Best Athletes The Best NFL Players To Have Their Numbers Retired  

Ranker Sports
5.6k votes 104 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
53 19
John Elway is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Best NFL Players To Have Their Numbers Retired
Denver Broncos

Number: 7

Years With Franchise: 1983–1998

Elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame
 

2
47 14
Dick Butkus is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Best NFL Players To Have Their Numbers Retired
Chicago Bears

Number: 51

Years With Franchise: 1965–1973

Elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame
 

3
41 9
Doug Atkins is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Best NFL Players To Have Their Numbers Retired
New Orleans Saints

Number: 81

Years With Franchise: 1967–1969

Elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame
 

4
49 16
Joe Namath is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Best NFL Players To Have Their Numbers Retired
New York Jets

Number: 12

Years With Franchise: 1965–1976

Elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame
 

5
42 10
Brian Piccolo is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Best NFL Players To Have Their Numbers Retired
Chicago Bears

Number: 41

Years With Franchise: 1965–1969

6
52 19
Jim Brown is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Best NFL Players To Have Their Numbers Retired
Cleveland Browns

Number: 32

Years With Franchise: 1957–1965

Elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame
 

7
39 8
Fran Tarkenton is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Best NFL Players To Have Their Numbers Retired
Minnesota Vikings

Number: 10

Years With Franchise: 1961–1966, 1972–1978

Elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame
 

8
47 15
Steve Largent is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Best NFL Players To Have Their Numbers Retired
Seattle Seahawks

Number: 80

Years With Franchise: 1976–1989

Elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame
 

9
40 9
Jim Taylor is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Best NFL Players To Have Their Numbers Retired
New Orleans Saints

Number: 31

Years With Franchise: 1967

Elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame
 

10
48 16
Gale Sayers is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Best NFL Players To Have Their Numbers Retired
Chicago Bears

Number: 40

Years With Franchise: 1965–1971

Elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame
 

11
41 10
Deacon Jones is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Best NFL Players To Have Their Numbers Retired
Los Angeles Rams

Number: 75

Years With Franchise: 1961–1971

Elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame
 

12
41 10
Ray Nitschke is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Best NFL Players To Have Their Numbers Retired
Green Bay Packers

Number: 66

Years With Franchise: 1958–1972

Elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame
 

13
49 17
Johnny Unitas is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Best NFL Players To Have Their Numbers Retired
Indianapolis Colts

Number: 19

Years With Franchise: 1956–1972

Elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame

14
49 17
Bart Starr is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Best NFL Players To Have Their Numbers Retired
Green Bay Packers

Number: 15

Years With Franchise: 1956–1971

Elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame
 

15
50 18
Joe Greene is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Best NFL Players To Have Their Numbers Retired
Pittsburgh Steelers

Number: 75

Years With Franchise: 1969–1981

Elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame
 

16
39 9
Floyd Little is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Best NFL Players To Have Their Numbers Retired
Denver Broncos

Number: 4

Years With Franchise: 1967–1975

Elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame
 

17
35 7
Frank Tripucka is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Best NFL Players To Have Their Numbers Retired
Denver Broncos

Number: 18

Years With Franchise: 1960–1963
 

18
41 14
Mike Ditka is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Best NFL Players To Have Their Numbers Retired
Chicago Bears

Number: 89

Years With Franchise: 1961–1966

Elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame
 

19
37 11
Merlin Olsen is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Best NFL Players To Have Their Numbers Retired
Los Angeles Rams

Number: 74

Years With Franchise: 1962–1976

Elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame
 

20
33 8
Art Donovan is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Best NFL Players To Have Their Numbers Retired
Baltimore Colts

Number: 70

Years With Franchise: 1950, 1953–1961

Elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame
 

21
34 10
Jack Youngblood is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Best NFL Players To Have Their Numbers Retired
Los Angeles Rams

Number: 85

Years With Franchise: 1971–1984

Elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame
 

22
37 13
Bronko Nagurski is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Best NFL Players To Have Their Numbers Retired
Chicago Bears

Number: 3

Years With Franchise: 1930–1937, 1943

Elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame
 

23
32 9
Jan Stenerud is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Best NFL Players To Have Their Numbers Retired
Kansas City Chiefs

Number: 3

Years With Franchise: 1967–1979

Elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame
 

24
33 10
Len Dawson is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Best NFL Players To Have Their Numbers Retired
Kansas City Chiefs

Number: 16

Years With Franchise: 1962–1975

Elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame
 

25
34 11
Red Grange is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Best NFL Players To Have Their Numbers Retired
Chicago Bears

Number: 77

Years With Franchise: 1925, 1929–1934

Elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame