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List of Famous Football Defensive Linemans

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Updated June 14, 2019 5.9k views 381 items

List of the most famous (American) football defensive linemans in the history of the sport, listed by popularity with photos of the players when available. There have been many legendary defensive linemans 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 linemans 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 linemans may currently be active while others have been retired for quite sometime. This list of the top defensive linemans in American football includes all the greats from both the NFL and college football.

List items include Jimmy Johnson, Charles Haley and many more.

This list answers the questions, "Who is the greatest defensive lineman of all time?" and "Who are the best defensive linemans of all time?"
1
Willie Davis is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list List of Famous Football Defensive Linemans
Defensive tackle and Defensive end from Lisbon, Louisiana, United States of America

Age: 81

Willie D. Davis (born July 24, 1934) is a former American football defensive end for the Cleveland Browns and the Green Bay Packers of the National Football League (NFL). Davis graduated from ...more

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#68 of 432 The Greatest Defenders in NFL History #203 of 1,323 The Best Football Players Ever #30 of 83 The Greatest Defensive Tackles of All Time

2
Carl Eller is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list List of Famous Football Defensive Linemans
Defensive end and Defensive lineman from Winston-Salem, North Carolina

Age: 73

Teams: Seattle Seahawks, Minnesota Vikings

Carl Eller (born January 25, 1942) is a former professional American football player in the National Football League (NFL) who played from 1964 through 1979. He was born in Winston-Salem, North ...more

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#61 of 432 The Greatest Defenders in NFL History #218 of 1,323 The Best Football Players Ever #23 of 83 The Greatest Defensive Tackles of All Time

3
Bobby Bell is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list List of Famous Football Defensive Linemans
Defensive end and Linebacker from Shelby, North Carolina, United States of America

Age: 78

Bobby Lee Bell Sr (born June 17, 1940) is a former professional American football linebacker and defensive end. He is a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, the College Football Hall of ...more

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#78 of 432 The Greatest Defenders in NFL History #37 of 154 The Greatest Linebackers of All Time #60 of 96 The Greatest Defensive Ends of All Time

4
Charles Haley is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list List of Famous Football Defensive Linemans
Defensive end and Linebacker from Gladys, Virginia, Virginia

Age: 51

Charles Lewis Haley (born January 6, 1964) is a former American football linebacker and defensive end who played in the National Football League (NFL) for the San Francisco 49ers (1986–1991, ...more

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#40 of 432 The Greatest Defenders in NFL History #138 of 1,323 The Best Football Players Ever #23 of 154 The Greatest Linebackers of All Time

5
Chris Doleman is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list List of Famous Football Defensive Linemans
Chris Doleman Defensive end and Defensive lineman from Indianapolis, Indiana

Age: 55

Christopher John Doleman (born October 16, 1961) is a former American football defensive end who spent the majority of his career with the Minnesota Vikings of the National Football League ...more

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#93 of 432 The Greatest Defenders in NFL History #421 of 1,323 The Best Football Players Ever #25 of 96 The Greatest Defensive Ends of All Time

6
Buck Buchanan is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list List of Famous Football Defensive Linemans
Defensive tackle and Defensive lineman from Gainesville, Alabama

Age: Died at 52 (1940-1992)

Junious "Buck" Buchanan (September 10, 1940 – July 16, 1992) was a professional American football defensive tackle with the Kansas City Chiefs in the American Football League (AFL) and ...more
7
Harvey Martin is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list List of Famous Football Defensive Linemans
Harvey Martin Defensive end and Defensive lineman from Dallas, Texas, United States of America

Age: Died at 51 (1950-2001)

Teams: Dallas Cowboys

Harvey Banks Martin (November 16, 1950 – December 24, 2001) was an American football defensive end in the National Football League for the Dallas Cowboys from 1973 until 1983. He starred at ...more

