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The 50 Greatest NFL Players of All Time Have Been Updated and Ranked

The 50 Greatest NFL Players of All Time Have Been Updated and Ranked

The 50 Greatest NFL Players of All Time Have Been Updated and Ranked. The National Football League (NFL) was based in 1920 because the American Professional Football Association (APFA) with ten groups from 4 states, all of whom existed in a few shapes as individuals of nearby leagues of their respective territories. The league took on its cutting-edge call in 1922. Now that the NFL has celebrated its 100th anniversary for a few years, it’s time to update our list of the 50 Greatest NFL Players of All Time. A new GOAT has been crowned, so the list has to be somewhat updated and reorganized. This article will look at the 50 greatest NFL players of all time.

The NFL was the first professional football league to successfully establish a national presence after several decades of failed attempts. Only two charter members, Decatur Staleys (now Chicago Bears) and Chicago Cardinals (now Arizona Cardinals) remain in the league.

The 50 Greatest NFL Players of All Time Have Been Updated and Ranked – Milao Haath

50. Terrell Owens

Position: Wide Receiver (WR)
Years of operation: 1996-2010
Teams: San Francisco 49ers, Philadelphia Eagles, Dallas Cowboys, Buffalo Bills, Cincinnati Bengals

Notable accolades: Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2018; 5x First-Team All-Pro; 6x Pro Bowl selection

The 50 Greatest NFL Players of All Time Have Been Updated and Ranked

This list only includes hot takes. Despite the issues surrounding his career, Terrell Owens is widely regarded as the finest wide receiver of his generation, second only to Randy Moss. He was unfortunate to be imprisoned on many heartbreakingly good teams: his Niners were on the verge of greatness before being derailed by a historical anomaly in the early 2000s Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and he later played for the Eagles, who were vanquished by Tom Brady. Regardless, his NFL statistics and impact are undeniable.

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49. Steve Young

Position: Quarterback (QB)
Years of operation: 1985-1999

Teams: Tampa Bay Buccaneers, San Francisco 49ers

Notable accolades: Hall of Fame in 2005. 3x Super Bowl Champion; 1x Super Bowl MVP; 2x MVP; 1x OPoY; 3x First-Team All-Pro; 3x Second-Team All-Pro; 7x Pro Bowl; 2x NFC OPoY; 3x First-Team All-Pro; 7x Pro Bowl; 2x NFC OPoY Bert Bell Award twice

The 50 Greatest NFL Players of All Time Have Been Updated and Ranked

Steve Young, the heir to Joe Montana’s reign in San Francisco, was a worthy heir to the Niners’ legacy. Young was one of the original great mobile quarterbacks, and he has the second-most running touchdowns by a quarterback in his career, with 43.

48. Forrest Gregg

Position: Tackle (T)
Years of operation: 1956-1971
Teams: Green Bay Packers, Dallas Cowboys

Notable accolades: Notable honors include induction into the Hall of Fame in 1977. 3 Super Bowl titles; 5 NFL titles; 7 First-Team All-Pro selections 2x Second-Team All-Pro; 9x Pro Bowl selection

The 50 Greatest NFL Players of All Time Have Been Updated and Ranked

Forrest Gregg, the overlooked offensive cornerstone of Vince Lombardi’s famed Packers teams, was the wall and heart of eight overall NFL titles, including their first two. Later in his career, he joined Roger Staubach and the Cowboys to win his third Super Bowl.

47. OJ Simpson

Position: Running back (RB)
Years of operation: 1969-1979
Teams: Buffalo Bills, San Francisco 49ers

Notable accolades: Hall of Fame inductee (1985); 1x MVP; 1x OPoY; 5x First-Team All-Pro; 5x Pro-Bowl; 1x AP Athlete of the Year; 1 Bert Bell Award; 1 AFL All-Star selection

The 50 Greatest NFL Players of All Time Have Been Updated and Ranked

We’re all aware of why OJ Simpson is ranked so low. There are less successful running backs with shorter careers higher on this list than him, and if it weren’t for his shady off-field background, he may have been right there with them.

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46. Chuck Bednarik

Position: Center/ linebacker (C/LB)
Years active: 1949-1962
Teams: Philadelphia Eagles

Notable accolades: include induction into the Hall of Fame in 1967, two NFL championships, ten first-team All-Pro selections, and eight Pro Bowl appearances.

The 50 Greatest NFL Players of All Time Have Been Updated and Ranked

Concrete Charlie, as he was dubbed, stands out as the NFL’s last and finest “60-minute man.” What does this imply? He was the most feared tackler of his period and played full-time minutes on both offense and defense.

45. Roger Staubach

Position: Quarterback (QB)
Years active: 1969-1979
Teams: Dallas Cowboys

Notable accolades: Hall of Fame inductee (1985); two Super Bowl championships; one Super Bowl MVP; one MVP; one Second-Team All-Pro; six Pro Bowl appearances; and the Bert Bell Award.

