Every August a class of top-notch athletes gets inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. But let’s be honest. There’s a lot of guys to sift through. Fifty players have been inducted since 2010, so, surely there are some that are better than others. These are all guys who have had amazing careers, but some were better than others. Here, we’ll rank them from worst to best.
Obviously, this is a list of some of the best athletes to ever play the game. It’s no small feat making it into the Hall of Fame. You need to be the best of the best and the NFL hasn’t screwed up in selecting the guys who are deserving of this coveted honor. Not only do guys need to perform at an elite level, they need to perform at an elite level consistently throughout their career. There are guys who have been stars for short spurts of time, but it takes a rare amount of talent to perform at a high level throughout a career in the NFL. But these guys have managed to do just that.
These guys have been successful for years and are part of the reason why the Pro Football Hall of Fame is great. The Hall of Fame includes some of the most beloved sports heroes in history. Sure, there are guys who you might not recognize at first glance, but this list includes guys who are more than deserving of a spot in the elusive Hall.
50 RAY GUY
Although Ray Guy is often considered the best punter to play in the NFL, punting the ball doesn’t warrant a spot above any of the players who follow. Sure, Guy is in a class of the best people to ever hold a football, but kicking the ball isn’t going to compare to what the rest of these guys have done on the field. But you have to give Guy credit. He was inducted to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2013 after playing a lengthy career with the Raiders (1973-1986).
Sure, Guy was just a punter. But he was a first-team All-Pro selection six times and he was named to the Pro Bowl seven times. Guy, who is also part of the Georgia and Mississippi Hall of Fame, was part of the NFL’s 75th Anniversary All-Time Team.
49 MORTEN ANDERSEN
Here we have the second and final kicker to appear on this list. There’s no doubting that Morten Anderson deserves a spot in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, but no one should be arguing that a kicker ranks any higher than anyone else on the list (unless they’re being compared to other kickers). Why? Because the game can still be played without missing a beat if we remove kickers from the equation. Heck, nowadays most teams start the drive with a touchback anyways, so all we’re losing is the extra point and opportunity to onside kick.
But Anderson was inducted in 2017 because he is currently the NFL’s leading scorer. The seven-time Pro Bowl selection has scored 2,544 points and also led the league in games played (382), field goals made (565) and field goals attempted (709).
48 KEN STABLER
Ken Stabler didn’t live to learn he was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, and unfortunately, probably didn’t know he was going to be inducted at the time of his death. Stabler wasn’t a bad quarterback, he just didn’t seem to fit the mold of a Hall of Famer. Stabler was a second round pick in the 1968 draft by the Raiders but did not get a chance to play until 1970. He retired in 1984 from the NFL and was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2016.
Stabler did have spouts of greatness. He was the named the league’s Most Valuable Player in 1974, and was a four-time Pro Bowl selection. He led the league in passing touchdowns twice, and was part of the 1970s All-Decade Team. But his stats were somewhat frightening. He had a passer rating of 75.3, and he threw way more interceptions than touchdowns (194-222 touchdown-interception ration).
47 TERRELL DAVIS
It’s always fun seeing a guy who was drafted in the sixth round end up playing a career deserving of the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Terrell Davis did just that as he was drafted with the 196th pick in 1995 before playing his entire career with the Broncos (1995-2001). There weren’t many running backs inducted to the Hall of Fame during this stretch, but Davis joined the list with his induction this year.
Davis was a two-time Super Bowl champion who was also named the Super Bowl MVP following one of those championship victories. Davis, the league’s Most Valuable Player in 1998, led the NFL in rushing touchdowns twice and rushing yards once. He was a two-time offensive player of the year and a guy whose career was cut way too short because of injuries.
