Sports

The Best Football Players Ever 

Ranker Community
Originally by Ranker Community
Updated March 19, 2020 1M votes 71.7k voters 976.1k views 1,536 items

List Rules Only pro football players. Please vote for the players based on his career accomplishments.

One of the hot topics of debate not only among NFL fans but pundits as well is who is the best football player of all time. Fans will also enjoy the best NFL coaches of all time and the best NFL quarterbacks currently in the league. It's a very difficult question to answer and one that can't be answered very easily. Would you rank a quarterback above an offensive lineman or a defensive end versus a wide receiver? Many of the players on this list have been inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, so this is a list of the best of the best NFL players.

All time greats like Jim Brown and Jerry Rice and legends like Joe Montana and Lawrence Taylor deserve to be on this list. These players were famous stars in the league when they played, causing chaos on the field, terrorizing opponents, and breaking their fans' hearts. Fans of American football can agree that regardless of position, the players on this list should be considered among the best football players ever. These players' stats and overall influence on the way the game was played factor into why they're considered the 100 best ever.

Vote for the football player you consider to be the greatest of all time. It's not an easy choice and you pretty much can't go wrong with any of these superstar NFL players. There's a reason why they're considered the best football players ever and this your chance to choose who is the best of the best.

list ordered by
1
Lawrence Taylor is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Best Football Players Ever
Linebacker from Williamsburg

Age: 56

Teams: North Carolina Tar Heels football, New York Giants

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#1,034 of 2,166 The Best Athletes Of All Time #1 of 519 The Greatest Defenders in NFL History

2
Barry Sanders is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Best Football Players Ever
Running back from Wichita

Age: 47

Teams: Oklahoma State Cowboys football, Detroit Lions

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#466 of 2,166 The Best Athletes Of All Time #1 of 192 The Best NFL Running Backs of All Time

3
Deion Sanders is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Best Football Players Ever
Cornerback and Punt returner from Fort Myers

Age: 48

Teams: Florida State Seminoles baseball, Washington Redskins, San Francisco Giants, Atlanta Braves, Atlanta Falcons, + more

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#384 of 599 The Greatest Baseball Players Of All Time #70 of 290 The Most Obnoxious Athletes

4
Randy Moss is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Best Football Players Ever
Wide receiver from Rand

Age: 42

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

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#27 of 79 The Best NFL Player Nicknames #2 of 248 The Best Wide Receivers of All Time

5
Bo Jackson is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Best Football Players Ever
Running back from Bessemer

Age: 53

Teams: Kansas City Royals, Chicago White Sox, Oakland Raiders, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim

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#396 of 2,166 The Best Athletes Of All Time #239 of 599 The Greatest Baseball Players Of All Timelisted on Athletes You Didn't Know Were Conservative

6
Jerry Rice is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Best Football Players Ever
Wide receiver from Crawford

Age: 53

Teams: Mississippi Valley State Delta Devils football, Seattle Seahawks, Denver Broncos, Oakland Raiders, San Francisco 49ers

7
Joe Greene is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Best Football Players Ever

Age: 69

Teams: Pittsburgh Steelers, North Texas Mean Green football

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#1,946 of 2,166 The Best Athletes Of All Time #2 of 519 The Greatest Defenders in NFL History

8
Emmitt Smith is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Best Football Players Ever
Running back from Pensacola

Age: 46

Teams: Florida Gators football, Arizona Cardinals, Dallas Cowboys

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#925 of 2,166 The Best Athletes Of All Time #1 of 85 The Best University of Florida Football Players of All Time

9
Walter Payton is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Best Football Players Ever
Running back from Columbia

Age: Dec. at 46 (1953-1999)

Teams: Chicago Bears

10
Tom Brady is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Best Football Players Ever
11
Drew Brees is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Best Football Players Ever
Quarterback from Austin

Age: 36

Teams: New Orleans Saints

12
Ray Lewis is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Best Football Players Ever
Linebacker from Bartow

Age: 40

Teams: Baltimore Ravens

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#1,109 of 2,166 The Best Athletes Of All Time #1 of 86 The Best Baltimore Ravens of All Time

13
Jim Brown is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Best Football Players Ever
Running back and Fullback from St. Simons

Age: 79

Teams: Cleveland Browns, Syracuse Orange football

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#276 of 330 The Coolest Actors Ever #203 of 290 The Most Obnoxious Athletes

14
Larry Fitzgerald is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Best Football Players Ever
Wide receiver from Minneapolis

Age: 32

Teams: Arizona Cardinals

15
Ronnie Lott is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Best Football Players Ever
Cornerback and Safety from Albuquerque

Age: 56

Teams: USC Trojans football, Oakland Raiders, San Francisco 49ers, New York Jets, Kansas City Chiefs

16
Dick Butkus is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Best Football Players Ever
Linebacker and Center from Chicago

Age: 76

Teams: Chicago Bears

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#3 of 519 The Greatest Defenders in NFL Historylisted on Athletes You Didn't Know Were Conservative

17
Brett Favre is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Best Football Players Ever
Quarterback from Gulfport

Age: 46

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

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#831 of 2,166 The Best Athletes Of All Time #22 of 347 People Who Should Be in the Pro Football Hall of Famelisted on Athletes You Didn't Know Were Conservative

18
Calvin Johnson is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Best Football Players Ever
Wide receiver from Newnan

Age: 30

Teams: Detroit Lions

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#1,735 of 2,166 The Best Athletes Of All Time #2 of 116 The Best Detroit Lions of All Time

19
Reggie White is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Best Football Players Ever
Defensive tackle and Defensive end from Chattanooga

Age: Died at 43 (1961-2004)

Teams: Green Bay Packers, Carolina Panthers, Philadelphia Eagles, Tennessee Volunteers football, Memphis Showboats

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#2,023 of 2,166 The Best Athletes Of All Time #11 of 79 The Best NFL Player Nicknameslisted on Athletes You Didn't Know Were Conservative

20
Charles Woodson is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Best Football Players Ever
Cornerback and Return specialist from Sebring

Age: 39

Teams: Michigan Wolverines football, Oakland Raiders, Green Bay Packers

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#61 of 347 People Who Should Be in the Pro Football Hall of Fame #12 of 519 The Greatest Defenders in NFL History

21
Aaron Rodgers is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Best Football Players Ever
Quarterback from Chico

Age: 32

Teams: Green Bay Packers

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#210 of 274 The Most Trustworthy Celebrities in the World #10 of 217 The Best Quarterbacks Of All Time

22
Ed Reed is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Best Football Players Ever
Free Safety from St. Rose

Age: 37

Teams: Houston Texans, Baltimore Ravens, New York Jets

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#46 of 79 The Best NFL Player Nicknames #13 of 519 The Greatest Defenders in NFL History

23
Peyton Manning is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Best Football Players Ever
Quarterback from New Orleans

Age: 39

Teams: Indianapolis Colts, Denver Broncos

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#93 of 274 The Most Trustworthy Celebrities in the World #234 of 2,166 The Best Athletes Of All Timelisted on Athletes You Didn't Know Were Conservative

24
Earl Campbell is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Best Football Players Ever
Running back from Tyler

Age: 60

Teams: New Orleans Saints, Houston Oilers, Texas Longhorns football

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#3 of 53 The Best No. 1 Overall NFL Draft Picks Of All Time, Ranked #9 of 192 The Best NFL Running Backs of All Time

25
Tony Gonzalez is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Best Football Players Ever
Tight end from Torrance

Age: 39

Teams: California Golden Bears football, Atlanta Falcons, Kansas City Chiefs