NFL
January 12, 2022

100 Best NFL Players of All-Time

Thousands of players have competed in the NFL over the course of the league’s history, but only a select group can be considered among the greatest of all time. These top-100 players in NFL history are a part of that conversation, as they transcended their eras to help make the league what it is today.

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100. Devin Hester

Position: KR/PR/WR

Years Played: 2006-2016

Teams: Chicago Bears, Atlanta Falcons

Accomplishments: 4x Pro Bowl, 3x All-Pro, HOF All-2000s Team, HOF All-2010s Team

There has never been a better returner in NFL history than Devin Hester, earning him a spot in our top 100 NFL players of all-time. Hester returned 14 punts and five kickoffs for touchdowns in his career, as he helped the Chicago Bears reach a Super Bowl with his dangerous returning prowess.

99. Adam Vinatieri

Position: K

Years Played: 1996-2019

Teams: New England Patriots, Indianapolis Colts

Accomplishments: 3x Pro Bowl, 3x All-Pro, 4x Super Bowl champion, HOF All-2000s Team

Prior to Justin Tucker making his way up the charts of the best kickers in the history of the NFL, Adam Vinatieri held the honor of being the best kicker of all-time — and the most clutch. 

Vinatieri converted on 83.8% of his career field goal attempts, and made multiple game-winning kicks in Super Bowls.

98. Tim Brown

Position: WR

Years Played: 1988-2004

Teams: Los Angeles/Oakland Raiders, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Accomplishments: Hall of Fame, 9x Pro Bowl, HOF All-1990s Team

Tim Brown played most of his career during an era of the NFL where passing offenses were not as prolific as they are today. But Brown still finds himself in the top 10 on the all-time receptions list in league history. His game has stood the test of time, as have his 100 career touchdown receptions.

97. DeMarcus Ware

Position: LB

Years Played: 2005-2016

Teams: Dallas Cowboys, Denver Broncos

Accomplishments: 9x Pro Bowl, 4x All-Pro, Super Bowl champion, HOF All-2000s Team

DeMarcus Ware was great at getting after the quarterback in an era that featured some of the best quarterbacks to ever play in the NFL. Ware ended his career in the top 10 in sacks, finishing ahead of all-time greats such as John Randle and even Lawrence Taylor in that department.

96. Kevin Greene

Position: LB/DE

Years Played: 1985-1999

Teams: Los Angeles Rams, Pittsburgh Steelers, Carolina Panthers, San Francisco 49ers

Accomplishments: Hall of Fame, 5x Pro Bowl, 2x All-Pro, HOF All-1990s Team

The career of defensive end Kevin Greene was nothing short of astounding, as he combined production with longevity in an impressive way. Greene had a whopping 10 seasons with double-digit sacks, with Greene trailing just Bruce Smith and Reggie Wayne on the all-time sack list after his incredible run.

95. Edgerrin James

Position: RB

Years Played: 1999-2009

Teams: Indianapolis Colts, Arizona Cardinals, Seattle Seahawks

Accomplishments: Hall of Fame, 4x Pro Bowl, 1x All-Pro, HOF All-2000s Team, 1999 AP ORoY

A staple of the Peyton Manning-era Colts offenses that were among the best in NFL history, Edgerrin James was dangerous as a rusher and receiver. James had over 15,000 scrimmage yards in his career and over 90 total touchdowns, forcing defenses to respect him along to free up space for their receiving corps.

94. J.J. Watt

Position: DE

Years Played: 2011 - Present

Teams: Houston Texans, Arizona Cardinals

Accomplishments: 5x Pro Bowl, 5x All-Pro, HOF All-2010s Team, 3x AP DPoY

J.J. Watt spent the bulk of his NFL career toiling for a less than stellar franchise in the Houston Texans. But Watt was the bright spot of the franchise for years, racking up over 100 sacks with the Texans. He was also known for regularly batting down passes at the line of scrimmage, and occasionally scoring as an eligible receiver on offense.

93. Darrell Green

Position: DB

Years Played: 1983-2002

Teams: Washington Redskins

Accomplishments: Hall of Fame, 7x Pro Bowl, 1x All-Pro, 2x Super Bowl champion, HOF All-1990s Team

Darrell Green played a major role on the Washington Redskins teams that were consistent contenders and multiple-time Super Bowl champions. Green notched 54 career interceptions, and helped bolster the back end of a Washington defense whose job was made much easier by the Redskins’ clock-munching running game.

92. Frank Gore

Position: RB

Years Played: 2005-2020

Teams: San Francisco 49ers, Indianapolis Colts, Miami Dolphins, Buffalo Bills, New York Jets

Accomplishments: 5x Pro Bowl, HOF All-2010s Team

Longevity at the running back position is hard to come by in the modern era of the NFL, but Frank Gore exemplified it. Gore became one of three players in the history of the NFL to reach 16,000 rushing yards for his career. And while Gore was never considered the best running back in the league, he was always in the conversation.

91. Julius Peppers

Position: DE

Years Played: 2002-2018

Teams: Carolina Panthers, Chicago Bears, Green Bay Packers

Accomplishments: 9x Pro Bowl, 3x All-Pro, HOF All-2000s Team, HOF All-2010s Team, 2002 AP Defensive Rookie of the Year

Julius Peppers was a great all-around defensive end, as he was able to create sacks on a consistent basis. But he was also able to force turnovers, notching 11 career interceptions and 21 fumble recoveries as a defensive lineman. Peppers had 159.5 total sacks in his career, landing him in the top-five when his career ended.

90. Paul Krause

Position: DB/WR

Years Played: 1964-1979

Teams: Washington Redskins, Minnesota Vikings

Accomplishments: Hall of Fame, 8x Pro Bowl, 3x All-Pro, Super Bowl champion

Paul Krause played in an era of the NFL where passing the ball was far less common than it is today. But Krause still manages to top the all-time interceptions list in the history of the NFL. The former Washington Redskin and Minnesota Viking amassed 81 picks in his career, paving the way for ball hawking DBs that came after him.

89. Antonio Gates

Position: TE

Years Played: 2003-2018

Teams: San Diego/Los Angeles Chargers

Accomplishments: 8x Pro Bowl, 3x All-Pro, HOF All-2000s Team

Antonio Gates spent a decade and a half in the NFL, and was incredibly effective during that time period. Gates used his background in basketball to carve out space in red zone situations, racking up 116 receiving touchdowns in his illustrious career. Gates is a surefire Hall of Famer when he becomes eligible.

88. Marcus Allen

Position: RB

Years Played: 1982-1997

Teams: Los Angeles Raiders, Kansas City Chiefs

Accomplishments: Hall of Fame, 6x Pro Bowl, 2x All-Pro, Super Bowl champion, 1985 NFL MVP, 1982 AP ORoY, 1985 AP OPoY

When it comes to exclusive clubs for NFL running backs, Marcus Allen belongs to just about all of them. Allen is on the short list of running backs to have eclipsed 12,000 rushing yards for his career, and is on the even shorter list of backs that have scored 120 or more rushing touchdowns.