The 50 Greatest NFL Players of All Time Have Been Updated and Ranked

Staubach led the first great Cowboys dynasty to five Super Bowl appearances, winning two. What’s more, if it hadn’t been for a lengthy service in Vietnam following college, he may have had five more chances at the NFL

44. Jim Thorpe

Position: Running back (RB)
Years active: 1920-1928
Teams: Canton Bulldogs, Cleveland Indians, Oorang Indians, Rock Island Independents, New York Giants, Chicago Cardinals

Notable accolades: Hall of Fame (1963); 1x First-Team All-Pro

The 50 Greatest NFL Players of All Time Have Been Updated and Ranked

Jim Thorpe is known for his cultural effect rather than his NFL significance. Thorpe, a Native American legend and the Associated Press’ “best athlete” in the first half of the twentieth century, is revered as one of the finest and most versatile athletes in modern history. He was an unusual three-sport pro, having played football, basketball, and baseball in addition to breaking an Olympic record in the decathlon. He was also the first president of the APFA (the predecessor to the NFL), and a town is named after him.

43. Earl Campbell

Position: Running back (RB)
Years active: 1978-1985
Teams: Houston Oilers, New Orleans Saints

Notable accolades: Hall of Fame in 1991; 1x MVP; 1x PFWA MVP; 3x OPoY; 3x First-Team All-Pro; 5x Pro Bowl; ORoY; Bert Bell Award.

The 50 Greatest NFL Players of All Time Have Been Updated and Ranked

Campbell has a strong claim to be the best power rusher in NFL history, having been the focus of one of the most successful Oilers periods in history. His career was cut short, but an MVP-caliber season in which he led the league in running yards and touchdowns propels him up many slots.

42. Mike Singletary

Position: linebacker (LB)
Years active: 1981-1992
Teams: Chicago Bears

Notable accolades: 1x Super Bowl Champion; 2x DPoY; 8x First-Team All-Pro; 1x Second-Team All-Pro; 10x Pro Bowl; 3x NFC PoY; MoY; Hall of Fame (1998)

The 50 Greatest NFL Players of All Time Have Been Updated and Ranked

Singletary was the big name of the Chicago Bears defense in the 1980s (known as the Monsters of the Midway), and he was one of the NFL’s most feared and yet most respected defenders. He was as hard-hitting as the Bears of old, missing only one All-Pro and Pro Bowl team in his career.

41. John Hannah

Position: a guard (G)
Years active: 1973-1985
Teams: New England Patriots

Notable accolades: Hall of Fame inductee; 1x OPoY; 10x All-Pro; 9x Pro Bowl selection

The 50 Greatest NFL Players of All Time Have Been Updated and Ranked

John Hannah, easily the second-best offensive lineman in NFL  history (the greatest will come later in this list), held the title himself, being named the lineman GOAT by Sports Illustrated in 1981. He was also the first player to be inducted into the New England Patriots Hall of Fame.

40. Ray Nitschke

Position: A Guard Linebacker (LB)
Years active: 1958-1972
Teams: Green Bay Packers

Notable accolades: Hall of Fame (1978); 2x Super Bowl Champion; 5x NFL Champion; 11x First-Team All-Pro; 5x Second-Team All-Pro; 1x Pro Bowl

The 50 Greatest NFL Players of All Time Have Been Updated and Ranked

Ray Nitschke must be mentioned while discussing football history. He was the Green Bay Packers‘ defensive commander under Vince Lombardi (yes, that Vince Lombardi). Ray Nitschke was a career Packer who led the team to five NFL  victories and the first two Super Bowls in history. He is responsible for the Packers’ existence and prominence.

39. Eric Dickerson

Position: Running back (RB)
Years active: 1983-1993
Teams: Green Los Angeles Rams, Indianapolis Colts, Los Angeles Raiders, Atlanta Falcons

Notable accolades: Hall of Fame (1999); 1x OPoY; 5x First Team All-Pro; 3x NFC OPoY; 6x Pro Bowl; ORoY

The 50 Greatest NFL Players of All Time Have Been Updated and Ranked

Eric Dickerson, the current NFL single-season rushing record holder (2,105 yards), collected 13,000 career running yards and nearly surpassed the 2,000-yard mark his first year despite playing only 14 games.

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38. Mel Blount

Position: Defensive Back (DB)
Years active: 1970-1983
Teams: Pittsburgh Steelers

Notable accolades: Hall of Fame (1989); 4x Super Bowl Champion; 1x DPoY; 2x First Team All-Pro; 4x Second-Team All-Pro; 1x AFC DPoY; 5x Pro Bowl

The 50 Greatest NFL Players of All Time Have Been Updated and Ranked

Mel Blount, the renowned Steel Curtain Steelers’ major perimeter lynchpin, was as tough as his better famous NFL teammates and feared as the league’s prototype secondary defender.

37. Rod Woodson

Position: Defensive Back (DB)
Years active: 1987-2003
Teams: Pittsburgh Steelers, San Francisco 49ers, Baltimore Ravens, Oakland Raiders

Notable accolades: Pittsburgh Steelers, San Francisco 49ers, Baltimore Ravens, Oakland Raiders

The 50 Greatest NFL Players of All Time Have Been Updated and Ranked

Woodson, a successor to the great Steelers defenses of the past, did his share to carry on that history before helping the Ravens win Super Bowl XXXV. Woodson, who was built like a tank (6’0, 205 pounds), was a remarkably good ball hawk, recording 71 career interceptions (3rd all-time) and 32 career defensive fumble recoveries (1st all-time).