46 KENNY EASLEY
Kenny Easley could have gone down as the best safety of all time but kidney disease knocked him out of the league way too early. Easley was a strong safety who was drafted with the fourth overall pick in 1981. He played his entire career in Seattle, but he was another guy whose ranking suffered because his career was way too short. But it was still good enough to earn him an induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame this year. Easley’s playing career ended after the 1987 season when he was diagnosed with severe kidney disease.
That really sucked. Easley was having an amazing career and in such a short time. He was on track to go down as the best defensive talent of all time. But in the short time he did play, Easley was a five-time Pro Bowl selection who earned Defensive Player of the Year honors in 1984.
45 JACK BUTLER
Jack Butler was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2012 even though he retired in 1959 (unfortunately, Butler died May 2013). Butler was a cornerback who went undrafted in 1951. But he proved to be one of the league’s best players and was named to the 1950s All-Decade Team, he also led the NFL in interceptions in 1957. Butler finished his career with 52 interceptions and four touchdowns. He was selected to four-straight Pro Bowls (1955-1958) and was a first-team All Pro selection four times (1956-1959).
The most interesting fact about Butler’s career, though, was that he never made more than $12,000 for any year while he plaid with the Steelers. But that’s just how things were in the 50s. At the time of his retirement, he was second in career interceptions.
44 MICK TINGELHOFF
Here we meet the first of many offensive linemen who appear on this list. Sure, there are a lot of superstar playmakers who will follow, but we have to give credit to each of the offensive linemen who were selected. They may not have been individually applauded much in their career, but a Hall of Fame induction is something to be honored. So, give these guys their deserved respect because the O-line is a crucial factor in that dominant offensive gameplay we all love watching so much.
Mick Tingelhoff was a center who was inducted to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2015. He played his entire career with the Minnesota Vikings (1962-1978) and was a six-time Pro Bowl selection and was named a first-team All-Pro selection five times. The Vikings also retired his No. 53.
43 DICK STANFEL
Dick Stanfel was a second round pick all the way back in 1951. Stanfel had a long and storied career as a coach, too, but he was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2016 as a player. As a player, the offensive guard was a five-time Pro Bowl selection and was a first-team All-Pro selection five times. Stanfel was part of two NFL Championships and a Super Bowl victory. Stanfel was rightfully named to the 1950s All-Decade Team.
Stanfel retired from playing in 1958 but quickly transitioned into coaching at Notre Dame in 1959. By 1964 he was coaching on the Offensive line in Philadelphia and coached all the way through 1992. Unfortunately, Stanfel died in 2015 and was not alive for his induction ceremony in 2016.
42 CURLEY CULP
Curley Culp was a defensive tackle who retired from the NFL in 1981 and was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2013. He played for the Chiefs, Oilers and Lions after he was drafted in the second round in 1968 by the Broncos. Culp had an astonishing NFL career. He was selected to five Pro Bowls and was named the Defensive Player of the Year in 1975.
In total, he recorded 68 sacks, forced 14 fumbles and posted 10 fumble recoveries. At the beginning, Culp was considered too short to play on the defensive line and he was said to be too slow to play linebacker. But he proved all of the critics wrong as he had one of the most successful careers as a defensive lineman.
41 CHARLES HALEY
One of the coolest parts about this outside linebacker’s career was that he was part of five Super Bowl winning teams. That’s five times when he was able to gladly label himself as part of football’s greatest team. Charles Haley, played with the San Francisco 49ers and the Dallas Cowboys from 1986 until he retired in 1999. Haley has been named to the Cowboys Ring of Honor as well as the 49ers Hall of Fame. He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2015.
Throughout Haley’s career, he posted a total of 100.5 sacks, forced 26 fumbles and recorded two interceptions. He was a five-time Pro Bowl selection (though never was selected two times in a row), and was a first-team All-Pro selection twice.
40 FLOYD LITTLE
Here, we have to go back pretty far to look at Floyd Little’s career. He was drafted by the Broncos with the sixth overall pick in 1967, and he played with Denver through 1975. But it’s not hard to tell that Little had an amazing career. He led the league in rushing yards in 1971 and he led the league in rushing touchdowns in 1973. Little, who was selected to the Pro Bowl three times, was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2010.
