Top 30 Best NFL Players of All Time

Top 30 Best NFL Players of All Time

Best NFL Players of All Time
Best NFL Players of All Time

The Top 30 Best NFL Players of All Time: In honor of the NFL’s season celebration, 19 current and former reporters throughout the United States were invited to formulate a list of the best players in the history of the sport.

The task was difficult, given that each person had to evaluate talent dating back to 1920. While there were no set rules, the decision-making process was centered on the field of play and took into account factors such as Hall of Fame induction, statistics, accolades, reputation, and the eye test.

Each voter was given 60 players to rank. A total of 100 names were generated as a result of the votes. The rankings were based on a points system, with the best player on the list receiving 60 points and the bottom player receiving one. Ties were broken by using the player’s highest single vote.

These are the Top 30 Best NFL Players of All Time.

1: Jerry Rice

Position: WR

Years: 1985-2004

Teams: San Francisco 49ers, Oakland Raiders, Seattle Seahawks

Achievements: Inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame (2010); 3-time Super Bowl champ; Super Bowl MVP; NFL MVP; 13 Pro Bowls; Leads the NFL in all-purpose touchdowns (208); Leads the NFL in receiving yards (22,895); Only player in NFL history with more than 20,000 receiving yards; Leads the NFL in total receptions (1,549); Leads the NFL in all-purpose yards (23,546); Leads the NFL in TD receptions (197); leads the NFL in consecutive games with at least one reception (274); holds 36 total NFL records

2: Tom Brady

Position: QB

Years: 2000-Present

Team: New England Patriots

Achievements: 6-time Super Bowl champ; 4-time Super Bowl MVP; 3-time NFL MVP; 3-time First-team All-Pro (2007, 2010, 2017); 2-time Second-team All-Pro (2005, 2016); 2-time NFL Offensive Player of the Year (2007, 2010); NFL Comeback Player of the Year (2009); Holds NFL record for most Super Bowl wins as a player (6); Holds multiple Super Bowl records including most TD passes (18), most passing yards (2,838), most completed passes (256), most passing attempts (392) and most consecutive competitions in a single SB (16); Holds NFL record for most games won by a QB (207); only QB to have 3 consecutive games w/ 300+ passing yards, 3+ TD passes and 0 interceptions; Tied for most Pro Bowl selections (14); Holds NFL record for most postseason games played (40); Holds NFL record for most postseason TD passes (73); Oldest QB to win a Super Bowl (41 years, 6 months)

3: Lawrence Taylor 

Position: LB

Years: 1981-1993

Team: New York Giants

Achievements: Inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame (1999); 2-time Super Bowl champ; 10-time Pro Bowl; 9-time first-team All-Pro (1981-1989); second-team All-Pro (1990); NFL MVP (1986); 3-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year (1981, 1982, 1986); NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year (1981).

He is one of the Best NFL Players of All Time.

4: Jim Brown

Position: RB

Years: 1957-1965

Team: Cleveland Browns

Achievements: Inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame (1971); 1964 NFL Champ; 4-time NFL MVP (1957,1958, 1963, 1965); 8-time first-team All-Pro (1957-1961, 1963-1965); All-Pro 2nd-team (1962); 9 Pro Bowls appearances; NFL Rookie of the Year (1957); 1st player to reach 100 rushing touchdowns ; 1st NFL player to rush for over 10,000 yards; 10th most touchdowns in NFL history (126); 5th most rushing TDs in NFL history (106); Leads the NFL in average rushing yards per game in career (104.3)

5: Walter Payton

Position: RB

Years: 1975-1987

Team: Chicago Bears

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Achievements: Inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame (1993); Super Bowl champ; 7-time first-team All-Pro (1976-1980, 1984, 1985); second-team All-Pro (1986); NFL MVP (1977); NFL Offensive Player of the Year (1977); second leading rusher in NFL history (16,726); 4th most rushing TDs in NFL history (110)

He is one of the Best NFL Players of All Time.

