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21 BEST NFL PLAYERS OF ALL TIME

best nfl players of all time

Find out if your favorite players have made our list of the 21 best NFL players of all time. The NFL has produced some of the best athletes and is one of the biggest sports in America and also made our list of the most popular sports in the world.

With so many regular greats to choose from, making this list was not easy. These top players have all made great strides in revolutionizing the game, producing on the field and winning games with the high clip. From Jerry Rice to Walter Payton, These players are the reason why thousands of people rush on to various American football stadiums in flags and coolers to enjoy a very entertaining pro football event.

Without further ado, here’s a look at the best 21 NFL players of all time

  1. Jerry Rice – Wide Recipient

best nfl players of all time

“Jerry Rice” by Super-Nerd is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

Jerry Rice has played 20 seasons in the NFL and is our biggest NFL player of all time. He is without a doubt the greatest recipient of our experience. He had the best hands and straight lines the game had ever seen. He has collected 13 Pro Bowl appearances, the first 10 All-Pro team and not to mention the 3rd Super Bowl champion. He is a full-time leader in all major statistical categories in the NFL. Rice is also remembered as one of the best clutch players in the history of football and often to made game winning catches throughout his career. With 303 games over 20 seasons, he has shown what dedication is and what it means to him. He has only missed 17 regular season games and 14 of them in 1997. The 49er’s retired from his No.80 jersey in 2010 and entered the 2010 hall of fame class in his first year of eligibility. He was a really great man!

  1. Tom Brady

“Tom Brady” by Jeffrey Beall is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

Another downside option in the NFL framework to rise to the heights of good performance is Tom Brady. Currently playing for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, he has spent 20 fruitful seasons with the New England Patriots who have seen him play in the 9 Super Bowl, winning six. He has been named the Super Bowl MVP record 4 times. In the course of his career, he set a number of records including being the only quarterback to have achieved 200 regular season wins. So far he has earned the 14 Pro Bowl invitation and was twice nominated as the NFL Offensive Player of the Year. With his steady form, there is no doubt that some of the awards will truly delight the 42-year-old. There is no doubt that Brady deserves to be on this list of the best NFL players of all time.

  1. Lawrence Taylor – linebacker

“Lawrence Taylor with Cadets” by West Point – The U.S. Military Academy is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Taylor or “L.T.” originally played for the Giants New York from 1981-93. He is considered one of the greatest players in NFL history. Taylor had many awards in his rookie era and has had an amazing re-collection of his playing career. He has appeared in 10 Pro Bowl’s and won an impressive Super Bowl twice. He changed the way defense was played, the way pass-rushing was played and how line backers played.

  1. Jim Brown

best nfl players of all time

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He spent a stint of nine seasons in the NFL and received an invitation to the Pro Bowl for every single season he played with the All-Pro team for eight seasons. Jim Brown emerged as an NFL champion with Cleaveland Browns in 1964 and was voted for by the NFL MVP three times. He set many court records and was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1971.

  1. Walter Payton – Running Back

photo source: “4. Walter Payton” by KoryeLogan is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

Walter Payton made the top 5 on the list of the NFL’s all-time leading scorers. He was a real work horse and at 5 meters 10 inches tall and 200 pounds [200 kg] he was not built for speed. His nickname was “Fun” and he played for the Chicago Bears from 1975 to 87. Payton is remembered as a prolific rusher and held numerous records for yards from scrimmage and many records for carries. Sadly, Payton died of a rare liver disease in 1999 at the age of 45. He was always remembered as one of the best NFL players of all time.

  1. Joe Montana

best nfl players of all time

Several sports magazines, online sports, radio, the media named him the greatest footballer of his time. Joe Montana’s sixteen seasons in the NFL earned him countless awards including four Super Bowl titles, eight Pro Bowl invitations, and an all-time NFL attacking player of the 1989 season. Montana became the first player in NFL history to be awarded the Super Bowl Player of the Year for a record of three times.

  1. Reggie White – Defensive End

best nfl players of all time

photo source: “Reggie White” by Keith Fujimoto is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

The Minister of Defense is one of the best nfl players of all time. Reggie White shocked all the opponents he faced. He has won numerous awards including two outstanding players of the year awards. He has participated in 12 all-pro nods and 13 pro bowls. He also won the Super Bowl with the Green Bay Packers. White was a monster on the field, showing great power to shed blockers and showing impressive speed to chase down ball carriers.

  1. Peyton Manning

best nfl players of all time

photo source: “Peyton Manning” by Jeffrey Beall is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

Peyton Manning is the quarterback after winning the Super Bowl title with more than one franchise. He has made 18 brilliant seasons in the NFL f9 14 Pro Bowl and won two Super Bowl and Super Bowl MVP tournaments on one occasion. Manning was the NFL come Back Player of the Year for the 2012 season. With more than 500 touchdowns in the past, Manning holds the most record-breaking record in the NFL, and thus, joining the ranks of the best nfl players of all time to ever play in the league.

  1. Johnny Unitas – Quarterback

photo source: “Vintage NFL Photo Of Johnny Unitas” by France1978 is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

John unitas given the nickname “the golden arm” was a true legend when it comes to pro football. He spent most of his career playing for Baltimore Colts. He has a quarterback record with the NFL MVP in 1957, 59, 64 and even 64. Unitas joined the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1979. His legacy continues and since 1987, the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award was awarded to the top quarter of the current year in college football.

