The All-Vegas Team

From high school stars to retired pros, many a football legend has called Las Vegas home. As part of our annual Football Issue, we pay tribute to those legends with our All-Vegas Team— a position-by-position rundown of the best who ever grew up, played or settled in our city.*

Most local fans know that Randall Cunningham was the greatest quarterback in UNLV history. Few know that he was a two-time All-American ... as a punter, averaging a school-record 45.6 yards per punt in his career. | Courtesy of UNLV Photo Services

Most local fans know that Randall Cunningham was the greatest quarterback in UNLV history. Few know that he was a two-time All-American … as a punter, averaging a school-record 45.6 yards per punt in his career. | Courtesy of UNLV Photo Services



Local Connection: UNLV (1982-84).

Credentials: As a three-year starting quarterback at UNLV, Cunningham set multiple school records, including career passing yards (8,020), passing touchdowns (59) and total offense (8,224 yards)—all of which still stand. The Rebels’ most decorated player in history then played 16 seasons in the NFL with the Eagles, Vikings, Cowboys and Ravens, passing for nearly 30,000 yards and 207 TDs, while rushing for nearly 5,000 yards and an additional 35 TDs. Cunningham was 82-52-1 in 135 career NFL starts.

Did You Know? Cunningham remains the NFL’s all-time leading rusher for a quarterback.



Running Back

Local Connection: Las Vegas native; Eldorado High School (2001).

Credentials: After rushing for nearly 6,400 yards and 81 touchdowns at Eldorado, Jackson moved on to Oregon State, where his three-year career culminated with a five-touchdown performance in the 2003 Las Vegas Bowl. The Rams drafted Jackson with the 24th pick of the first round in 2004, and in nine seasons with St. Louis he rushed for 10,135 yards. Jackson signed with the Atlanta Falcons this past offseason.

Did You Know? Jackson ranks 26th on the NFL’s all-time rushing list, and needs 1,102 yards to pass O.J. Simpson and move into 18th place.


Running Back

Local Connection: Bonanza High School (1978).

Credentials: Known for his bruising running style, Riggs starred at Bonanza High and Arizona State before becoming the ninth overall pick of the Falcons in 1982. A three-time Pro Bowler, Riggs amassed 8,188 rushing yards over a 10-year career with the Falcons and Redskins.

Did You Know? At the time of his retirement in 1991, Riggs was 19th on the NFL’s all-time rushing list. He currently ranks 40th.



Wide Receiver

Local Connection: UNLV (1987-90).

Credentials: McCardell played three full seasons with the Rebels, and still ranks 11th in career receptions (141), ninth in receiving yards (2,189) and tied for ninth in TDs (15). A 12th-round selection of the Redskins in 1991, McCardell played 16 years with five NFL teams, retiring after the 2007 season.

Did You Know? McCardell ranks 15th all time in career NFL receptions (883) and 26th in receiving yards (11,373). He was twice selected to the Pro Bowl and caught two TDs in Tampa Bay’s 48-21 rout of the Raiders in Super Bowl XXXVII.


Wide Receiver

Local Connection: Rancho High School (1987).

Credentials: A running back at Rancho, Pritchard switched to receiver at the University of Colorado, where as a senior he led the Buffaloes to the 1990 national championship, being named team MVP and an All-American. After being selected by the Falcons with the 13th pick of the 1991 draft, Pritchard enjoyed a nine-year NFL career, finishing with 422 catches, 5,187 yards and 26 touchdowns while playing for Atlanta, Denver and Seattle.

Did You Know? Pritchard has been the radio analyst for UNLV football since 2006.


greg_estandia_courtesy_unlv_photo_services_web_250w.jpgTight End

Local Connection: UNLV (2003-05).

Credentials: Estandia played two full seasons with the Rebels (2003 and 2005), finishing with 70 receptions for 807 yards and 10 TDs, with the bulk of those numbers accumulated during a stellar senior season. Estandia signed with the Cincinnati Bengals as an undrafted free agent in 2006, but didn’t appear in an NFL game until 2007. In parts of three seasons with Jacksonville and Cleveland, he had 23 catches for 294 yards.


Offensive Lineman

Local Connection: Las Vegas resident since 1985.

Credentials: Kunz, who was the second overall pick of the 1969 NFL draft, played in 129 games (126 starts) with the Falcons and Baltimore Colts during an 11-year career. He made the Pro Bowl eight times as a left tackle, and was named first-team All-Pro in 1975.

Did You Know? Kunz was part of Notre Dame’s 1966 national championship team and once owned seven Las Vegas-area McDonald’s franchises.


Offensive Lineman

Local Connection: Longtime Las Vegas resident.

Credentials: Like Kunz, Mack also was drafted second overall, but in 1966. He spent his entire 13-year career with the Los Angeles Rams, playing in 184 consecutive games as a left guard and reaching the Pro Bowl 11 times. After 10 years as a finalist, Mack was finally inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1999.

Did You Know? After his playing career, Mack worked as a lobbyist in Washington, D.C., for the nuclear power industry.


Offensive Lineman

Local Connection: Las Vegas resident since 1999.