87. Jason Witten

Position: TE

Years Played: 2003-2020

Teams: Dallas Cowboys, Las Vegas Raiders

Accomplishments: 11x Pro Bowl, 2x All-Pro

Jason Witten was another standout from the golden age of receiving tight ends in the NFL. Witten spent most of his career with the Dallas Cowboys, catching over 1,200 passes to rank in the top-five in NFL history in receptions when his career was done. Witten was masterful at running short hook routes, boxing out defenders to get open.

86. Adrian Peterson

Position: RB

Years Played: 2007-2021

Teams: Minnesota Vikings, 

Accomplishments: 7x Pro Bowl, 4x All-Pro, 2012 NFL MVP, HOF All-2010s Team, 2007 AP Offensive Rookie of the Year, 2012 AP Offensive Player of the Year, 2012 Comeback Player of the Year

Adrian Peterson was so dominant at his peak at the running back position that he won an NFL MVP award during an era of the game’s history where that award was reserved almost exclusively for quarterbacks. Peterson is in the top-five all-time in rushing yards and touchdowns, and is one of the all-time great backs.

85. Justin Tucker

Position: K

Years Played: 2012-2021

Teams: Baltimore Ravens

Accomplishments: 4x Pro Bowl, 4x All-Pro, Super Bowl champion, HOF All-2010s Team

Justin Tucker might just be the greatest kicker in the history of the NFL. He has converted over 90% of his career field goal attempts, and holds the record for the longest field goal in league history with a successful boot from 66 yards. When the game is on the line, only Adam Vinatieri could be argued as a kicker you would want more.

84. Franco Harris

Position: RB

Years Played: 1972-1984

Teams: Pittsburgh Steelers, Seattle Seahawks

Accomplishments: Hall of Fame, 9x Pro Bowl, 1x All-Pro, 4x Super Bowl champion, HOF All-1970s Team, 1972 AP ORoY

The NFL player who pulled in The Immaculate Reception, Franco Harris was one of the offensive engines propelling the Steel Curtain Steelers to success. Harris amassed 100 total touchdowns between rushing and receiving scores, and averaged 4.1 yards per carry in over 2,900 carries, including two 300+ carry seasons.

83. Troy Polamalu

Position: DB

Years Played: 2003-2014

Teams: Pittsburgh Steelers

Accomplishments: Hall of Fame, 8x Pro Bowl, 4x All-Pro, 2x Super Bowl champion, HOF All-2000s Team, 2010 AP DPoY

Troy Polamalu was the consummate playmaker in the secondary for the Pittsburgh Steelers during the 2000s. Polamalu had 32 interceptions in his Steelers career, but his ability to blow up plays in the backfield and make an impact anywhere on the field was what made him one of the all-time great defenders in NFL history.

82. Warren Moon

Position: QB

Years Played: 1984-2000

Teams: Houston Oilers, Minnesota Vikings, Seattle Seahawks, Kansas City Chiefs

Accomplishments: Hall of Fame, 9x Pro Bowl, 1990 AP OPoY

Warren Moon was a prolific passer, during a time where prolific passers were harder to come by. Moon threw for over 49,000 yards and 291 touchdowns in his NFL career, which came after he won five Grey Cups in the CFL. Moon was simply ahead of his time with the way he could push the ball downfield.

81. Michael Strahan

Position: DE

Years Played: 1993-2007

Teams: New York Giants

Accomplishments: Hall of Fame, 7x Pro Bowl, 4x All-Pro, Super Bowl champion, HOF All-2000s Team, 2001 AP DPoY

Michael Strahan was the heart and soul of the New York Giants defense that ended Tom Brady and the Patriots’ perfect season in Super Bowl XLII. And while the circumstances of his single-season sack record are dubious at best, Strahan was elite at pressuring the quarterback even when Brett Favre wasn’t falling down in front of him.

80. Bruce Matthews

Position: OL

Years Played: 1983-2001

Teams: Houston Oilers, Tennessee Titans

Accomplishments: Hall of Fame, 14x Pro Bowl, 7x All-Pro, HOF All-1990s Team

Bruce Matthews was the picture of consistency on the offensive line of the Houston Oilers, who later became the Tennessee Titans. Matthews made an eye-popping 14 Pro Bowls in a row, and was one of the reasons that players like Eddie George and Steve McNair were able to flourish with the Titans franchise.

79. Art Shell

Position: OT

Years Played: 1968-1982

Teams: Oakland/Los Angeles Raiders

Accomplishments: Hall of Fame, 8x Pro Bowl, 2x All-Pro, 2x Super Bowl champion, HOF All-1970s Team

Before becoming a coach in the NFL, Art Shell was a very successful offensive lineman as a member of the Raiders. Shell helped the Raiders win two Super Bowls during the era that was led by legendary coach John Madden and Ken Stabler, and was named to the league’s 100th Anniversary All-Time Team. 

78. Mike Webster

Position: OL

Years Played: 1974-1990

Teams: Pittsburgh Steelers, Kansas City Chiefs

Accomplishments: Hall of Fame, 9x Pro Bowl, 5x All-Pro, 4x Super Bowl champion, HOF All-1970s Team, HOF All-1980s Team

Mike Webster might be the greatest center in the history of the NFL, as he served as the center of the Pittsburgh Steelers’ offensive line in the 1970s. Webster helped the Steelers win four Super Bowls between 1974 and 1979. He is one of the few players to be named to two all-decade teams, as he helped the Steelers in the 1970s and 1980s.

77. Patrick Mahomes

Position: QB

Years Played: 2017-Present

Teams: Kansas City Chiefs

Accomplishments: 3x Pro Bowl, 1x All-Pro, Super Bowl champion, 2018 NFL MVP, 2018 AP OPoY

Patrick Mahomes’ career is far from over, but he has already proven himself to be one of the all-time great quarterbacks. Mahomes won an MVP in his first full season as the Kansas City Chiefs’ quarterback, making multiple Super Bowls within his first three seasons in the NFL. And Mahomes has room to get better, which should terrify opposing defenses.

76. Kurt Warner

Position: QB

Years Played: 1998-2009

Teams: St. Louis Rams, New York Giants, Arizona Cardinals

Accomplishments: Hall of Fame, 4x Pro Bowl, 2x All-Pro, Super Bowl champion, 2x NFL MVP

Kurt Warner’s path to the NFL included working at a grocery store and time in the Arena Football League. But Warner took advantage of his opportunities in the NFL, turning the St. Louis Rams into the Greatest Show on Turf and making a Super Bowl with the Arizona Cardinals during his 11-year career.

75. Derrick Brooks

Position: LB

Years Played: 1995-2008

Teams: Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Accomplishments: Hall of Fame, 11x Pro Bowl, 5x All-Pro, Super Bowl champion, HOF All-2000s Team, 2002 AP DPoY

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers had some of the most fearsome defenses in the NFL during the 2000s, and Derrick Brooks was a huge reason why. Brooks embodied the hard-hitting style of the Buccaneers defense, and helped them to win a Super Bowl over the Oakland Raiders to put the cherry on top of his All-Pro career.