36. Tony Gonzalez

Position: Tight End (TE)
Years active: 1997-2013
Teams: Kansas City Chiefs, Atlanta Falcons

Notable accolades: Hall of Fame (2019); 6x First Team All-Pro; 4x Second-Team All-Pro; 14x Pro Bowl

The 50 Greatest NFL Players of All Time Have Been Updated and Ranked

Tony Gonzalez retired with no Super Bowl victories or appearances, a record that pales in contrast to the likes of Gronk, Shannon Sharpe, and even Travis Kelce. But it’s his stats that make him the best tight end of all time. He owns the positional record for career receiving yards (15,127) and catches (1,325) alone, following just two wideouts in total receptions. Tony Gonzalez is also known for his toughness and glue-like hands: he has only missed two games in his whole NFL  career and has only fumbled the ball twice. Don’t blame him for his lack of championship experience. Regardless, he’s a winner.

35. Gino Marchetti

Position: Defensive End (DE)
Years active: 1952-1966
Teams: Dallas Texans; Baltimore Colts

Notable accolades: Hall of Fame (1972); 2x NFL Champion; 9x First Team All-Pro; 1x Second-Team All-Pro; 11x Pro Bowl

The 50 Greatest NFL Players of All Time Have Been Updated and Ranked

Gino Marchetti was one of the first great defensive players in NFL history, and he was rated the finest DE of all time in the league. He was the architect of two of Johnny Unitas’ pre-Super Bowl triumphs with the Baltimore Colts (we’ll get to Unitas in a bit). His dedication and commitment were well-known as he briefly shifted to OT to learn how to defeat blocks. Whatever he did, it worked because he made his first Pro Bowl the following year.

34. Aaron Rodgers

Position: The Quarterback (QB)
Years active: 2005-Present
Teams: Green Bay Packers

Notable accolades: 1x Super Bowl Champion; 1x Super Bowl MVP; 4x MVP; 4x First Team All-Pro; Second-Team All-Pro; 10x Pro Bowl, NFL 2010s All-Decade Team

The 50 Greatest NFL Players of All Time Have Been Updated and Ranked

Despite the animosity that has surrounded him and the Packers, Aaron Rodgers is possibly the most skilled quarterback to ever play the game based only on arm talent. He has the NFL’s all-time season passer rating record of 122.5 and the lowest career interception percentage (1.4%). He’s riding efficiency and skill to all-time highs, and an MVP-level performance in 2020 isn’t out of the question.

33. Dick Lane

Position: Cornerback (CB)
Years active: 1952-1965
Teams: Los Angeles Rams, Chicago Cardinals, Detroit Lions

Notable accolades: Hall of Fame (1974); 7x First Team All-Pro; 7x Pro Bowl

The 50 Greatest NFL Players of All Time Have Been Updated and Ranked

Dick “Night Train” Lane was a DB most known for his incredible moniker, but he was also known for his ball skills, setting a rookie record with 14 interceptions. During his career, he was chosen 68 times, good for fourth on the all-time list, and was particularly lauded for his tackling and explosion.

32. Bob Lilly

Position: Cornerback A Defensive tackle (DT)
Years active: 1961-1974
Teams: Dallas Cowboys

Notable accolades: Hall of Fame (1980); 1x Super Bowl Champion; 7x First Team All-Pro; 2x Second Team All-Pro; 11x Pro Bowl

The 50 Greatest NFL Players of All Time Have Been Updated and Ranked

You’ll note that defensive players with extended careers stand out on this list, and Bob Lilly has both a long career and one-team wonder status. Lilly established the Cowboys as an early powerhouse before Jimmy Johnson transformed them into what they are today. Lilly was the lynchpin of a defense known as the Doomsday Defense during his time. Due to his athleticism, Lilly was frequently double- and triple-teamed, but he was a persistent danger who was known for seldom missing games (196 consecutive).

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31. Sammy Baugh

Position: The Quarterback (QB)
Years active: 1937-1952
Teams: Washington Redskins

Notable accolades: Hall of Fame (1963); 2x NFL Champion; 2x NFL PoY; 4x First Team All-Pro; 4x Second Team All-Pro; 6x Pro Bowl

The 50 Greatest NFL Players of All Time Have Been Updated and Ranked

Baugh, perhaps the first great Washington player, is ranked lower than expected owing to the length of his career. His triumphs were before the Super Bowl era, relegating him to contemporary football’s prehistory. However, his talent and stats cannot be questioned – Baugh topped the NFL in completion % eight times, as well as throwing yards four times and quarterback rating three times. He also saw extensive action as a punter and defensive back, owing to the small size of the league at the time.

30. Ed Reed

Position: Safety (S)
Years active: 2002-2013
Teams: Baltimore Ravens, New York Jets, Houston Texans

Notable accolades: Hall of Fame (2019); 1x Super Bowl Champion; 1x DPoY; 5x First Team All-Pro; 3x Second Team All-Pro; 9x Pro Bowl

Awards

9x Pro Bowl (2003, 2004, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012) Defensive Player Of The Year (2004)

The 50 Greatest NFL Players of All Time Have Been Updated and Ranked

Ed Reed was taken by the Baltimore Ravens in the first round, 24th overall, in the 2002 NFL Draft out of the University of Miami (Fla.). Reed excelled on the field over the following 12 seasons, soon becoming one of the league’s most accomplished safeties.

