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Best All-Time NFL Players in Pro Football History


The price of success is hard work, dedication to the job at hand, and the determination that whether we win or lose, we have applied the best of ourselves to the task at hand. -Vince Lombardi

The National Football League (NFL) which formed in 1920 is the highest professional level of American football in the world while the league consists of 32 teams equally divided between the National Football Conference (NFC) and American Football Conference (AFC).  The NFL is the most popular 1 of 4 major pro sport leagues in North America along with NBA, NHL, and MLB.  The NFL has a 17 week regular season (ex. 16 games & 1 bye week) which runs from the week after Labor Day to the week after Christmas.  After the regular season, 6 teams from each conference (4 division winners & 2 wild card teams) advance to the Super Bowl played between the NFC and AFC champions.  The Super Bowl is considered the biggest sporting event in the USA while being many of the most watched TV programs in US history and one of the biggest club sporting events in the world along with the World Cup.  The NFL has the highest average attendance of any pro sports league in the world and is now the most popular sport in the United States.  The Green Bay Packers are the team with the most NFL championships at 13 while the Pittsburg Steelers are the team with the most Super Bowl Championships winning 6 times.  The Denver Broncos are the current Champions winning Super Bowl 50.  The 81st NFL draft is this week at the Auditorium Theater in Chicago, Illinois beginning on Thursday, April 28 – 30.  The Tennessee Titans, the team with the worst record in the NFL for 2015, traded the right to the top pick in the 2016 draft to the L.A. Rams.  The Rams are on the clock.

Best All-time NFL Players by Position:


  1. QB = Joe Montana, Johnny Unitas, Tom Brady, John Elway, Peyton Manning, Dan Morino, Brett Favre, Terry Bradshaw, Roger Staubach, Joe Namath, Ken Stabler, Bart Starr, Steve Young, Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees, Troy Aikman, Kurt Warner, Fran Tarkenton, Jim Kelly, Dan Fouts, Bob Griese, Otto Graham, Sammy Baugh, Warren Moon, Doug Williams, Steve McNair, Michael Vick, Ben Rothlisberger, Cam Newton
  2. RB = Walter Payton, Barry Sanders, Emmitt Smith, Gale Sayers, Eric Dickerson, LaDainian Tomlinson, OJ Simpson, Marshall Faulk, Tony Dorsett, Thurman Thomas, Marcus Allen, Adrian Peterson, Curtis Martin, Earl Campbell, Hershel Walker, Terry Metcalf, Terrell Davis, Bo Jackson
  3. FB = Jim Brown, Larry Csonka, John Riggins, Marion Motley, Lorenzo Neal, Franco Harris, Jim Taylor, Bronko Nagurski, John Henry Johnson, Cookie Gilchrist, Tom Rathman, Jim Otis, Daryl Johnston, Mike Alstott, Larry Centers, Keith Byars
  4. WR = Jerry Rice, Randy Moss, Chris Carter, Michael Irvin, Lynn Swann, Terrell Owens, Marvin Harrison, Calvin Johnson, Lance Alworth, Don Hutson, Tim Brown, Steve Largent, Larry Fitzgerald, Andre Johnson, Andre Reed, Reggie Wayne, Steve Smith, Isaac Bruce, Torry Holt, Dez Bryant, Art Monk, Sterling Sharp, James Lofton, Charlie Joyner, Fred Biletnikoff, Hines Ward, John Stallworth, A.J. Green, Elroy Hirsch, Bob Hayes, Paul Warfield, Raymond Berry, Don Maynard, Henry Ellard, Mel Gray, Roy Green, Chad Johnson
  5. TE = John Mackey, Mike Ditka, Tony Gonzalez, Shannon Sharpe, Kellen Winslow, Dave Casper, Todd Christensen, Ozzie Newsome, Antonio Gates, Ben Coates, Jason Witten, Vernon Davis, Mark Bavaro, Jackie Smith, Rob Gronkowski
  6. OT = Anthony Munoz, Eric Williams, Jonathan Ogden, Willie Roaf, Dan Dierdorf, Orlando Pace, Ron Yary, John Runyan, Jim Parker, Art Shell, Gary Zimmerman, Joe Jacoby, Walter Jones, Forrest Gregg
  7. OG = John Hannah, Gene Upshaw, Randall McDaniel, Larry Allen, Jerry Kramer, Mike Muchak, Tom Mack, Russ Grimm, Steve Huchinson, Bruce Matthews, Will Shields, Alan Faneca, Gene Upshaw, Joe DeLamielleure. Conrad Dobler, Russ Grimm
  8. C = Mike Webster, Jeff Saturday, Jim Otto, Dermontti Dawson, Ray Mansfield, Frank Gatski, Jeff Bostic, Jim Ringo, Dwight Stephenson


