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74.9k voters

The Best Football Players Ever

Updated April 9, 2020 1.0m votes 74.9k voters 1.0m views1.3k items

List RulesOnly 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.

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  • Lawrence Taylor1
    15,990
    6,607

    Lawrence Taylor

    Linebacker

    BirthplaceWilliamsburg, Virginia, United States of America

    Age56

    TeamsNorth Carolina Tar Heels football, New York Giants

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    #23 of 66 The Most Controversial Athletes in Sports History#39 of 83 The Greatest Defensive Tackles of All Time

  • Tom Brady2
    24,435
    12,656

    Tom Brady

    Quarterback

    BirthplaceSan Mateo, California, United States of America

    Age38

    TeamsTampa Bay Buccaneers

    More Tom Brady 

    The Funniest Tom Brady Memes For Football Fans#3 of 150 Athletes You Didn't Know Were Conservative

  • Deion Sanders3
    11,897
    5,419

    Deion Sanders

    Cornerback, Punt returner

    BirthplaceFort Myers, Florida, United States of America

    Age53

    TeamsFlorida State Seminoles baseball, Washington Redskins, San Francisco Giants, Atlanta Braves, Atlanta Falcons

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    #132 of 149 The Greatest New York Yankees Of All Time#28 of 106 The Best Atlanta Braves Of All Time

  • Randy Moss4
    11,117
    5,760

    Randy Moss

    Wide receiver

    BirthplaceRand, West Virginia

    Age43

    TeamsOakland Raiders, New England Patriots, San Francisco 49ers, Tennessee Titans, Minnesota Vikings

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    #216 of 329 The Most Obnoxious Athletes#66 of 85 Great Athletes Who Waited Too Long To Retire

  • Drew Brees5
    7,288
    3,449

    Drew Brees

    Quarterback

    BirthplaceAustin, Texas, United States of America

    Age41

    TeamsNew Orleans Saints

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    #20 of 119 The Greatest College Football Quarterbacks of All Time#1 of 70 The Best Quarterbacks in the NFL Right Now

  • Bo Jackson6
    9,634
    4,582

    Bo Jackson

    Running back

    BirthplaceBessemer, Alabama, United States of America

    Age57

    TeamsKansas City Royals, Chicago White Sox, Oakland Raiders, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim

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    #413 of 708 The Best Hitters in Baseball History#7 of 25 MLB Players Whose Careers Ended Too Soon

  • Jerry Rice7
    21,619
    11,743

    Jerry Rice

    Wide receiver

    BirthplaceCrawford, Mississippi, United States of America

    Age57

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

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    #3 of 15 The Worst NFL Trades Ever Made#4 of 58 The Best College Football Wide Receivers of All Time

  • Ray Lewis8
    9,579
    5,025

    Ray Lewis

    Linebacker

    BirthplaceBartow, Florida, United States of America

    Age45

    TeamsBaltimore Ravens

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    #28 of 47 The Best Super Bowl MVPs of All Time#7 of 32 The Best Touchdown Celebrations of All Time

  • Larry Fitzgerald9
    5,601
    2,883

    Larry Fitzgerald

    Wide receiver

    BirthplaceMinneapolis, Minnesota, United States of America

    Age32

    TeamsArizona Cardinals

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    #31 of 41 The 41 Hottest Men in the NFL#19 of 53 Who Is the Best Wide Receiver in the NFL Right Now?

  • Barry Sanders10
    18,018
    9,916

    Barry Sanders

    Running back

    BirthplaceWichita, Kansas, United States of America

    Age52

    TeamsOklahoma State Cowboys football, Detroit Lions

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    #1 of 119 The Best Detroit Lions of All Time#2 of 26 NFL Players Whose Careers Ended Too Soon

  • Joe Greene11
    8,496
    4,593

    Joe Greene

    Defensive Tackle

    BirthplaceElgin, Texas, United States of America

    Age74

    TeamsPittsburgh Steelers, North Texas Mean Green football

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    #3 of 96 The Greatest Defensive Ends of All Time#7 of 27 Old Athletes You Didn't Realize Are Still Alive

  • Jim Brown12
    14,403
    7,973

    Jim Brown

    Running back, Fullback

    BirthplaceSt. Simons, Georgia, USA

    Age79

    TeamsCleveland Browns, Syracuse Orange football

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    #297 of 310 The Coolest Actors Ever#118 of 191 The Greatest Black Actors in Film History

  • Calvin Johnson13
    5,963
    3,122

    Calvin Johnson

    Wide receiver

    BirthplaceNewnan, Georgia

    Age34

    TeamsDetroit Lions

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    #4 of 214 The Best Wide Receivers of All Time#23 of 322 People Who Should Be in the Pro Football Hall of Fame

