football The Greatest Linebackers of All Time  

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List Rules 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!
list ordered by

1
4,553 1,569
Lawrence Taylor is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time
Lawrence Taylor North Carolina Tar Heels football, New York Giants

2
3,615 1,432
Dick Butkus is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time
Dick Butkus Chicago Bears

3
4,543 1,833
Ray Lewis is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time
Ray Lewis Baltimore Ravens

4
2,728 1,103
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
2,388 904
Mike Singletary is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time
Mike Singletary Baylor Bears football, Chicago Bears

6
1,801 853
Jack Ham is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time
Jack Ham Penn State Nittany Lions football

7
1,824 727
Derrick Thomas is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time
Derrick Thomas Alabama Crimson Tide Football, Kansas City Chiefs

8
1,675 925
Junior Seau is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time
Junior Seau USC Trojans football, New England Patriots, Miami Dolphins

9
1,404 823
Ray Nitschke is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time
Ray Nitschke Green Bay Packers

10
2,114 924
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
1,306 547
Derrick Brooks is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time
bojanthebest added Derrick Brooks Tampa Bay Buccaneers

12
1,435 667
Patrick Willis is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time
noahjacobs1 added Patrick Willis San Francisco 49ers

13
786 575
Chuck Bednarik is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time
Chuck Bednarik University of Pennsylvania football

14
761 506
Kevin Greene is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time
Kevin Greene Los Angeles Rams, Pittsburgh Steelers, Auburn Tigers football

The Dirtiest NFL Players of All Time

15
708 581
Sam Huff is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time
Sam Huff Washington Redskins, New York Giants

16
910 519
DeMarcus Ware is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time
wiabux added DeMarcus Ware Troy Trojans football, Dallas Cowboys

17
698 660
Willie Lanier is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time

18
720 478
Zach Thomas is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time
ChangesDownClub added Zach Thomas Miami Dolphins, Dallas Cowboys

19
660 453
Terrell Suggs is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time
megatron81calvin added Terrell Suggs Arizona State Sun Devils football, Baltimore Ravens

20
366 126
James Harrison is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time
_1449352741656 added James Harrison Pittsburgh Steelers, Cincinnati Bengals

21
917 510
Von Miller is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time
Von Miller Texas A&M Aggies football, Denver Broncos

The Best Xbox 360 Arcade Games

22
532 467
Harry Carson is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time

23
353 69
Luke Kuechly is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time
nat_merrill added Luke Kuechly Carolina Panthers, Boston College Eagles football

24
550 467
Ted Hendricks is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time
Ted Hendricks Oakland Raiders, Baltimore Colts, Green Bay Packers

25
573 407
London Fletcher is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time
EthanWalker added London Fletcher Buffalo Bills, Washington Redskins, St. Louis Rams

26
518 535
Bobby Bell is listed (or ranked) 26 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time

27
333 179
Clay Matthews III is listed (or ranked) 27 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time
Clay Matthews III Green Bay Packers

28
219 108
Charles Haley is listed (or ranked) 28 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time

The Best NFL Running Backs of All Time

29
393 454
Andre Tippett is listed (or ranked) 29 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time

30
554 463
Tedy Bruschi is listed (or ranked) 30 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time
Tedy Bruschi Arizona Wildcats football, New England Patriots

31
438 327
Willie McGinest is listed (or ranked) 31 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time
wiabux added Willie McGinest USC Trojans football, New England Patriots, Cleveland Browns

32
424 304
Chris Spielman is listed (or ranked) 32 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time
ChangesDownClub added Chris Spielman Buffalo Bills, Cleveland Browns, Detroit Lions

33
148 89
Jason Taylor is listed (or ranked) 33 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time
Jason Taylor Washington Redskins, Akron Zips football, New York Jets

34
188 125
Greg Lloyd, Sr. is listed (or ranked) 34 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time
chile6880 added Greg Lloyd, Sr. Pittsburgh Steelers, Carolina Panthers

35
289 215
Cornelius Bennett is listed (or ranked) 35 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time
Biscuit420 added Cornelius Bennett

The Creepiest Sports Mascots

36
228 177
Joey Porter is listed (or ranked) 36 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time
chile6880 added Joey Porter Pittsburgh Steelers, Colorado State Rams football, Arizona Cardinals

37
445 345
Bill Romanowski is listed (or ranked) 37 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time
TehSauce added Bill Romanowski Denver Broncos, Oakland Raiders, San Francisco 49ers

38
280 223
Sam Mills is listed (or ranked) 38 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time
ShaneAdkins added Sam Mills New Orleans Saints, Philadelphia/Baltimore Stars, Carolina Panthers

39
164 111
NaVorro Bowman is listed (or ranked) 39 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time
_1442432702366 added NaVorro Bowman San Francisco 49ers

40
185 141
Lance Briggs is listed (or ranked) 40 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time
chile6880 added Lance Briggs Arizona Wildcats football, Chicago Bears

41
262 206
Carl Banks is listed (or ranked) 41 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time
quantum.svcs added Carl Banks Washington Redskins, Cleveland Browns, New York Giants

42
187 144
Levon Kirkland is listed (or ranked) 42 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time
chile6880 added Levon Kirkland

The Best Football Players Ever

43
296 319
Rickey Jackson is listed (or ranked) 43 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time

44
282 267
Lee Roy Jordan is listed (or ranked) 44 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time

45
141 132
Pat Swilling is listed (or ranked) 45 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time
chile6880 added Pat Swilling New Orleans Saints

46
308 369
Nick Buoniconti is listed (or ranked) 46 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time

47
141 102
Karl Mecklenburg is listed (or ranked) 47 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time
chile6880 added Karl Mecklenburg

48
143 145
Ken Norton, Jr. is listed (or ranked) 48 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time
chile6880 added Ken Norton, Jr.

49
257 337
Chuck Howley is listed (or ranked) 49 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time

50
185 168
Mike Curtis is listed (or ranked) 50 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time
RobSpencer added Mike Curtis Seattle Seahawks, Baltimore Colts, Washington Redskins