Football List of Famous Football Defensive Backs

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List of the most famous (American) football defensive backs in the history of the sport, listed by popularity with photos of the players when available. There have been many legendary defensive backs in the NFL and NCAA, and you'll find all of them on this list below. Some of these men are considered to be the best defensive backs to ever play the game, and if you're looking for a specific football player you can look for them by using the "search" function on this list. These amazing defensive backs may currently be active while others have been retired for quite sometime. This list of the top defensive backs in American football includes all the greats from both the NFL and college football.

List includes Joe Biden, Ronnie Lott, more.

This list answers the questions, "Who is the greatest defensive back of all time?" and "Who are the best defensive backs of all time?"

1
Sammy Baugh is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list List of Famous Football Defensive Backs
Punter, Quarterback, Defensive back Samuel Adrian "Slingin' Sammy" Baugh was an American football player and coach. He played college football for the Horned Frogs at Texas Christian University, where he was a two-time ...more

2
Ronnie Lott is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list List of Famous Football Defensive Backs
Cornerback, Safety, Defensive back Ronald Mandel "Ronnie" Lott is a former American college and professional football player who was a cornerback, free safety, and strong safety in the National Football League for ...more

3
Charles Woodson is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list List of Famous Football Defensive Backs
Cornerback, Return specialist, Safety Charles Woodson is an American football free safety for the Oakland Raiders of the National Football League. He played college football for the University of Michigan, and led the Michigan ...more

4
Mel Blount is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list List of Famous Football Defensive Backs
Cornerback, Defensive back Melvin Cornell Blount is a former Pittsburgh Steelers cornerback, five-time Pro Bowler and Pro Football Hall of Fame inductee. Blount is considered one of the best cornerbacks to have ever ...more

5
Rodney Harrison is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list List of Famous Football Defensive Backs
Safety, Defensive back Rodney Scott Harrison is a retired professional football player of the National Football League. Harrison played safety for the San Diego Chargers and New England Patriots. He was a two-time Pro ...more

6
Steve Atwater is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list List of Famous Football Defensive Backs
Safety, Defensive back Stephen Dennis Atwater nicknamed "Smiling Assassin" is a former American football player who spent most of his career playing free safety for the Denver Broncos. Atwater and Dennis ...more

7
Emlen Tunnell is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list List of Famous Football Defensive Backs
Return specialist, Safety, Defensive back Emlen Lewis Tunnell was an American football player. He was the first African American to play for the New York Giants, and was inducted into the Professional Football Hall of Fame in 1967, the ...more

8
Steve Van Buren is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list List of Famous Football Defensive Backs
Running back, Safety, Defensive back Stephen "Steve" W. Van Buren was a professional American football halfback who played for the Philadelphia Eagles of the National Football League from 1944–1951, and was elected to the ...more

9
Jack Tatum is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list List of Famous Football Defensive Backs
Safety, Defensive back John David "Jack" Tatum was an American football safety who played ten seasons from 1971 through 1980 for the Oakland Raiders and Houston Oilers in the National Football League. He was ...more

10
Eugene Robinson is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list List of Famous Football Defensive Backs
Safety, Defensive back Eugene Keefe Robinson is a former professional American football player who played free safety. He played collegiately at Colgate University. In his 16-year NFL career, Robinson played for the ...more

11
Ty Law is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list List of Famous Football Defensive Backs
Cornerback, Safety, Defensive back Tajuan "Ty" Law is a former American football cornerback who played fifteen seasons in the National Football League. He played college football for the University of Michigan. He was ...more

12
Ronde Barber is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list List of Famous Football Defensive Backs
Cornerback, Safety, Defensive back Jamael Orondé "Rondé" Barber is a retired American Football cornerback who spent his entire 16-year career playing for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers of the National Football ...more

13
Jim Thorpe is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list List of Famous Football Defensive Backs
Running back, Punter, Placekicker James Francis "Jim" Thorpe was a Sac and Fox athlete of Native American and European ancestry. Considered one of the most versatile athletes of modern sports, he won Olympic gold ...more

14
Cortland Finnegan is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list List of Famous Football Defensive Backs
Cornerback, Defensive back Cortland Temujin Finnegan is a former American football cornerback who played in the National Football League. He played college football for Samford University, and was drafted by the Tennessee ...more

15
Willie Wood is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list List of Famous Football Defensive Backs
Return specialist, Safety, Quarterback William Vernell Wood Sr. is a former American football safety for the Green Bay Packers in the National Football League.

