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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