Sports

The Best NFL Players To Have Their Numbers Retired 

Ranker Sports
Updated August 2, 2019 9k votes 194 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
Joe Greene is listed (or ranked) 1 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 

#1,742 of 1,820 The Best Athletes Of All Time #3 of 432 The Greatest Defenders in NFL History #7 of 1,323 The Best Football Players Ever

2
John Elway is listed (or ranked) 2 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
 

More John Elway 

#6 of 252 The Best Quarterbacks Of All Time #1,397 of 1,820 The Best Athletes Of All Timelisted on Athletes You Didn't Know Were Conservative

3
Johnny Unitas is listed (or ranked) 3 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 

#636 of 753 People We Wish Were Still Alive #963 of 1,820 The Best Athletes Of All Time #4 of 252 The Best Quarterbacks Of All Time

4
Bart Starr is listed (or ranked) 4 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
 

More Bart Starr 

#1,059 of 1,820 The Best Athletes Of All Time #10 of 252 The Best Quarterbacks Of All Timelisted on Athletes You Didn't Know Were Conservative

5
Dick Butkus is listed (or ranked) 5 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
 

More Dick Butkus 

#1,369 of 1,820 The Best Athletes Of All Time #7 of 432 The Greatest Defenders in NFL Historylisted 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
 

More Steve Largent 

#1,640 of 1,820 The Best Athletes Of All Time #12 of 214 The Best Wide Receivers of All Timelisted on Athletes You Didn't Know Were Conservative

7
Gale Sayers is listed (or ranked) 7 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
 

More Gale Sayers 

#10 of 206 The Best NFL Running Backs of All Time #27 of 1,323 The Best Football Players Everlisted on Athletes You Didn't Know Were Conservative

8
Deacon Jones is listed (or ranked) 8 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
 

More Deacon Jones 

#6 of 432 The Greatest Defenders in NFL History #46 of 1,323 The Best Football Players Everlisted on Athletes You Didn't Know Were Conservative

9
Jim Brown is listed (or ranked) 9 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 

#287 of 310 The Coolest Actors Ever #564 of 1,820 The Best Athletes Of All Time #3 of 206 The Best NFL Running Backs of All Time

10
Fran Tarkenton is listed (or ranked) 10 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 

#13 of 252 The Best Quarterbacks Of All Time #3 of 73 The Best Quarterbacks to Never Win a Super Bowl #73 of 1,323 The Best Football Players Ever

11
Mike Ditka is listed (or ranked) 11 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
 

More Mike Ditka 

#54 of 1,323 The Best Football Players Ever #6 of 144 The Greatest Chicago Bears of All Timelisted on Athletes You Didn't Know Were Conservative

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

Number: 41

Years With Franchise: 1965–1969

More Brian Piccolo 

#32 of 144 The Greatest Chicago Bears of All Time #15 of 143 Athletes Whose Careers Ended Too Soon

13
Ray Nitschke is listed (or ranked) 13 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
 

More Ray Nitschke 

#21 of 432 The Greatest Defenders in NFL History #63 of 1,323 The Best Football Players Ever #37 of 80 The Best NFL Player Nicknames

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
 

More Joe Namath 

#24 of 252 The Best Quarterbacks Of All Time #1,523 of 1,820 The Best Athletes Of All Time #29 of 119 The Greatest College Football Quarterbacks of All Time

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
Jim Taylor is listed (or ranked) 16 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
 

More Jim Taylor 

#37 of 206 The Best NFL Running Backs of All Time #27 of 146 The Best LSU Football Players of All Time #165 of 1,323 The Best Football Players Ever

17
Merlin Olsen is listed (or ranked) 17 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
 

More Merlin Olsen 

#42 of 432 The Greatest Defenders in NFL History #127 of 1,323 The Best Football Players Everlisted on College & Professional Athletes Who Were Raised Mormon

18
Jack Youngblood is listed (or ranked) 18 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 

#38 of 432 The Greatest Defenders in NFL History #115 of 1,323 The Best Football Players Ever #4 of 85 The Best University of Florida Football Players of All Time

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
 

More Bronko Nagurski 

#1,693 of 1,820 The Best Athletes Of All Time #29 of 206 The Best NFL Running Backs of All Time #103 of 1,323 The Best Football Players Ever

20
Chuck Bednarik is listed (or ranked) 20 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 

#43 of 432 The Greatest Defenders in NFL History #151 of 1,323 The Best Football Players Ever #19 of 154 The Greatest Linebackers of All Time

21
Floyd Little is listed (or ranked) 21 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
 

22
Larry Csonka is listed (or ranked) 22 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 

#25 of 206 The Best NFL Running Backs of All Time #95 of 1,323 The Best Football Players Ever #6 of 27 The Best NFL Running Backs of the 70s

23
Len Dawson is listed (or ranked) 23 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 

#1,780 of 1,820 The Best Athletes Of All Time #47 of 252 The Best Quarterbacks Of All Time #528 of 1,323 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
 

More George Halas 

#93 of 214 The Best Wide Receivers of All Time #11 of 144 The Greatest Chicago Bears of All Time #10 of 61 The Best NFL Coaches of All Time

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