In terms of lifetime honors, it doesn't get much better than a statue. On one hand, it's art. On the other, it is a giant shining monolith to your ego. With that said, it's no surprise that football people really like their statues, and there have been some pretty ridiculous ones commissioned over the years for display outside NFL stadiums. Here are the best:
Vince Lombardi at Lambeau Field
Of the two statues standing over Lambeau Field's Harlan Plaza, Vince Lombardi is the more austere golem watching over the drunken throng of Packers fans. He is judging you and your commitment to tailgate, because you don't win six NFL championships and Super Bowl I and II by letting stuff slide.
The Soldier State at Soldier Field
The Chicago Bears have fully committed to the military ethos at Soldier Field, I can't wait until construction on their next statue is completed: a bronze bust of Jay Cutler on the bench wondering if he left the porch light on.
Getty ImagesWesley Hitt
Tom Landry's Statue at AT&T Stadium
Longtime Dallas Cowboys coach Tom Landry one of the most shrewd and prolific minds to ever shape the game of football. He invented the 4-3 defense and changed the way coaches approach the game on a macro level. And his statue outside AT&T Stadium will certainly not be diminished when its joined by an even larger bronze figure of Jerry Jones.
Getty ImagesRonald Martinez
'Laces Out, Dan' at Sun Life Stadium
Unfortunately, this statue of Dan Marino outside Sun Life Stadium is not called "Laces Out, Dan." But in my heart it is. And that's all that matters.
Getty ImagesJoel Auerbach
Pat Bowlen's Stunna Shades at Sports Authority Field at Mile High
Say what you want about Pat Bowlen, but don't act like commissioning a statue of himself mugging in his trademark glasses isn't 100 percent a thing he would do.
Denver Post via Getty ImagesHelen H. Richardson
Jaguar statue at EverBank Field
Jacksonville doesn't get much credit in terms of...anything...but hey! That's a cool jaguar statue you guys got! And I like what you did with the dolphin! I bet you were playing the Dolphins that day. You guys are wild. Now please stop wearing jeans in the pool at EverBank. It's a cry for help.
Getty ImagesRob Foldy
Art Rooney's statue at Heinz Field
Nothing to see here: just founder of the Pittsburgh Steelers chilling on a bench, possibly feeding his cigar ashes to the local pigeons.
Steve Gleason's block at Mercedes-Benz Superdome
With the block of a single punt, former Saints safety Steve Gleason lifted the city of New Orleans and turned the franchise at large around. Gleason's play and larger life story continue to be an inspiration to the team. Also, respect for former punter Michael Koenen, whose blocked kick have also been immortalized in this scene. It's a tough break, but somebody had to take that eternal L.
Getty ImagesChris Graythen
Curly Lambeau's statue at Lambeau Field
Earl L. "Curly" Lambeau earns the recognition for coolest Packers statue in Harlan Plaza, beating out Vince Lombardi's stoic figure with his "Hot Route: RED SEVEN" finger point. You know Curly's throwing it deep.
Getty ImagesRaymond Boyd
Bucking Broncos at Sports Authority Field at Mile High
Whenever you have a good excuse for commissioning statues of giant, wild horses outside your stadium, you do it.
Don Shula's perfection statue at Sun Life Stadium
Made in honor of Don Shula and his perfect-season-sealing win at Super Bowl VII, the statue of the former Dolphins head coach being carried off the field by Hall of Fame linebacker Nick Buoniconti and reserve lineman Al Jenkins is a beautiful tribute to utter dominance. And Shula made sure to let everyone know it doesn't look like him at the statue's unveiling.
Getty ImagesJoel Auerbach
Jerry Richardson's panther army at Bank of America Stadium
Jerry Richardson beat Jerry Jones to the punch, and now is the only NFL owner with a statue of himself seemingly sic-ing wild animals on fans attempting to enter his stadium. You can hate the statue for the megalomania that precipitated it, or you can appreciate it because it's a giant sculpture of a dude using a football to order his attack panthers.
Ray Lewis at M&T Bank Stadium
Should Ray Lewis have his own statue? Should Ray Lewis be a free member of our society? These are questions everyone must answer on their own, but you cannot deny that if you are going to honor Ray Lewis, this is the pose you put him in.
The Pat Tillman Statue at University of Phoenix Stadium
Pat Tillman, a consumate badass in life and death, deserved to be honored with a fittingly diesel statue in his memory. And the obelisk outside University of Phoenix Stadium is just that, depicting Tillman's iconic Sports Illustrated magazine cover photo.
Getty ImagesChristian Petersen
Giant Carolina Panther at Bank of America Stadium
Yep. Multiple panthers. Angry felines have prowled Bank of America Stadium long before Jerry Richardson's attack-panther statues were erected this spring. The towering cat is the ultimate in intimidating power plays: gigantic, intimidating, still customizable for the holidays.