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Without any further ado, let’s see our experts’ list of the best NFL players of all time.
Best NFL Players of All Time: Our list of the Top 8
1. Tom Brady – quarterback
Active: 2000 – present
Thomas Edward Brady is now considered to be the greatest football player to ever lace them up. He has been the best on so many fronts that it is mindboggling how he has been overlooked for parts of his career.
A few seasons ago, he became the consensus greatest quarterback of all time but after leaving New England at age 43 and winning the Super Bowl in his first season with his new team, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Brady turned into the best player in football.
TB12 has won the Super Bowl a whopping 7 times and has appeared in the Big Game 10 times. He is first in every quarterback playoff stat because …well, he practically resides in the playoffs. He is 34-11 in the playoffs giving him 45 total playoff games in his career. That’s almost 3 full regular seasons’ worth of playoff experience.
The fact that in 2020, Brady won against Brees, Rodgers, and Mahomes in a row in the playoffs is something we will never see again.
2. Jerry Rice – wide receiver
Active: 1985 – 2004
When you refer to someone as simply ‘’The GOAT’’, you know that this player is probably the best at their craft. Jerry Rice is definitely the best wide receiver to have ever set foot on a football field but until recently he was also referred to as the greatest football player of all time. Had we created a best NFL players of all time list a few years ago, he may have headed it.
Rice was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2010 after winning the Super Bowl 3 times with the San Francisco 49ers. He also has a Super Bowl MVP and a regular-season MVP award. Along with that, there are other numerous accolades that we simply cannot list.
Needless to say, longevity also plays a role in here because you cannot call a player great if they have played too few seasons.
3. Lawrence Taylor – linebacker
Active: 1981 – 1993
Our top 3 are definitely not very hard to make when you have such players. LT is without a doubt a top-3 player when we talk about the best NFL players of all time. He spent his career defending for the New York Giants and boy, was he special!
There have been only two defensive players to ever be named MVP and Lawrence Taylor is one of them. Since the other two players ahead of him on this list are offensive players, we have to conclude that LT is the greatest defender in the history of the NFL.
He is widely regarded as the main reason why the Left Tackle position is among the highest-paid positions on the offense in today’s football. Taylor was so dominant rushing the quarterback’s blindside that teams started pouring money in left tackles’ pockets just to have the best guy protect their passers.
4. Joe Montana – quarterback
Active: 1979 – 1994
For the longest time we called Montana the greatest quarterback of all time with his 4 Super Bowl trips and 4 wins. He also had the fortune to play with Jerry Rice thus forming perhaps the best QB-WR duo in the history of the sport.
Montana’s spot on the top list of the best nfl players of all time is well deserved as he brought new energy to the quarterback position and this changed the dynamic of the NFL. Together with coach Bill Walsh, Montana ran the West Coast offense to perfection and this shaped up the offense in modern football.
The scheme has been copied and improved ever since and will likely keep influencing coaches and players for many years to come.
5. Jim Brown – running back
Active: 1957 – 1965
It has been 40 years since Brown was inducted in the NFL Hall of Fame and he is still a top-5 player on the best NFL players of all time list. This feat of itself is completely incredible.
Jim Brown won 1 Super Bowl but has been named league MVP 3 times. This is an exceptionally rare award for a running back. Needless to say, Brown was the Rookie of the Year in 1957 because he just exploded right off the gate.
6. Reggie White – defensive end
Active: 1985 – 2000
If you ever spot White lower than 6th on a ‘’best NFL players of all time’’ list, then there is something wrong with the list. He is by far the best edge rusher to have ever played the game.
Reggie White barely had any injuries and was named to 13 Pro-Bowls in his 14-year career. This is simply an amazing accomplishment for a time during which the modern recovery methods were still unknown. Not to mention that he played one of the most physically taxing positions in football.
7. Walter Payton – running back
Active: 1975 – 1987
Payton spent his entire career playing for 1 team – The Chicago Bears. He easily makes our list of the best NFL players. We are putting him in 7th place.
Payton has 1 Super Bowl ring, has been named league MVP once, and has one Offensive player of the year award. On top of all, Payton is perhaps the most talented and physically gifted player on the list. Alas, it’s not only about that and this is why we have quarterbacks, defensive players, and the greatest running back ahead of him on the list.
8. Johnny Unitas – quarterback
Active: 19550 1973
We conclude our Top 8 best NFL players of all time list with Unitas and we wouldn’t have it any other way. He played for three teams during his Hall of Fame career and won the Championship 4 times. 3 of them came before the Super Bowl era but this rarely matters when we talk about an impactful player like Unitas.
He was not considered ‘’good’’ by any means when he was drafted in the 9th round. This soon changed especially after Unitas had a stretch of 47 games with a touchdown.