Best Athletes The Best NFL Players To Have Their Numbers Retired  

Ranker Sports
2.2k votes 46 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
20 8
Joe Namath is listed (or ranked) 1 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
 

2
20 9
Walter Payton is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Best NFL Players To Have Their Numbers Retired
Chicago Bears

Number: 34

Years With Franchise: 1975–1987

Elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame
 

3
24 13
Barry Sanders is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Best NFL Players To Have Their Numbers Retired
Detroit Lions

Number: 20

Years With Franchise: 1989–1998

Elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame
 

4
20 10
Joe Greene is listed (or ranked) 4 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
 

5
20 10
John Elway is listed (or ranked) 5 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
 

6
20 10
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
18 9
Bart Starr is listed (or ranked) 7 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
 

8
16 8
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
18 10
Johnny Unitas is listed (or ranked) 9 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

10
18 10
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
19 11
Jerry Rice is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Best NFL Players To Have Their Numbers Retired
San Francisco 49ers

Number: 80

Years With Franchise: 1985–2000

Elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame

12
12 5
Doug Atkins is listed (or ranked) 12 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
 

13
14 7
Dick Butkus is listed (or ranked) 13 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
 

14
15 8
Mike Ditka is listed (or ranked) 14 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
 

15
15 8
Sammy Baugh is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Best NFL Players To Have Their Numbers Retired
Washington Redskins

Number: 33

Years With Franchise: 1937–1952

Elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame
 

16
18 11
Reggie White is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Best NFL Players To Have Their Numbers Retired
Philadelphia Eagles/Green Bay Packers

Number: 92

Years With Franchise: 1985–1992 (Philadelphia Eagles), 1993–1998 (Green Bay Packers)

Elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame
 

17
19 12
Joe Montana is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Best NFL Players To Have Their Numbers Retired
San Francisco 49ers

Number: 16

Years With Franchise: 1979–1992

Elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame
 

18
20 13
Lawrence Taylor is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Best NFL Players To Have Their Numbers Retired
New York Giants

Number: 56

Years With Franchise: 1981–1993

Elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame
 

19
10 4
Jim Taylor is listed (or ranked) 19 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
 

20
10 4
Merlin Olsen is listed (or ranked) 20 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
 

21
10 4
Bobby Layne is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Best NFL Players To Have Their Numbers Retired
Detroit Lions

Number: 22

Years With Franchise: 1950–1958

Elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame
 

22
10 4
Frank Gifford is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Best NFL Players To Have Their Numbers Retired
New York Giants

Number: 16

Years With Franchise: 1952–1960, 1962–1964

Elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame
 

23
10 4
Jack Youngblood is listed (or ranked) 23 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
 

24
10 4
Chuck Bednarik is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Best NFL Players To Have Their Numbers Retired
Philadelphia Eagles

Number: 60

Years With Franchise: 1949–1962

Elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame
 

25
11 5
Floyd Little is listed (or ranked) 25 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