades. Smith, a Hall of Famer, reached 11 Pro Bowls, and was named to the All-Pro First Team eight times. Smith also won Defensive Player of the Year honors twice.

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Washington: John Elway

- Years active: 1983–98
- Team(s): Denver
- Alma mater: Stanford

John Elway's name ignites various reactions throughout the country. In Northern California he is beloved as a Stanford grad, but in Indianapolis, where he spurned the Colts coming out of college, he is likely not held in such high esteem. Of course, in Denver, Elway is idolized, but the Hall of Fame quarterback got his start in the state of Washington. After leaving Port Angeles, Elway won two Super Bowls, an MVP award, and reached nine Pro Bowls.

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West Virginia: Randy Moss

- Years active: 1998–2012
- Team(s): Minnesota (2), Oakland, New England, Tennessee, San Francisco
- Alma mater: Marshall

After unsuccessful stints at Notre Dame and Florida State, Randy Moss came home to play college ball at Marshall. In high school, Moss made national headlines as one of the most electric wide receivers in the nation. In the NFL, Moss put together a Hall of Fame career, reaching six Pro Bowls and totalling 15,292 receiving yards and 156 touchdowns.

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Wisconsin: Jim Otto

- Years active: 1960–74
- Team(s): Oakland
- Alma mater: Miami (FL)

Hall of Fame center Jim Otto was the heart and soul of the Oakland Raiders offensive line during the 1960s. Otto was a 12-time Pro Bowler and 10-time First-Team All-Pro member. Otto accomplished all of this while battling a multitude of injuries; he had an estimated 70 surgeries throughout his life.

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Wyoming: Chris Cooley

- Years active: 2004–12
- Team(s): Washington
- Alma mater: Utah State

Stellar offensive tight ends used to be few and far between, but during the 2000s, the Washington Redskins had one of the most consistent at the position in Chris Cooley. A two-time Pro Bowler, Cooley played his entire pro career in Washington—and still had time to operate a pottery gallery.

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