There’s two things I love: sports and lists. Why not combine two of my loves to create the the irrefutable, unequivical, perfect list of best players in NFL history by letter. Now that college football is essentially ruined and this list is posted, there will be no further questions at this time. Let’s get to it.
A – Troy Aikman
Troy Aikman was the quarterback when the Dallas Cowboys won Super Bowls in ’93, ’94, and ’96. He was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame as a member of the class of 2006.
Photo: Jelly Share
B – Tom Brady
My personal vote for the GOAT at the quarterback position. Brady has done incredible things in his 20 years (thus far) in the NFL. Tommy Terrific brings his six Super Bowl rings to Tampa Bay next season.
C – Earl Campbell
D – Eric Dickerson
Another member of our list that was before my time. But Dickerson is a bonafide Hall of Famer. Also, the rec specs, neck roll, and oversized shoulder pads basically solidify ED’s place on our list.
Photo: Sports Illustrated
E – John Elway
John Elway was such a great athlete he had his pick between baseball and football after college. He made the right choice. Elway finished his career in fairy tale fashion with two straight Super Bowl victories in ’98 and ’99.
Photo: Sporting News
F – Brett Favre
Biased opinion alert – Brett Favre is my favorite player of all time. The joy and freedom he played the game with was incredible to watch. Add a Super Bowl victory in ’97, and you’ve made the list. Congrats, Brett.
Photo: Pens & Patron
G – Joe Greene
“Mean” Joe Greene; one of the simplest and best nicknames in NFL History. The number one overall pick in ’69, Mean Joe played 13 seasons for the Pittsburgh Steelers, won four Super Bowls, and was a 10-time Pro Bowler on top of five first team all-pro selections.
Photo: Sports Illustrated
H – George Halas
Papa Bear! This one is admittedly kind of cheating. George Halas was of course better known for founding, owning, and coaching my beloved Chicago Bears rather than playing. Little known fact – Halas was also a professional baseball player for The Yankees.
I – Michael Irvin
J – Walter Jones
In a world that criminally under appreciates offensive linemen, Walter Jones may be the most overlooked of them all. Jones was an absolute brick wall for the Seattle Seahawks from 1997-2009. He started all 180 games of his career, was called for holding only 9 times, and allowed only 23 sacks out of 5,703 career snaps.
K – Jim Kelly
If it weren’t for Jim Kelly, the Buffalo Bills may have never seen any legitimate success as a franchise. After playing for a season in the USFL, Kelly joined the Bills in 1986. Despite going 0-4 in the big game, he brought Buffalo to four straight Super Bowls (a feat no one else has accomplished) from 1990-1993.
Photo: York Dispatch
L – Vince Lombardi
I’m cheating again here. While Vince Lombardi was one of the greatest coaches to ever do it, he did technically play for the Wilmington Clippers and Brooklyn Eagles of the American Association in 1937-1938. The NFL named the Super Bowl trophy after the guy, he has to make the list.
Photo: Packerville, USA
M – John Madden
N – Bronko Nagurski
Aside from having a great name, Bronko Nagurski was one of the greatest Chicago Bears in the 30’s and 40’s. A three-time champion, he was also a four-time first-team all-pro and a member of the NFL 75th Anniversary All-Time Team.
Photo: Encyclopedia Britannica
O – Jonathan Ogden
Jonathan Ogden, a very Walter Jones-esque career (see above). Ogden was the first ever draft selection of the Baltimore Ravens in 1996. Ogden played his entire career for the Ravens, racking up 11 Pro Bowl appearances, and won a Super Bowl in 2001.
Photo: Bleacher Report
P – Walter Payton
Walter Payton is the best running back in Chicago Bears history. He was a member of the 1985 Super Bowl winning team, rushed for an (at the time) NFL record 275 yards in a game, and was a nine-time Pro Bowl selection.
Photo: Bleacher Report
Q – Robert Quinn
I have to be honest here; this was pretty slim pickings. Robert Quinn has played for the Rams, Dolphins, Cowboys, and signed with the Bears this offseason. He has recorded 290 tackles and made two Pro Bowls in his seven seasons.
Photo: USA Today
R – Jerry Rice
Jerry Rice is thought of by many smart people as the overall best football player of all time, the true GOAT. His numbers are simply outrageous: 1,549 receptions, 22,895 yards, and 197 receiving touchdowns.
Photo: American Football International
S – Barry Sanders
T – Lawrence Taylor
LT might have been the scariest player to ever lace them up in the NFL. This dude was an absolute freak; he recorded 132.5 sacks, was an eight-time first team all-pro, and won two Super Bowls in his 13 seasons with the Giants.
Photo: SB Nation
U – Brian Urlacher
Brian Urlacher is a card carrying member of the long history of all-time Chicago Bear linebackers; following in the footsteps of Dick Butkus, Mike Singletary, etc. He was the NFL Defensive Player of the Year in 2005, and lead a defense that dragged Rex Grossman and the Bears to the Super Bowl in 2006.
Photo: Chicago Tribune
V – Adam Vinatieri
The ageless wonder. Vinatieri is incredibly 47 years old, and has spent more than half of his life (24 seasons) kicking for the Patriots and Colts. He was instrumental in three Super Bowl victories for New England, and one for Indianapolis.
Photo: Seattle Times
W – Reggie White
Reggie White, AKA “The Minister of Defense,” known for his outgoing religious beliefs, was also a mauler defensive tackle. White recorded over 1,000 tackles, is a member of both the 75th and 100th NFL Anniversary All-Time Teams, and has his number retired by both the Philadelphia Eagles and Green Bay Packers. Reggie was a Pro Bowler in 13 of his 15 seasons, and won Super Bowl XXXI with Green Bay.
Photo: Lombardi Ave
X – Oshane Ximines
Y – Steve Young
Steve Young is the best left handed quarterback that the NFL has ever seen. He won three Super Bowls, and was the MVP of the ’95 win over the Chargers. He wasn’t just a thrower either, and was a threat with his legs. Young rushed for 4,239 yards and 43 touchdowns in his career.
Photo: San Francisco Chronicle
Z – Gary Zimmerman
The NFL has been an American institution since its inaugural season in 1920. With tens of thousands of players coming in and out of the league since then, these 26 players have worked to become the best of the best. The greatest thing about this list is that it can change at any point. Hopefully we continue to see incredible talent come through the NFL for years to come.