6: Joe Montana

Position: QB

Years: 1979-1994

Teams: San Francisco 49ers, Kansas City Chiefs

Achievements: Inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame (2000); 4-time Super Bowl champ; 3-time Super Bowl MVP; 2-time NFL MVP (1989, 1990); 8 Pro Bowl invites; 3-time first-team All-Pro (1987, 1989, 1990); 2-time second-team All-Pro (1981, 1984); holds a Super Bowl record passer rating of 127.8;  holds Super Bowl records for most throws without an interception (122)

7: Reggie White

Position: DE

Years: 1985-2000

Teams: Philadelphia Eagles, Green Bay Packers, Carolina Panthers

Achievements: Inducted into Hall of Fame in 2006; Super Bowl champion (1996); AP Defensive Player of the Year (1987, ‘98); 1st-team All-Pro (1986, ‘87, ‘88, ‘89, ‘90, ‘91, ‘95, 98); 13-time Pro Bowler

8: Peyton Manning

Position: QB

Years: 1998-2015

Teams: Indianapolis Colts, Denver Broncos

Achievements: 2-time Super Bowl champ; Super Bowl MVP; 14-time Pro Bowl; 7-time first-team All-Pro (2003, 2004, 2005, 2008, 2009, 2012, 2013); 3-time second-team All-Pro (1999, 2000, 2006); 5-time NFL MVP (2003, 2004, 2008, 2009, 2013); 2-time NFL Offensive Player of the Year (2004, 2013); leads the NFL in career TD passes (539); holds the NFL record for most passing yards in a single season (5,477 in 2013); 2nd most passing yards in NFL history (71,940); 3rd most passes completed in NFL history (6,125)

9: Johnny Unitas

Position: QB

Years: 1956-1971

Teams: Baltimore Colts, San Diego Chargers

Achievements: Inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame (1979); Super Bowl champ; 3-time NFL Champ; 3rd longest TD streak in NFL history (47 games)

10: Barry Sanders

Position: RB

Years: 1989-98

Team: Detroit Lions

Achievements: Inducted into Pro Football HOF 2004; 15,269 rushing yards, 3rd all-time; 10 pro bowls; 6-time All Pro; first player to rush for 1,000 yards in his first 10 seasons.

re are Nos. 11-100 in our list of the greatest NFL players of all time:

11: Joe Greene

Position: DT

Years: 1969-1981

Team: Pittsburgh Steelers

Achievements: Inducted into the Pro Football HOF (1987); 4-time Super Bowl champ; 5-time First-team All-Pro (1972-1974, 1977, 1979); 3-time Second-team All-Pro (1971, 1975, 1976); 2-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year (1972, 1974); NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year (1969); 10-time Pro Bowler

12: Dick Butkus

Position: LB

Years: 1965-1973

Team: Chicago Bears

Achievements: Inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame (1979); 6-time first-team All-Pro (1965, 1967-1970, 1972); 2-time second-team All-Pro (1966, 1971); 8 Pro Bowls; 2-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year (1969, 1970)

13: Ronnie Lott

Position: DB

Years: 1981-94

Teams: San Francisco 49ers, Los Angeles Raiders, New York Jets

Achievements: Inducted into Hall of Fame in 2000; 4-time Super Bowl Champion (1982, ‘84, ‘88, ‘89); 1st-team All-Pro (81, ‘86, ‘87, ‘89, ‘90, ‘91); 10-time Pro Bowler

14: Anthony Munoz

Position: LT

Years: 1980-92

Team: Cincinnati Bengals

Achievements: Inducted into Hall of Fame in 1998; 1st-team All-Pro (1981, ‘82, ‘83, ‘85, ‘86, ‘87, ‘88, ‘89, ‘90); 11-time Pro Bowler; 1991 NFL Walter Payton Man of the Year

15: Deacon Jones

Position: DE

Years: 1961-1974

Teams: Los Angeles Rams, San Diego Chargers, Washington Redskins

Achievements: Inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame (1980); 5-time First-Team All-Pro (1965-1969); 3-time second-team All-Pro (1964, 1970, 1972); 8 Pro Bowls; 2-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year (1967, 1968); NFL didn’t record sacks an as official stat until 1982, but it is said Jones had 194.5 during his career He is one of the Best NFL Players of All Time.

