Sports

The Best NFL Players To Have Their Numbers Retired 

Ranker Sports
Updated August 2, 2019 8.5k votes 168 voters 146 items

List Rules Vote up the best NFL players to have their legendary number retired for all time.

These are the best NFL players to have their numbers retired by the team where they made the biggest impact. Not every player in the NFL gets their jersey retired, it is an honor bestowed upon the best players of a franchise. The Chicago Bears have the most retired jerseys, with 14 numbers never to be worn again. Does that mean a Chicago Bear like Walter Payton will be voted to the top of this list? While all of these football players are great at the game, having your number retired does not automatically get you into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Players on this list that have been elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame are noted.

On a side note, Reggie White is the only player in the NFL to have his number retired by two teams, the Philadelphia Eagles and the Green Bay Packers.

Look below to see all the numbers retired in the NFL and if your favorite player has had their number retired. Then vote up the players that you think played the game the best. This list does not have current players because they are still using their numbers and it does not have numbers that were retired for coaches, managers, or owners. This list is for players only and will determine the best NFL players to have had their number retired.

list ordered by
1
John Elway is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Best NFL Players To Have Their Numbers Retired

Number: 7

Years With Franchise: 1983–1998

Elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame
 

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#2 of 53 The Best No. 1 Overall NFL Draft Picks Of All Time, Ranked #438 of 469 Famous Role Models We'd Like to Meet In Personlisted on Athletes You Didn't Know Were Conservative

2
Fran Tarkenton is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Best NFL Players To Have Their Numbers Retired

Number: 10

Years With Franchise: 1961–1966, 1972–1978

Elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame
 

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#18 of 217 The Best Quarterbacks Of All Time #82 of 1,556 The Best Football Players Ever

3
Bart Starr is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Best NFL Players To Have Their Numbers Retired

Number: 15

Years With Franchise: 1956–1971

Elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame
 

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#13 of 217 The Best Quarterbacks Of All Time #40 of 1,556 The Best Football Players Everlisted on Athletes You Didn't Know Were Conservative

4
Gale Sayers is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Best NFL Players To Have Their Numbers Retired

Number: 40

Years With Franchise: 1965–1971

Elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame
 

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#3 of 140 The Greatest Chicago Bears of All Time #11 of 192 The Best NFL Running Backs of All Timelisted on Athletes You Didn't Know Were Conservative

5
Joe Greene is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Best NFL Players To Have Their Numbers Retired

Number: 75

Years With Franchise: 1969–1981

Elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame
 

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#5 of 508 The Greatest Defenders in NFL History #12 of 1,556 The Best Football Players Ever #1,946 of 2,198 The Best Athletes Of All Time

6
Johnny Unitas is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Best NFL Players To Have Their Numbers Retired

Number: 19

Years With Franchise: 1956–1972

Elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame

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#16 of 1,556 The Best Football Players Ever #777 of 2,198 The Best Athletes Of All Time

7
Steve Largent is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Best NFL Players To Have Their Numbers Retired

Number: 80

Years With Franchise: 1976–1989

Elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame
 

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#2,144 of 2,198 The Best Athletes Of All Time #15 of 56 The Best College Football Wide Receivers of All Timelisted on Athletes You Didn't Know Were Conservative

8
Dick Butkus is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Best NFL Players To Have Their Numbers Retired

Number: 51

Years With Franchise: 1965–1973

Elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame
 

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#3 of 508 The Greatest Defenders in NFL History #13 of 1,556 The Best Football Players Everlisted on Athletes You Didn't Know Were Conservative

9
Ray Nitschke is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Best NFL Players To Have Their Numbers Retired

Number: 66

Years With Franchise: 1958–1972

Elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame
 

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#81 of 1,556 The Best Football Players Ever #33 of 79 The Best NFL Player Nicknames

10
Brian Piccolo is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Best NFL Players To Have Their Numbers Retired

Number: 41

Years With Franchise: 1965–1969

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#32 of 140 The Greatest Chicago Bears of All Time #1,020 of 1,472 The Greatest Minds of All Time