Credentials: Selected by the Baltimore Ravens with the fourth overall pick of the 1996 draft, the 6-foot-9, 340-pound Ogden immediately established himself as one of the league’s most dominant offensive linemen. In 12 seasons—all with Baltimore—Ogden was named to the Pro Bowl 11 consecutive years (all at left tackle) and was a first-team, All-Pro four times. Earlier this month, he was enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility.

Did You Know? Ogden was the first player drafted by the Baltimore Ravens after the franchise relocated from Cleveland.



Offensive Lineman

Local Connection: UNLV (1991-92).

Credentials: A transfer from Purdue, Palelei played two seasons with the Rebels before being drafted by Pittsburgh in the fifth round of the 1993 draft. He went on to play five seasons with the Steelers, Jets, Giants and Eagles, appearing in 44 games (26 starts) at guard and tackle.

Did You Know? In 2001, Palelei played for the Las Vegas Outlaws of the XFL, the league founded by pro-wrestling magnate Vince McMahon.


Offensive Lineman

Local Connection: Las Vegas native; Bishop Gorman High School (1994).

Credentials: Ruegamer, a third-round draft pick of the Miami Dolphins in 1999, played in 124 NFL games (17 starts) in nine seasons as a center for the Patriots, Packers and Giants, winning Super Bowls with New England (2001) and New York (2007).


Defensive Lineman

Local Connection: UNLV (1978-81).

Credentials: After registering a team-high 14 sacks over his final two seasons with the Rebels, Liebenstein was drafted in 1982 by the Redskins in the fourth round, and he spent his entire four-year NFL career in Washington. Liebenstein was a member of the Redskins’ Super Bowl teams in 1982 and 1983, winning a ring in ’82 and starting every game in ’83, including the 38-9 loss to the Raiders in Super Bowl XVIII.



Defensive Lineman

Local Connection: UNLV (2000-01). Credentials: A junior college transfer, Palepoi led the Rebels in sacks and was named to the All-Mountain West Conference team in both of his seasons at UNLV before being drafted by the Seattle Seahawks in 2002. He played four NFL seasons with three different teams, registering four sacks in 35 career games (one start).

Did You Know? Palepoi was the 60th overall pick in 2002, which at that time made him the highest-drafted Rebel since Ickey Woods in 1988.



Defensive Lineman

Local Connection: UNLV (1995-98).

Credentials: Recruited as a tight end, Sawyer switched to defensive end prior to his sophomore season at UNLV, and over three next three years he accumulated more than 120 tackles, including 15½ sacks. A sixth-round pick of Minnesota in 1999, Sawyer played five seasons with the Vikings, totaling 11 sacks during the 2001 and 2002 seasons, starting every game both years.


Defensive Lineman

Local Connection: Basic High School (1975).

Credentials: After leaving Basic, Smerek headed north to UNR, where he was an All-Big Sky Conference selection at defensive end in 1979. Although undrafted, Smerek caught on with the Cowboys, where he had 14½ sacks in 69 games from 1981-87, playing alongside such feared Dallas pass rushers as Ed “Too Tall” Jones, Randy White and Harvey Martin.




Local Connection: UNLV (2004-07).

Credentials: Bell played in 41 games over four seasons with the Rebels, finishing with 320 tackles (third-best in school history), 10½ sacks, six forced fumbles and six interceptions. After his senior season, he was named Mountain West Conference Defensive Player of the Year, then drafted in the fourth round by the Cleveland Browns in 2008. However, he appeared in just four NFL games.

Did You Know? Bell is currently with the Spokane Shock of the Arena Football League.



Local Connection: Basic High School (1983).

Credentials: After graduating from Basic, Rolling attended UNR from 1983-86, earning first-team All-America honors as a senior. Rolling was a fifth-round pick of Tampa Bay in 1987 and enjoyed a seven-year NFL career, tallying 225 tackles, five interceptions and 6½ sacks in 88 games (47 starts) with the Buccaneers, Chargers and Rams.




Local Connection: Bonanza High School (2000); UNLV (2001-04).

Credentials: An All-State linebacker at Bonanza, Seward recorded 433 career tackles in four years at UNLV—99 more than any other Rebel in history. The Panthers drafted Seward in the fifth round in 2005, but he made just 36 tackles in 43 games over five seasons with Carolina and Jacksonville.

Did You Know? Fluent in Chinese and Spanish, Seward was a Chinese-language NFL broadcaster and an NFL representative in China in 2011 and 2012.



Defensive Back

Local Connection: Las Vegas native; Durango High School; UNLV (2001-04).

Credentials: Brimmer won back-to-back Mountain West Conference Defensive Player of the Year honors in 2002 and 2003, being named an All-American after the ’03 season. A safety, he finished his Rebel career with 280 tackles (tied for seventh all time), 10 sacks and seven interceptions. Although he spent time in training camp with the Seahawks and Giants, Brimmer never played in an NFL game.

Did You Know? On September 13, 2003, Brimmer tallied 11 tackles (two sacks), two interceptions and one fumble return for a touchdown to key UNLV’s 23-5 victory at Wisconsin, one of the biggest upsets in school history.