Reed started all 16 games as a rookie and quickly established himself as an important element of the Ravens’ dominating defense. He has 85 tackles (71 solos), five interceptions, 12 passes defended, one sack, and one fumble recovery in his debut professional season. As a rookie, he led Baltimore in interceptions, and he spent seven of his eleven seasons with the club.

The 50 Greatest NFL Players of All Time Have Been Updated and Ranked - Milao Haath

The 50 Greatest NFL Players of All Time Have Been Updated and Ranked – Milao Haath

From 2006 through 2012, Reed was a key member of the Ravens’ defensive unit, which helped them win four AFC North Division championships, three AFC championship games, and one Super Bowl.

While the Ravens fell short in both 2008 and 2011, they stormed through the playoffs and beat the New England Patriots in the AFC title game 28-13 in 2012. In Super Bowl XLVII, the Ravens defeated the San Francisco 49ers 34-31, with Reed contributing five tackles, one interception, and one pass defense.

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29. Drew Brees

Position: The Quarterback (QB)
Years active: 2001-2020
Teams: San Diego Chargers, New Orleans Saints

Notable accolades: 1x Super Bowl Champion; 1x Super Bowl MVP; 2x OPoY; 1 First Team All-Pro; 4x Second Team All-Pro; 13x Pro Bowl; MoY; CPoY

The 50 Greatest NFL Players of All Time Have Been Updated and Ranked

Perhaps his inclusion here is due to recency bias, but Drew Brees is the best and most unique New Orleans Saint of all time, and he deserves to be recognized for all he has done and meant to his club and community. Of course, his statistics and records are nothing to scoff at: apart from a Super Bowl victory and multiple deep playoff runs, he holds the record for season throwing yards (7) and passing touchdowns (7). (4).

28. Don Hutson

Position: End (gridiron football) (E)
Years active: 1935-1945
Teams: Green Bay Packers

Notable accolades: Hall of Fame (1963); 3x NFL Champion; 2x MVP; 8x First Team All-Pro; 4x NFL All-Star

The 50 Greatest NFL Players of All Time Have Been Updated and Ranked

Don Hutson represents a bygone era of football. What on earth is an end or an NFL All-Star? Don Hutson deserves credit for wide receivers and explosive pass-catching tight ends. He was the first and finest of the receiving ‘ends,’ which were merely part of the offensive line during his period. His emergence and notoriety helped to popularise the forward throw, and having him here rather than his quarterback demonstrates what a game changer he was.

27. Bruce Smith

Position: Defensive End (DE)
Years active: 1985-2003
Teams: Buffalo Bills, Washington Redskins

Notable accolades: Hall of Fame (2009); 2x DPoY; 8x First Team All-Pro; 2x Second Team All-Pro; 11x Pro Bowl; 4x AFC DPoY

The 50 Greatest NFL Players of All Time Have Been Updated and Ranked

If nothing else, the NFL‘s career sack leader can’t fall below the low 20s. As the highest-ranking Buffalo Bill, the Bills Mafia would riot if he fell any lower. How can you even get to 200 career sacks? Von Miller and JJ Watt are the only active players with triple-digit yards. He has all of the honors and all of the longevity, and if it weren’t for four straight championship-level heartbreaks, he would also have four Super Bowl rings.

26. Alan Page

Position: Defensive Tackle (DT)
Years active: 1967-1981
Teams: Minnesota Vikings, Chicago Bears

Notable accolades: Hall of Fame (1988); 1x NFL Champion; 1x MVP; 2x DPoY; 6x First Team All-Pro; 3x Second Team All-Pro; 9x Pro Bowl; 1x NFC PoY; 2x NFC DPoY

The 50 Greatest NFL Players of All Time Have Been Updated and Ranked

How in the world could a real rushing defensive tackle have a 14-year career? Page made his money as one of the most feared parts of the Minnesota Vikings’ blitz package as the template for Aaron Donald (shout out to the Purple People Eaters). Page is not only one of the few defensive players to have won a league MVP award, but he also played in over 200 straight NFL games.

25. Jack Lambert

Position: A Guard Linebacker (LB)
Years active: 1974-1984
Teams: Pittsburgh Steelers

Notable accolades: Hall of Fame (1990); 4x Super Bowl Champion; 1x DPoY; 9x First Team All-Pro; 2x Second Team All-Pro; 9x Pro Bowl; DRoY

The 50 Greatest NFL Players of All Time Have Been Updated and Ranked

Jack Lambert, the thunder to ‘Mean’ Joe Greene’s thunder, established himself as the more mobile half of Pittsburgh’s legendary ‘Steel Curtain’ defenses throughout the 1970s. Some players on this list are celebrated for their wins, career duration, or awards; Lambert is the uncommon instance that fills all three criteria. His less well-known name stops him from ranking higher, but he has a strong case for making the top 20.

