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233 voters

The Best NFL Players From Illinois

Updated August 26, 2021 1.7k votes 233 voters 4.6k views52 items

List RulesVote up the top pro football players born or raised in Illinois

Here’s a list of the best NFL players from Illinois. The Prairie State is home to some bona fide tough guys who have put a quite a beating on their opponents every Sunday they played in the NFL. Some of the best football players of all time like Dick Butkus, Ray Nitschke, and Rodney Harrison came from Illinois.

Vote for who you think are the top NFL players from Illinois and add any of your favorites missing from the list!

  • 1
    Chicago, Illinois
    117
    18

    PositionLinebacker, Center

    Age78

    TeamsChicago Bears

    Richard Marvin Butkus (born December 9, 1942) is an American former football player, sports commentator, and actor. He played professional football as a linebacker for the Chicago Bears of the...  more
  • 2
    James Richard Garoppolo (born November 2, 1991) is an American football quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers of the National Football League (NFL). He played college football at Eastern Illinois...  more
  • 3
    Chicago, Illinois
    73
    20

    PositionCornerback

    Age40

    TeamsLouisiana Ragin' Cajuns football, Chicago Bears

    Charles Anthony Tillman (born February 23, 1981), nicknamed Peanut, is a former American football cornerback, who is currently a United States Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) agent. He played...  more
  • 4
    Waukegan, Illinois
    76
    27

    PositionQuarterback

    AgeDec. at 82 (1921-2003)

    TeamsCleveland Browns

    Otto Everett Graham Jr. (December 6, 1921 – December 17, 2003) was an American football quarterback who played for the Cleveland Browns in the All-America Football Conference (AAFC) and National...  more
  • 5
    Chicago, Illinois
    76
    27

    PositionTight end

    Age53

    TeamsDenver Broncos, Baltimore Ravens, Savannah State Tigers football

    Shannon Sharpe (born June 26, 1968) is a former American football tight end who played for the Denver Broncos and Baltimore Ravens of the National Football League (NFL), as well as a former analyst...  more
  • 6
    Chicago, Illinois
    74
    27

    PositionQuarterback

    Age44

    TeamsPhiladelphia Eagles, Minnesota Vikings, Washington Redskins

    Donovan Jamal McNabb (born November 25, 1976) is an American former football quarterback who played in the National Football League (NFL) for 13 seasons, primarily with the Philadelphia Eagles....  more
  • 7
    Chicago, Illinois
    59
    17

    PositionEnd, Tight end

    AgeDec. at 88 (1895-1983)

    George Stanley Halas Sr. (; February 2, 1895 – October 31, 1983), nicknamed "Papa Bear" and "Mr. Everything", was a player, coach, and owner involved with professional American football. He was the...  more
  • 8
    Hinsdale, Illinois
    40
    16

    Age50

    TeamsStanford Cardinal football, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Denver Broncos

    John Terrence Lynch Jr. (born September 25, 1971) is a former American football strong safety and the current general manager of the San Francisco 49ers of the National Football League (NFL). He...  more
  • 9
    Chicago, Illinois
    42
    19

    PositionSafety, Defensive back

    Age54

    TeamsDenver Broncos, New York Jets, Arkansas Razorbacks football

    Stephen Dennis Atwater (born October 28, 1966) is a former American football player who spent most of his career playing free safety for the Denver Broncos of the National Football League (NFL)....  more
  • 10
    Markham, Illinois
    36
    15

    PositionSafety, Defensive back

    Age48

    TeamsNew England Patriots, San Diego Chargers, Western Illinois Leathernecks football

    Rodney Scott Harrison (born December 15, 1971) is an American former professional football player in the National Football League (NFL). Harrison played strong safety for the San Diego Chargers and...  more
  • 11
    Chicago, Illinois
    35
    17

    PositionDefensive end

    Age47

    TeamsIndianapolis Colts, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Denver Broncos, Arizona Cardinals, Hartford Colonials

    Simeon James Rice (; born February 24, 1974) is a former American football defensive end. He was drafted by the Arizona Cardinals third overall in the 1996 NFL Draft. He is 20th all-time in sacks...  more
  • 12
    Elmwood Park, Illinois
    35
    23

    PositionLinebacker

    AgeDec. at 61 (1936-1998)