  • Gale Sayers14
    3,889
    1,978

    Gale Sayers

    Running back, Return specialist

    BirthplaceWichita, Kansas, United States of America

    Age77

    TeamsChicago Bears, Kansas Jayhawks football

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    Gale Sayers Was One Of The Most Unsung Trailblazers In Sports History#29 of 116 The Greatest Left-Handed Athletes of All Time

  • Emmitt Smith15
    8,765
    4,740

    Emmitt Smith

    Running back

    BirthplacePensacola, Florida, United States of America

    Age51

    TeamsFlorida Gators football, Arizona Cardinals, Dallas Cowboys

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    #377 of 583 The Greatest Entertainers of All Time#855 of 1,427 The Best Athletes Of All Time

  • Ed Reed16
    4,221
    2,201

    Ed Reed

    Free Safety

    BirthplaceSt. Rose, Louisiana

    Age37

    TeamsHouston Texans, Baltimore Ravens, New York Jets

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    #1 of 64 The Best Miami Football Players of All Time#2 of 95 The Best Baltimore Ravens of All Time

  • Dick Butkus17
    7,908
    4,331

    Dick Butkus

    Linebacker, Center

    BirthplaceChicago, Illinois, United States of America

    Age73

    TeamsChicago Bears

    More Dick Butkus 

    #271 of 904 Celebrity Death Pool 2021#11 of 432 The Greatest Defenders in NFL History

  • Tony Gonzalez18
    4,696
    2,456

    Tony Gonzalez

    Tight end

    BirthplaceTorrance, California, United States of America

    Age39

    TeamsCalifornia Golden Bears football, Atlanta Falcons, Kansas City Chiefs

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    #2 of 87 The Greatest Tight Ends Of All Time#1 of 57 The Best College Football Tight Ends of All Time

  • Walter Payton19
    17,686
    10,055

    Walter Payton

    Running back

    BirthplaceColumbia, Mississippi, United States of America

    AgeDied at 45 (1954-1999)

    TeamsChicago Bears

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    #3 of 27 The Best NFL Running Backs of the 70s#1 of 26 The Best NFL Running Backs of the 80s

  • Charles Woodson20
    4,102
    2,178

    Charles Woodson

    Cornerback, Return specialist

    BirthplaceSebring, Ohio, United States of America

    Age43

    TeamsMichigan Wolverines football, Oakland Raiders, Green Bay Packers

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    #7 of 83 The Best Heisman Trophy Winners of All Time#1 of 87 The Best Michigan Football Players of All Time

  • Anthony Muñoz21
    2,339
    1,197

    Anthony Muñoz

    Offensive tackle

    BirthplaceOntario, California

    Age62

    TeamsUSC Trojans football, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Cincinnati Bengals

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    #17 of 28 The Best NFL Players With The Most Pro Bowl Appearances#411 of 428 Here's a List of Every Known Republican Celebrity

  • Jim Thorpe22
    3,390
    1,801

    Jim Thorpe

    Running back, Punter

    BirthplaceOklahoma, United States of America

    AgeDied at 65 (1888-1953)

    TeamsCleveland Indians, Oorang Indians, Canton Bulldogs, Arizona Cardinals, Rock Island Independents

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    The Life And Legacy Of Jim Thorpe#438 of 753 People We Wish Were Still Alive

  • Peyton Manning23
    14,391
    8,252

    Peyton Manning

    Quarterback

    BirthplaceNew Orleans, Louisiana, United States of America

    Age44

    TeamsIndianapolis Colts, Denver Broncos

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    #147 of 269 The Most Trustworthy Celebrities in the World#3 of 252 The Best Quarterbacks Of All Time

  • Ronnie Lott24
    7,297
    4,129

    Ronnie Lott

    Cornerback, Safety

    BirthplaceAlbuquerque, New Mexico, United States of America

    Age56

    TeamsUSC Trojans football, Oakland Raiders, San Francisco 49ers, New York Jets, Kansas City Chiefs

    More Ronnie Lott 

    #2 of 104 The Best USC Trojans Players of All Time#3 of 99 The Best San Francisco 49ers of All Time

  • Troy Polamalu25
    3,862
    2,047

    Troy Polamalu

    Strong Safety

    BirthplaceGarden Grove, California, United States of America

    Age39

    TeamsPittsburgh Steelers

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    #68 of 143 Athletes Whose Careers Ended Too Soon#11 of 19 Celebs Who Insured Body Parts