One of the most debatable topics among football fans is who is the best American football player in the world? Many legendary footballers in NFL history changed the whole point of view of the game. However, many players are still playing and dominating the ground. So, with all the different playing positions and achievements and statistics, how can you create a list of the best NFL players of all time?
What you should consider while listing? The playing style? The achievements? Or the player with the most Super Bowl rings?
With so many legendary players to choose from, the listing wasn’t an easy job. However, we successfully created a list of the top 10 players in NFL history. Do you want to know who sits in the number 1 position? Then continue reading the article.
10. Reggie White (1985-1998, 2000)
It is believed that Reginald Howard White is the best creation of the famous Buddy Ryan. Reggie can be considered as one of the best defensive players as well as one of the best NFL players of all time.
During his time, Reggie played college football for the University of Tennessee and started his NFL journey from Memphis Showboats. He also played under Philadelphia Phillies, Green Bay Packers and, Carolina Panthers. His record of second-most career sacks (198) in NFL history is still unbeaten and grants him a position among the greatest NFL players of all time.
In his 15 years of NFL Career, Reggie played 232 games in which he scored 175 Solo tackles, recovered 20 fumbles and 1111 combined tackles, and 63 assists on tackle. Now if you hear his achievements you will surely consider him as one of the best American football players of all time. Reggie was XXXI Super Bowl Champion including 2 times NFL Defensive Player of the Year, 8 First-team All-Pro, and 5 Second-team All-Pro honors. He was also 13 times the NFL Pro Bowl All-Star winner and 2 times the NFL sacks leader with 3 Defensive Player of the Year award.
After dominating the football ground, he was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2006 as well as Green Bay Packers Hall of Fame and Philadelphia Eagles Hall of Fame.
9. John Elway (1983-1998)
Even in the modern generation, people consider John Elway as one of the best NFL players of all time who emerged from college football.
Before taking retirement from the NFL league, John played for only one team- Denver Broncos. After that, he joined Colorado Crush as CEO and Co-owner. Then he became the general manager for Denver Broncos (2011-present).
Elway has thrown at least 3000 yards in 12 seasons, which made him one of the six quarterbacks in NFL history to achieve that record.
During his 16 seasons, Elway has played 234 games where he had an approximate value of 203 and 148-82-1 QBrec. He also had a 56.9 complete passing percentage as well as 51475 YDS, 7.1 yards Y/A, 300 passing touchdowns, 226 interceptions, and an extraordinary 3220.6 fantasy point. When we consider his awards, he’s undoubtedly worthy for the retired NFL players list.
From 2 Super Bowl Championships (XXXII, XXXIII) to the Super Bowl MVP award (XXXIII), Elway dominated everywhere. This quarterback was 9 Pro Bowl match-winner along with one First-team All-pro and two Second-team All-pro. He was awarded NFL Most Valuable Player in 1987. Elway was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2004.
8. Johnny Unitas (1956- 1973)
Apart from John Elway, another legendary quarterback is Johnny Unitas. When he made his debut in NFL, people couldn’t pronounce his name. However, when he retired, people marked him in the top 10 NFL players of all time. Johnny is among the only four players to win 3 NFL MVP award.
Johnny started his NFL career at Pittsburgh Pirates. But he was unable to gain popularity. Then he joined Baltimore Colts and then San Diego Chargers where he delivered an absolutely brilliant performance.
In his 17 years of NFL, Johnny has played 211 games with QBrec 118-63-4. He also completed 2830 passes out of 5186 attempts. With a whopping 40239 YDS, he also scored 290 passing touchdowns, 250 interceptions, and 7.8 Y/A. Additionally; he also had 14.2 Y/C and 2424.4 fantasy points.
The 3 times NFL champion and one-time NFL Man of the Year, Johnny was also Super Bowl (V) champion. With 5 First-team All-pro honors and 3 Second-team All-pro honors, he shocked the whole NFL industry. He was also a 10 Pro Bowl match-winner and 4 times NFL passing yards leader. Johnny Unitas was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1979.