74. Aaron Donald

Position: DT

Years Played: 2014-Present

Teams: St. Louis/Los Angeles Rams

Accomplishments: 7x Pro Bowl, 6x All-Pro, HOF All-2010s Team, 2014 AP DRoY, 3x AP DPoY

Aaron Donald is another NFL player whose career is far from over, but whose impacts on the game have already warranted a spot on this list. Donald has won multiple Defensive Player of the Year awards, and has completely changed the way that teams have to game plan against his Los Angeles Rams teams.

73. Fran Tarkenton

Position: QB

Years Played: 1961-1978

Teams: Minnesota Vikings, New York Giants

Accomplishments: Hall of Fame, 9x Pro Bowl, 1x All-Pro, 1975 NFL MVP, 1975 AP OPoY

One of the pioneers of passing offense in the NFL is Fran Tarkenton, whose career numbers are incredible given that he played in the 1960s and 1970s. Tarkenton threw for 47,003 yards in his career and 342 touchdown passes. The fact that his numbers are better than all but a few modern quarterbacks speaks volumes about his career.

72. Kellen Winslow Sr.

Position: TE

Years Played: 1979-1987

Teams: San Diego Chargers

Accomplishments: Hall of Fame, 5x Pro Bowl, 3x All-Pro, HOF All-1980s Team

Kellen Winslow ended his career with the Chargers as one of the most threatening receiving tight ends in NFL history. He was a part of the famous Air Coryell passing attack in San Diego, and served as a pioneer for future pass catching focused tight ends, which have become commonplace in the league since.

71. Tony Dorsett

Position: RB

Years Played: 1977-1988

Teams: Dallas Cowboys, Denver Broncos

Accomplishments: Hall of Fame, 4x Pro Bowl, 1x All-Pro, Super Bowl champion, 1977 AP ORoY

Tony Dorsett was another 12,000 yard rusher who spent time with the Dallas Cowboys, helping their offense move in the late 1970s into the 1980s. Dorsett eclipsed 16,000 scrimmage yards in his career, catching nearly 400 passes in his career and getting himself to 90 total touchdowns between his rushing and receiving.

70. Walter Jones

Position: OT

Years Played: 1997-2008

Teams: Seattle Seahawks

Accomplishments: Hall of Fame, 9x Pro Bowl, 4x All-Pro, HOF All-2000s Team

Walter Jones paved the way for offensive success for the Seattle Seahawks for over a decade. He helped the team have success with Matt Hasselbeck at quarterback, and helped clear a path for Shaun Alexander to have one of the best seasons by a running back in the 2000s. Jones was synonymous with successful Seahawks offense in his career.

69. Rob Gronkowski

Position: TE

Years Played: 2010-2021

Teams: New England Patriots, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Accomplishments: 5x Pro Bowl, 4x All-Pro, 4x Super Bowl champion, HOF All-2010s Team, 2014 Comeback Player of the Year

Rob Gronkowski was the epitome of pro football at his peak. He was able to make catches over the top of defenders and run tacklers over, all with a sort of grace that only made sense if you had seen him play. Gronkowski has over 90 total touchdowns in his career, and was a preferred target of Tom Brady for over a decade.

68. Terry Bradshaw

Position: QB

Years Played: 1970-1983

Teams: Pittsburgh Steelers

Accomplishments: Hall of Fame, 3x Pro Bowl, 1x All-Pro, 4x Super Bowl champion, 1978 NFL MVP, HOF All-1970s Team

While many football fans know him just as the smiling face on NFL pregame shows, Terry Bradshaw was an excellent quarterback in an era that didn’t have many of those. Bradshaw was able to throw the ball deep to targets like Lynn Swann on a regular basis, helping the Pittsburgh Steelers win multiple Super Bowls in the process.

67. Raymond Berry

Position: SE

Years Played: 1955-1967

Teams: Baltimore Colts

Accomplishments: Hall of Fame, 6x Pro Bowl, 3x All-Pro, 2x NFL champion, HOF All-1950s Team

Raymond Berry was one of the first really effective receiving options in the history of the NFL, despite putting up numbers that were easily surpassed by today’s players. Berry retired from football with the lead in all-time receptions and receiving yards, and was remembered for catching 12 balls for 178 yards and a score in the 1958 NFL Championship Game.

66. Michael Irvin

Position: WR

Years Played: 1988-1999

Teams: Dallas Cowboys

Accomplishments: Hall of Fame, 5x Pro Bowl, 1x All-Pro, 3x Super Bowl champion, HOF All-1990s Team

Michael Irvin was arguably what made the Dallas Cowboys teams of the 1990s work. Irvin was a dynamic receiving threat, amassing over 11,000 receiving yards for his career. That forced defenses to respect his connection with Troy Aikman, and forced them not to crowd the box against Emmitt Smith every down.

65. Bart Starr

Position: QB

Years Played: 1956-1971

Teams: Green Bay Packers

Accomplishments: Hall of Fame, 4x Pro Bowl, 1x All-Pro, 2x Super Bowl champion, 5x NFL champion, 1966 NFL MVP, HOF All-1960s Team

Bart Starr’s statistical outputs at the quarterback position don’t quite measure up against those from today’s NFL players. But Starr was exemplary for his era, and won a massive seven championships over the course of his career. He helped usher in the Super Bowl era with two Super Bowls after winning five pre-Super Bowl titles.

64. Marvin Harrison

Position: WR

Years Played: 1996-2008

Teams: Indianapolis Colts

Accomplishments: Hall of Fame, 8x Pro Bowl, 3x All-Pro, Super Bowl champion, HOF All-2000s Team

The best wide receiver of the Peyton Manning era Colts, Marvin Harrison was always a threat to make something happen on the outside. Harrison was hailed as one of the best route runners of all-time, constantly finding space to get open when defenses knew that Peyton Manning was going to throw to him.

63. John Mackey

Position: TE

Years Played: 1963-1972

Teams: Baltimore Colts, San Diego Chargers

Accomplishments: Hall of Fame, 5x Pro Bowl, 3x All-Pro, Super Bowl champion, NFL champion, HOF All-1960s Team

In the less than pass-happy 1960s, John Mackey still found a way to be a receiving threat from the tight end position. Mackey averaged 15.8 yards per catch for his career during a time where vertical passing wasn’t as common as it is today. And his 38 career touchdown grabs served as a precursor for the more modern tight ends we see today.

62. Sid Luckman

Position: QB/HB/DB

Years Played: 1939-1950

Teams: Chicago Bears

Accomplishments: Hall of Fame, 3x Pro Bowl, 5x All-Pro, 4x NFL champion, HOF All-1940s Team

Sid Luckman didn’t put the ball in the air much for a quarterback, amassing 1,744 pass attempts for his entire career. But he averaged 8.4 yards per pass attempt over the course of that career, which would be above average even by today’s standards. His 28-touchdown season back in 1943 was nothing short of an anomaly at the time.

61. Jonathan Ogden

Position: OL

Years Played: 1996-2007

Teams: Baltimore Ravens

Accomplishments: Hall of Fame, 11x Pro Bowl, 4x All-Pro, Super Bowl champion, HOF All-2000s Team

Jonathan Ogden was not always responsible for protecting a quality quarterback in Baltimore as a member of the Ravens. But no matter who Ogden was blocking for, he did it admirably, as he was regularly one of the best offensive linemen in the NFL over the course of a career where he went to the Pro Bowl 11 times.

