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The Best NFL Players To Have Their Numbers Retired 

Ranker Sports
Updated August 2, 2019 8.8k votes 179 voters 1k views 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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#6 of 217 The Best Quarterbacks Of All Time #102 of 290 The Most Obnoxious Athleteslisted on Athletes You Didn't Know Were Conservative

2
Joe Greene is listed (or ranked) 2 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
 

More Joe Greene 

#1,946 of 2,166 The Best Athletes Of All Time #7 of 1,536 The Best Football Players Ever #2 of 519 The Greatest Defenders in NFL History

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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#1,255 of 2,166 The Best Athletes Of All Time #13 of 217 The Best Quarterbacks Of All Timelisted on Athletes You Didn't Know Were Conservative

4
Johnny Unitas is listed (or ranked) 4 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

More Johnny Unitas 

#777 of 2,166 The Best Athletes Of All Time #16 of 1,536 The Best Football Players Ever

5
Gale Sayers is listed (or ranked) 5 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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#1,950 of 2,166 The Best Athletes Of All Time #11 of 192 The Best NFL Running Backs of All Timelisted on Athletes You Didn't Know Were Conservative

6
Steve Largent is listed (or ranked) 6 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 2,166 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

7
Dick Butkus is listed (or ranked) 7 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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#13 of 1,536 The Best Football Players Ever #3 of 519 The Greatest Defenders in NFL Historylisted on Athletes You Didn't Know Were Conservative

8
Fran Tarkenton is listed (or ranked) 8 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
 

More Fran Tarkenton 

#18 of 217 The Best Quarterbacks Of All Time #82 of 1,536 The Best Football Players Ever

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

Number: 41

Years With Franchise: 1965–1969

More Brian Piccolo 

#1,020 of 1,471 The Greatest Minds of All Time #32 of 140 The Greatest Chicago Bears of All Time

10
Deacon Jones is listed (or ranked) 10 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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#37 of 79 The Best NFL Player Nicknames #10 of 519 The Greatest Defenders in NFL Historylisted on Athletes You Didn't Know Were Conservative

11
Jim Brown is listed (or ranked) 11 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
 

More Jim Brown 

#276 of 330 The Coolest Actors Ever #203 of 290 The Most Obnoxious Athletes

12
Ray Nitschke is listed (or ranked) 12 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 1,536 The Best Football Players Ever #33 of 79 The Best NFL Player Nicknames

13
Jim Taylor is listed (or ranked) 13 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

14
Joe Namath is listed (or ranked) 14 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 1,536 The Best Football Players Ever

15
Doug Atkins is listed (or ranked) 15 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
 

16
Mike Ditka is listed (or ranked) 16 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

17
Jack Youngblood is listed (or ranked) 17 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
 

More Jack Youngblood 

#4 of 85 The Best University of Florida Football Players of All Time #111 of 1,536 The Best Football Players Ever #12 of 94 The Greatest Defensive Ends of All Time

18
Merlin Olsen is listed (or ranked) 18 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 1,536 The Best Football Players Ever #25 of 94 The Greatest Defensive Ends of All Timelisted on Mormon Celebrities

19
Bronko Nagurski is listed (or ranked) 19 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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#1,751 of 2,166 The Best Athletes Of All Time #113 of 1,536 The Best Football Players Ever

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
 

21
Chuck Bednarik is listed (or ranked) 21 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
 

More Chuck Bednarik 

#37 of 519 The Greatest Defenders in NFL History #18 of 86 The Best NFL Players From Pennsylvania

22
Len Dawson is listed (or ranked) 22 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
 

More Len Dawson 

#817 of 2,166 The Best Athletes Of All Time #30 of 217 The Best Quarterbacks Of All Time #643 of 1,536 The Best Football Players Ever

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

Number: 39

Years With Franchise: 1968–1974, 1979

Elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame
 

More Larry Csonka 

#24 of 192 The Best NFL Running Backs of All Time #106 of 1,536 The Best Football Players Ever

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 54 Famous Athletes Who Could Have Dominated a Second Sport

25
Art Donovan is listed (or ranked) 25 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