The Greatest Linebackers of All Time

60k votes 9.7k voters 369k views 142 items tags f p @

List Criteria: Only include linebackers based on their on-field accomplishments

The greatest linebackers of all time are not only the best NFL players to ever play the linebacker position but also some of the most respected and most feared football players of all time. These all-time greats have electrified crowds with their energy and leadership and delivered on the field as some of the NFL's best defensive players ever.

It's hard to claim that anyone other than the great Lawrence Taylor is the best linebacker ever. He made an immeasurable impact on the game, changing it for decades to follow and becoming the star of the league which at that time was dominated by quarterbacks. His explosiveness and raw power was in most cases simply unstoppable and easily qualifies him as one of the top 10 NFL linebackers of all time.

That said, there are plenty of other great linebackers who each had stellar careers of their own. The likes of Dick Butkus, who terrorized offenses during his nine years with the Chicago Bears, Ray Lewis, who served as a perfect combination of talent and heart during his memorable time with the Baltimore Ravens, and Junior Seau, who recorded over 100 tackles for six seasons straight and earned 12 Pro Bowl selections, are all firmly among the best NFL linebackers of all time.

While they don't always get the same level of attention that other positions do, famous linebackers are some of the toughest, smartest, and most hard working players on any NFL team. Have an NFL linebacker that you adore? Vote for your favorite NFL linebackers below, re-rank this list your way, or add any not listed. Then, head over and vote for the greatest tight ends of all time and the greatest NFL punters of all time too!
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  • 59 ReRanks
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  1. 1
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    the people's #1 & most listed
    North Carolina Tar Heels football, New York Giants

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  2. 2
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    Chicago Bears

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  3. 3
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    Ray Lewis is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time


    Ray Lewis Baltimore Ravens

  4. 4
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    Jack Lambert is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time


    Jack Lambert Pittsburgh Steelers, Kent State Golden Flashes football

  5. 5
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    Baylor Bears football, Chicago Bears

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  6. 6
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    Jack Ham is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time


    Jack Ham Penn State Nittany Lions football

  7. 7
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    Alabama Crimson Tide Football, Kansas City Chiefs

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    often listed & ranked high on reranks
    USC Trojans football, New England Patriots, Miami Dolphins

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    Ray Nitschke is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time

    often listed & ranked high on reranks
    Ray Nitschke Green Bay Packers

  10. 10
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    Brian Urlacher is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time


    Brian Urlacher New Mexico Lobos Football, Chicago Bears

  11. 11
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    Derrick Brooks is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time

    added by bojanthebest
    Derrick Brooks Tampa Bay Buccaneers

  12. 12
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    Patrick Willis is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time

    added by noahjacobs1
    Patrick Willis San Francisco 49ers

  13. 13
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    University of Pennsylvania football

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  14. 14
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    Washington Redskins, New York Giants

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    Kevin Greene is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time


    Kevin Greene Los Angeles Rams, Pittsburgh Steelers, Auburn Tigers football

  16. 16
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    Miami Dolphins, Dallas Cowboys

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    ranked low on reranks & added by wiabux
    Troy Trojans football, Dallas Cowboys

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    added by megatron81calvin
    Arizona State Sun Devils football, Baltimore Ravens

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    added by EthanWalker
    Buffalo Bills, Washington Redskins, St. Louis Rams

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    Oakland Raiders, Baltimore Colts, Green Bay Packers

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    often listed & ranked high on reranks

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  24. 24
    + 511
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    added by stokified
    Texas A&M Aggies football, Denver Broncos

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  25. 25
    + 308
    - 360
    Andre Tippett is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time

    often listed & ranked high on reranks
    Andre Tippett

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    Arizona Wildcats football, New England Patriots

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    added by wiabux
    USC Trojans football, New England Patriots, Cleveland Browns

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    Chris Spielman is listed (or ranked) 28 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time

    added by ChangesDownClub
    Chris Spielman Buffalo Bills, Cleveland Browns, Detroit Lions

  29. 29
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    added by ShaneAdkins
    New Orleans Saints, Philadelphia/Baltimore Stars, Carolina Panthers

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  30. 30
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    Cornelius Bennett is listed (or ranked) 30 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time

    added by Biscuit420
    Cornelius Bennett

  31. 31
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    Charles Haley is listed (or ranked) 31 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time


    Charles Haley

  32. 32
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  33. 33
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    Joey Porter is listed (or ranked) 33 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time

    added by chile6880
    Joey Porter Pittsburgh Steelers, Colorado State Rams football, Arizona Cardinals

  34. 34
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    added by chile6880
    Pittsburgh Steelers, Carolina Panthers

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  35. 35
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    Randy Gradishar is listed (or ranked) 35 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time

    often listed & ranked high on reranks
    Randy Gradishar Denver Broncos

  36. 36
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    - 17

    ranked low on reranks & added by _1449352741656
    Pittsburgh Steelers, Cincinnati Bengals

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  37. 37
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    Bill Romanowski is listed (or ranked) 37 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time

    added by TehSauce
    Bill Romanowski Denver Broncos, Oakland Raiders, San Francisco 49ers

  38. 38
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    added by quantum.svcs
    Washington Redskins, Cleveland Browns, New York Giants

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  39. 39
    + 250
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    often listed & ranked high on reranks

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    + 201
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    often listed & ranked high on reranks

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    added by chile6880

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  42. 42
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    added by chile6880

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  43. 43
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    Lance Briggs is listed (or ranked) 43 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time

    ranked low on reranks & added by chile6880
    Lance Briggs Arizona Wildcats football, Chicago Bears

  44. 44
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    often listed & ranked high on reranks
    Notre Dame Fighting Irish football, Detroit Lions

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    - 34

    ranked low on reranks
    Green Bay Packers

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    added by _1442432702366
    San Francisco 49ers

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    added by chile6880
    New Orleans Saints

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  49. 49
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    added by TehSauce

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  50. 50
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    - 26


    Washington Redskins, Akron Zips football, New York Jets

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