The Broncos have retired No. 44 in his honor and Syracuse did the same. Compared to numbers running backs have posted since Little’s time, he does not quite match up. He finished with 6,323 rushing yards (a 3.9 yard per carry average) with 43 touchdowns. But he did have a six-year stretch (1968-1973) where he had more yards from scrimmage than any running back in the NFL.
39 ORLANDO PACE
Orlando Pace was the first overall pick in 1997 after completing hugely successful high school and collegiate careers, and the pick couldn’t have been better. Pace, who was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2017, was a USA Today High School All-American, then followed up with two Consensus All-American honors and two Lombardi Awards while at Ohio State.
In the NFL, Pace played for the Rams from 1997-2008, which included a Super Bowl championship, and he concluded his career with the Bears in 2009. Not only was Pace a Super Bowl champ, he also was a seven-time Pro Bowl selection and a first-team All-Pro selection three times. The Rams passing offense recorded an astonishing 12-straight seasons of more than 3,000 passing yards behind Pace’s leadership on the O-line.
38 DAVE ROBINSON
Dave Robinson was a star linebacker who retired from the league back in 1974 and was eventually inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2013. Robinson played back in the days when there was no Super Bowl. He had three NFL Championships. But also, in the first two Super Bowls, Robinson was part of the winning teams.
Robinson was a three-time Pro Bowl selection and was named the Pro Bowl MVP in 1967. Robinson is part of the Green Bay Packers Hall of Fame and was named to the 1960s All-Decade Team. In total, he played in just about every game. He only had two seasons where he missed time, as he played in 11 games in 1964 and just four games in 1970.
37 RUSS GRIMM
Russ Grimm is still part of the NFL as a coach. Grimm, who played with the Redskins from 1981 through 1991, is currently the offensive line coach in Tennessee (he began coaching in 1992 with the Redskins). It’s always good to see a former player jump into the coaching staff, especially when they had a career like Grimm’s. Grimm was a Super Bowl champion (multiple times) who was part of the Pro Bowl and a first-team All-Pro selection four times.
Grimm was so important to the Redskins offensive line that he was named one of the 70 greatest Redskins in history and was also named to the 1980s All-Decade Team. But he did see a large decrease in production after his final Pro Bowl selection in 1986. In the next three seasons, he started just 18 games and added another 12 starts over his final two seasons.
36 ANDRE REED
Andre Reed was a fourth round draft pick in 1985, but had a career worthy enough of a Pro Football Hall of Fame induction in 2014. Reed was a star wide receiver who was selected for the Hall after eight years of eligibility. He played in the NFL for 16 seasons, 15 with the Bills and one with the Redskins.
Reed ranks 16th in NFL history with 951 total career receptions and was a seven-time Pro Bowl selection and was also elected to the Bill 50th Season All-Time Team. Reed has been near the top of important statistical categories as he finished his career with 13,198 yards, 87 touchdowns and had four separate seasons with more than 1,000 receiving yards. He ranks 17th overall in career receiving yards and 14th overall in career receiving touchdowns.
35 WALTER JONES
This offensive tackle was drafted with the sixth overall pick in 1997 and played with the Seahawks for his entire career. After a great career at Florida State, Walter Jones quickly became one of the NFL’s best offensive linemen. By 1999, he was selected to his first of nine total career Pro Bowl appearances. From 2001 to 2008, he was selected to the Pro Bowl each year. That means he made the Pro Bowl in each of his final eight seasons.
Jones, who started 180 games in his 12-season career, was named to the 2000s All-Decade Team, the Seattle Seahawks 35th Anniversary Team and has his No. 71 retired in Seattle. Jones was a second-team All-Pro selection twice and was a first-team All-Pro selection four times.