The 50 Greatest NFL Players of All Time Have Been Updated and Ranked - Milao Haath

The 50 Greatest NFL Players of All Time Have Been Updated and Ranked – Milao Haath

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24. Randy Moss

Position: Wide Receiver/Running Back (WR/RB)
Years active: 1998-2012
Teams: Minnesota Vikings, Oakland Raiders, New England Patriots, Tennessee Titans, San Francisco 49ers

Notable accolades: Hall of Fame (2018); 1x Super Bowl Champion; 3x MVP; 1x OPoY; 4x First Team All-Pro; 3x Second Team All-Pro; 6x Pro Bowl

The 50 Greatest NFL Players of All Time Have Been Updated and Ranked

Randy Moss was the successor to Jerry Rice’s throne as the finest pass catcher in the NFL, and if it hadn’t been for a pesky New York Giants squad and history on Ray Lewis’ side, he would have grabbed himself a pair of rings. His skill has few equals on this list, and as the NFL’s second-greatest wide receiver (you’ll meet number one later), he has the stats and records to establish a case for the league’s most talented.

 

23. Brett Favre

Position: The Quarterback (QB)
Years active: 1991-2010
Teams: Atlanta Falcons, Green Bay Packers, New York Jets, Minnesota Vikings

Notable accolades: Hall of Fame (2016); 1x Super Bowl Champion; 3x MVP; 1x OPoY; 3x First Team All-Pro; 3x Second Team All-Pro; 11x Pro Bowl

The 50 Greatest NFL Players of All Time Have Been Updated and Ranked

Favre is most known for his tenure with the Green Bay Packers, but he made history as part of a great decade in the 1990s. Outside of Green Bay, his Super Bowl victory will be remembered for being wedged between the more famous Cowboys and Broncos dynasties, but Favre’s peak as the league’s resident gunslinger was as excellent as anyone’s. He is the first quarterback to defeat all 32 clubs, and his three MVP seasons are the most consecutively received.

22. Gale Sayers

Position: The Quarterback (QB)
Years active: 1965-1971
Teams: Chicago Bears

Notable accolades: Hall of Fame (1977);  5x First Team All-Pro;  4x Pro Bowl

The 50 Greatest NFL Players of All Time Have Been Updated and Ranked

Point of order: Sayers’ acclaim, to the inexperienced eye, pales in comparison to his contemporaries. But this ranking also recognizes peaks, and Sayers was as good as any running back in NFL history at his peak. He was a Pro Bowler and All-Pro back until injuries ended his career before the turn of the century, and at 34, he is the youngest player ever elected into the Hall of Fame. He is known for his heart as much as his abilities by Bears lifers, second only to Walter Payton (RIP, Brian Piccolo).

21. Otto Graham

Position: The Quarterback (QB)
Years active: 1946-1955
Teams: Cleveland Browns

Notable accolades: Hall of Fame (1965); 3x NFL Champion; 4x AAFC Champion; 3x MVP; 2x AAFC MVP 4x First Team All-Pro; 2x Second Team All-Pro 5x Pro Bowl; 3x First Team All-AAFC

The 50 Greatest NFL Players of All Time Have Been Updated and Ranked

If you’re not a tremendous football fan or a die-hard Cleveland Browns fan, Otto Graham is one of the game’s forgotten greats. Later on this list, you’ll see the first great modern quarterback, but Graham was the first great quarterback period (think basketball’s George Mikan, which is pertinent because Graham played in the NBL himself). Along with Jim Brown, he was the Browns’ greatest leader, and his career stretches back to the prehistoric AAFC. However, he has the best winning rate of any quarterback in history, as well as the highest yards per throw attempt. Both records stand, and if we include the NFL, no quarterback until Brady matched Graham’s championship trophy collection.

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20. Deacon Jones

Position: Defensive end (DE)
Years active: 1961-1974
Teams: Los Angeles Rams, San Diego Chargers, Washington Redskins

Notable accolades: Hall of Fame (1980); 2x DPoY; 5x First Team All-Pro; 3x Second Team All-Pro; 8x Pro Bowl

The 50 Greatest NFL Players of All Time Have Been Updated and Ranked

Deacon Jones was a member of the Green Bay Packers at the dawn of the Super Bowl era, and as such, he is virtually forgotten. But none of this diminishes his impact: Jones is widely regarded as the quintessential modern defensive end and is often regarded as the first pass rushing specialist and the guy who originated the word “sack”:

You take all the offensive linemen and put them in a burlap bag, and then you take a baseball bat and beat on the bag. You’re sacking them, you’re bagging them. And that’s what you’re doing with a quarterback.

19. Anthony Munoz

Position:  Left Tackle (LT)
Years active: 1980-1992
Teams: Cincinnati Bengals

Notable accolades: Hall of Fame (1998); 9x First Team All-Pro; 2x Second Team All-Pro; 11x Pro Bowl; MoY

The 50 Greatest NFL Players of All Time Have Been Updated and Ranked

The offensive line deserves greater consideration. Of course, they’ll never get it, but without a good offensive line, all the skill in the world won’t be able to produce effective offense. Take, for example, Munoz. There’s a reason why the Bengals only won two AFC championships during his career, and why neither of his quarterbacks at the time is in the Hall of Fame. Despite this, one of them was named MVP, and Munoz is mostly forgotten in NFL history.

