Topend Sports

Who is the All Time Greatest Football Player?

We are compiling a list of the greatest players from the sport of American football, which will then be voted on and the winner placed on the shortlist of the all time greatest athlete ever (all sports).

The first stage is to get nominations for American football before the vote is started. See the current list below of top athletes, compiled using other published lists and visitor feedback. If you believe that there is someone missing from this list, please place a comment below, including any relevant details about the person.

A somewhat similar poll to determine the Greatest Pro Football Athlete of All Time was conducted on the ESPN Sport Science website in 2013 - looking for the greatest athlete, not player, from the sport of American football.

American football gameAmerican football game

American Football Greatest List

The athletes below are listed in alphabetical order - once the shortlist is complete then you will be able to vote for who you think is the greatest of all. This list is not complete - if you know of someone who should be listed here, let us know using the comment form below.

name notes
Adrian Peterson Ran for 2,097 yards during 2012 season. In high school he ran 10.33 secs for the 100m.
Barry Sanders One of three players in NFL history with more than 15,000 rushing yards.
Brett Favre
Calvin Johnson he set NFL record with 1,964 receiving yards in a single season (2012). Only player in NFL history with eight straight 100-yard receiving games.
Dan Marino
Don Maynard Wide Receiver
Emit Smith
Herschel Walker
Jerry Rice Wide Receiver. NFL record holder in career receptions, receiving yards and receiving touchdowns. 13 career Pro Bowl selections.
Jim Brown In 2002, he was named by Sporting News as the greatest professional football player ever. Brown averaged 104.3 rushing yards per game, the most in NFL history. He led the league in rushing in eight of his nine seasons. A great all-around athlete, at Syracuse he earned 10 varsity letters in four different sports (basketball, football, lacrosse, track).
Joe Montana Quarterback. 3-time Super Bowl MVP.
John Elway Quarterback. Elway ranks in top 5 in NFL history in career pass attempts, pass completions and passing yards. He ran more than 3,000 yards with 300 touchdown passes in his career.
Johnny Unitas
Lawerence Taylor Defense. Only player to win AP Defensive Player of the Year three times.
Peyton Manning
Reggie White Second in NFL history with 198 career sacks. 13 career Pro Bowl selections, tied for second most all time.
Steve Young 43 career rushing touchdowns, most by a quarterback in NFL history. Third all-time in career rushing yards by a quarterback. During his senior year at High School, he was co-captain of the football, basketball and baseball teams.
Tom Brady  
Tony Gonzalez 13 career Pro Bowl selections. He had the most career receptions, receiving yards and touchdowns for NFL tight ends. Second in NFL history with 1,242 career receptions.
Walter Payton

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Lists Extra

Football/Soccer is clearly the world's most popular sport, and has the most popular athletes, but which sport has the fittest players (but not necessarily the greatest athlete). These players do not always earn the most. The best of the best have made it to our 7 Sporting Wonders Lists.

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