34 RICHARD DENT
Richard Dent had a career that many people didn’t expect as he was drafted by Chicago with the 203rd pick back in 1983. Dent ended up playing in the NFL up through the 1997 season (he started with the Bears, then played for the 49ers, went back to the Bears, then played a season with the Colts and the Eagles). Dent was named to the Pro Bowl four times and was also a first-team All-Pro selection four times.
Dent led the league in sacks in 1985 and was selected into the Hall of Fame in 2011. Dent finished his career with 137.5 sacks, eight interceptions and even managed two touchdowns. When Dent finished his career, he ranked third for overall sacks but now is tied with John Randle for the ninth spot.
33 CLAUDE HUMPHREY
Claude Humphrey was a defensive end who was drafted with the third overall pick in the 1968 draft. Humphrey, who retired in 1981, was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2014. Humphrey was consistent and played in the league for 13 seasons and he is also a member of the Georgia Hall of Fame and the Tennessee Hall of Fame. He went from an All-American in college at Tennessee State (they retired his jersey number) then just crushed the competition in the NFL.
During Humphrey’s first season, he was named the NFL’s Defensive Rookie of the Year. Humphrey, who started 171 games in his career was a six-time Pro Bowl selection. He was also a second-team All-Pro selection three times and a first-team All-Pro selection five times.
32 CORTEZ KENNEDY
Cortez Kennedy was drafted with the third overall pick by the Seattle Seahawks in 1990, and he played with the team for every season in his 11-year career. Kennedy’s No. 96 was retired by Seattle and was also named to the 1990s All-Decade Team. These honors were well deserved as Kennedy, the 1992 Defensive Player of the Year, was selected to eight Pro Bowls during the 90s.
And Kennedy was always on the field. Except for 1997 and 1998, Kennedy played in every game of his career (but during those two years he played in 23 games). He was never the type of lineman to overwhelm the opposition with a bunch of sacks, but he overwhelmed opponents in many other ways. But during his breakout 1992 season, he recorded a career-high 14 sacks (that was the only year his sack total eclipsed double digits).
31 DICK LEBEAU
Dick LeBeau is a NFL legend. LeBeau will be returning for his 59th consecutive season next year. He was a cornerback in the NFL for 14 years then followed up with more than four decades of coaching. He is considered one of the best defensive coordinators of all time, and is still one of the best in the league at 80 years old. LeBeau, who is currently coaching in Tennessee, was inducted to the Hall with the 2010 class. LeBeau was a three-time Pro Bowl selection who played every season with the Lions from 1959 through 1972. He’s one of the best defensive backs that the league has ever seen. The two-time Super Bowl champ finished his playing career with 62 interceptions and four touchdowns.
30 DERMONTTI DAWSON
You may not be familiar with the name but Dermontti Dawson was one of the best centers to play in the NFL. Dawson was drafted in the second round of the 1988 draft by the Steelers and played with the team through 2000. Dawson was named to the 1990s All-Decade Team after he posted seven-straight Pro Bowl appearances (1992 through 1998) and was also a first-team All-Pro selection for six-straight seasons.
There was no doubting Pittsburgh’s decision in naming Dawson to the Steelers All-Time Team. In total, Dawson started 181 games for the Steelers and he even had an eight-year stretch where he started every game. He only started a total of 16 games in his final two seasons, but by then he had put in enough work for a Hall of Fame worthy career. He was inducted in 2012.
29 LES RICHTER
Les Richter was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1984 and received his Pro Football Hall of Fame induction in 2011. He started his career all the way back in 1952 when he was the second overall pick and was quickly traded to the Rams. The linebacker did not disappoint, but his career was fairly short. He played through just the 1962 season.
But he eventually received credit for his career with the Hall of Fame selection about five decades following his retirement. Although Richter played in just nine seasons, he was selected to the Pro Bowl in each of his first eight seasons. The coolest part about his career was that he did not miss a game and played through injuries including a broken cheekbone.