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18. Dan Marino

Position: The Quarterback (QB)
Years active: 1983-1999
Teams: Miami Dolphins

Notable accolades: Hall of Fame (2005); 3x Super Bowl Champion; MVP; RoY; MoY; 3x First Team All-Pro; 5x Second Team All-Pro; 9x Pro Bowl

The 50 Greatest NFL Players of All Time Have Been Updated and Ranked

If you haven’t already noticed, this ranking prioritizes one-team players, particularly one-team quarterbacks. There will be a couple more of them before the end of this list. Marino, on the other hand, never won a championship, but his iconography on the Dolphins is unparalleled, and he was the preeminent stat gobbler of his era. Marino retired with over 40 overall NFL records (you’ll see those breakers later) and was the first quarterback to ever cross both the 50 and 60,000 passing yard thresholds, as well as the 400 touchdown throw mark.

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17. Deion Sanders

Position: The Quarterback (QB)
Years active: 1989-2000, 2004-2005
Teams: Atlanta Falcons, San Francisco 49ers, Dallas Cowboys, Washington Redskins, Baltimore Ravens

Notable accolades: Hall of Fame (2011); 2x Super Bowl Champion; DPoY; 6x First Team All-Pro; 8x Pro Bowl

The 50 Greatest NFL Players of All Time Have Been Updated and Ranked

Deion Sanders, perhaps the greatest journeyman in NFL history, is most recognized for his multi-dimensional athleticism. Sanders played nine seasons in Major League Baseball during his NFL career. He is the only athlete to have competed in both a Super Bowl and a World Series, and this distinction demonstrates his excellence.

16. Barry Sanders

Position: Running Back (RB)
Years active: 1989-1998
Teams: Detroit Lions

Notable accolades: Hall of Fame (2004); 1x MVP; 2x OPoY; ORoY; 6x First Team All-Pro; 4x Second Team All-Pro; 10x Pro Bowl

The 50 Greatest NFL Players of All Time Have Been Updated and Ranked

Considered by many to be the greatest player not to have played in a Super Bowl, however, Barry Sanders still ranks among the greatest running backs of all time. His name is synonymous with speed, footwork, and quickness, and he’s rightly said to be the high payoff for every smaller turbojet full-back in the league (ref: Alvin Kamara and Christian McCaffrey). He’s the first NFL player to have 10 consecutive 1,000-yard rushing seasons, and he just couldn’t be threatened.

15. Ray Lewis

Position: A Guard Linebacker (LB)
Years active: 1996-2012
Teams: Baltimore Ravens

Notable accolades: Hall of Fame (2018); 2x Super Bowl Champion; 1x Super Bowl MVP; 2x DPoY; 7x First Team All-Pro; 3x Second Team All-Pro; 13x Pro Bowl

The 50 Greatest NFL Players of All Time Have Been Updated and Ranked

Nostalgia makes it tempting to have Ray Lewis further down this list. But that’s about as far as it can reasonably slip before we have to start talking about past bias. Lewis is the first NFL player on this list in a long time to have at least one Super Bowl win under his belt, and he was the leader of his two championship teams. Like Butkus, Lewis is an icon and the undisputed GOAT of his team. The only difference is that he earned more. Ray Lewis is the second-best linebacker of all time and the best of his time.

14. Dick Butkus

Position: A Guard Linebacker (LB)
Years active: 1965-1973
Teams: Chicago Bears

Notable accolades: Hall of Fame (1979 Class);  2x DPoY; 6x First Team All-Pro; 2x Second Team All-Pro; 8x Pro Bowl

The 50 Greatest NFL Players of All Time Have Been Updated and Ranked

As one of the toughest hitters in NFL history, Dick Butkus’ accolades don’t necessarily match his contemporaries who rank so high on the list, but that’s okay considering his relatively short career. His reputation was built on the eye test, and his tackles were famous for being strong enough to generate regular turnovers. Like other players at this point on the roster with their teams, the Bears wouldn’t be where they are without Butkus.

13. John Elway

Position: The Quarterback (QB)
Years active: 1983-1998
Teams: Denver Broncos

Notable accolades: Hall of Fame (2004 Class); 2x Super Bowl Champion; 1x MVP; 1x Super Bowl MVP; 2x AFC OPoY; 1x First Team All-Pro; 2x Second Team All-Pro; 9x Pro Bowl

The 50 Greatest NFL Players of All Time Have Been Updated and Ranked

Elway’s accolades don’t seem to matter that much until you think about it: under him, the Denver Broncos made it to five Super Bowls. His five championship starts are the most of any quarterback not named Tom Brady, the tallest player in Broncos history (and having played for Denver) Elway’s place in NFL league history is secure, as is his imagery.

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12. Ronnie Lott

Position: Safety (S)
Years active: 1981-1994
Teams: San Francisco 49ers, Los Angeles Raiders, New York Jets

Notable accolades: Hall of Fame (2000 Class); 4x Super Bowl Champion; 8x First Team All-Pro; 10x Pro Bowl

The 50 Greatest NFL Players of All Time Have Been Updated and Ranked

Lott is the first of three 49ers from the team’s legendary ’80s career and, like the other two of the trio, Lott is considered by many to be the best at his position. While he doesn’t stand out as individually as some of his predecessors on this list, Lott’s perimeter-hitting evil and leadership of arguably the greatest Core of all time earns him his place here.