60. Jack Ham

Position: LB

Years Played: 1971-1982

Teams: Pittsburgh Steelers

Accomplishments: Hall of Fame, 8x Pro Bowl, 6x All-Pro, 4x Super Bowl champion, HOF All-1970s Team

Jack Ham was a key member of the Steel Curtain defense that the Steelers used to employ in the 1970s. Ham helped the Steelers win four Super Bowls during that era, as the Steelers linebacker served to intimidate opponents with his ability to deliver hard hits on a regular basis to help his team.

59. Charles Woodson

Position: DB

Years Played: 1998-2015

Teams: Oakland Raiders, Green Bay Packers

Accomplishments: Hall of Fame, 9x Pro Bowl, 3x All-Pro, Super Bowl champion, HOF All-2000s Team, 1998 AP DRoY, 2009 AP DPoY

To this day, only four players in the history of the NFL have more interceptions than Charles Woodson. Woodson amassed 65 career interceptions over the course of his career, making him an elite ball hawk that was virtually unmatched in his ability to force turnovers from opposing passers.

58. Lance Alworth

Position: WR

Years Played: 1962-1972

Teams: San Diego Chargers, Dallas Cowboys

Accomplishments: Hall of Fame, 7x Pro Bowl, 6x All-Pro, Super Bowl champion, AFL champion

For a six-year period or so, there may not have been a better wide receiver in the NFL than Lance Alworth. Alworth had a run of scoring 10 or more touchdowns in five of six seasons, helping him get to his career total of 85. Alworth was famous for helping to elevate the San Diego Chargers’ offense in particular.

57. Larry Fitzgerald

Position: WR

Years Played: 2004-2020

Teams: Arizona Cardinals

Accomplishments: 11x Pro Bowl, 1x All-Pro, HOF All-2010s Team

Larry Fitzgerald spent his career with just one team: the Arizona Cardinals. And while he never did collect a Super Bowl ring, Fitzgerald was an elite wide receiver through times with Hall of Fame quarterbacks or quarterbacks who would never sniff Canton. And he did it all with Fitzgerald’s trademark grace.

56. Orlando Pace

Position: OT

Years Played: 1997-2009

Teams: St. Louis Rams, Chicago Bears

Accomplishments: Hall of Fame, 7x Pro Bowl, 3x All-Pro, Super Bowl champion, HOF All-2000s Team

Serving as one of the top blockers for the “Greatest Show on Turf,” Orlando Pace helped make it possible for the Rams to have the passing attack that they did. Kurt Warner and Marc Bulger both benefited significantly from the pass protection that Pace provided, as they were able to have sustained runs of success in St. Louis.

55. Junior Seau

Position: LB

Years Played: 1990-2009

Teams: San Diego Chargers, Miami Dolphins, New England Patriots

Accomplishments: Hall of Fame, 12x Pro Bowl, 6x All-Pro, HOF All-1990s Team

Junior Seau was a linebacker that struck fear into the hearts of opponents on a regular basis. He spent most of his career in San Diego with the Chargers, but was also a part of the Patriots team that went undefeated into Super Bowl XLII. Seau never won a Super Bowl, but was always one of the best linebackers in the NFL.

54. Gene Upshaw

Position: G

Years Played: 1967-1981

Teams: Oakland Raiders

Accomplishments: Hall of Fame, 7x Pro Bowl, 5x All-Pro, 2x Super Bowl champion, AFL champion, HOF All-1970s Team

Gene Upshaw was another piece of the Oakland Raiders offensive line that makes this list, after Art Shell was a part of it earlier in the countdown. Upshaw was another reason that the Raiders were so able to make plays offensively, with Ken Stabler and Fred Biletnikoff thriving from the protection Upshaw and company provided.

53. Earl Campbell

Position: RB

Years Played: 1978-1985

Teams: Houston Oilers, New Orleans Saints

Accomplishments: HOF, 5x Pro Bowl, 3x All-Pro, 1979 NFL MVP, HOF All-1970s Team, 1978 AP ORoY, 3x AP OPoY

Earl Livingston Campbell didn’t have a particularly long career, playing eight seasons total in the NFL. But he found the end zone at least 10 times in five of his first six seasons, including a 19-touchdown year in 1979, where he was named the Most Valuable Player in the league that season.

52. Marshall Faulk

Position: RB

Years Played: 1994-2005

Teams: Indianapolis Colts, St. Louis Rams

Accomplishments: Hall of Fame, 7x Pro Bowl, 3x All-Pro, Super Bowl champion, 2000 NFL MVP, 1994 AP ORoY, 3x AP OPoY

Marshall Faulk was able to do it all out of the backfield for the St. Louis Rams in his day. Faulk was great both as a rusher and as a pass catcher, which really enhanced what the St. Louis Rams were capable of offensively. He was the perfect back to pair with Isaac Bruce and Torry Holt during the “Greatest Show on Turf” run.

51. Chuck Bednarik

Position: LB/C

Years Played: 1949-1962

Teams: Philadelphia Eagles

Accomplishments: Hall of Fame, 8x Pro Bowl, 6x All-Pro, 2x NFL champion, HOF All-1950s Team

Chuck Bednarik was intimidating as a linebacker for the Philadelphia Eagles, making eight Pro Bowls and being named to his all-decade team. In addition to his intimidation factor, Bednarik also snagged 20 interceptions in his career, during a time where there weren’t nearly as many passes to intercept.

50. Red Grange

Position: HB/DB

Years Played: 1925-1934

Teams: Chicago Bears, New York Yankees

Accomplishments: Hall of Fame, 2x All-Pro, 2x NFL champion, HOF All-1920s Team

Known as The Galloping Ghost, Red Grange was more of a pioneer than anything else during his time in the NFL. Grange played in an era where they did not keep track of rush attempts or yardage until more than half of his career was done, but he did score 31 total touchdowns from scrimmage over the course of his eight-year career.

49. Terrell Owens

Position: WR

Years Played: 1996-2010

Teams: San Francisco 49ers, Philadelphia Eagles, Dallas Cowboys, Buffalo Bills, Cincinnati Bengals

Accomplishments: Hall of Fame, 6x Pro Bowl, 5x All-Pro, HOF All-2000s Team

Terrell Owens was always more of a spectacle than he was an NFL player, which is a shame given that he was an all-time great wide receiver. Owens ended his career in the top-three in receiving yards and touchdowns, and was one of three players all-time to end his career with at least 150 receiving touchdowns.

48. Mel Blount

Position: DB

Years Played: 1970-1983

Teams: Pittsburgh Steelers

Accomplishments: Hall of Fame, 5x Pro Bowl, 2x All-Pro, 4x Super Bowl champion, HOF All-1980s Team, 1975 AP DPoY

Mel Blount served as the ball hawking defensive back that greatly aided the Steel Curtain defense of the 1970s. Blount intercepted 57 passes in his career, and was there to clean things up when the defensive front of the Steelers was unable to impose its will on a given play.