Defensive Back

Local Connection: UNLV (1984-87).

Credentials: Although touted by the school as an All-America candidate going into his senior season, injuries limited Dimry to just 13 games over his final two years at UNLV. Still, the Falcons took Dimry in the fifth round of the ’88 draft, and he played cornerback in 183 games (106 starts) over 12 seasons with five teams, finishing with 21 interceptions.


Defensive Back

Local Connection: Las Vegas native; Cimarron-Memorial High School (1997).

Credentials: An All-State running back at Cimarron, Fox switched to defensive back at Fresno State, where he started 38 straight games and was a two-time All-Western Athletic Conference selection. Although undrafted, Fox played in 98 games (14 starts) for the Chargers, Lions, Redskins and Broncos.

Did You Know? Fox is in his first year as the head football coach at Faith Lutheran High School.



Defensive Back

Local Connection: UNLV (1998-2001).

Credentials: Arguably the best defensive back in Rebels history, Thomas was a four-year starter who played in a school-record 46 consecutive games. Thomas also holds records for most interceptions in a season (seven of his 14 came during his All-American senior season) and 55 pass break-ups, and he scored six touchdowns. Although drafted by the Bills in the sixth round in 2002, Thomas appeared in only 38 games in three NFL seasons.



Special Teamer

Local Connection: UNLV (1990-91).

Credentials: Cooper played six positions as a Rebel (quarterback, receiver, cornerback, running back, punt returner and kick returner), and was named All-Big West as a specialist in both his seasons at UNLV. He went on to become the most versatile player in Arena Football League history, retiring in 2005 as the league’s all-time leader in all-purpose yards (20,587) after a 13-year career with the Arizona Rattlers. Cooper was inducted into the AFL Hall of Fame in 2011 and named by the league as the 5th Greatest Player in AFL History in 2012.

Did You Know? Cooper has been the head football coach at Canyon Springs High School since 2009.



Local Connection: UNLV (1982-84).

Credentials: Not only is Cunningham the greatest quarterback in UNLV history, he’s also the school’s top punter. A two-time All-American at the position, he averaged 45.6 yards per boot (still a school record). Cunningham also averaged 44.7 yards on 20 punts during his NFL career, including bombs of 80 and 91 yards, the latter ranking third in NFL history.




Local Connection: Chaparral High School, UNLV (1991-94).

Credentials: The most productive kicker to wear a Rebels uniform, Garritano made 53 field goals in his career and still ranks second all time with 240 points. As a senior, Garritano went 5-for-7 on field goals of more than 50 yards and was a semifinalist for the Lou Groza Award, given to the nation’s best kicker. His 54-yarder against UNR that year still stands as the longest field goal in school history.

Did You Know? Garritano coached Green Valley High School’s baseball team to two state titles and is now the head baseball coach at the College of Southern Nevada.


Head Coach

Local Connection: UNLV head coach (1999-2004).

Credentials: Following an ugly four-season stretch in which UNLV won just six of 45 games—capped by an 0-11 campaign in 1998—school administrators pulled off a stunner when they hired Robinson, who had a legendary coaching career at USC, to take over the program. In his second season, Robinson led the Rebels to an 8-5 record and a Las Vegas Bowl victory. It was his only winning season in six years with the Rebels, but Robinson had sealed his legacy at USC and finished his college career with a 132-77-4 record, including 8-1 in bowl games (4-0 in Rose Bowls). Additionally, in nine seasons with the Los Angels Rams, Robinson went 79-74, reaching the playoffs six times.

Did You Know? In 2009, Robinson was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame, the only Rebel player or head coach so honored.

Honorable Mentions


Glenn Carano (UNLV, NFL); Jon Denton (Green Valley HS, UNLV); David Humm (Las Vegas native, Bishop Gorman HS, NFL); Sam King (UNLV)

Running Backs

Blake Ezor (Las Vegas native, Bishop Gorman HS, NFL); Frank Hawkins (Las Vegas native, Western HS, NFL); Napoleon McCallum (NFL, longtime Las Vegas resident); Hugh McElhenny (NFL Hall of Famer, longtime Las Vegas resident); DeMarco Murray (Las Vegas native, Bishop Gorman HS, NFL); Mike Thomas (UNLV, NFL); Ickey Woods (UNLV, NFL)

Wide Receivers

Henry Bailey (UNLV); Randy Gatewood (UNLV); Jim Sandusky (UNLV); Ryan Wolfe (UNLV)

Offensive Line

Joe Hawley (UNLV, NFL); Art Plunkett (UNLV, NFL); Jerry Reynolds (UNLV, NFL)

Defensive Line

Keith Washington (UNLV, NFL); Billy Winn (Las Vegas native, Las Vegas HS, NFL)


Mark Byers (UNLV); Ryan Claridge (UNLV)

Defensive Backers

Sam Brandon (UNLV, NFL); Eric Wright (UNLV, NFL)


Joe Kristosik (Las Vegas native, Bishop Gorman HS, UNLV)


Jim Fassel (UFL, NFL); Tony Knap (UNLV); Ron Meyer (UNLV, NFL)

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