11. Joe Green

Position: Defensive tackle (DT)
Years active: 1969-1981
Teams: Pittsburgh Steelers

Notable accolades: Hall of Fame (1987 Class); 4x Super Bowl Champion; 2x DPoY; DRoY; 1x MoY; 5x First Team All-Pro; 3x Second Team All-Pro; 10x Pro Bowl;

The 50 Greatest NFL Players of All Time Have Been Updated and Ranked

‘Mean’ Joe Green was the definitive (some say overall) NFL defensive end of the 1970s and was synonymous with the ‘Iron Curtain’ Steelers. If you’re looking for the ancestor of the modern-day giants, the Steelers, look no further. You don’t get legendary defense and reputation without the most dominant defender ever played.

10. Emmitt Smith

Position: Running Back (RB)
Years active: 1990-2004
Teams: Dallas Cowboys, Arizona Cardinals

Notable accolades: Hall of Fame (2010); 1x MVP; 1x Super Bowl MVP; ORoY; 4x First Team All-Pro; 2x Second Team All-Pro; 8x Pro Bowl; multiple records (rushing yards, touchdowns, attempts

The 50 Greatest NFL Players of All Time Have Been Updated and Ranked

Okay, let’s talk about it. There may be more iconic names for non-fans or casual fans that have already been listed, but Emmitt Smith is by far the greatest of the Cowboys’ attacking trio that made Dallas the massive brand it is today. A starting running back in Team USA’s most successful era, Smith has a strong case for being the all-time best running back in the NFL, and the stats back it up. Its records are mostly intact and its production even stopped when Aikman and Irvin devoured possessions.

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9. Peyton Manning

Position: Quarterback (QB)
Years active: 2012 to 2015
Teams: Indianapolis Colts, Denver Broncos

Notable accolades: Hall of Fame (2021 Class); 2x Super Bowl Champion; 5x MVP; 2x OPoY; 1x MoY; 7x First Team All-Pro; 3x Second Team All-Pro; 14x Pro Bowl; multiple records (career MVPs, Pro Bowls, 4,000-yard passing seasons, single-season passing yards (5,477), single-season passing TDs (55))

The 50 Greatest NFL Players of All Time Have Been Updated and Ranked

After present process neck surgery that sidelined him for the 2011 season, Manning turned launched with the aid of using the Colts and signed with the Broncos. Serving because the Broncos’ beginning quarterback from 2012 to 2015, he helped them clinch their department every season and attain Super Bowls.
Peyton Williams Manning is an American former soccer quarterback who performed withinside the National Football League for 18 seasons. Nicknamed “The Sheriff”, he spent 14 seasons with the Indianapolis Colts and 4 with the Denver Broncos. Manning is taken into consideration to be one of the best quarterbacks of all time.

8. Johnny Unitas

Position: Quarterback (QB)
Years active: 1955-1973
Teams: Pittsburgh Steelers, Baltimore Colts, San Diego Chargers

Notable accolades: Hall of Fame (1979 Class); 4x Champion (1x Super Bowl, 3x pre-Super Bowl); 3x MVP; 1x MoY; 5x First Team All-Pro; 3x Second Team All-Pro; 10x Pro Bowl

The 50 Greatest NFL Players of All Time Have Been Updated and Ranked

Regarded by many as the first great quarterback, Unitas’ story is a forerunner of Tom Brady: Drafted in the ninth round by Pittsburgh only to be fired before the season started, Unitas was asked at the last minute whether he would join the Baltimore Colts. The rest, as you say, is history. While it’s not statistically as brilliant as its successors, Unitas’ place here isn’t simply nostalgic. His NFL record of 47 straight games with a touchdown pass was not broken until 2012, not by Brady or Manning, but by Drew Brees. You don’t get a nickname like the Golden Arm for nothing.

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7. Reggie White

Position: Defensive end (DE)
Years active: 1985-2000
Teams: Philadelphia Eagles, Green Bay Packers, Carolina Panthers

Notable accolades: Hall of Fame (2006 Class); 1x Super Bowl Champion; 2x DPoY; 3x NFC DPoY; 8x First Team All-Pro; 5x Second Team All-Pro; 13x Pro Bowl

The 50 Greatest NFL Players of All Time Have Been Updated and Ranked

Reggie White (RIP, Secretary of Defense) is the greatest frontrunner of all time. Imagine playing in such a violent position, without modern medicine and today’s healthcare solutions, for nearly two decades and missing out on just two All-Pro and Pro Bowl nominations in your entire career. While not as influential as the greatest defensive player of all time, Reggie White is a positional GOAT, and that’s about as low as it can reasonably be ranked before we start disregarding football’s defensive side.

6. Walter Payton

Position: Running Back (RB)
Years active: 1975-1987
Teams: Chicago Bears

Notable accolades: Hall of Fame (1993 Class); 1x Super Bowl Champion; 1x MVP; 1x OPoY; 2x NFC OPoY; 1x MoY; 7x First Team All-Pro; 1x Second Team All-Pro; 9x Pro Bowl

The 50 Greatest NFL Players of All Time Have Been Updated and Ranked

The late Walter Payton, may he rest in peace, has a legitimate argument for ranking several spots higher on this list. It, therefore, seems almost criminal to list him so low, but quarterbacks are generally better remembered historically, and the “greatest” running back in NFL history is more iconic and statistically more comparable (even better, in some cases) per game. Base. If this were a ranking of the “greatest” rather than the “greatest” NFL players of all time, Payton would probably be at the top of the list. His rank here is still a matter of debate and should be a tribute to his superiors, not a damning legacy.