47. O.J. Simpson

Position: RB

Years Played: 1969-1979

Teams: Buffalo Bills, San Francisco 49ers

Accomplishments: Hall of Fame, 6x Pro Bowl, 5x All-Pro, 1973 NFL MVP, HOF All-1970s Team, 1973 AP OPoY

As a running back, O.J. Simpson definitely belongs in the discussion as one of the best ever. Simpson rushed for 2,003 yards in a 14-game season back in 1973, and scored over 100 total touchdowns over the course of his career. The fact that he was able to do so much in 14-game seasons was astounding.

46. Gino Marchetti

Position: DL

Years Played: 1952-1966

Teams: Dallas Texans, Baltimore Colts

Accomplishments: Hall of Fame, 11x Pro Bowl, 7x All-Pro, 2x NFL champion, HOF All-1950s Team

Playing in the NFL for 14 years and making 11 Pro Bowls is a sign that an NFL player was doing something right, and Gino Marchetti was clearly doing something right during his career. When sacks started being recorded as a stat in the NFL, Marchetti was regularly contributing double-digit sack seasons for the Baltimore Colts.

45. Rod Woodson

Position: DB

Years Played: 1987-2003

Teams: Pittsburgh Steelers, San Francisco 49ers, Baltimore Ravens, Oakland Raiders

Accomplishments: Hall of Fame, 11x Pro Bowl, 6x All-Pro, Super Bowl champion, HOF All-1990s Team, 1993 AP DPoY

Another ball hawking Woodson to make this list, Rod Woodson became one of just three players all-time to snag 70 or more interceptions in his career. Woodson made 11 Pro Bowls at defensive back, and managed to get his hands on a Super Bowl over the course of his incredible career.

44. LaDainian Tomlinson

Position: RB

Years Played: 2001-2011

Teams: San Diego Chargers, New York Jets

Accomplishments: Hall of Fame, 5x Pro Bowl, 3x All-Pro, 2006 NFL MVP, HOF All-2000s Team, 2006 AP OPoY

LaDainian Tomlinson was so good that he was nicknamed LT, even though that nickname had previously belonged to Lawrence Taylor. Tomlinson was a threat to score every time he touched the ball, and finished second behind just Emmitt Smith in rushing touchdowns when his career came to an end.

43. Bronko Nagurski

Position: FB/LB/OT

Years Played: 1930-1943

Teams: Chicago Bears

Accomplishments: Hall of Fame, 4x All-Pro, 3x NFL champion, HOF All-1930s Team

In addition to having one of the best names in the history of the NFL, Bronko Nagurski was the type of NFL player who set the tone for future NFL running backs. Nagurski averaged 4.4 yards per carry during the portion of his career where attempts and yardage were tracked, scoring 25 rushing touchdowns in his career.

42. Roger Staubach

Position: QB

Years Played: 1969-1979

Teams: Dallas Cowboys

Accomplishments: Hall of Fame, 6x Pro Bowl, 2x Super Bowl champion, HOF All-1970s Team

Roger Staubach was the quarterback for the very successful 1970s Dallas Cowboys, and had an incredible 85-29 record as the team’s quarterback during his decade-long career. Staubach had multiple 3,000 yard passing seasons down the stretch of his career, which was a major accomplishment when he was playing football.

41. Steve Young

Position: QB

Years Played: 1985-1999

Teams: Tampa Bay Buccaneers, San Francisco 49ers

Accomplishments: Hall of Fame, 7x Pro Bowl, 3x All-Pro, 3x Super Bowl champion, 2x NFL MVP, 1992 AP OPoY

Steve Young helped the San Francisco 49ers win three Super Bowls in the 1990s, putting up some solid numbers along the way. From 1992 on, Young had four seasons with 25 or more touchdown passes, and multiple 4,000 yard passing seasons for a Niners team that made things easy on Jerry Rice with Young’s quarterback play.

40. Ray Nitschke

Position: LB

Years Played: 1958-1972

Teams: Green Bay Packers

Accomplishments: Hall of Fame, 1x Pro Bowl, 2x All-Pro, 2x Super Bowl champion, 5x NFL champion, HOF All-1960s Team

When you think of the bruising defenders of the 1960s in the NFL, you think of players like Ray Nitschke. A hard-hitting linebacker for Green Bay, Nitschke just looked like a player who you did not want to have to line up against. He was the backbone of a Packers defense that won seven championships with him around.

39. Eric Dickerson

Position: RB

Years Played: 1983-1993

Teams: Los Angeles Rams, Indianapolis Colts, Los Angeles Raiders, Atlanta Falcons

Accomplishments: Hall of Fame, 6x Pro Bowl, 5x All-Pro, HOF All-1980s Team, 1983 AP ORoY, 1896 AP OPoY

Eric Dickerson belongs to an exclusive club, which may not be taking additional members anytime soon. Dickerson is one of just nine running backs in the history of the NFL to rush for 13,000 yards in his career, and he had 90 scores on the ground to show for all that yardage.

38. Jim Thorpe

Position: RB/FB

Years Played: 1920-1928

Teams: Oorang Indians, New York Giants, Canton Bulldogs

Accomplishments: Hall of Fame, 1x All-Pro, HOF All-1920s Team

Jim Thorpe was a player in the NFL during a time where statistics like rush attempts and rushing yards weren’t kept yet. But Thorpe was one of the first real stars of the NFL, and can be remembered for that even if he wasn’t being cataloged statistically the same way that the stars of today are.

37. Mike Singletary

Position: LB

Years Played: 1981-1992

Teams: Chicago Bears

Accomplishments: Hall of Fame, 10x Pro Bowl, 7x All-Pro, Super Bowl champion, HOF All-1980s Team, 2x AP DPoY

The Chicago Bears of the 1980s were fearsome on defense, and there weren’t many bigger reasons why than Mike Singletary. Singletary was a 10-time Pro Bowler as a linebacker for those Bears teams, helping Chicago to win a Super Bowl with its 1985 team. Singletary kept the tradition of intimidating linebackers alive in Chicago.

36. Bob Lilly

Position: DL

Years Played: 1961-1974

Teams: Dallas Cowboys

Accomplishments: Hall of Fame, 11x Pro Bowl, 7x All-Pro, Super Bowl champion, HOF All-1960s Team, HOF All-1970s Team

Bob Lilly was the key piece of the defense of the Dallas Cowboys during his playing career, during an era where the Cowboys defense was known as the Doomsday Defense. He made 11 Pro Bowls during his career, and will always be remembered for causing a 29-yard los in the Super Bowl against the Miami Dolphins with a sack.

35. John Hannah

Position: G

Years Played: 1973-1985

Teams: New England Patriots

Accomplishments: Hall of Fame, 9x Pro Bowl, 7x All-Pro, HOF All-1970s Team, HOF All-1980s Team

John Hannah is one of the best offensive linemen to ever play the game of professional football. Hannah made two NFL all-decade teams thanks to a career that spanned the majority of the 1970s and half of the 1980s as well. He was largely considered the best offensive lineman ever until Anthony Munoz came around.