  1. DE = Reggie White, Deacon Jones, Bruce Smith, Jack Youngblood, Howie Long, Chris Doleman, Lee Roy Selmon, Julius Peppers, Jared Allen, Gino Marchetti, Doug Atkins, Dwight Freeney, Charles Haley, Michael Strahan, Richard Dent, Jason Taylor, J.J. Watt
  2. DT = Alan Page, Joe Green, Merlin Olson, Randy White, Bob Lilly, John Randle, Cortez Kennedy, Warren Sapp, Buck Buchanan, Casey Hampton, Dan Hampton
  3. ILB = Ray Lewis, Dick Butkus, Jack Lambert, Mike Singletary, Ray Nitschke, Sam Huff, Junior Seau, Willie Lanier, Chuck Bednarik, Sam Mills, Harry Carson, Bill George, Wilber Marshall, Brian Ulracher
  4. OLB = Lawrence Taylor, Derrick Brooks, Jack Ham, Kevin Greene, Demarcus Ware, Rickey Johnson, Terrell Suggs, Derrick Thomas, Cornelius Bennett, Andre Tippett, Ted Hendricks, Lee Roy Jordan, Otis Wilson, Von Miller
  5. CB = Deion Sanders, Rod Woodson, Dick Lane, Mel Blount, Darrell Green, Willie Brown, Mike Haynes, Lester Hayes, Dick LeBeau, Champ Bailey, Charles Woodson. Lem Barney, Roger Wehrli, Ty Law
  6. S = Ronnie Lott, Ken Houston, Paul Krause, Larry Wilson, Ed Reed, Troy Polamalu, Emlen Tunnel, Steve Atwater, Willie Wood, Yale Lary, Charlie Waters, Ken Easley, Rodney Harrison, Brian Dawkins

Special Teams:

Kick/Punt Returners = Gale Sayers, Deion Sanders, Devin Hester, Billy Johnson, Dante Hall, Brian Mitchell, Eric Metcalf, Ollie Matson, Rick Upchurch, Desmund Howard, Dexter McCluster, Golden Tate, Ted Ginn, Patrick Peterson, Mike Haynes, Terry Metcalf, Mel Gray, Tim Brown, Henry Ellard, Terrence McGee, Allen Rossum, Hershel Walker, Abe Woodson

Punters = Ray Guy, Sammy Baugh, Shane Lechler, Jerrel Wilson, Yale Lary, Sean Landetta, Jeff Feagles, Reggie Roby, Andy Lee, Steve O’Neal

Kickers = Gary Anderson, Jan Stenerud, George Blanda, Lou Groza, Adam Vinatieri, Mark Mosely, Matt Stover, Jason Elam, Jason Hanson, Kevin Butler

NFL Head Coaches = Vince Lombardi, Don Shula, Bill Walsh, Bill Belichick, Paul Brown, Chuck Noll, George Halas, Tom Landry, Joe Gibbs, Bill Parcells, John Madden, Curly Lambeau, Marv Levy, Bud Grant, Tony Dungy, George Allen, Don Coryell, Dick Vermeil, Art Shell

NFL General Managers = Art Rooney, George Halas, Al Davis, Bill Walsh, Bill Polian, Ron Wolf, Ozzie Newsome, Bobby Beathard,

NFL Announcers = Howard Cosell, John Madden, Jim Nantz, Curt Gowdy, Pat Summerall, Terry Bradshaw, Bill King, Van Miller, Greg Gumbel, Charlie Jones, Jack Buck

Favorite/Best Player = Jim Brown

My Best All-time NFL Players by Position:


  1. QB = Joe Montana, Johnny Unitas, Fran Tarkenton, Kurt Warner
  2. RB = Walter Payton, Barry Sanders, Gale Sayers, Terry Metcalf, Marshall Faulk
  3. FB = Jim Brown, Larry Csonka
  4. WR = Jerry Rice, Randy Moss, Mel Gray, Roy Green, Isaac Bruce, Torry Holt
  5. TE = Kellen Winslow, Tony Gonzalez, Dave Casper
  6. OT = Anthony Munoz, Dan Dierdorf, Orlando Pace
  7. OG = John Hannah, Randall McDaniel, Conrad Dobler
  8. C = Mike Webster, Jeff Saturday


  1. DE = Reggie White, Bruce Smith, Deacon Jones
  2. DT = Alan Page, Joe Green, Merlin Olson
  3. ILB = Ray Lewis, Jack Lambert, Dick Butkus
  4. OLB = Lawrence Taylor, Jack Ham, Derrick Brooks
  5. CB = Deion Sanders, Rod Woodson, Mel Blount, Roger Wehrli
  6. S = Ronnie Lott, Ed Reed, Troy Polamalu, Larry Wilson

Special Teams:

Punters = Ray Guy

Kickers = George Blanda

Head Coaches = Vince Lombardi, Bill Walsh, Don Coryell, Dick Vermeil

General Managers = Art Rooney, Al Davis

NFL Announcers = Howard Cosell, Jack Buck

Favorite/Best NFL Player = Jim Brown, Terry Metcalf, Marshall Faulk


Your Best All-time NFL Players by Position:


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  1. DE =
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Special Teams:

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Head Coaches =

General Managers =

NFL Announcers =

Favorite/Best NFL Player =

Thank you to all the people who gave their input and helped make this article better!  Please post your best or favorite all-time NFL players by position or any comments about the article.

The quality of a person’s life is in direct proportion to their commitment to excellence, regardless of their chosen field of endeavor. -Vince Lombardi

Dr.  Michael Fredrick PhD is Associate Professor, Chair of Sport Studies at USSA.


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