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16: Deion Sanders

Position: DB

Years: 1989-2000, 2004-05

Teams: Atlanta Falcons, San Francisco 49ers, Dallas Cowboys, Washington Redskins, Baltimore Ravens

Achievements: Inducted into Hall of Fame in 2011; 2-time Super Bowl Champion (1995, ‘96); 1994 AP Defensive Player of the Year; 1st-team All-Pro (‘92, ‘93, ‘94, ‘96, ‘97, ‘98); 8-time Pro Bowler

17:  Otto Graham

Position: QB

Years: 1946-55

Team: Cleveland Browns

Achievements: Inducted into Hall of Fame in 1965; 3-time NFL Champion (1950, ‘54, ‘55); 4-time AAFC champion (1946, ‘47, ‘48, ‘49); 3-time NFL UPI MVP (1951, ‘53, ‘55), 1st-team All-Pro (1947, ‘48, ‘49, ‘51, ‘53, ‘54, ‘55); 5-time Pro Bowler

18: John Elway

Position: QB

Years: 1983-98

Team: Denver Broncos

Achievements: Inducted into Hall of Fame in 2004; two-time Super Bowl champion (1998, ‘99); 1989 AP MVP; 1998 Super Bowl MVP; 1992 Walter Payton Man of the Year; 9-time Pro Bowler;

19: Emmitt Smith

Position: RB

Years: 1990-2004

Teams: Dallas Cowboys, Arizona Cardinals

Achievements: Inducted into Pro Footbal HOF 2010; 18,355 rushing yards, No. 1 all-time; 4,409 attempts, No. 1 all-time; 164 rushing TDs, first all-time; started 219 of 226 games; three-time Super Bowl champ; Super Bowl MVP after 1993 season; NFL MVP 1993 season.

20: Dan Marino

Position: QB.

Years: 1983-1999

Teams: Miami Dolphins

Achievements: Inducted into the Pro Football HOF (2005); 3-time First-team All-Pro (1984-1986); 4-time second-team All-Pro; NFL MVP (1984); Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year (1998); NFL Rookie of the Year (1983); NFL Comeback Player of the Year (1994); 9-time Pro Bowler; Held multiple NFL passing records that have since been broke

21: Gale Sayers

Position: RB

Years: 1965-71

Team: Chicago Bears

Achievements: Inducted into Hall of Fame in 1977; 1st-team All-Pro (1965, ‘66, ‘67, ‘68, ‘69); 4-time Pro Bowler; four seasons in top 10 of all NFL rushers; career cut short by injuries; as a rookie scored four TDs, including 96-yard kickoff return, against Vikings, and later in season scored six touchdowns against 49ers including an 80-yard pass play, 50-yard run and 65-yard punt return.

22: Sammy Baugh

Position: QB

Years: 1937-52

Team: Washington Redskins

Achievements: Inducted into Hall of Fame in 1963; 2-time NFL champion (1937, ‘42); 1st-team All-Pro (1937, ‘40, ‘42, ‘43); 6-time Pro Bowler

23: Ray Lewis

Position: LB

Years: 1996-2012

Team: Baltimore Ravens

Achievements: Inducted into Hall of Fame in 2018; 2-time Super Bowl champion (2001, 2013); 2003 AP Defensive Player of the Year; 2000-01 Super Bowl MVP; ranks second in league history for solo tackles; 1st-team All-Pro (1999, 2000, ‘01, ‘03, ‘04, ‘08, ‘09); 13-time Pro Bowler