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#65 of 322 People Who Should Be in the Pro Football Hall of Fame #146 of 432 The Greatest Defenders in NFL History #35 of 96 The Greatest Defensive Ends of All Time

8
Vince Wilfork is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list List of Famous Football Defensive Linemans
Defensive lineman from Boynton Beach, Florida

Age: 37

Teams: New England Patriots, Miami Hurricanes football

Vincent Lamar Wilfork (born November 4, 1981) is a former American football nose tackle who played in the National Football League (NFL) for 13 seasons. He played college football for the ...more

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#86 of 432 The Greatest Defenders in NFL History #154 of 1,323 The Best Football Players Ever #10 of 64 The Best Miami Football Players of All Time

9
Manny Fernandez is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list List of Famous Football Defensive Linemans
Manny Fernandez Defensive tackle and Defensive end from Oakland, California

Age: 69

Manuel Jose Fernandez (born July 3, 1946) is a former American football player of who played eight seasons for the Miami Dolphins of the National Football League. He played in three consecutive ...more

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#139 of 432 The Greatest Defenders in NFL History #1,216 of 1,323 The Best Football Players Ever #45 of 83 The Greatest Defensive Tackles of All Time

10
Richard Seymour is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list List of Famous Football Defensive Linemans
Defensive tackle from Gadsden, South Carolina

Age: 36

Teams: Oakland Raiders, Georgia Bulldogs football team, New England Patriots

Richard Vershaun Seymour (born October 6, 1979) is a former American football defensive tackle who played in the National Football League (NFL). He played college football for the University of ...more

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#110 of 432 The Greatest Defenders in NFL History #260 of 1,323 The Best Football Players Ever #27 of 83 The Greatest Defensive Tackles of All Time

11
Jim Jeffcoat is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list List of Famous Football Defensive Linemans
Jim Jeffcoat Defensive tackle and Defensive end from Long Branch, New Jersey

Age: 54

James Wilson Jeffcoat, Jr. (born April 1, 1961) is a former American football defensive end in the National Football League for the Dallas Cowboys and Buffalo Bills. He was recently an assistant ...more
12
Jacob Green is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list List of Famous Football Defensive Linemans
Jacob Green Defensive tackle and Defensive end from Pasadena, Texas

Age: 58

Jacob Carl Green (born January 21, 1957) is a former American football defensive end. He played college football for Texas A&M. Green was an All-American selection in 1979 after compiling ...more

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#255 of 432 The Greatest Defenders in NFL History #1,045 of 1,323 The Best Football Players Ever #29 of 69 The Best Texas A&M Football Players of All Time

13
Courtney Brown is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list List of Famous Football Defensive Linemans
Defensive lineman from Charleston, South Carolina

Age: 41

Teams: Denver Broncos, Penn State Nittany Lions football, Cleveland Browns

Courtney Lanair Brown (born February 14, 1978) is a former American college and professional football player who was a defensive end in the National Football League (NFL) for seven seasons. He ...more

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#1,237 of 1,323 The Best Football Players Ever #18 of 142 The Biggest First Round NFL Draft Pick Busts #52 of 53 The Best No. 1 Overall NFL Draft Picks Of All Time, Ranked

14
Joe Klecko is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list List of Famous Football Defensive Linemans
Joe Klecko Defensive tackle and Lineman from Chester, Pennsylvania, United States of America

Age: 62

Joe Klecko (born October 15, 1953 in Chester, Pennsylvania) is a former American football player, of Polish descent, best remembered for his days as Defensive Lineman; a member of the New York ...more

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#57 of 322 People Who Should Be in the Pro Football Hall of Fame #354 of 432 The Greatest Defenders in NFL History #405 of 1,323 The Best Football Players Ever

15
Mark Gastineau is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list List of Famous Football Defensive Linemans
Defensive end and Defensive lineman from Ardmore, Oklahoma

