Ninety years after its inception, pro football has turned out hundreds of outstanding athletes from which we have chosen the 10 greatest NFL players of all time. Made up of four quarterbacks, two running backs, two linebackers, one defensive end, and one receiver, this collection of Hall of Famers is synonymous with NFL greatness.
- Walter Payton. Number one on our list of the 10 Greatest NFL Players of all time is perhaps the greatest all-around player in football history. In addition to more than 16,000 rushing yards, Walter Payton also ranks as the all-time leading receiver in Chicago Bears history, threw 8 touchdown passes, punted once for 39 yards, and was a fierce blocker.
- Jerry Rice. No other receiver in history comes close to Jerry Rice’s staggering numbers of 1,549 catches, 22,895 yards, and 197 touchdowns. As if that’s not enough, the San Francisco 49ers Hall of Famer also rushed for 645 yards and 10 touchdowns. His 208 career touchdowns rank number one all time and help make him one of the 10 greatest players in NFL history.
- Jim Brown. The most dominant running back of his era, Jim Brown was blessed with the build of a linebacker and the speed of a sprinter. The Cleveland Browns great rushed for more than 12,000 yards in just 9 seasons retiring at the top of his game, but not too soon to be remembered as one of the 10 greatest NFL players of all time.
- Johnny Unitas. Playing in an era when quarterbacks consistently threw passes designed to gain more than just a few yards, Johnny Unitas was considered the premier quarterback of his time. With 290 career touchdown passes and more than 40,000 career passing yards, this Baltimore Colts legend earns a spot on our list of the 10 greatest NFL players of all time.
- Dick Butkus. Epitomizing the word “monster” in “Monsters of the Midway,” this Chicago Bears linebacker terrorized NFL running backs, quarterbacks and anyone else who got in his way from 1965 through ‘73. Easily the most feared and ferocious tackler of his time, Dick Butkus ranks on our list of the 10 greatest players in NFL history.
- John Elway. The gunslinger of all gunslingers, quarterback John Elway possessed perhaps the greatest arm in football history. Throwing for more than 51,000 yards and 300 touchdowns, Elway led the Denver Broncos to two Super Bowl championships earning his place as one of the greatest NFL players of all time.
- Lawrence Taylor. With 132.5 sacks, the New York Giants’ Lawrence Taylor is the greatest pass rushing linebacker of all time earning him a spot on our list of the 10 best players in NFL history. Blessed with great speed, Taylor was almost unstoppable whether blowing by offensive linemen on a path to the quarterback or chasing down ball carriers.
- Dan Marino. More than 61,000 career passing yards and 420 touchdown passes are enough to rank the Miami Dolphins’ Dan Marino as one of the greatest quarterbacks ever to play the game. Throw in his record (since broken by Peyton Manning) 5,084 yard, 48 TD 1984 season, just his second year in the NFL, and you have one of the 10 greatest NFL players of all time.
- Joe Montana. Arguably the greatest post season quarterback of all time, Joe Montana led the San Francisco 49ers to four Super Bowl victories. With more than 40,000 career passing yards, 273 touchdown passes, and pinpoint precision (63.2 completion percentage), Montana is among the 10 greatest NFL players of all time.
- Deacon Jones. The most feared of the Los Angeles Rams’ famed “Fearsome Foursome,” Deacon Jones was the greatest defensive end of all time. Playing in an era before sacks were tabulated as an official statistic, Jones never-the-less is considered among the greatest pass rushers ever to play the game and earns the final spot on our list of the 10 greatest NFL players of all time.
What Others Are Reading Right Now.
Acting, comedy and strong spirits converge in Speakeasy. When host Paul F. Tompkins interviews entertainers—Key and Peele, Alison Brie, Rob Delaney, Zach Galifianakis—about all sor …
21 Fantastic Facts About Ronda Rousey
This trivia’s like her fights: quick and jarring.
21 Hairstyles Women Love
Female experts reveal the ’dos that drive them wild.