  1. Barry Sanders, Lions, 1989-1998

best nfl players of all time

photo source: “Barry Sanders” by Han Shot First is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0

Undoubtedly the most influential player in NFL history, Sanders was a threat to take it to the house every time he touched the ball. The Sanders had a unique combination of speed, power and elusiveness that may never be seen again. Despite playing behind a weak offensive line on a struggle team, Sanders still managed to be the first back in history to record five 1,500-yard seasons.

Frustrated by the management and their inability to surround him with better players – often leading to defenses ganging up on him – Sanders shocked the NFL community and retired in 1998 at the age of 30.

  1. Dick Butkus – linebacker

photo source: “Dick Butkus” by _Tony_B is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

Butkus is consistently ranked among the best NFL players of all time, being named ninth in the league in 1999, but we put him a little higher. As a professional, he was drafted in the first round by the Denver Broncos and Chicago Bears. A few days later, his decision was to sign for the Bears. He has had 8 Pro Bowl appearances and 2 NFL Player of the Year awards. Dick butkus is regarded as one of the best and intimidating linebackers in the history of pro football.

  1. Randy Moss

best nfl players of all time

Currently working as a sports commentator, Randy Moss during his playing days has set a series of touch down records including a season touch down reception record with a rookie in his first NFL year. He also won the NFL rookie offensive of the year in his first year. Moss has been featured in two Super Bowls, though he has lost both. He is a 6th Pro Bowler and 4-time First-team All-Pro and was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2018.

  1. Ray Lewis

photo source: “Ray Lewis” by Phil Romans is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Ray Lewis’ impressive run with the Baltimore Ravens for all 17 years also puts him in 13th place on our list of the best NFL players of all time. He is clearly the best linebacker in league history, leading the Ravens to two Super Bowl titles. Lewis has been named NFL Defense Player of the Year twice and is the 13th Pro Bowler.

     14. Deion Sanders – Cornerback

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Deion “Primetime” Sanders comes 14th on our list of 10 best NFL playes of All-Time. Sanders was a great man inside and outside the stadium. Deion sanders always produce a magic for his team whenever he touched the ball. Sanders is the only person to appear in the Super Bowl and World Series, hitting the MLB home run and NFL touchdown the same week. Another impressive rule is that he has a 2 Super Bowl title in his name and is one of two players to hit the NFL touchdown six different ways.

  1. Bruce Smith

Bruce Smith is the only quarterback to hold a 200-sack career record. He has played in four Super Bowl and Buffalo Bills games, starred in 11 Pro Bowls and won the NFL defender of the year on two separate occasions. Among his outstanding career appearances are his Frist-time All-Pro team and the 2-time Second-team All-Pro and many other accomplishments. Bruce smith was inducted into the pro football hall of fame class of 2009.

     16. Terrell Owens

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Mostly called T.O. as his initials state, Terrell Owens received 6 Pro Bowl invitations and the selection of the All-Pro first team in his 16th season in the NFL. Aside from getting attention for his fun game, he was loved for his stylish touchdown celebration. Terrel owens was inducted into the pro football hall of fame class of 2018.

  1. Marshall Faulk

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In his first year in the NFL, Marshall Faulk was named as the attacking rookie of the year, a promising start to a good career. He has played as a comeback throughout his 12 seasons in the NFL. The most important NFL player of the 2000 season is one of only three players to win 10,000 rushing yards and 5,000 receiving yards. He won 7 Pro Bowl selections and won the Super Bowl with St. Louis Rams.

  1. LaDainian Tomlinson

best nfl players of all time

photo source: “LaDainian Tomlinson” by Dirk DBQ is licensed under CC BY 2.0

LaDainian Tomlinson is the first footballer to start his career in the 21st century to be inducted in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Undoubtedly one of the best NFL players of all time and also among the best running backs of all time, Tomlinson, has won 5 Pro Bowl nominations and appeared in three All-Pro games as well as setting many scoring records during his playing days.

     19. Brett Favre

best nfl players of all time

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One of the best quarterbacks in the game, Brett Favre was the first quarterback to reach 6,000 passes. He was a NFL pass yard leader during 1991 and 1998. During his career, he won the Super Bowl once, was selected in 11 Pro Bowls and won many other awards including the NFL’s attacking player of the year back in 1995. Favre was transferred to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2016.

  1. Dan Marino

best nfl players of all time

photo source:  Dan Marino.” by Casey Florig is licensed under CC BY 2.0

If the Super Bowl was a wishes factory, fans, sports commentators and coaches would wish him one. That was the only shortcoming in his impressive 17 years in the NFL full of jumbling records tied for his quarter-final roles. He has won nine Pro Bowl options and was named NFL player back of the year in 1994. Marino was also featured in the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2005.

  1. Ronnie Lott

best nfl players of all time

photo source: “Ronnie Lott” by jdlasica is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Safety/Cornerback spent 14 seasons in the NFL playing in four different franchises, which saw him win 10 Pro Bowl titles and 4 Super Bowl tournaments. He is one of the best in the safety position. Lott was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2000.

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