Age: 62

Teams: Arizona State Sun Devils football, New York Jets

Marcus Dell Gastineau (born November 20, 1956) is an American former football player who was a defensive end for the New York Jets from 1979 to 1988. A five-time Pro Bowler, he was one the ...more

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#92 of 322 People Who Should Be in the Pro Football Hall of Fame #94 of 432 The Greatest Defenders in NFL History #1,071 of 1,323 The Best Football Players Ever

16
Jamal Reynolds is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list List of Famous Football Defensive Linemans
Defensive end and Defensive lineman from Augusta, Georgia

Age: 40

Idris Jamal Reynolds (born February 20, 1979) is an American former college and professional football player who was a defensive end in the National Football League (NFL) for three seasons ...more
17
Otis Sistrunk is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list List of Famous Football Defensive Linemans
Otis Sistrunk Defensive end and Defensive lineman from Columbus, Georgia

Age: 69

Otis Sistrunk (born September 18, 1946 in Columbus, Georgia) is a former professional football player who played seven seasons as a defensive lineman, from 1972 to 1978. He played his entire ...more
18
Fred Smerlas is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list List of Famous Football Defensive Linemans
Tackle and Nose tackle from Waltham, Massachusetts

Age: 58

Frederic Charles Smerlas (born April 8, 1957) is a former American football defensive lineman who was a 5-time NFL Pro Bowl selection during 14-year career as a nose tackle with the Buffalo ...more
19
Bill Willis is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list List of Famous Football Defensive Linemans
Defensive tackle and Lineman from Columbus, Ohio

Age: Died at 86 (1921-2007)

William Karnet Willis (October 5, 1921 – November 27, 2007) was an American football defensive lineman who played eight seasons for the Cleveland Browns in the All-America Football Conference ...more
20
Ray Childress is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list List of Famous Football Defensive Linemans
Ray Childress Defensive tackle and Defensive end from Memphis, Tennessee

Age: 53

Raymond Clay Childress, Jr. (born October 20, 1962) is a former American football defensive tackle in the NFL for the Houston Oilers and Dallas Cowboys. He played college football at Texas ...more
21
Willie McGinest is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list List of Famous Football Defensive Linemans
Willie McGinest Defensive end and Linebacker from Long Beach, California, United States of America

Age: 47

Teams: USC Trojans football, New England Patriots, Cleveland Browns

William Lee McGinest, Jr. (born December 11, 1971) is a former American football linebacker who played fourteen seasons in the National Football League (NFL). He was drafted by the New England ...more
22
Henry Melton is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list List of Famous Football Defensive Linemans
Defensive tackle from Cedar Hill, Texas

Age: 32

Teams: Chicago Bears

Henry James Melton (born October 11, 1986) is a former American football defensive end. He played college football for the University of Texas, where he was a running back for the 2005 National ...more
23
Clyde Simmons is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list List of Famous Football Defensive Linemans
Clyde Simmons Defensive end and Defensive lineman from Lane, South Carolina

Age: 51

Clyde Simmons Jr. (born August 4, 1964) is a former American football defensive end in the National Football League who played for the Philadelphia Eagles (1986–1993), Arizona Cardinals ...more
24
Bubba Smith is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list List of Famous Football Defensive Linemans
Defensive tackle and Defensive end from Orange, Texas, USA

Age: Dec. at 66 (1945-2011)

Teams: Baltimore Colts, Houston Oilers, Michigan State Spartans football, Oakland Raiders

Charles Aaron "Bubba" Smith (February 28, 1945 – August 3, 2011) was an American professional football player, who starred as a defensive end in both college and the NFL before ...more
25
Marty Lyons is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list List of Famous Football Defensive Linemans
Defensive tackle and Defensive end from Takoma Park, Maryland, United States of America

Age: 58

Teams: New York Jets

Martin Anthony Lyons (born January 15, 1957) is a former American college and professional football player who was a defensive tackle in the National Football League for eleven seasons during ...more