16
Paul Krause is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list List of Famous Football Defensive Backs
Safety, Defensive back Paul James Krause is a former American football safety who played in the National Football League. He set the NFL record for interceptions with 81, which he picked off from 45 different ...more

17
Tom Landry is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list List of Famous Football Defensive Backs
Cornerback, Kickoff returner, Punter Thomas Wade "Tom" Landry was an American football player and coach. He is ranked as one of the greatest and most innovative coaches in National Football League history, creating many ...more

18
George Atkinson is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list List of Famous Football Defensive Backs
Cornerback, Safety, Defensive back George "Butch" Henry Atkinson Jr. is a former professional American football player. He played football collegiately at Morris Brown, where he was a safety and a kick returner and ...more

19
Darren Woodson is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list List of Famous Football Defensive Backs
Safety, Defensive back Darren Ray Woodson is a former American football safety in the National Football League. He played his entire career for the Dallas Cowboys from 1992 to 2004. He was drafted by the Cowboys in ...more

20
Lawyer Milloy is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list List of Famous Football Defensive Backs
Strong Safety, Defensive back Lawyer Marzell Milloy is a former American college and professional football player who was a safety in the National Football League for fifteen seasons. He played college football for the ...more

21
Kenny Easley is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list List of Famous Football Defensive Backs
Safety, Defensive back Kenneth Mason Easley, Jr. is a former American college and professional football player who was a strong safety in the National Football League for seven seasons during the 1980s. He played ...more

22
Danieal Manning is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list List of Famous Football Defensive Backs
Cornerback, Return specialist, Safety Danieal LaCraig Manning is an American football safety who is currently a free agent. He was drafted by the Chicago Bears in the second round of the 2006 NFL Draft. He played college football at ...more

23
Eric Berry is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list List of Famous Football Defensive Backs
Cornerback, Safety, Defensive back James Eric Berry, nicknamed "The Fifth Dimension, " is an American football safety for the Kansas City Chiefs of the National Football League. He was drafted by the Chiefs fifth ...more

24
Mike Minter is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list List of Famous Football Defensive Backs
Safety, Defensive back Michael Christopher Minter is an American football coach, retired safety, and businessman. Minter is currently the head coach of the Campbell Fighting Camels and played from 1997 to 2006 with ...more

25
Jake Scott is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list List of Famous Football Defensive Backs
Safety, Defensive back Jacob E. Scott, III is a former American football free safety and punt returner who played from 1970 to 1978 for the Miami Dolphins and Washington Redskins of the National Football League. Scott ...more

26
Dick Anderson is listed (or ranked) 26 on the list List of Famous Football Defensive Backs
Safety, Defensive back Richard Paul Anderson is a former American college and professional football player who was a safety for the Miami Dolphins of the American Football League and National Football League for nine ...more

27
Mike Brown is listed (or ranked) 27 on the list List of Famous Football Defensive Backs
Safety, Defensive back Mike Brown is a former American football safety who played ten seasons in the National Football League. He was selected with the eighth pick of the second round of the 2000 NFL Draft out of the ...more

28
Yale Lary is listed (or ranked) 28 on the list List of Famous Football Defensive Backs
Safety, Punter, Defensive back Robert Yale Lary is a former American football player. After graduating from North Side High School in 1949, he attended Texas A&M University, where he was a standout in football and ...more

29
Aeneas Williams is listed (or ranked) 29 on the list List of Famous Football Defensive Backs
Cornerback, Safety, Defensive back Aeneas Demetrius Williams . He played college football for Southern University and was drafted in the third round (59th overall) of the 1991 NFL Draft. Williams was inducted into the Pro ...more

30
Carnell Lake is listed (or ranked) 30 on the list List of Famous Football Defensive Backs
Cornerback, Safety, Defensive back Carnell Augustino Lake is a former professional American football player who was a member of the NFL 1990s All-Decade Team. He was the Cornerbacks Coach for the UCLA Bruins under head coach Rick ...more

31
Andre Waters is listed (or ranked) 31 on the list List of Famous Football Defensive Backs
Safety, Defensive back Andre Waters was an NFL safety who played for the Philadelphia Eagles and Arizona Cardinals from 1984 to 1995. Waters was regarded as one of the NFL's hardest-hitting defenders, serving as an ...more

32
Cliff Harris is listed (or ranked) 32 on the list List of Famous Football Defensive Backs
Safety, Defensive back Clifford Allen Harris is a former professional American football safety who played for the Dallas Cowboys of the National Football League for ten seasons. He appeared in five Super Bowls and was ...more

33
Antoine Bethea is listed (or ranked) 33 on the list List of Famous Football Defensive Backs
Safety Antoine Akeem Bethea is an American football safety for the San Francisco 49ers of the National Football League. He played college football for Howard and was drafted by the Indianapolis Colts ...more

