Interesting Multi-Position Players
We all know that back in the day, the majority of players played both offense and defense at times. The theory was to have your best athletes on the field as often as possible, even if it meant your star running back will also be making tackles as your starting safety. After this two-way player era ended, there were still players who occasionally played both ways but the practice became more and more rare.
Later on, and even somewhat now on a limited basis there were players that played multiple positions. Most people are familiar with William “Refrigerator” Perry playing as a blocking back (and sometimes carrying the ball) in the mid 80’s Chicago Bears backfield. Deion Sanders and Champ Bailey are among those that play, or played, Cornerback but also saw playing time on offense as Wide Receiver. Many offensive lineman, like New York’s Jumbo Elliott, saw time at Fullback, especially in short yardage or goal line situations.
Two players who played an unusual combination of positions were the Dallas Cowboys’ Danny White and the Cincinnati Bengals’ Pat McInally. Danny White was the backup Quarterback behind Roger Staubach for the early part of his career, getting a chance as the starter later on after Staubach retired. For most of White’s career he was listed on the roster as Quarterback-Punter. While he didn’t play Punter specifically as a gimmick, having their backup Quarterback line up at Punter allowed the Cowboys to frequently run fake punt plays, and also forced the receiving teams to guard against fake punts which hurt their ability to setup a good return. Pat McInally spent most of his career listed as Punter-Wide Receiver on the Bengals roster. McInally had good punting skills and as his career went on he played less and less at Wide Receiver, but that didn’t make him change his jersey number. It was rather odd seeing a Punter wearing the number 87 on his jersey.
The history of players playing more than their usual position is long and varied in the National Football League, but the Quarterback-Punter and Punter-Wide Receiver combinations will stick out in football fans minds for quite awhile.