34. Merlin Olsen

Position: DT

Years Played: 1962-1976

Teams: Los Angeles Rams

Accomplishments: Hall of Fame, 14x Pro Bowl, 5x All-Pro, HOF All-1960s Team, HOF All-1970s Team

The career of Merlin Olsen was so dominant, as he was selected to 14 straight Pro Bowls during a 15 season career. The only year that Olsen didn’t get into the Pro Bowl was his final season. Olsen was a key member of the Fearsome Foursome defensive line along with Deacon Jones in Los Angeles.

34. Drew Brees

Position: QB

Years Played: 2001-2020

Teams: San Diego Chargers, New Orleans Saints

Accomplishments: 13x Pro Bowl, 1x All-Pro, Super Bowl champion, 2004 AP Comeback Player of the Year, 2x AP OPoY

Drew Brees finished his NFL career as the first player to ever throw for 80,000 yards. In the modern day NFL, where passing offenses have free reign to do as they please, Brees took full advantage by putting up massive numbers. And he got his lone Super Bowl ring by beating Peyton Manning and the Indianapolis Colts.

32. Brett Favre

Position: QB

Years Played: 1991-2010

Teams: Atlanta Falcons, Green Bay Packers, New York Jets, Minnesota Vikings

Accomplishments: Hall of Fame, 11x Pro Bowl, 3x All-Pro, Super Bowl champion, 3x NFL MVP, HOF All-1990s Team, 1995 AP OPoY

There may not have been a quarterback more willing to take chances throwing the ball down the field than Brett Favre. Favre ended his career with the most touchdown passes thrown, but also the most interceptions thrown, making his career a sort of fascinating enigma as he balanced explosive plays with turnovers.

31. Aaron Rodgers

Position: QB

Years Played: 2005-Present

Teams: Green Bay Packers

Accomplishments: 9x Pro Bowl, 3x All-Pro, Super Bowl champion, 3x NFL MVP, HOF All-2010s Team

Aaron Rodgers was drafted as Brett Favre’s backup in Green Bay, and has since fully stepped out of Favre’s shadow. Rodgers is known for making some truly incredible throws while on the run, including a series of Hail Mary passes that most quarterbacks couldn’t even dream of making.

30. Otto Graham

Position: QB/DB

Years Played: 1946-1955

Teams: Cleveland Browns

Accomplishments: Hall of Fame, 5x Pro Bowl, 7x All-Pro, 3x NFL champion, 4x AAFC champion, HOF All-1950s Team

While the success of a football team wasn’t as quarterback-dependent as it is today, Otto Graham gets a lot of credit for one of the most dominant runs in football history. The Cleveland Browns made it to championship games in 10 straight seasons, and Graham was the driving force behind that success on offense.

29. Dick “Night Train” Lane

Position: DB/DE

Years Played: 1952-1965

Teams: Los Angeles Rams, Chicago Cardinals, Detroit Lions

Accomplishments: Hall of Fame, 7x Pro Bowl, 3x All-Pro, HOF All-1950s Team

In addition to having one of the best nicknames in all of sports, Dick “Night Train” Lane, was also one of the best defensive backs that the sport has ever seen. Lane had 68 career interceptions by the time his career was over, putting him ahead of names like Ed Reed and Ronnie Lott all-time.

28. Tony Gonzalez

Position: TE

Years Played: 1997-2013

Teams: Kansas City Chiefs, Atlanta Falcons

Accomplishments: Hall of Fame, 14x Pro Bowl, 6x All-Pro, HOF All-2000s Team

Tony Gonzalez was a all-time great tight end for two different teams over the course of his NFL career. He spent the bulk of his time in Kansas City, joining Priest Holmes as the cornerstones of that offense. But he also had a great second act in Atlanta as a member of the Falcons, catching touchdowns from Matt Ryan.

27. Jack Lambert

Position: LB

Years Played: 1974-1984

Teams: Pittsburgh Steelers

Accomplishments: Hall of Fame, 9x Pro Bowl, 6x All-Pro, 4x Super Bowl champion, HOF All-1970s Team, HOF All-1980s Team, 1974 AP DRoY, 1976 AP DPoY

Jack Lambert was another intimidating linebacker from the Pittsburgh “Steel Curtain” defense that made the Steelers great in the 1970s. Lambert was a Pro Bowler in nine seasons out of the 11 that he played, with only the first and last seasons of his career not resulting in a Pro Bowl nod.

26. Don Hutson

Position: SE/DB

Years Played: 1935-1945

Teams: Green Bay Packers

Accomplishments: Hall of Fame, 4x Pro Bowl, 8x All-Pro, 3x NFL champion, HOF All-1930s Team

Don Hutson isn’t exactly a household name, as he played in the 1930s before football gained the mainstream popularity it has today. But Hutson was a prolific receiver for those times, as he took advantage of the forward pass to the tune of 99 receiving touchdowns in just 488 receptions.

25. Ray Lewis

Position: LB

Years Played: 1996-2012

Teams: Baltimore Ravens

Accomplishments: Hall of Fame, 12x Pro Bowl, 7x All-Pro, 2x Super Bowl champion, HOF All-2000s Team, 2x AP DPoY

The leader of the 2000s Baltimore Ravens defenses, Ray Lewis was a middle linebacker that would change the way opponents would play offense. The 12-time Pro Bowler would cause teams to stop throwing over the middle, to avoid the big hits that Lewis would put on opposing receivers.

24. Ed Reed

Position: DB

Years Played: 2002-2013

Teams: Baltimore Ravens, Houston Texans, New York Jets

Accomplishments: Hall of Fame, 9x Pro Bowl, 5x All-Pro, Super Bowl champion, HOF All-2000s Team, 2004 AP DPoY

Ed Reed was commonly described as a ball hawk, but he was so much more than that for the Baltimore Ravens. Yes, his 64 career interceptions were impressive, but Reed also scored nine defensive touchdowns in his career, and constantly returned interceptions a great distance to give his team better field position.

23. Bruce Smith

Position: DE

Years Played: 1985-2003

Teams: Buffalo Bills, Washington Redskins

Accomplishments: Hall of Fame, 11x Pro Bowl, 8x All-Pro, HOF All-1980s Team, HOF All-1990s Team, 2x AP DPoY

Bruce Smith is the only player in the history of the NFL to amass 200 sacks in their career. He did the majority of his work as a member of the Buffalo Bills, playing on the teams that went to four straight Super Bowls. Smith stayed in the league for nearly two entire decades, wreaking havoc on quarterbacks for the majority of that time.

22. Deion Sanders

Position: DB/WR

Years Played: 1989-2005

Teams: Atlanta Falcons, San Francisco 49ers, Dallas Cowboys, Washington Redskins, Baltimore Ravens

Accomplishments: Hall of Fame, 8x Pro Bowl, 6x All-Pro, 2x Super Bowl champion, HOF All-1990s Team, 1994 AP DPoY

Though he wasn’t a big fan of tackling, Deion Sanders was a memorable defensive back, as he was a true shutdown corner. His interception numbers aren’t up there on the all-time list, but that is because he was so good at what he did that teams would simply opt not to throw to his side of the field in many cases.