7. Peyton Manning (1998-2016)
Many people debate if Peyton Manning deserves to be on the list of Top 10 NFL players of all time. However, if you notice his achievements and overall career statistics, you will know why he’s one of the best NFL players of all time. He holds the record in NFL history for most career passing yards, the most touchdown passes in a single season, most career touchdown passes and, the most passing yards in a single season.
Manning started his NFL debut with Indianapolis Colts. Later at the end of his career, he joined Denver Broncos. He’s the first quarterback player in NFL history to score 200 career wins between the regular season and the playoffs.
In 17 years, Manning competed in 266 games, where he completed 6125 passes out of 9380 along with 71940 YDS. With 539 passing touchdowns and 251 interceptions, he’s clearly one of the most famous NFL players in NFL history. He also had 7.7 Y/A and 11.7 Y/C. His overall team record was 186-79-0. He also scored fantasy points of 4688.3.
He’s the only quarterback in NFL history to win 14 Pro Bowls and 5 NFL MVP award. He was also 2 times Super Bowl Champion, one time Super Bowl (XLI) MVP, 7 times First-team All-Pro, and 3 times Second-team All-Pro. Additionally, he won the NFL Offensive Player of the Year award twice.
6. Lawrence Taylor (1981-1993)
Undoubtedly, there is no player in NFL history that can match the terrifying level of Lawrence Taylor. He played his entire football career with just the only team, New York Giants. He was so dominating that opponent quarterbacks were afraid of him, which makes him one of the best black NFL players in history.
The 6 feet giant, Lawrence Taylor has played 184 games in his whole NFL career, in which he appeared as a defensive player in 180 games. He scored 9 interceptions and 134 YDS along with 97 LNG. He also had SK of 132.5 and 11 recovered fumbles.
Taylor won the Super Bowl Championship twice along with one NFL MVP award and 3 NFFL Defensive Player of the Year awards. He also won the NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year award in 1981, which made him one of the best rookie NFL players. Apart from this, Lawrence also won 10 Pro Bowl games as well as 8 First-team All-Pro honors and 2 Second-team All-Pro honors. Lawrence was given a place in the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1999.
5. Walter Payton (1975-1987)
Walter Jerry Payton, nicknames “Sweetness” was an American professional football player who played in the running back position. Those who could not watch his game failed to witness one of the best NFL players of all time.
After picking Gale Sayers, 10 years later Chicago Bears picked Walter Payton in 1975. Walter played for Chicago Bears until retirement. He had so great physique that he missed only one game in his 13 years of NFL career.
During his time in Chicago Bears, Walter played 184 games out of 190 as an offensive backfield with 3838 rushing attempts. He also gained 16726 rushing yards along with 100 touchdowns, 4.4 Y/A and, 492 receptions. If we consider his approximate value, then it’s 168 as well as 2823.7 fantasy points.
Now it’s time to look into his achievements and awards. Walter was a Super Bowl Champion (xx) as well as 9 Pro Bowl match-winner, NFL MVP award winner, Bert Bell Award winner, 2 times NFL Offensive Player of the Year, and one time NFL Man of the Year. He was also honored with the First-team All-Pro title 7 times. That’s not the end. Walter was listed in NFL 1970s All-Decade Team and NFL 1980s All-Decade Team.
4. Joe Montana (1979-1994)
Joseph Clifford Montana Jr., also known as “The Comeback Kid” is one of the most famous NFL players of all time. Joe started his career with the San Francisco 49ers and then later at the end of his career, he was transferred to Kansas Coty Chiefs.
In his 15 years of career, Joe maintained extraordinary statistics, where he played 194 games with QBrec 117-47-0. He completed 3409 passes out of 5391 attempts. In his career, he scored 273 passing touchdowns as well as 40551 YDS, 139 interceptions, and completed 96 longest passes. He also sacked 313 times with 5.5%. Joe received 2669.5 fantasy points along with 7.5 Y/A.
