10 Best NFL Players Of All Time
Discussing the best NFL players of all time is a topic that usually leads to arguments. When a person brings statistics into the argument, it helps solidify his opinions by backing them with facts. Based on statistics and career achievements, here are ten of the best NFL players to play the game.
- Jerry Rice Former San Francisco wide receiver Jerry Rice retired in 2005 as the best NFL pass catcher of all time. He ranked first in receptions (1549), receiving yards (22,895), receiving touchdowns (197), total touchdowns (208) and total yards from scrimmage (23,540). He also ranks first in total playoff games started (29) and won Super Bowl MVP in 1988.
- Emmitt Smith Emmitt Smith’s detractors point to his offensive line as the source of his success but his numbers do not lie. Smith retired as the NFL’s all-time leading rusher with 18,355 yards. He also finished his career as the rushing touchdown leader (164). He ranks second in the NFL in combined rushing/receiving touchdowns (175) and won the NFL and Super Bowl MVP awards in 1993.
- Joe Montana While Dan Marino was putting up bigger numbers every year, Joe Montana was winning Super Bowls. Montana’s numbers were never bad and he ranks in the top ten in completions (3409), passing yards (40,551), passing touchdowns (273) and passer rating (92.3). The real mark of Joe Montana’s success is the three Super Bowl MVP awards (1981, 1984, 1989) and two NFL MVP awards (1989, 1990). San Francisco won four Super Bowls under his leadership.
- Walter Payton Rumor has it, Barry Sanders retired because he did not want to be the man to break Walter Payton’s rushing record. Payton retired in 1987 as the NFL’s all-time leading rusher (16,726). Payton broke the 1,000-yard rushing mark every year of his career, save three. He ranks fourth in rushing touchdowns (four) and third in all-purpose yards (21,803).
- Dick Butkus It is hard to argue against naming Dick Butkus the greatest linebacker of all-time. He is the namesake for The Butkus Award, presented to the best linebackers in the country every year. At the time of his retirement he had recovered more fumbles than any player in NFL history (27). Butkus was one of the most feared players in the league and set the standard for the position in the years to come.
- Deacon Jones Former Los Angeles Rams head coach George Allen called Deacon Jones the “greatest defensive end of modern football.” Before the NFL categorized sacks as a record, Jones was the best of his era. Pro Football Weekly reports he achieved 173 ½ sacks in his career, enough to rank as the third best of all time.
- Anthony Muñoz Everyone likes to debate whom the greatest running backs were but few like to talk about the men who block the way for them. Anthony Muñoz was named to eleven Pro Bowls and won the Offensive Lineman of the Year award three times (1981, 1987, 1988). When he retired, Muñoz tied Tom Mach for the most Pro Bowl appearances of any offensive lineman in NFL history.
- Brett Favre Favre is the most recent name on the list. By the end of the 2009, Favre ranked first in completions (6083), passing yards (69,329) and passing touchdowns (497). He won three NFL MVP awards while leading the Green Bay Packers to two Super Bowl appearances.
- Deion Sanders Deion Sanders redefined his position during his fourteen year NFL career. He ranks first in the NFL in non-offensive touchdowns (nineteen). By the end of his career, he won the Defensive Player of the Year award once (1994), played in eight Pro Bowls and was a six-time All-Pro.
- Barry Sanders It is hard to imagine how good Barry Sanders might have been if he had not retired after only ten years in the NFL. Sanders never rushed for less than 1,100 yards in a single season. In 1997, Sanders broke the 2,000-yard rushing barrier, won the NFL MVP in 1997 and retired one year later. He finished his career ranking second on the all-time rushing list (15,269). He also is ranked second in NFL history with 99.8 yards per game.