11
Deacon Jones is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Best NFL Players To Have Their Numbers Retired

Number: 75

Years With Franchise: 1961–1971

Elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame
 

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#10 of 508 The Greatest Defenders in NFL History #10 of 89 The Greatest Defensive Tackles of All Timelisted on Athletes You Didn't Know Were Conservative

12
Jim Taylor is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Best NFL Players To Have Their Numbers Retired

Number: 31

Years With Franchise: 1967

Elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame
 

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#34 of 192 The Best NFL Running Backs of All Time #30 of 60 The Best NFL Players From Louisiana

13
Doug Atkins is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Best NFL Players To Have Their Numbers Retired

Number: 81

Years With Franchise: 1967–1969

Elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame
 

14
Merlin Olsen is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Best NFL Players To Have Their Numbers Retired

Number: 74

Years With Franchise: 1962–1976

Elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame
 

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#141 of 1,556 The Best Football Players Ever #25 of 93 The Greatest Defensive Ends of All Timelisted on Mormon Celebrities

15
Jack Youngblood is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Best NFL Players To Have Their Numbers Retired

Number: 85

Years With Franchise: 1971–1984

Elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame
 

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#111 of 1,556 The Best Football Players Ever #5 of 86 The Best University of Florida Football Players of All Time #9 of 93 The Greatest Defensive Ends of All Time

16
Joe Namath is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Best NFL Players To Have Their Numbers Retired

Number: 12

Years With Franchise: 1965–1976

Elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame
 

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#20 of 217 The Best Quarterbacks Of All Time #85 of 1,556 The Best Football Players Ever

17
Mike Ditka is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Best NFL Players To Have Their Numbers Retired

Number: 89

Years With Franchise: 1961–1966

Elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame
 

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#15 of 79 The Best NFL Player Nicknames #7 of 57 The Best College Football Tight Ends of All Timelisted on Athletes You Didn't Know Were Conservative

18
Bronko Nagurski is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Best NFL Players To Have Their Numbers Retired

Number: 3

Years With Franchise: 1930–1937, 1943

Elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame
 

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#113 of 1,556 The Best Football Players Ever #1,751 of 2,198 The Best Athletes Of All Time

19
Len Dawson is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Best NFL Players To Have Their Numbers Retired

Number: 16

Years With Franchise: 1962–1975

Elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame
 

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#30 of 217 The Best Quarterbacks Of All Time #10 of 39 The Best NFL Quarterbacks of the 1970s

20
Floyd Little is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Best NFL Players To Have Their Numbers Retired
Floyd Little

Number: 4

Years With Franchise: 1967–1975

Elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame
 

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#14 of 28 The Best NFL Running Backs of the 70s #13 of 35 Undeserving Members of the Pro Football Hall of Fame

21
Jim Brown is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Best NFL Players To Have Their Numbers Retired

Number: 32

Years With Franchise: 1957–1965

Elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame
 

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#276 of 332 The Coolest Actors Ever #424 of 2,198 The Best Athletes Of All Time

22
Chuck Bednarik is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Best NFL Players To Have Their Numbers Retired

Number: 60

Years With Franchise: 1949–1962

Elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame
 

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#37 of 508 The Greatest Defenders in NFL History #18 of 86 The Best NFL Players From Pennsylvania

23
Art Donovan is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Best NFL Players To Have Their Numbers Retired

Number: 70

Years With Franchise: 1950, 1953–1961

Elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame
 

24
George Halas is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Best NFL Players To Have Their Numbers Retired

Number: 7

Years With Franchise: 1920–1929

Elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame
 

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#10 of 62 The Best NFL Coaches of All Time #42 of 55 Famous Athletes Who Could Have Dominated a Second Sport

25
Frank Tripucka is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Best NFL Players To Have Their Numbers Retired

Number: 18

Years With Franchise: 1960–1963