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Top Ten American Football Players of all Time

Tom Brady​
Tom Brady​

During this time in the evolution of the NFL, quarterback is valued more than ever before. However, I would say Jim Brown is the greatest football player ever, given his compete domination. He only played nine years, which gives Brady or Jerry Rice the advantage.

source: nfl.com
Walter Payton​
Walter Payton​

Professional football is the epitome of all things American. We love the sport because of the grit, intensity, teamwork, force, and speed of the game. To win as a team, each individual player must know his assignment, execute, and sacrifice himself at the point of attack. Football is a chess match. Players must shift positions, read, react, and dominate smaller battles to help the larger group prevail.

Jerry Rice​
Jerry Rice​

Jerry Lee Rice (born October 13, 1962) is a former American football wide receiver who played in the National Football League, primarily with the San Francisco 49ers. He is widely considered to be the greatest wide receiver in NFL history, and often called the greatest NFL player of all time.

Joe Montana​
Joe Montana​

Professional football is the epitome of all things American. We love the sport because of the grit, intensity, teamwork, force, and speed of the game. To win as a team, each individual player must know his assignment, execute, and sacrifice himself at the point of attack. Football is a chess match.

Jim Brown​
Jim Brown​

"Paul Brown called him the best football player he ever saw," said Bill Polian, the former GM of the Bills, Panthers and Colts. "I share that opinion." Brown played only nine seasons (1957-65) in the NFL before abruptly quitting and concentrating on his movie career.

Peyton ​Manning​
Peyton ​Manning​

Peyton Williams Manning (born March 24, 1976) is a former American football quarterback who played 18 seasons in the National Football League (NFL), primarily with the Indianapolis Colts. Considered to be one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time due to his numerous career achievements, he spent 14 seasons with the Colts and was a member of the Denver Broncos in his last four seasons.

Lawrence ​Taylor​
Lawrence ​Taylor​

The Daily News commissioned a 15-member blue-ribbon panel of NFL experts to vote on the top football players of all time. The Daily News commissioned a 15-member blue-ribbon panel of NFL experts to vote on their top 30 players of all time. From that list, we compiled the top 50 vote-getters. In the final installment of our countdown to the best player ever, we reveal Nos. 1-10.

Reggie White​
Reggie White​

Reggie White. Reginald Howard White (December 19, 1961 – December 26, 2004) was a professional American football player who was a defensive end in the National Football League (NFL) for 15 seasons during the 1980s and 1990s. He played college football for the University of Tennessee, and was recognized as an All-American.

image: ranker.com
Johnny Unitas​
Johnny Unitas​

Professional football is the epitome of all things American. We love the sport because of the grit, intensity, teamwork, force, and speed of the game. To win as a team, each individual player must know his assignment, execute, and sacrifice himself at the point of attack.

John Elway​
John Elway​

In 2007, Elway was ranked #15 on ESPN's Top 25 Players In College Football History list. Thomas Davids, an assistant football coach, said that Elway was the "best looking ball player he had ever seen." [citation needed] A consensus All-American at Stanford, he passed for over 200 yards in 30 of his 42 collegiate games.

Dick Butkus​
Dick Butkus​

Richard Marvin Butkus (born December 9, 1942) is a former American football player, sports commentator, and actor. He played professional football as a linebacker for the Chicago Bears of the National Football League (NFL) from 1965 to 1973.

Barry Sanders​
Barry Sanders​

Still seemingly in his prime, Sanders unexpectedly retired from football after the 1998 season, 1,457 yards short of breaking the NFL's all-time rushing record. His number 20 jersey was retired by the Lions, and he was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2004.

Randy Moss​
Randy Moss​

Randy Moss is without doubt the number one receiver of all time, just his presence on the field would change the entire dynamic of the game, allowing others to be open due to the muli-coverage on Randy Moss.

image: axs.com
Aaron ​Rodgers​
Aaron ​Rodgers​

NFL quarterback Aaron Charles Rodgers was born in Chico, California, on December 2, 1983. Rodgers was the second of Ed and Darla Rodgers' three sons. Football was an early love for Aaron, who at age of 2 was able to sit silently and watch an entire NFL game.

source: biography.com
Deion ​Sanders​
Deion ​Sanders​

Deion Luywnn Sanders Sr. (/ ˈ d iː ɒ n /; born August 9, 1967), nicknamed "Primetime", is a former American football and baseball player who works as an analyst for CBS Sports and the NFL Network. He is currently the offensive coordinator at Trinity Christian-Cedar Hill high school where his sons go to school.

Brett Favre​
Brett Favre​

Brett Favre is a former American football quarterback who spent the majority of his career with the Green Bay Packers of the National Football League (NFL). Furthermore, he led the Green Bay Packers to victory in Super Bowl XXXI and retired as the all-time leader in passing yards and touchdowns.

image: si.com
Ronnie Lott​
Ronnie Lott​

Lott was elected into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2000, and is widely considered to be one of the best of all time at the safety position in NFL history and one of the best players in NFL history.

image: ranker.com
Emmitt Smith​
Emmitt Smith​

Emmitt James Smith III (born May 15, 1969) is a former college and professional American football running back who became the National Football League's (NFL) all-time leading rusher during his fifteen seasons in the league during the 1990s and 2000s.