Joe was 4 times Super Bowl champion including 3 times Super Bowl MVP. He was the first player in NFL history to win Super Bowl MVP thrice. He was also named NFL Most Valuable Player twice, NFL Offensive Player of the Year, and NFL Comeback Player of the Year. He received 3 First-team All-Pro honors and 3 Second-team All-Pro honors. The 8 times Pro Bowl match-winner, Joe Montana was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2000.
3. Tom Brady, 2000-Current
When it comes to the importance of quarterback in a game, Tom Brady is the living proof of that. The legendary football player first played for New England Patriots and then changed his team to Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2020, where he’s still performing dominantly.
To the day, Brady played 301 games with an approximate value of 295. He also completed 6778 passes out of 10598 with 64% of completion. He also scored 79204 YDS, 581 passing touchdowns, 191 interceptions, and 99 longest passes. Additionally, Brady scored 521 sacks along with 5297 fantasy points. He also has 25 rushing touchdowns.
Now let’s take a look at his resume. Brady is 6 time Super Bowl Champion with 4 Super Bowl MVP awards, 3 NFL MVP awards, and 2 NFL Offensive Player of the Year awards. His 14 Pro Bowl match winnings are proof that he is one of the best NFL players of all time. Brady also has the record of 3 NFL passing yards leader awards and 2 NFL passer rating leader awards.
2. Jerry Rice, 1985-2004
Coming 2nd in our list is Jerry Rice, a retired professional football player who played in the position of the wild receiver and is considered as the greatest wild receiver in NFL history or one of the greatest NFL players of all time.
During his career, he played under several teams such as the San Francisco 49ers, Oakland Raiders, Seattle Seahawks, and Denver Broncos. Before taking retirement, he played as an offseason and practice squad member in Denver Broncos.
Jerry holds various NFL records in receptions, touchdowns, and receiving yards. Jerry played 303 games in which he had 1549 receptions, 1640 pass targets, 22895 receiving yards, and 197 receiving touchdowns, which are the NFL records. He also scored 96 longest receptions as well as 87 rushing attempts, 10 rushing touchdowns with a total of 1636 touches. With 3580.8 fantasy points, Jerry is undoubtedly the second best American football player of all time.
In his career, Jerry won 3 Super Bowl championships, one Super Bowl MVP award, 2 Offensive Player of the Year awards, 13 Pro Bowl rings, and 6 times NFL receiving yards leader award. He also received 6 NFL receiving touchdowns leader award and 2 NFL receptions leader award. Jerry was named NFC Offensive Rookie of the Year in 1985 and Sports Illustrated Player of the Year in 1986. He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2010.
1. Jim Brown, 1957-1965
The crown of the greatest American football player of all time goes to Jim Brown. He was faster, stronger, and bigger than any opponent player. He was so strong that opponent defensive backs couldn’t tackle him.
Brown gave his best performance throughout his entire career in Cleveland Browns. The 6-foot giant was so dominating and terrifying, that the opponent players used to lose their self-confidence just by looking at him.
In his 9 seasons of his NFL career, Brown played 118 games with 2539 rushing attempts and 12312 rushing yards. He also scored 106 rushing touchdowns, 80 longest-running attempts, and 5.2 Y/A. The 262 receptions along with 2499 receiving yards and 20 receiving touchdowns prove him as one of the best black NFL players of all time.
Don’t forget that this legendary football player was named NFL champion in 1964 and won 9 Pro Bowl matches. Additionally, he was named NFL Rookie of the Year in 1957 and received the Bert Bell Award in 1963. Brown was also 5 times NFL rushing touchdowns leader and 8 times NFL rushing yards leader.
He was inducted into the Pro Bowl Hall of Fame in 1971.
Here are the top 10 greatest players of all-time in NFL history. Whom do you admire most? Let us know your thoughts.