24: Randy Moss

Position: WR

Years: 1998-2012

Teams: Minnesota Vikings, Oakland Raiders, New England Patriots, Tennessee Titans, San Francisco 49ers

Achievements: Inducted into the Pro Football HOF (2018); 4-time First-team All-Pro (1998, 2000, 2003, 2007); NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year (1998); 6-time Pro Bowler; Pro Bowl MVP (1999); Holds NFL record for most TD receptions in a season (23); Holds NFL record for most TD receptions in a rookie season (17); Only player to catch 90+ touchdown passes, return a punt for a touchdown, and throw 2 touchdown passes

He is one of the Best NFL Players of All Time.

25: Don Hutson

Position: E

Years: 1935-45

Team: Green Bay Packers

Achievements: Inducted into Hall of Fame in 1963; 3-time NFL champion (1936, ‘39, ‘44); 2-time NFL MVP (1941, ‘42); 1st-team All-Pro (1938, ‘39, ‘40, ‘41, ‘42, ‘43, ‘44, ‘45); 4-time Pro Bowler

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26. Brett Favre

Position: QB

Years: 1991-2010

Teams: Atlanta Falcons, Green Bay Packers, New York Jets, Minnesota Vikings

Achievements: Inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame (2016); Super Bowl champ; 3-time first-team All-Pro (1995-1997); 3-time second-team All-Pro (2001, 2002, 2007); 11-time Pro Bowler (1992, 1993, 1995-1997, 2001-2003, 2007-2009); 3-time AP NFL MVP; 2nd in the NFL in career passing yards (71,838); Has the most career starts of any NFL player (298, 322 including the post season); 1st player to 500 career TD passes; 1st NFL QB to defeat 32 franchises

27: Alan Page

Position: DT

Years: 1967-81

Teams: Minnesota Vikings, Chicago Bears

Achievements: Inducted into Pro Football HOF in 1988 in hometown of Canton, Ohio; played in 238 consecutive games, including postseason; NFL MVP for 1971 season; NFL defensive player of the year 1971, 1973; 23 fumble recoveries.

28: Bruce Smith

Position: DE

Years: 1985-2003

Teams: Buffalo Bills, Washington Redskins

Achievements: Inducted into the Pro Football HOF (2009); 8-time First-team All-Pro (1987, 1988, 1990, 1993-1997); 2-time Second-team All-Pro (1989, 1998); 2-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year (1990, 1996); NFL career sack record (200 sacks)

He is one of the Best NFL Players of All Time.

29: Jack Lambert

Position: LB

Years: 1974-1984

Team: Pittsburgh Steelers

Achievements: Inducted into the Pro Football HOF (1990); 4-time Super Bowl champion; 6-time First-team All-Pro (1976, 1979-1983); 2-time Second-team All-Pro (1975, 1978); 2-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year (1976, 1983); NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year (1974); 9-time Pro Bowler

30: John Hannah

Position: G

Years: 1973-85

Team: New England Patriots

Achievements: Inducted into Hall of Fame in 1991; 1st-team All-Pro (1976, ‘78, ‘79, ‘80, ‘81, ‘83, ‘85); 9-time Pro Bowler.

30: Ed Reed

Position: S

Years: 2002-2013

Teams: Baltimore Ravens, New York Jets, Houston Texans

Achievements: Inducted into the Pro Football HOF (2019); Super Bowl Champion; 5-time First-team All-Pro (2004, 2006-2008, 2010); 3-time Second-team All-Pro (2003, 2009, 2011); 9-time Pro Bowler; NFL Defensive Player of the Year (2004); Tied for Most Career Playoff Interceptions (9); Longest Interception Return in NFL History (107 yards); Most Career Interception Return Yards (1,590); First player in NFL history to return an interception, punt, blocked punt and fumble for a TD; Holds the record for most multi-interception games in a career (12); Tied for most career blocked punts returned for TD (3).

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