21. Deacon Jones

Position: DE

Years Played: 1961-1974

Teams: Los Angeles Rams, San Diego Chargers, Washington Redskins

Accomplishments: Hall of Fame, 8x Pro Bowl, 5x All-Pro, HOF All-1960s Team

Deacon Jones was known as the Minister of Defense, as he was one of the first players to really become known for putting pressure on the quarterback and racking up sacks. Jones had over 170 career sacks, including three seasons with 20 sacks or more for the Los Angeles Rams, earning first-team and second-team All-Pro status regularly as a result.

20. Sammy Baugh

Position: QB

Years Played: 1937-1952

Teams: Washington Redskins

Accomplishments: Hall of Fame, 6x Pro Bowl, 4x All-Pro, 2x NFL champion, HOF All-1940s Team

The statistics for Sammy Baugh don’t jump off the page, as he had 187 touchdown passes and 203 interceptions for his career. But “Slinging” Sammy Baugh was one of the first quarterbacks tasked with putting the ball in the air on a regular basis, throwing the football 2,995 times in the 1930s through the early 1950s.

19. Dick Butkus

Position: LB

Years Played: 1965-1973

Teams: Chicago Bears

Accomplishments: Hall of Fame, 8x Pro Bowl, 5x All-Pro, HOF All-1960s Team, HOF All-1970s Team

Before Mike Singletary, it was Dick Butkus who was leading the defense of the Chicago Bears from the linebacker position. Butkus was intimidation personified for the Bears during that time, making eight Pro Bowls in the process. Butkus made two separate all-decade teams for his efforts.

18. Dan Marino

Position: QB

Years Played: 1983-1999

Teams: Miami Dolphins

Accomplishments: Hall of Fame, 9x Pro Bowl, 3x All-Pro, 1984 NFL MVP, 1984 AP OPoY

While he never won a Super Bowl ring, Dan Marino was and always will be one of the most notable quarterbacks ever to take an NFL field. Marino threw for over 60,000 yards as a member of the Miami Dolphins, notching an incredible 420 touchdown passes for a team that was regularly one of the best in the AFC.

17. Gale Sayers

Position: RB

Years Played: 1965-1971

Teams: Chicago Bears

Accomplishments: Hall of Fame, 4x Pro Bowl, 5x All-Pro, HOF All-1960s Team, 1965 AP RoY

Gale Sayers had a relatively short career in the NFL, playing seven seasons in the league before calling it quits. But Sayers was one of the most dynamic running backs in the history of the NFL at that time, averaging five yards per carry during an era of competition where three yards and a cloud of dust were more common.

16. John Elway

Position: QB

Years Played: 1983-1998

Teams: Denver Broncos

Accomplishments: Hall of Fame, 9x Pro Bowl, 2x Super Bowl champion, 1987 NFL MVP, HOF All-1990s Team

Some of the most memorable moments in the history of the NFL have come from John Elway. The two-time Super Bowl champion has led memorable drives, been hit in mid-air and spun like a helicopter, and been a part of several all-time great games. There is no question he is among the best quarterbacks to ever play the sport.

15. Emmitt Smith

Position: RB

Years Played: 1990-2004

Teams: Dallas Cowboys, Arizona Cardinals

Accomplishments: Hall of Fame, 8x Pro Bowl, 4x All-Pro, 3x Super Bowl champion, 1993 NFL MVP, HOF All-1990s Team, 1990 AP ORoY

Emmitt Smith was the running threat that the 1990s Dallas Cowboys so sorely needed. Joining a passing game led by Troy Aikman and Michael Irvin, Smith fit right in in the Dallas backfield. A few Super Bowls later, Smith ended his career with multiple championships, along with the all-time record for rushing yards.

14. Joe Greene

Position: DT

Years Played: 1969-1981

Teams: Pittsburgh Steelers

Accomplishments: Hall of Fame, 10x Pro Bowl, 4x All-Pro, 4x Super Bowl champion, HOF All-1970s Team, 1969 AP DRoY, 2x AP DPoY

There might not be a better moniker for a defensive player in the history of the NFL than “Mean” Joe Greene of the Pittsburgh Steelers. That nickname was well-deserved, too, as Greene brought a physicality up front that made things easier on the rest of the Steelers teams that went on to win four Super Bowls.

13. Ronnie Lott

Position: DB

Years Played: 1981-1994

Teams: San Francisco 49ers, Los Angeles Raiders, New York Jets

Accomplishments: Hall of Fame, 10x Pro Bowl, 6x All-Pro, 4x Super Bowl champion, HOF All-1980s Team, HOF All-1990s Team

Ronnie Lott had a combination of skills that was ahead of his time. He was able to force turnovers and intercept passes on a regular basis. And he was also able to deliver hard hits that would separate receivers from the football if necessary. Lott was an ideal safety for being able to do both.

12. Randy Moss

Position: WR

Years Played: 1998-2012

Teams: Minnesota Vikings, Oakland Raiders, New England Patriots, Tennessee Titans, San Francisco 49ers

Accomplishments: Hall of Fame, 6x Pro Bowl, 4x All-Pro, HOF All-2000s Team, 1998 AP ORoY, 2007 PFWA Comeback Player of the Year

Randy Moss is the best wide receiver in the history of the NFL to many, as his ability to make big plays down the field was unmatched. Moss was able to outrun defensive backs to catch deep passes on a regular basis, and was known for being able to win in jump ball situations against defensive backs also.

11. Anthony Munoz

Position: OT

Years Played: 1980-1992

Teams: Cincinnati Bengals

Accomplishments: Hall of Fame, 11x Pro Bowl, 9x All-Pro, HOF All-1980s Team

Anthony Munoz is arguably the best offensive lineman in the history of the NFL. Munoz made 11 Pro Bowls in 13 seasons, and helped the Cincinnati Bengals become a team that could make it to the Super Bowl at one point. Given the lack of success for the franchise since then, his impact has been very clear.

10. Johnny Unitas

Position: QB

Years Played: 1956-1973

Teams: Indianapolis Colts, San Diego Chargers

Accomplishments: Hall of Fame, 10x Pro Bowl, 5x All-Pro, Super Bowl champion, 3x NFL champion, 3x NFL MVP, HOF All-1960s Team

Johnny Unitas was playing quarterback as if he was a modern QB all the way back in the 1950s. Unitas played 18 seasons in the NFL, throwing 290 touchdown passes and launching over 5,000 pass attempts. He was the gold standard in NFL quarterbacking for a long time, before the modern era of players overtook him.

9. Walter Payton

Position: RB

Years Played: 1975-1987

Teams: Chicago Bears

Accomplishments: Hall of Fame, 9x Pro Bowl, 5x All-Pro, Super Bowl champion, 1977 NFL MVP, HOF All-1970s, HOF All-1980s Team, 1977 AP OPoY

Nicknamed “Sweetness”, Walter Payton was an incredibly gifted athlete for the Chicago Bears. On a team where defense and smash-mouth football were often the focus, the speed and agility of Payton provided a nice counter to the brutality that often won the day on the other side of the ball for the Bears.

