Sports
202 voters

The Best NFL Players To Have Their Numbers Retired

Updated August 2, 2019 12.3k votes 202 voters 1.2k views146 items

List RulesVote 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.

Photo:
  • Joe Greene1

    Number: 75

    Years With Franchise: 1969–1981

    Elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame
     

    More Joe Greene 

    #7 of 27 Old Athletes You Didn't Realize Are Still Alive#4 of 69 The Best NFL Players From Texas

  • Johnny Unitas2

    Number: 19

    Years With Franchise: 1956–1972

    Elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame

    More Johnny Unitas 

    #530 of 753 People We Wish Were Still Alive#40 of 85 Great Athletes Who Waited Too Long To Retire

  • Dick Butkus3

    Number: 51

    Years With Franchise: 1965–1973

    Elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame
     

    More Dick Butkus 

    #78 of 150 Athletes You Didn't Know Were Conservative#285 of 904 Celebrity Death Pool 2021

  • John Elway4

    Number: 7

    Years With Franchise: 1983–1998

    Elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame
     

    More John Elway 

    #392 of 403 Famous Role Models We'd Like to Meet In Person#2 of 53 The Best No. 1 Overall NFL Draft Picks Of All Time, Ranked

  • Bart Starr5

    Number: 15

    Years With Franchise: 1956–1971

    Elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame
     

    More Bart Starr 

    #72 of 163 The Smartest Professional Athletes#8 of 26 The Best "Big Game" Performances by a Quarterback

  • Steve Largent6

    Number: 80

    Years With Franchise: 1976–1989

    Elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame
     

    More Steve Largent 

    #6 of 214 The Best Wide Receivers of All Time#15 of 38 The Best NFL Wide Receivers of the '70s

  • Deacon Jones7

    Number: 75

    Years With Franchise: 1961–1971

    Elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame
     

    More Deacon Jones 

    #10 of 83 The Greatest Defensive Tackles of All Time#4 of 96 The Greatest Defensive Ends of All Time

  • Mike Ditka8

    Number: 89

    Years With Franchise: 1961–1966

    Elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame
     

    More Mike Ditka 

    #29 of 61 The Best NFL Coaches of All Time#8 of 87 The Greatest Tight Ends Of All Time

  • Gale Sayers9

    Number: 40

    Years With Franchise: 1965–1971

    Elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame
     

    More Gale Sayers 

    Gale Sayers Was One Of The Most Unsung Trailblazers In Sports History#9 of 26 NFL Players Whose Careers Ended Too Soon

  • Jack Youngblood10

    Number: 85

    Years With Franchise: 1971–1984

    Elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame
     

    More Jack Youngblood 

    #3 of 85 The Best University of Florida Football Players of All Time#7 of 110 The Best Los Angeles Rams of All Time

  • Doug Atkins11

    Number: 81

    Years With Franchise: 1967–1969

    Elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame
     

  • Chuck Bednarik12

    Number: 60

    Years With Franchise: 1949–1962

    Elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame
     

    More Chuck Bednarik 

    #11 of 86 The Best NFL Players From Pennsylvania#3 of 121 The Best Philadelphia Eagles of All Time

  • Fran Tarkenton13

    Number: 10

    Years With Franchise: 1961–1966, 1972–1978

    Elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame
     

    More Fran Tarkenton 

    #1 of 39 The Best NFL Quarterbacks of the 1970s#9 of 44 The Best University of Georgia Football Players of All Time

  • Ray Nitschke14

    Number: 66

    Years With Franchise: 1958–1972

    Elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame
     

    More Ray Nitschke 

    #41 of 80 The Best NFL Player Nicknames#22 of 432 The Greatest Defenders in NFL History

  • Merlin Olsen15

    Number: 74

    Years With Franchise: 1962–1976

    Elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame
     

    More Merlin Olsen 

    #12 of 107 College & Professional Athletes Who Were Raised Mormon#7 of 35 The Best Former Athletes Turned Actors

  • Bronko Nagurski16

    Number: 3

    Years With Franchise: 1930–1937, 1943

    Elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame
     

    More Bronko Nagurski 

    #97 of 1,323 The Best Football Players Ever#31 of 206 The Best NFL Running Backs of All Time

  • Brian Piccolo17

    Number: 41

    Years With Franchise: 1965–1969

  • Jim Taylor18

    Number: 31

    Years With Franchise: 1967

    Elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame
     

    More Jim Taylor 

    #24 of 146 The Best LSU Football Players of All Time#24 of 60 The Best NFL Players From Louisiana

  • Larry Csonka19

    Number: 39

    Years With Franchise: 1968–1974, 1979

    Elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame
     

    More Larry Csonka 

    #10 of 47 The Best Super Bowl MVPs of All Time#110 of 149 The Best New York Giants of All Time

  • Jim Brown20

    Number: 32

    Years With Franchise: 1957–1965

    Elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame
     

    More Jim Brown 

    #297 of 310 The Coolest Actors Ever#118 of 191 The Greatest Black Actors in Film History

  • Len Dawson21

    Number: 16

    Years With Franchise: 1962–1975

    Elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame
     

    More Len Dawson 

    #18 of 63 Every Quarterback To Achieve A Perfect Passer Rating#6 of 128 The Best Kansas City Chiefs Of All Time

  • George Halas22

    Number: 7

    Years With Franchise: 1920–1929

    Elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame
     

    More George Halas 

    #57 of 60 Famous Athletes Who Could Have Dominated a Second Sport#3 of 26 The Best NFL Team Owners of All Time

  • Joe Namath23

    Number: 12

    Years With Franchise: 1965–1976

    Elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame
     

    More Joe Namath 

    #25 of 252 The Best Quarterbacks Of All Time#6 of 91 The Best Alabama Crimson Tide Football Players of All Time

  • Floyd Little24
    79
    25

    Floyd Little

    Number: 4

    Years With Franchise: 1967–1975

    Elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame
     

    More 

    #16 of 27 The Best NFL Running Backs of the 70s#10 of 35 Undeserving Members of the Pro Football Hall of Fame

  • Art Donovan25

    Number: 70

    Years With Franchise: 1950, 1953–1961

    Elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame