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The Best Football Players Ever 

Ranker Community
Originally by Ranker Community
Updated April 9, 2020 1M votes 73.2k voters 988.4k views 1,323 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 USA, Virginia, Williamsburg

Age: 60

Teams: North Carolina Tar Heels football, New York Giants

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#1,202 of 1,816 The Best Athletes Of All Time #1 of 432 The Greatest Defenders in NFL History #18 of 80 The Best NFL Player Nicknames

2
Barry Sanders is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Best Football Players Ever
Running back from Wichita, Kansas, United States of America

Age: 47

Teams: Oklahoma State Cowboys football, Detroit Lions

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#617 of 1,816 The Best Athletes Of All Time #1 of 206 The Best NFL Running Backs of All Time #1 of 83 The Best Heisman Trophy Winners 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, Florida, United States of America

Age: 48

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

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#1,026 of 1,816 The Best Athletes Of All Time #18 of 292 The Most Obnoxious Athletes #129 of 149 The Greatest New York Yankees Of All Time

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

Age: 42

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

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#2 of 214 The Best Wide Receivers of All Time #66 of 292 The Most Obnoxious Athletes #25 of 80 The Best NFL Player Nicknames

5
Jerry Rice is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Best Football Players Ever
Wide receiver from Crawford, Mississippi, United States of America

Age: 53

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

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#549 of 1,816 The Best Athletes Of All Time #1 of 214 The Best Wide Receivers of All Time #3 of 15 The Worst NFL Trades Ever Made

6
Bo Jackson is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Best Football Players Ever
Running back from Bessemer, Alabama, United States of America

Age: 53

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

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#384 of 1,816 The Best Athletes Of All Time #98 of 511 The Best Baseball Players NOT in the Hall of Famelisted on Athletes You Didn't Know Were Conservative

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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#1,738 of 1,816 The Best Athletes Of All Time #3 of 432 The Greatest Defenders in NFL History #1 of 83 The Greatest Defensive Tackles of All Time

8
Emmitt Smith is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Best Football Players Ever
Running back from Pensacola, Florida, United States of America

Age: 46

Teams: Florida Gators football, Arizona Cardinals, Dallas Cowboys

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#927 of 1,816 The Best Athletes Of All Time #11 of 206 The Best NFL Running Backs of All Time #2 of 85 The Best University of Florida Football Players of All Time

9
Drew Brees is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Best Football Players Ever
Quarterback from Austin, Texas, United States of America

Age: 36

Teams: New Orleans Saints

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#2 of 252 The Best Quarterbacks Of All Time #11 of 119 The Greatest College Football Quarterbacks of All Time #47 of 80 The Best NFL Player Nicknames

10
Walter Payton is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Best Football Players Ever
Running back from Columbia, Mississippi, United States of America

Age: Died at 45 (1954-1999)

Teams: Chicago Bears

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#440 of 753 People We Wish Were Still Alive #564 of 1,816 The Best Athletes Of All Time #2 of 206 The Best NFL Running Backs of All Time

11
Tom Brady is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Best Football Players Ever
Quarterback from San Mateo, California, United States of America

Age: 38

Teams: New England Patriots

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The Funniest Tom Brady Memes For Football Fans #175 of 274 The Hottest Men Of 2020, Rankedlisted on Athletes You Didn't Know Were Conservative

12
Ray Lewis is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Best Football Players Ever
Linebacker from Bartow, Florida, United States of America

Age: 43

Teams: Baltimore Ravens

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#1,228 of 1,816 The Best Athletes Of All Time #34 of 292 The Most Obnoxious Athletes #3 of 64 The Best Miami Football Players of All Time

13
Larry Fitzgerald is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Best Football Players Ever
Wide receiver from Minneapolis, Minnesota, United States of America

Age: 32

Teams: Arizona Cardinals

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#3 of 214 The Best Wide Receivers of All Time #3 of 58 The Best College Football Wide Receivers of All Time #1 of 53 The Most Likable Active NFL Players

14
Jim Brown is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Best Football Players Ever
Running back and Fullback from Georgia, USA, St. Simons

Age: 83

Teams: Cleveland Browns, Syracuse Orange football

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#563 of 1,816 The Best Athletes Of All Time #236 of 292 The Most Obnoxious Athletes #286 of 310 The Coolest Actors Ever

15
Ronnie Lott is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Best Football Players Ever
Cornerback and Safety from Albuquerque, New Mexico, United States of America

Age: 56

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

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#8 of 432 The Greatest Defenders in NFL History #4 of 104 The Best USC Trojans Players of All Time #93 of 173 The Best Oakland Raiders Of All Time

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

Age: 73

Teams: Chicago Bears

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#1,365 of 1,816 The Best Athletes Of All Time #7 of 432 The Greatest Defenders in NFL Historylisted on Athletes You Didn't Know Were Conservative

17
Reggie White is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Best Football Players Ever
Defensive tackle and Defensive end from Chattanooga, Tennessee, United States of America

Age: Died at 43 (1961-2004)

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

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#547 of 753 People We Wish Were Still Alive #2 of 432 The Greatest Defenders in NFL Historylisted on Athletes You Didn't Know Were Conservative

18
Brett Favre is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Best Football Players Ever
Quarterback from Gulfport, Mississippi, United States of America

Age: 49

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

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#901 of 1,816 The Best Athletes Of All Time #198 of 292 The Most Obnoxious Athleteslisted on Athletes You Didn't Know Were Conservative

19
Calvin Johnson is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Best Football Players Ever
20
Charles Woodson is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Best Football Players Ever
Cornerback and Return specialist from Sebring, Ohio, United States of America

Age: 39

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

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#49 of 322 People Who Should Be in the Pro Football Hall of Fame #12 of 432 The Greatest Defenders in NFL History #5 of 83 The Best Heisman Trophy Winners of All Time

21
Peyton Manning is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Best Football Players Ever
Quarterback from New Orleans, Louisiana, United States of America

Age: 42

Teams: Indianapolis Colts, Denver Broncos

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#132 of 269 The Most Trustworthy Celebrities in the World #9 of 252 The Best Quarterbacks Of All Timelisted on Athletes You Didn't Know Were Conservative

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

Age: 37

Teams: Houston Texans, Baltimore Ravens, New York Jets

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#1 of 64 The Best Miami Football Players of All Time #9 of 432 The Greatest Defenders in NFL History #39 of 80 The Best NFL Player Nicknames

23
Aaron Rodgers is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Best Football Players Ever
Quarterback from Chico, California

Age: 32

Teams: Green Bay Packers

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#234 of 269 The Most Trustworthy Celebrities in the World #1,730 of 1,816 The Best Athletes Of All Time #3 of 252 The Best Quarterbacks Of All Time

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

Age: 63

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

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#1,517 of 1,816 The Best Athletes Of All Time #8 of 206 The Best NFL Running Backs of All Time #4 of 83 The Best Heisman Trophy Winners of All Time

25
Tony Gonzalez is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Best Football Players Ever
Tight end from Torrance, California, United States of America

Age: 42

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

More Tony Gonzalez 

#27 of 322 People Who Should Be in the Pro Football Hall of Fame #1 of 24 The Best NFL Tight Ends of the '90s #9 of 60 Famous Athletes Who Could Have Dominated a Second Sport