The fullback position has evolved in the NFL and Syracuse has evolved with it.
Once upon a time the fullbacks were the power runners in NFL offenses. They ran between the tackles and bludgeoned defenses. But as the NFL evolved to feature backs, the fullbacks became the lead blockers and pass catchers in offenses.
The Orangemen produced the runners first and the blockers later. Jim Brown, Jim Nance and Larry Csonka were the runners and Daryl Johnston, Rob Konrad and Tony Fiammetta the blockers.
Jim Brown was the sixth overall pick of the 1957 draft and went on to win eight NFL rushing titles in his nine seasons before retiring. He went to nine Pro Bowls and has a bust in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Jim Nance was a fourth-round pick of the Chicago Bears in 1965 but opted to sign with the AFL Boston Patriots. He won two rushing titles, went to two All-Star Games and was the AFL MVP in 1966. Csonka was the eighth overall pick of the 1968 draft and became the offensive focal point of a Miami team that won back-to-back Super Bowls in 1972 and 1972. He went to five Pro Bowls. He also has a bust in Canton.
Johnston was a second-round draft pick by Dallas in 1989 who became the lead blocker for the NFL’s all-time leading rusher. He went to two Pro Bowls and finished with more receiving yards (2,227) than rushing yards (753) in his 11-year career. Konrad was a second-round pick by Miami in 1999 who also collected more receiving yards (854) than rushing yards (114) in his six-year career. The same with Tony Fiammetta, a fourth-round pick in 2009. He collected 130 yards receiving and 26 rushing in his six-year career.
Brown and Csonka aren’t the only two Hall of Famers on Syracuse’s all-time NFL team. There are six of them. Here is that all-time team:
QB Donovan McNabb, 37,276 passing yards, 234 TDs
HB Floyd Little, Hall of Fame
FB Jim Brown, Hall of Fame
WR Marvin Harrison, Hall of Fame
WR Art Monk, Hall of Fame
TE John Mackey, Hall of Fame
OT Stan Walters, 3 Pro Bowls, 148 starts
OT John Brown, 11 seasons, 100 starts
G Walt Sweeney, 9 Pro Bowls, 181 starts
G Dave Lapham, 10 seasons, 105 starts
C Jim Ringo, Hall of Fame
DE Dwight Freeney, 2000s NFL all-decade team
DE Chandler Jones, 2017 NFL sack leader with 17
DT Joe Ehrmann, 10 seasons
DT Art Thoms, 8 seasons
OLB Keith Bulluck, Pro Bowl, 21 INTs, 18 sacks
MLB Jim Cheyunski, 9 seasons, 9 INTs
OLB Jim Collins, Pro Bowl, 8 years, 6 INTs
CB Will Allen, 12 seasons, 15 INTs
CB Carl Karilivacz, 8 seasons, 13 INTs
S Tom Myers, Pro Bowl, 36 INTs
S Donovin Darius, 10 seasons, 14 INTs, 6 FR
K Gary Anderson, 1980s & 1990s NFL all-decade teams
P Riley Dixon, 233 punts, 45.6-yard average
KR Keith Moody, 88 PR, 109 KR, 3 TDs
ST David Tyree, Pro Bowl, 77 special-teams tackles