Ray Lewis​
Ray Lewis​

Raymond Anthony Lewis, Jr. (born May 15, 1975) is a former American football linebacker who played all of his 17-year professional career for the Baltimore Ravens of the National Football League (NFL). He previously played college football for the University of Miami, and earned All-America honors.

Dan Marino​
Dan Marino​

On Sunday, September 17, 2000, at halftime of the Dolphins-Baltimore Ravens game at Pro Player Stadium, Dan Marino's jersey number of 13 was retired. The only other Dolphins jersey number retired at the time was Bob Griese's #12.

Bill Belichick​
Bill Belichick​

Basically, he and Belichick have formed the best coach-quarterback combination of all time, edging out Tom Landry and Roger Staubach. And while Brady clearly has an abundance of inherent talent, I was surprised by just how great he proved to be under Belichick.

source: nfl.com
Deacon ​Jones​
Deacon ​Jones​

David D. "Deacon" Jones (December 9, 1938 – June 3, 2013) was an American football defensive end in the National Football League (NFL) for the Los Angeles Rams, San Diego Chargers, and the Washington Redskins. He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1980. Jones specialized in quarterback "sacks", a term which he coined.

Steve Young​
Steve Young​

Young was the first player selected in the 1984 NFL Supplemental Draft of USFL and CFL Players, signing with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 1985. The team posted 2–14 records in his two seasons with them, going 3–16 with him as a starter.

image: ranker.com
Drew Brees​
Drew Brees​

Drew Christopher Brees is an American football quarterback for the New Orleans Saints of the National Football League. He is the only player to have back to back to back 5,000 yards in three seasons straight. Brees also has the all time best completion percentage with 66.95%.

image: forbes.com
Joe Greene​
Joe Greene​

Charles Edward Greene (born September 24, 1946), better known as "Mean" Joe Greene, is a former American football defensive tackle who played for the Pittsburgh Steelers of the National Football League (NFL) from 1969 to 1981.

J. J. Watt​
J. J. Watt​

Watt and the J.J. Watt Foundation host a Charity Classic, Run/Walk, Golf Outing, and Tailgate annually. The Charity Classic is a softball game held at Constellation Field, in Sugar Land, Texas, in which Texans players participate in a game, and Home Run Derby to raise money for the foundation.

image: ranker.com
Otto Graham​
Otto Graham​

Otto Everett Graham Jr. (December 6, 1921 – December 17, 2003) was an American football quarterback who played for the Cleveland Browns in the All-America Football Conference (AAFC) and National Football League (NFL).

LaDainian ​Tomlinson​
LaDainian ​Tomlinson​

LaDainian Tramayne Tomlinson (born June 23, 1979) is a former professional American football player who was a running back in the National Football League (NFL) for eleven seasons. He played the majority of his career with the San Diego Chargers, who selected him with the fifth overall pick in the 2001 NFL Draft.

Don Hutson​
Don Hutson​

Hutson's number 14 was the first jersey retired by the Packers, and he is a member of the Green Bay Packers Hall of Fame. In 1994, Hutson was selected for the National Football League 75th Anniversary All-Time Team as one of the greatest players of the NFL's first 75 years.

Eric ​Dickerson​
Eric ​Dickerson​

A six-time Pro Bowl selection, Dickerson was All-Pro in 1983, 1984, …

image: nfl.com
Joe Namath​
Joe Namath​

Joseph William Namath (/ ˈ n eɪ m ɪ θ /; born May 31, 1943), nicknamed "Broadway Joe", is a former American football quarterback and actor. He played college football for the University of Alabama under coach Paul "Bear" Bryant from 1962 to 1964, and professional football in the American Football League (AFL) and National Football League (NFL) during the 1960s and 1970s.

Roger ​Staubach​
Roger ​Staubach​

Staubach retired from football in March 1980, as the then highest rated passer of all time at 83.4, and was voted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1985. In 1999, he was ranked number 29 on The Sporting News list of the 100 Greatest Football Players, the second-ranked Cowboy behind Bob Lilly.

Terry ​Bradshaw​
Terry ​Bradshaw​

Terry Paxton Bradshaw (born September 2, 1948) is a former American football quarterback who played professionally in the National Football League (NFL). Since 1994, he has been a TV analyst and co-host of Fox NFL Sunday.

image: youtube.com
Bill Walsh​
Bill Walsh​

William Ernest Walsh (November 30, 1931 – July 30, 2007) was an American football coach. He served as head coach of the San Francisco 49ers and the Stanford Cardinal football team, during which time he popularized the West Coast offense.

Bo Jackson​
Bo Jackson​

Vincent Edward "Bo" Jackson (born November 30, 1962) is a former baseball and American football player. He is one of the few athletes to be named an All-Star in two major sports, and the only one to do so in both baseball and football. He is widely considered one of the greatest athletes of all time.

