Sports
200 voters

The Best NFL Players To Have Their Numbers Retired

Updated August 2, 2019 12.2k votes 200 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
     

  • Johnny Unitas2

    Number: 19

    Years With Franchise: 1956–1972

    Elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame

  • John Elway3

    Number: 7

    Years With Franchise: 1983–1998

    Elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame
     

  • Dick Butkus4

    Number: 51

    Years With Franchise: 1965–1973

    Elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame
     

  • Bart Starr5

    Number: 15

    Years With Franchise: 1956–1971

    Elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame
     

  • Steve Largent6

    Number: 80

    Years With Franchise: 1976–1989

    Elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame
     

  • Deacon Jones7

    Number: 75

    Years With Franchise: 1961–1971

    Elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame
     

    More Deacon Jones 

    #76 of 150 Athletes You Didn't Know Were Conservative#10 of 83 The Greatest Defensive Tackles of All Time

  • Gale Sayers8

    Number: 40

    Years With Franchise: 1965–1971

    Elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame
     

  • Mike Ditka9

    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#48 of 67 The Best Sports Personalities on ESPN

  • Fran Tarkenton10

    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#3 of 73 The Best Quarterbacks to Never Win a Super Bowl

  • Jack Youngblood11

    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#10 of 96 The Greatest Defensive Ends of All Time

  • Doug Atkins12

    Number: 81

    Years With Franchise: 1967–1969

    Elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame
     

  • Ray Nitschke13

    Number: 66

    Years With Franchise: 1958–1972

    Elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame
     

    More Ray Nitschke 

    #38 of 80 The Best NFL Player Nicknames#23 of 432 The Greatest Defenders in NFL History

  • Merlin Olsen14

    Number: 74

    Years With Franchise: 1962–1976

    Elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame
     

    More Merlin Olsen 

    #19 of 74 Mormon Celebrities#12 of 107 College & Professional Athletes Who Were Raised Mormon

  • Chuck Bednarik15

    Number: 60

    Years With Franchise: 1949–1962

    Elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame
     

  • Bronko Nagurski16

    Number: 3

    Years With Franchise: 1930–1937, 1943

    Elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame
     

    More Bronko Nagurski 

    #1743 of 1,816 The Best Athletes Of All Time#98 of 1,323 The Best Football Players Ever

  • Brian Piccolo17

    Number: 41

    Years With Franchise: 1965–1969

    More Brian Piccolo 

    #39 of 144 The Greatest Chicago Bears of All Time#69 of 143 Athletes Whose Careers Ended Too Soon

  • Jim Taylor18

    Number: 31

    Years With Franchise: 1967

    Elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame
     

    More Jim Taylor 

    #23 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
     

  • Jim Brown20

    Number: 32

    Years With Franchise: 1957–1965

    Elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame
     

    More Jim Brown 

    #437 of 583 The Greatest Entertainers of All Time#296 of 310 The Coolest Actors Ever

  • Len Dawson21

    Number: 16

    Years With Franchise: 1962–1975

    Elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame
     

  • Joe Namath22

    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#7 of 91 The Best Alabama Crimson Tide Football Players of All Time

  • George Halas23

    Number: 7

    Years With Franchise: 1920–1929

    Elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame
     

    More George Halas 

    #201 of 214 The Best Wide Receivers of All Time#4 of 26 The Best NFL Team Owners of All Time

  • Floyd Little24
    80
    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#11 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