When you think of Giants Legends on the defensive side of the ball, a ton of names come to mind. Lawrence Taylor, Michael Strahan, Harry Carson, Carl Banks, Justin Tuck, Osi Umenyiora, etc. One name that doesn’t get thrown in with these guys enough is Leonard Marshall. Marshall was a key contributor to the dominant Giants defense of the 1980s and 2 Super Bowl teams, and doesn’t get enough credit for those contributions.
Leonard Marshall was the Giants 2nd round pick in the 1983 Draft out of LSU. By his 3rd season Marshall was the Giants starting defensive end and in 1985 and 1986 he registered 15.5 sacks and 12 sacks and was both a Pro Bowler, an All-Pro, and was named NFL Defensive Lineman of the Year in both those years. 15.5 sacks was the high for his career, but out of all the years he played for the G-Men, Marshall averaged about 8 sacks a season. Marshall’s most famous play as a Giant is when he took out 49ers QB Joe Montana in the 1990 NFC Championship game with one of the most vicious hits you will ever see on the Gridiron. The hit took Montana out for the better part of 2 years and it would be the last time Montana suited up for the 49ers. This play will go down in history but it shouldn’t be the only thing Marshall is remembered for.
If you were to ask a Giants fan who was watching in the 1980s, they would for sure tell you how good of a player Leonard Marshall was. But until I heard Marshall’s interview on the Giant Insider Podcast a few months ago, I had no idea just how good he was. Perhaps Marshall was overshadowed by a number of other defensive greats, but Marshall was one of the best players on the 1980s New York Giants.
He sure as hell doesn’t deserve to be, but Leonard Marshall is one of the most underrated players in Giants history.
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