Mike ​Singletary​
Mike ​Singletary​

Michael Singletary (born October 9, 1958) is an American football coach and former professional football player. After playing college football for Baylor University, Singletary was drafted by the Chicago Bears in the 2nd round of the 1981 NFL Draft and was known as "The Heart of the Defense" for the Chicago Bears' Monsters of the Midway in the mid-1980s.

image: espn.go.com
John Hannah​
John Hannah​

John Allen Hannah (born April 4, 1951), nicknamed Hog, is a former American football left guard who played for the New England Patriots (1973–1985) in the National Football League (NFL). In 1999 the Sporting News ranked him as the second greatest offensive linemen in NFL history after Anthony Muñoz.

Tony Dorsett​
Tony Dorsett​

Dorsett was the first Pitt player to have his jersey retired, after being a four-time 1,000-yard rusher and four-time All-American. He is considered one of the greatest running backs in college football history. In 2007, he was ranked #7 on ESPN's Top 25 Players in College Football History list.

Earl Campbell​
Earl Campbell​

Earl Christian Campbell (born March 29, 1955) is a former American football running back who played professionally in the National Football League (NFL) for the Houston Oilers and New Orleans Saints. Known for his aggressive, punishing running style and ability to break tackles, Campbell gained recognition as one of the best power running backs in NFL history.

image: ranker.com
Ed Reed​
Ed Reed​

Edward Earl Reed Jr. (born September 11, 1978) is a former American football safety who spent the majority of his career with the Baltimore Ravens of the National Football League (NFL). He played college football for the University of Miami, where he was a two-time consensus All-American.

Adrian ​Peterson​
Adrian ​Peterson​

Adrian Nicholas Peterson (born July 1, 1979) is a former American football running back who played in the National Football League and United Football League. He was drafted by the Chicago Bears in the sixth round of the 2002 NFL Draft, playing eight seasons for Chicago. Then he played for the Virginia Destroyers in the UFL.

Bart Starr​
Bart Starr​

Bryan Bartlett "Bart" Starr (born January 9, 1934) is a former professional American football player and coach. He played quarterback for the Green Bay Packers of the National Football League (NFL) from 1956 through 1971. Starr is the only quarterback in NFL history to lead a team to three consecutive league championships (1965–67).

image: ranker.com
O. J. Simpson​
O. J. Simpson​

O.J. Simpson, in full Orenthal James Simpson, (born July 9, 1947, San Francisco, California, U.S.), American collegiate and professional gridiron football player who was a premier running back known for his speed and elusiveness.

Odell ​Beckham Jr
Odell ​Beckham Jr

Odell Cornelious Beckham Jr. (born November 5, 1992) is an American football wide receiver for the New York Giants of the National Football League (NFL). Born in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, Beckham played college football at nearby Louisiana State University (LSU), and was drafted by the Giants in the first round of the 2014 NFL Draft with the 12th overall pick.

Gale Sayers​
Gale Sayers​

Gale Eugene Sayers (born May 30, 1943) is a former professional American football player who earned acclaim both as a halfback and return specialist in the National Football League (NFL). In a brief but highly productive NFL career, Sayers spent seven seasons with the Chicago Bears from 1965 to 1971, though multiple injuries effectively limited him to five seasons of play.

Larry ​Fitzgerald​
Larry ​Fitzgerald​

Larry Darnell Fitzgerald Jr. (born August 31, 1983) is an American football wide receiver for the Arizona Cardinals of the National Football League (NFL). He was drafted by the Cardinals third overall in the 2004 NFL Draft.

Jim Thorpe​
Jim Thorpe​

Thorpe joined the Canton Bulldogs American football team in 1915, helping them win three professional championships; he later played for six teams in the National Football League (NFL). He played as part of several all-American Indian teams throughout his career, and barnstormed as a professional basketball player with a team composed entirely of American Indians.

Sammy ​Baugh​
Sammy ​Baugh​

Sammy Baugh is the only player in NFL history to throw four touchdowns passes and make four interceptions in the same game. The four interceptions he made in that game is still tied for the record of most interceptions in a game.

Michael Irvin​
Michael Irvin​

Michael Jerome Irvin (born March 5, 1966) is a retired American football player, actor, and sports commentator. Irvin played college football at the University of Miami, then for the Dallas Cowboys of the National Football League (NFL) for his entire pro athletic career (1988-1999), which ended due to a spinal cord injury. Irvin was nicknamed "The Playmaker" due to his penchant for making big ...

Bruce Smith​
Bruce Smith​

Bruce Bernard Smith (born June 18, 1963) is a former American football defensive end for the Buffalo Bills and the Washington Redskins of the National Football League. He was a member of the Buffalo Bills teams that played in four consecutive Super Bowls as AFC champions.

Marcus Allen​
Marcus Allen​

Marcus LeMarr Allen (born March 26, 1960) is a former American football running back and football analyst for CBS. As a professional, Allen ran for 12,243 yards and caught 587 passes for 5,412 yards during his career for both the Los Angeles Raiders and the Kansas City Chiefs from 1982 to 1997.