34
Charley Trippi is listed (or ranked) 34 on the list List of Famous Football Defensive Backs
Running back, Return specialist, Halfback Charles Louis Trippi is a former professional American football player for the Chicago Cardinals. He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1968. Trippi currently resides in Athens, ...more

35
Scott Frost is listed (or ranked) 35 on the list List of Famous Football Defensive Backs
Quarterback, Defensive back Scott Andrew Frost is an American football coach and former player. He is currently the Offensive Coordinator at Oregon. He played six years in the National Football League with the New York ...more

36
Bob Waterfield is listed (or ranked) 36 on the list List of Famous Football Defensive Backs
Punter, Quarterback, Placekicker Robert Stanton "Bob" Waterfield was an American football player, a Pro Football Hall of Fame quarterback in the National Football League.

37
Clem Daniels is listed (or ranked) 37 on the list List of Famous Football Defensive Backs
Running back, Return specialist, Halfback Clemon C. Daniels Jr. is an American former Professional Football star in the American Football League who also played in the NFL.

38
Bill Bates is listed (or ranked) 38 on the list List of Famous Football Defensive Backs
Safety, Linebacker, Defensive back William Frederick "Bill" Bates is a former American football safety who played for fifteen seasons in the National Football League, all of which were spent with the Dallas Cowboys. A ...more

39
Dwight Hicks is listed (or ranked) 39 on the list List of Famous Football Defensive Backs
Cornerback, Safety, Defensive back Dwight Hicks is a former professional American football player who played safety for the Toronto Argonauts in 1978, the San Francisco 49ers from 1979 to 1985, and for the Indianapolis Colts in

40
Ray Buchanan is listed (or ranked) 40 on the list List of Famous Football Defensive Backs
Cornerback, Safety, Defensive back Raymond Louis Buchanan 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, and subsequently played for the ...more

41
Mark Collins is listed (or ranked) 41 on the list List of Famous Football Defensive Backs
Cornerback, Safety, Defensive back Mark Anthony Collins is a former American football cornerback and safety in the National Football League. He was drafted by the New York Giants in the second round of the 1986 NFL Draft. He ...more

42
Charlie Waters is listed (or ranked) 42 on the list List of Famous Football Defensive Backs
Cornerback, Safety, Defensive back Charlie Tutan Waters is a former American football safety for the Dallas Cowboys from 1970-1981 in the National Football League. He spent one season as a radio broadcaster for the Dallas Cowboys ...more

43
Jack Christiansen is listed (or ranked) 43 on the list List of Famous Football Defensive Backs
Return specialist, Safety, Defensive back Jack Leroy Christiansen was an American football player and coach and is perhaps most recognized for his eight-year Hall of Fame playing career with the Detroit Lions in the National Football ...more

44
Jeremiah Castille is listed (or ranked) 44 on the list List of Famous Football Defensive Backs
Cornerback, Safety, Defensive back Jeremiah Castille is an American professional football player. A 5'10", 175-lb. defensive back from the University of Alabama, Castille was selected by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the third ...more

45
Harry Gilmer is listed (or ranked) 45 on the list List of Famous Football Defensive Backs
Halfback, Quarterback, Defensive back Harry Vincent Gilmer, Jr. is a former American football halfback and quarterback in the National Football League for the Washington Redskins and Detroit Lions. He was inducted into the College ...more

46
Josh Bullocks is listed (or ranked) 46 on the list List of Famous Football Defensive Backs
Safety, Defensive back Josh Bullocks is an American football safety. He was drafted by the New Orleans Saints in the second round of the 2005 NFL Draft. He played college football at Nebraska. Bullocks has also been a ...more

47
Joe Haden is listed (or ranked) 47 on the list List of Famous Football Defensive Backs
Cornerback, Defensive back Joseph Walter Haden III is an American football cornerback for the Cleveland Browns of the National Football League. He played college football for the University of Florida, was recognized as a ...more

48
Dave Duerson is listed (or ranked) 48 on the list List of Famous Football Defensive Backs
Safety, Defensive back David Russell "Dave" Duerson was an American football safety in the National Football League who played for the Chicago Bears, the New York Giants, and the Phoenix Cardinals. He earned ...more

49
Don Carey is listed (or ranked) 49 on the list List of Famous Football Defensive Backs
Cornerback, Defensive back Don Juan Carey III is an American football safety for the Detroit Lions of the National Football League. He was drafted by the Cleveland Browns in the sixth round of the 2009 NFL Draft. He ...more

50
Gary Fencik is listed (or ranked) 50 on the list List of Famous Football Defensive Backs
Safety, Defensive back John Gary Fencik was professional American-football free safety and is an executive with Adams Street Partners. Fencik played twelve seasons with the Chicago Bears and is their all-time leader ...more