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74.1k voters

The Best Football Players Ever

Updated April 9, 2020 1.1m votes 74.1k voters 995.6k 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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  • 1
    Lawrence Taylor
    16,711
    6,589

    Lawrence Taylor

    Linebacker

    BirthplaceWilliamsburg, Virginia, United States of America

    Age61

    TeamsNorth Carolina Tar Heels football, New York Giants

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    #39 of 83 The Greatest Defensive Tackles of All Time#1 of 432 The Greatest Defenders in NFL History

  • 2
    Deion Sanders
    12,370
    5,375

    Deion Sanders

    Cornerback, Punt returner

    BirthplaceFort Myers, Florida, USA

    Age53

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

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    #129 of 149 The Greatest New York Yankees Of All Time#29 of 106 The Best Atlanta Braves Of All Time

  • 3
    Randy Moss
    11,543
    5,819

    Randy Moss

    Wide receiver

    BirthplaceRand, West Virginia

    Age43

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

  • 4
    Drew Brees
    7,591
    3,273

    Drew Brees

    Quarterback

    BirthplaceAustin, Texas, United States of America

    Age41

    TeamsNew Orleans Saints

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    #2 of 252 The Best Quarterbacks Of All Time#312 of 580 The Greatest Entertainers of All Time

  • 5
    Bo Jackson
    10,014
    4,596

    Bo Jackson

    Running back

    BirthplaceBessemer, Alabama, United States of America

    Age57

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

  • 6
    Tom Brady
    25,288
    13,253

    Tom Brady

    Quarterback

    BirthplaceSan Mateo, California, United States of America

    Age43

    TeamsNew England Patriots

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

  • 7
    Ray Lewis
    9,941
    5,132

    Ray Lewis

    Linebacker

    BirthplaceBartow, Florida, United States of America

    Age45

    TeamsBaltimore Ravens

  • 8
    Larry Fitzgerald
    5,755
    2,799

    Larry Fitzgerald

    Wide receiver

    BirthplaceMinneapolis, Minnesota, United States of America

    Age37

    TeamsArizona Cardinals

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    #19 of 53 Who Is the Best Wide Receiver in the NFL Right Now?#3 of 58 The Best College Football Wide Receivers of All Time

  • 9
    Jerry Rice
    22,514
    12,449

    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

  • 10
    Emmitt Smith
    9,112
    4,853

    Emmitt Smith

    Running back

    BirthplacePensacola, Florida, United States of America

    Age51

    TeamsFlorida Gators football, Arizona Cardinals, Dallas Cowboys

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    #12 of 206 The Best NFL Running Backs of All Time#1 of 85 The Best University of Florida Football Players of All Time

  • 11
    Joe Greene
    8,825
    4,762

    Joe Greene

    Defensive Tackle

    BirthplaceElgin, Texas, United States of America

    Age74

    TeamsPittsburgh Steelers, North Texas Mean Green football

  • 12
    Gale Sayers
    3,980
    1,972

    Gale Sayers

    Running back, Return specialist

    BirthplaceWichita, Kansas, United States of America

    Age77

    TeamsChicago Bears, Kansas Jayhawks football

  • 13
    Barry Sanders
    18,812
    10,472

    Barry Sanders

    Running back

    BirthplaceWichita, Kansas, United States of America

    Age52

    TeamsOklahoma State Cowboys football, Detroit Lions

  • 14
    Tony Gonzalez
    4,833
    2,474

    Tony Gonzalez

    Tight end

    BirthplaceUSA, California, Torrance

    Age44

    TeamsCalifornia Golden Bears football, Atlanta Falcons, Kansas City Chiefs

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

  • 15
    Calvin Johnson
    6,177
    3,187

    Calvin Johnson

    Wide receiver

    BirthplaceNewnan, Georgia

    Age34

    TeamsDetroit Lions

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

  • 16
    Ed Reed
    4,334
    2,223

    Ed Reed

    Free Safety

    BirthplaceSt. Rose, Louisiana

    Age42

    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

  • 17
    Jim Brown
    14,984
    8,440

    Jim Brown

    Running back, Fullback

    BirthplaceGeorgia, USA, St. Simons

    Age84

    TeamsCleveland Browns, Syracuse Orange football

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    #297 of 310 The Coolest Actors Ever#113 of 190 The Greatest Black Actors in Film History

  • 18
    Anthony Muñoz
    2,379
    1,189

    Anthony Muñoz

    Offensive tackle

    BirthplaceOntario, California

    Age62

    TeamsUSC Trojans football, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Cincinnati Bengals

  • 19
    Dick Butkus
    8,233
    4,561

    Dick Butkus

    Linebacker, Center

    BirthplaceChicago, Illinois, USA

    Age73

    TeamsChicago Bears

  • 20
    Charles Woodson
    4,265
    2,193

    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#46 of 106 The Fastest NFL Players of All Time

  • 21
    Jim Thorpe
    3,495
    1,831

    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#464 of 753 People We Wish Were Still Alive

  • 22
    Walter Payton
    18,603
    10,687

    Walter Payton

    Running back

    BirthplaceColumbia, Mississippi, United States of America

    AgeDied at 45 (1954-1999)

    TeamsChicago Bears

  • 23
    Ronnie Lott
    7,624
    4,333

    Ronnie Lott

    Cornerback, Safety

    BirthplaceAlbuquerque, New Mexico, United States of America

    Age61

    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#80 of 173 The Best Oakland Raiders Of All Time

  • 24
    Troy Polamalu
    3,995
    2,109

    Troy Polamalu

    Strong Safety

    BirthplaceGarden Grove, California, United States of America

    Age39

    TeamsPittsburgh Steelers

  • 25
    Jack Lambert
    4,412
    2,449

    Jack Lambert

    Linebacker

    BirthplaceMantua, Ohio

    Age68

    TeamsPittsburgh Steelers, Kent State Golden Flashes football

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    #53 of 77 The Best Athletes Who Have Used Performance Enhancing Drugs#3 of 154 The Greatest Linebackers of All Time