    TeamsGreen Bay Packers

    Raymond Ernest Nitschke (December 29, 1936 – March 8, 1998) was a professional American football middle linebacker who spent his entire 15-year National Football League (NFL) career with the Green...  more
  • 13
    Barrington, Illinois
    33
    22

    PositionTackle

    Age32

    TeamsGreen Bay Packers

    Bryan Joseph Bulaga ( boo-LAH-gə; born March 21, 1989) is an American football offensive tackle for the Green Bay Packers of the National Football League (NFL). He played college football at Iowa....  more
  • 14
    Chicago, Illinois
    18
    8

    PositionCornerback, Safety, Defensive back

    Age50

    TeamsIndianapolis Colts, Oakland Raiders, Atlanta Falcons

    Raymond Louis Buchanan (born September 29, 1971) is a former American football player in the NFL. He was drafted out of Louisville in 1993 by the Indianapolis Colts in the 3rd round (65th overall),...  more
  • 15
    Waukegan, Illinois
    20
    13

    PositionRunning back, Return specialist

    Age39

    TeamsAtlanta Falcons, San Diego Chargers

    Michael Turner (born February 13, 1982) is a former American football running back who played in the National Football League (NFL). He was drafted by the San Diego Chargers in the fifth round of the...  more
  • 16
    Chicago, Illinois
    12
    3

    PositionTackle, Offensive Lineman, Guard

    Age60

    Christopher Jerrod Hinton (born July 31, 1961) is a former American football tackle and guard who played in the National Football League for 13 seasons, primarily with the Indianapolis Colts...  more
  • 17
    Batavia, Illinois
    19
    12

    PositionQuarterback

    Age72

    TeamsCincinnati Bengals

    Kenneth Allan Anderson (born February 15, 1949) is a former American football quarterback who spent his entire professional career playing for the Cincinnati Bengals of the National Football League...  more
  • 18
    Evanston, Illinois
    16
    10

    PositionQuarterback

    Age77

    James Warren Hart (born April 29, 1944) is a former American football quarterback who played in the National Football League (NFL) for the St. Louis Cardinals from 1966 through 1983 and the...  more
  • 19
    Chicago, Illinois
    12
    6

    PositionTackle, Offensive Lineman, Linebacker

    AgeDec. at 78 (1925-2003)

    George Leo Connor (January 21, 1925 – March 31, 2003) was an American football player for the Chicago Bears of the National Football League (NFL) from 1948 to 1955. He played tackle on offense, and...  more
  • 20
    Phil Lefebvre addedForksville, Pennsylvania
    10
    3

    PositionRunning back

    AgeDec. at 87 (1903-1991)

    Harold Edward "Red" Grange (June 13, 1903 – January 28, 1991), nicknamed "The Galloping Ghost", was an American football halfback for the University of Illinois, the Chicago Bears, and the...  more
  • 21
    Evanston, Illinois
    10
    4

    PositionQuarterback

    AgeDec. at 72 (1896-1968)

    TeamsChicago Bears

    John Leo "Paddy" Driscoll (January 11, 1895 – June 29, 1968) was an American football and baseball player and football coach. A triple-threat man in football, he was regarded as the best drop kicker...  more
  • 22
    Spring Valley, Illinois
    13
    9

    PositionGuard

    Age45

    TeamsKansas City Chiefs

    Michael Jason Goff (born January 6, 1976) is a former American football guard and coach. He currently serves as a Defensive Analyst at the University of Southern California. He was drafted by the...  more
  • 23
    Jacksonville, Illinois
    15
    13

    PositionLinebacker

    Age55

    Kenneth Howard Norton Jr. (born September 29, 1966) is an American football coach and former player in the National Football League (NFL) who is the defensive coordinator for the Seattle Seahawks. He...  more
  • 24
    MarioKidd addedChicago, Illinois
    9
    6

    PositionDefensive tackle, Tackle

    Age52

    Christopher Robert Zorich (born March 16, 1969) is a former American football defensive tackle who played in college for the Notre Dame Fighting Irish and in the National Football League (NFL) for...  more
  • 25
    Chicago Heights, Illinois
    11
    9

    PositionDefensive tackle, Defensive end, Tackle

    Age49

    Bryant Colby Young (born January 27, 1972) is a former American football defensive tackle for the San Francisco 49ers of the National Football League (NFL). A first round draft pick out of University...  more
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List Rules: Vote up the top pro football players born or raised in Illinois