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List of Famous Football Punt Returners

Updated June 14, 2019 6.9k views54 items

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

List items range from Deion Sanders to Desmond Howard.

This list answers the questions, "Who is the greatest punt returner of all time?" and "Who are the best punt returners of all time?"
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  • Deion Sanders1

    Deion Sanders

    Cornerback, Punt returner

    BirthplaceFort Myers, Florida, United States of America

    Age53

    TeamsFlorida State Seminoles baseball, Washington Redskins, San Francisco Giants, Atlanta Braves, Atlanta Falcons

    Deion Luwynn Sanders Sr. (; born August 9, 1967), nicknamed "Prime Time" and "Neon Deion", is... more on Wikipedia

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  • Desmond Howard2

    Desmond Howard

    Return specialist, Punt returner

    BirthplaceCleveland, Ohio, USA

    Age50

    TeamsMichigan Wolverines football, Washington Redskins, Oakland Raiders, Jacksonville Jaguars, Green Bay Packers

    Desmond Kevin Howard (born May 15, 1970) is an American former professional football player in... more on Wikipedia

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    #711 of 1,323 The Best Football Players Ever#25 of 83 The Best Heisman Trophy Winners of All Time

  • Billy Johnson3

    Billy Johnson

    Return specialist, Punt returner

    BirthplaceBoothwyn, Pennsylvania

    Age68

    TeamsHouston Oilers, Washington Redskins, Montreal Alouettes, Atlanta Falcons

    William Arthur Johnson (born January 27, 1952), better known as Billy "White Shoes" Johnson,... more on Wikipedia

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    #159 of 322 People Who Should Be in the Pro Football Hall of Fame#130 of 206 The Best NFL Running Backs of All Time

  • Mel Gray4

    Mel Gray

    Running back, Return specialist

    BirthplaceWilliamsburg, Virginia

    Age59

    This page refers to the Detroit Lions kick returner. For the St. Louis Cardinals wide... more on Wikipedia
  • Troy Brown5

    Troy Brown

    Cornerback, Return specialist

    BirthplaceBarnwell, South Carolina

    Age49

    TeamsNew England Patriots, Marshall Thundering Herd football

    Troy Fitzgerald Brown (born July 2, 1971) is a former American football wide receiver in the... more on Wikipedia

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  • Charley Trippi6

    Charley Trippi

    Running back, Return specialist

    BirthplacePittston, Pennsylvania

    Age98

    Charles Louis Trippi (born December 14, 1921) is a former American football player. He played... more on Wikipedia

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    #59 of 904 Celebrity Death Pool 2021#64 of 86 The Best NFL Players From Pennsylvania

  • Brian Mitchell7

    Brian Mitchell

    Running back, Return specialist

    BirthplaceFort Polk, Louisiana, United States of America

    Age52

    TeamsLouisiana Ragin' Cajuns football, Washington Redskins, Philadelphia Eagles, New York Giants

    Brian Keith Mitchell (born August 18, 1968) is a former American football running back and... more on Wikipedia

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    #22 of 115 The Greatest Washington Redskins of All Time#31 of 60 The Best NFL Players From Louisiana

  • Darius Reynaud8

    Darius Reynaud

    Running back, Return specialist

    BirthplaceLuling, Louisiana

    Age35

    TeamsNew York Jets, Tennessee Titans, Minnesota Vikings

    Darius Reynaud (born December 29, 1984) is a former American football running back and return... more on Wikipedia
  • Eddie Royal9

    Eddie Royal

    Return specialist, Flanker

    BirthplaceVirginia

    Age34

    TeamsDenver Broncos, Virginia Tech Hokies football, San Diego Chargers

    William Edward "Eddie" Royal (born May 21, 1986) is a former American football wide receiver... more on Wikipedia

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    #29 of 46 The Best Chicago Bears Wide Receivers of All Time#13 of 32 The Best Denver Broncos Wide Receivers of All Time

  • Steve Breaston10

    Steve Breaston

    Wide receiver

    BirthplaceNorth Braddock, Pennsylvania, United States of America

    Age37

    TeamsMichigan Wolverines football, Arizona Cardinals, Kansas City Chiefs

    Steven William Breaston (born August 20, 1983) is a former American football wide receiver.... more on Wikipedia
  • Brian Westbrook11