8. Reggie White

Position: DL

Years Played: 1985-2000

Teams: Philadelphia Eagles, Green Bay Packers, Carolina Panthers

Accomplishments: Hall of Fame, 13x Pro Bowl, 8x All-Pro, Super Bowl champion, HOF All-1980s Team, HOF All-1990s Team, 2x AP DPoY

While Reggie White was eventually overtaken by Bruce Smith for the all-time sacks lead, White played in fewer seasons than Smith. White was incredible no matter where he played, making the bulk of his impact with the Philadelphia Eagles and Green Bay Packers, with 13 Pro Bowl nods to show for it.

7. Barry Sanders

Position: RB

Years Played: 1989-1998

Teams: Detroit Lions

Accomplishments: Hall of Fame, 10x Pro Bowl, 6x All-Pro, 1997 NFL MVP, HOF All-1990s Team, 1989 AP ORoY, 2x AP OPoY

Despite an early retirement, Barry Sanders was simply the most incredible running back the NFL has ever seen. While he did not stick around to put up the long-term numbers needed to set records, Sanders was a one-of-a-kind back thanks to his ability to make defenders miss seemingly at will.

6. Peyton Manning

Position: QB

Years Played: 1998-2015

Teams: Indianapolis Colts, Denver Broncos

Accomplishments: Hall of Fame, 14x Pro Bowl, 7x All-Pro, 2x Super Bowl champion, 5x NFL MVP, HOF All-2000s Team, 2x AP OPoy, 2012 AP Comeback Player of the Year

Peyton Manning was surgical on the football field, from his passing accuracy to the way that he would call his own plays and make adjustments to his team’s offense from the field. Manning finished his NFL career with 71,940 passing yards, which put him in the top-three of all-time in that category through the 2021 NFL season.

5. Joe Montana

Position: QB

Years Played: 1979-1994

Teams: San Francisco 49ers, Kansas City Chiefs

Accomplishments: Hall of Fame, 8x Pro Bowl, 3x All-Pro, 4x Super Bowl champion, 2x NFL MVP, HOF All-1980s Team, 1986 PFWA Comeback Player of the Year, 1989 AP OPoY

When Joe Montana retired, he did so as the best quarterback in the history of the NFL. Montana helped his teams win four Super Bowls, completing over 3,400 passes over the course of his 16 seasons in the league. While his passing numbers have been overshadowed by the modern game, his ability to win big games will never be overshadowed.

4. Jim Brown

Position: RB

Years Played: 1957-1965

Teams: Cleveland Browns

Accomplishments: Hall of Fame, 9x Pro Bowl, 8x All-Pro, 3x NFL MVP, HOF All-1960s Team, 1957 AP RoY

Jim Brown played in an era where offenses were still finding themselves in the NFL, and he certainly was all that the Cleveland Browns needed to play well on offense. Brown is one of nine all-time players to eclipse 100 rushing touchdowns for his career, as he also rushed for over 12,000 yards in total.

3. Lawrence Taylor

Position: LB

Years Played: 1981-1993

Teams: New York Giants

Accomplishments: Hall of Fame, 10x Pro Bowl, 8x All-Pro, 2x Super Bowl champion, 1986 NFL MVP, HOF All-1980s Team, 1981 AP DRoY, 3x AP DPoY

Plain and simple, Lawrence Taylor changed the way that football is played, which resulted in him becoming one of the most famous football players to ever live. Taylor was a fearless pass rusher, claiming 132.5 sacks in his NFL career. His ability to rush the passer from a linebacker spot opened the door for more hybrid pass rushers, who didn’t have to play out of a three-point stance to have success.

2. Jerry Rice

Position: WR

Years Played: 1985-2004

Teams: San Francisco 49ers, Oakland Raiders, Seattle Seahawks

Accomplishments: Hall of Fame, 13x Pro Bowl, 10x All-Pro, 3x Super Bowl champion, HOF All-1980s Team, HOF All-1990s Team, 2x AP OPoY

In addition to having a world of talent at the wide receiver position, the longevity of Jerry Rice is what makes him the best wide receiver the game has ever seen. Rice played for a 20-year period, scoring 197 receiving touchdowns to put him over 40 touchdowns ahead of second-place Randy Moss.

1. Tom Brady

Position: QB

Years Played: 2000-2021

Teams: New England Patriots, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Accomplishments: 14x Pro Bowl, 3x All-Pro, 7x Super Bowl champion, 3x NFL MVP, HOF All-2000s Team, HOF All-2010s Team, 2x AP OPoY, 2009 Comeback Player of the Year

No matter how you feel about him, Tom Brady has built a resume that is too good to ignore when ranking the best NFL players of all-time. Brady has won seven Super Bowls in his career, winning both in New England under BIll Belichick and Tampa Bay under Bruce Arians. There is no denying that he is the GOAT in the NFL.

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FAQ

Best NFL Running Backs of All-Time

When ranking the best running backs of all-time, it is hard to put anyone outside of Jim Brown, Walter Payton and Emmitt Smith at the top of the list. But backs like LaDainian Tomlinson and Barry Sanders also deserve plenty of credit for their contributions to the game from that position as well.

Oldest NFL Player of All-Time

Unsurprisingly, kickers make up the bulk of the list of the oldest players in the history of the NFL. George Blanda nearly played until the age of 50 as a member of the Oakland Raiders, while Morten Andersen made it until age 47 for the Atlanta Falcons. Thanks to the less than demanding nature of kicking, age wasn’t anything but a number for those players.

Best Defensive Players In the NFL

Lawrence Taylor unquestionably has to be remembered as the best defensive player in the history of the NFL thanks to his revolutionary pass rushing. Reggie White and Ronnie Lott are also on the short list of the best defenders to ever play the game of football at the professional level.

Best NFL Kickers of All-Time

The race for the best kicker in the NFL is a two-horse race between Justin Tucker and Adam Vinatieri. Tucker has been more accurate to this point in his career, but Vinatieri has hit some of the biggest kicks in the history of the game. It is hard to go wrong with either of these options, though we give Tucker the nod.

Who is the GOAT of the NFL?

It should be noted that ranking the best players in the history of the NFL can be somewhat subjective, but it is really hard to make a case against Tom Brady as the best player in the history of the NFL. He has quarterbacked his teams to seven Super Bowls, including one of the greatest comebacks in the history of the sport against the Atlanta Falcons in one of those games

Best Offensive Lineman Ever

Anthony Munoz is the best offensive lineman to ever play in the NFL. Munoz hit double figures in his number of Pro Bowl appearances and first-team All-Pro honors. But more importantly, Munoz helped the Cincinnati Bengals turn into a marquee team in the NFL for a period of time, which deserves a ton of respect.

Most NFL Championships For a Player

Tom Brady has topped the list of the players with the most championships in the history of the NFL. Brady has won seven Super Bowls to earn that accolade, winning six with the New England Patriots before leaving for Tampa Bay and winning one in his first year with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Best NFL Defensive Players of All-Time

As mentioned earlier, Lawrence Taylor has to get the nod as the best player in the history of the league. But you could make an argument for some of the older players in the history of the league as well. Players from the Steel Curtain defense from Pittsburgh in the 1970s, or players like Ray Nitschke, who paved the way for the modern defensive standouts wouldn’t be a bad choice either.