It’s one of the oldest debates known to sports fans: who are the best NFL players of all-time? Everyone has their own opinion; whether it’s football, soccer or baseball, everyone will have their own opinions on who the greatest to have ever played the game is.
Some will immediately hark back to the days when they first got into the sport and pick a player from that era. Others will fall back on the stats and figures that they use strategically to try their luck on a sports bet on their chosen team or player.
In this article, we will use a mixture of both, coupled with expert opinion from some of the most respected names in football, to name our ultimate top 5 NFL players of all-time. Let us know if you agree or disagree with our choices in the comments section.
5. Walter Payton
In 1965 the Chicago Bears picked one of the greatest NFL players ever in their draft and they repeated the trick ten years later when they picked Walter Payton. Payton was nicknamed “sweetness” off the pitch, but on the grass, he was anything but.
The all-time great running back was a dominating force for the Bears from 1975 to 1987, racking up nine Pro Bowls. He was renowned for his aggressive running and rushing and still holds records for career rushing yards and touchdowns.
He was elected into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1993, six years before he passed away. Payton will forever be remembered by Bears fans and football fans alike for being one of the greatest players of all-time.
4. Jerry Rice
Wide receiver Jerry Rice had a phenomenal career that took in stints at the San Francisco 49ers, the Oakland Raiders and the Seattle Seahawks before hanging up his cleats in 2005. In his two-decade-long career, Rice had 1,549 catches, 22,895 yards and just under 200 caught touchdown passes.
To put that into perspective, he averaged 77 catches, 1,144 yards and ten touchdowns for every season of his 20-year career. He also helped to bring out the best in Joe Montana and then after him, Steve Young.
Towards the end of his career, he also mentored Terrell Owens, who has turned out to be a Hall of Fame receiver. That’s what helps to put Jerry Rice on this list. He wasn’t only a phenomenal player; he was also a great guy that helped to bring out the best in his teammates.
3. Lawrence Taylor
It’s an overused trope that the game isn’t what it used to be, but in terms of all-around aggression and fear, no-one has really induced terror into opposing quarterbacks in the same way as Lawrence Taylor did in the 80s.
There are multiple reports from players of the era detailing just how afraid they were of facing off against Taylor. Former offensive tackle Jerry Sisemore reportedly said that he’d start having cold sweats in the days before facing up to Taylor.
He was so devastating to opposing offenses that Hall of Fame coach Joe Gibbs had to develop a whole new tactical plan to stop him from destroying his team’s offensive play. Changing the game because of how good you are is one sure-fire way to merit a place on the list of all-time greats.
2. Tom Brady
In terms of raw talent, Tom Brady should be nowhere near this list. That’s not to say that he isn’t an exceptional player. Rather, it is praise for his sheer hard work and dedication to work on his weaknesses and become the perfect all-rounder.
Brady’s resume speaks for itself. In his career to date, he has won 6 Super Bowls and 4 Super Bowl MVPs. Throughout his entire career, excluding seasons he was out injured, he has played in one Super Bowl every two seasons.
In addition to that, Brady holds so many NFL records that it’s impossible to list them all in any article without boring you to tears with endless lists. Through his achievements, talent and personality Brady has also helped to expand football into other countries, becoming somewhat of a cult hero in the UK.
1. Joe Montana
It all depends on what position you think is most important on the football pitch. If you think it’s running back, then you’d undoubtedly have to put Jim Brown in at number one. If you’re more inclined to think it’s the quarterbacks that run the show, you can’t argue with Joe Montana claiming the top spot.
Across his career, with the San Francisco 49ers and the Kansas City Chiefs, he racked up 40,559 passing yards, 273 touchdowns and just 139 interceptions. He was a four-time Super Bowl champion and a three-time Super Bowl MVP.
He might not have had the same number of medals in his cabinet as Tom Brady but Montana edges the top spot thanks to his ability to come out on top when it really mattered. He was the ultimate comeback king, as he showed when he hit up John Taylor for the winning touchdown in the dying embers of the 1989 Super Bowl.
Joe Montana had it all, talent and mentality and that’s what makes him the greatest of all-time.