    Brian Westbrook

    Running back, Punt returner

    BirthplaceFort Washington, Maryland, United States of America

    Age41

    TeamsSan Francisco 49ers, Philadelphia Eagles, Villanova Wildcats football

    Brian Collins Westbrook (born September 2, 1979) is a former American football running back... more on Wikipedia
  • Justin Forsett12

    Justin Forsett

    Running back, Punt returner

    BirthplaceLakeland, Florida

    Age34

    TeamsSeattle Seahawks, Houston Texans, Jacksonville Jaguars

    Justin Forsett (born October 14, 1985) is a former American football running back. He played... more on Wikipedia

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    #54 of 95 The Best Baltimore Ravens of All Time#177 of 213 The Best Seattle Seahawks of All Time

  • Cory Ross13

    Cory Ross

    Running back, Return specialist

    BirthplaceDenver, Colorado

    Age38

    Cory Ross (born September 22, 1982) is a former American football, Canadian football and... more on Wikipedia
  • Mercury Hayes14

    Mercury Hayes

    Return specialist, Punt returner

    BirthplaceHouston, Texas

    Age47

    Mercury Wayne Hayes (born January 1, 1973) is a former professional American football and... more on Wikipedia
  • Bruce Harper15

    Bruce Harper

    Running back, Punt returner

    BirthplaceEnglewood, New Jersey

    Age65

    Bruce Harper (born June 20, 1955) is a retired American football running back and kick... more on Wikipedia
  • Clarence Verdin16

    Clarence Verdin

    Return specialist, Punt returner

    BirthplaceHouma, Louisiana

    Age57

    Clarence Verdin (born June 14, 1963) is a former American football wide receiver and kick... more on Wikipedia
  • Chris Carr17

    Chris Carr

    Cornerback, Kickoff returner

    BirthplaceReno, Nevada

    Age37

    TeamsNew Orleans Saints, Oakland Raiders, Baltimore Ravens, Tennessee Titans, San Diego Chargers

    Charles Christopher "Chris" Carr (born April 30, 1983) is a former American football... more on Wikipedia
  • Marquise Walker18

    Marquise Walker

    Punt returner, Wide receiver

    BirthplaceSyracuse, New York

    Age41

    Marquise Walker (born December 11, 1978) is a former professional American football wide... more on Wikipedia
  • B. J. Sams19

    B. J. Sams

    Running back, Cornerback

    BirthplaceNew Orleans, Louisiana

    Age39

    Bradley Jamar "B. J." Sams (born October 29, 1980 is a former American football player who was... more on Wikipedia
  • 20

    Mike Nelms

    Return specialist, Punt returner

    BirthplaceFort Worth, Texas

    Age65

    Michael Craig Nelms (born April 8, 1955) is a former American football defensive back and kick... more on Wikipedia
  • Chuck Ortmann21

    Chuck Ortmann

    Halfback, Punt returner

    BirthplaceMilwaukee, Wisconsin

    Age91

    Charles H. Ortmann (June 1, 1929 – March 7, 2018) was an American football player who played... more on Wikipedia
  • Jon Arnett22

    Jon Arnett

    Running back, Return specialist

    BirthplaceLos Angeles, California

    Age85

    Jon Dwane "Jaguar Jon" Arnett (born April 20, 1935) is a former American football player. He... more on Wikipedia
  • Thom Darden23

    Thom Darden

    Cornerback, Punt returner

    BirthplaceSandusky, Ohio

    Age70

    Thomas Vincent Darden (born August 28, 1950) is a former American football safety and punt... more on Wikipedia
  • Bob Grim24

    Bob Grim

    Running back, Punt returner

    BirthplaceOakland, California

    Age75

    Robert Lee Grim (born May 8, 1945) is a former American football player in the National... more on Wikipedia
  • 25

    Rollie Miles

    Running back, Punt returner

    BirthplaceWashington, D.C.

    AgeDec. at 68 (1927-1995)

    Elmer Roland "Rollie" Miles (February 16, 1927 - August 17, 1995) was a professional football... more on Wikipedia