5. Joe Montana

Position: Quarterback (QB)
Years active: 1979-1994
Teams: San Francisco 49ers, Kansas City Chiefs

Notable accolades: Hall of Fame (2000 Class); 4x Super Bowl Champion; 3x Super Bowl MVP; 2x MVP; 3x First Team All-Pro; 2x Second Team All-Pro; 8x Pro Bowl

The 50 Greatest NFL Players of All Time Have Been Updated and Ranked

In the original “Joe Cool,” Joe Montana Just exuded the energy of a Hollywood-style quarterback. Synonymous with leading the San Francisco 49ers, Montana was the GOAT’s undisputed quarterback before a certain Patriot/Buccaneer rose to prominence in the 2010s (more on that later). From his name to his looks to his stats and pretty much everything else about him, Montana was the modern-day prototype for all hopefuls in the NFL, and with good reason.

4. Jim Brown

Position: Running Back (RB)
Years active: 1957-1965
Teams: Cleveland Browns

Notable accolades:  Hall of Fame (1971 Class); 1x Super Bowl Champion; 3x MVP; 8x First Team All-Pro; 1x Second Team All-Pro; 9x Pro Bowl; RoY (1957)

The 50 Greatest NFL Players of All Time Have Been Updated and Ranked

Jim Brown is entering GOAT territory on this list: He and the three players above him are the top four to ever play their positions, all back-to-back. From now on we face an absolutely undisputed prestige at the top of the mountain. So I should talk about the talent of Brown, who ranks as the best he’s ever played, possibly the second biggest role on an NFL team, at the bottom of this particular Mt. Rushmore.

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3. Lawrence Taylor

Position: A linebacker (LB or backer)
Years active: 1981-1993
Teams: New York Giants

Notable accolades: Hall of Fame (1999 Class); 2x Super Bowl Champion; 1x MVP; 8x First Team All-Pro; 2x Second Team All-Pro; 3x DPoY; DRoY

The 50 Greatest NFL Players of All Time Have Been Updated and Ranked

Of course, as one of two defensive players to receive MVP honors and the only one to do so unanimously, Lawrence Taylor is popularly considered the greatest defensive player in NFL history. Of course, as the saying goes, “defense wins championships,” Taylor can’t slip below the third place on this list. He continues the trend of ultimate GOATs at his position, slipping to 3rd place only due to the incredible longevity of the two players in front of him. However, a 12-year run in NFL as football’s toughest hitter is no joke, and he has accolades to back that claim. It brought modern love to the less glamorous side of football and for that reason alone it belongs here.

2. Jerry Rice

Position: A linebacker (LB or backer)
Years active: 1985 – 2004
Teams: San Francisco 49ers, Oakland Raiders, Seattle Seahawks

Notable accolades: Hall of Fame (2010 Class); 3x Super Bowl Champion; 1x Super Bowl MVP; 1x MVP; 10x First Team All-Pro; 1x Second Team All-Pro; 2x OPoY; 13x Pro Bowl; All-Time Leader in touchdowns (208), receiving touchdowns (197), receptions (1,549), consecutive 1+ reception games (274)

The 50 Greatest NFL Players of All Time Have Been Updated and Ranked

You’ll find that wide receiver are rare in this type of roster. Until recently, it was all about defense, running backs, and if the passing game was good enough, quarterbacks. If you’re looking for the man who made passport recipients fashionable, you’ve found him. What makes the Jerry Rice case unique is its durability and widespread excellence. Wide receivers are typically the lightest players in the NFL behind punters, kickers, and the occasional quarterback, and most have career streaks behind them but have been cut short by injuries. Not Jerry. Until our number one came along, he was the league’s Ironman.

1. Tom Brady

Position: Quarterback (QB)
Years active:2000 – Present
Teams: New England Patriots, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Notable accolades: 7x Super Bowl Champion (1st All-Time); 5x Super Bowl MVP (1st All-Time); 3x MVP; 3x First Team All-Pro; 3x Second Team All-Pro; 2x OPoY;  15x Pro-Bowl; multiple Super Bowl, playoff & regular season records

The 50 Greatest NFL Players of All Time Have Been Updated and Ranked

If you’ve been wondering where Thomas Edward Patrick Brady, Jr. falls on this list, wonder no more. He was named to the NFL 100 back in 2019, but after crushing the widely-favored Kansas City Chiefs in Super Bowl LV on his first try with a new team, he has all the questions about his greatness at the silence. . Belichick was also great in New England and was critical to Brady’s growth, but all questions were answered. Tom Brady can now claim his title as the greatest of all time.

Brady finished his 22-year career overall by starting 316 of 318 games played with an all-time record of 243-73-0, completing 7,263 of his 11,317 attempts and a record historic 84,520 passing yards. 624 of those passes were in the end zone and 203 of those were interceptions.

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