28 CHRIS HANBURGER
This 2011 Hall of Fame inductee retired from a lengthy career as a linebacker for the Washington Redskins (he was drafted with the 245th pick in 1965 and played through 1978. Chris Hanburger played all the way through his 37th birthday and concluded his career with a season where he started every game. The Linebacker finished as the NFC’s Defensive Player of the Year in 1972.
Hanburger had a hugely successful career. He was selected to the Pro Bowl nine times and was a first-team All-Pro selection four times (he was also a second-team All-Pro selection twice). Hanburger had a really good career, but he doesn’t compare to a lot of guys on this list. But playing 14 seasons for the Redskins is an accomplishment that should not be overlooked.
27 JASON TAYLOR
Jason Taylor was inducted to the Pro Football Hall of Fame this year, which was his first year of eligibility. He became just the fourth player to do that in Dolphins history (the others were Dan Marino, Jim Langer and Paul Warfield). Taylor was a great defensive end/linebacker while in the NFL and played most of his career in Miami, but also played brief stints for the Redskins and the Jets.
Taylor led the league in sacks once, was named the AFC’s Defensive Player of the Year twice, and was named the NFL’s Defensive Player of the Year in 2006. Taylor was also the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year in 2007 and is part of the 2000s All-Decade Team. He finished his career with 139.5 sacks, 48 forced fumbles, eight interceptions and added nine touchdowns.
26 AENEAS WILLIAMS
Aeneas Williams was inducted to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2014. He played with the Cardinals and the Rams from 1991 up until 2004, and was a cornerback before switching to a free safety later in his career. Williams was drafted in the third round and played most of his career in Arizona (1991-2000) before finishing his time in the NFL in St. Louis (1991-2001). But his time was successful on both teams as he was named to the Arizona Cardinals Ring of Honor and the St. Louis Rams 10th Anniversary Team.
In all, he recorded 55 interceptions, five forced fumbles, three sacks and nine touchdowns. Williams was an eight-time Pro Bowl selection who was a first-team All-Pro four times (1995-1997 and 2001), and he was also named to the 1990s All-Decade Team.
25 WILL SHIELDS
This offensive guard never missed a game in any of his 14 seasons while playing in the NFL, and like many of the offensive linemen on this list, he is largely unknown. But that doesn’t make his career any less special. Will Shields was drafted in the third round of the 1993 draft, then played every game for the Kansas City Chiefs for the rest of his career. Shields, who was named the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year in 2003, was named to the 2000s All-Decade Team.
Through his career he started 223 games (he played in 224 games) and even managed to recover nine fumbles, which is really high for an offensive lineman. Shields was selected to the Pro Bowl for 12-consecutive seasons (1995-2006), was named to the first-team All-Pro three times and was a second-team All-Pro selection four times.
24 SHANNON SHARPE
Shannon Sharpe recorded more than 10,000 receiving yards and included 62 touchdown receptions in the 14 seasons he played in the NFL. Sharpe was a more than deserving tight end when looking at the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Sharpe was part of the 1990s All-Decade Team and was part of the 2011 Hall of Fame class.
Sharpe was part of three Super Bowl championship teams and was an eight-time Pro Bowl selection. He had four first-team All-Pro selections and is part of the Denver Broncos 50th Anniversary Team. Sharpe redefined the way that tight ends played the game and made the position one of the more focused parts of the NFL’s offensive attack. He was an absolute steal of the seventh round, 192nd pick, in the 1990 draft.
23 JOHN RANDLE
This former defensive tackle was inducted to the Hall of Fame in 2010 after he played with the Vikings from 1990 to 2000 then the Seahawks from 2001 to 2003. John Randle is part of the 1990s All-Decade Team and led the league in sacks back in 1997. Randle was a seven-time Pro Bowl selection and was named to the first-team All-Pro six times throughout his career.
Randle was crazy good at pressuring the quarterback. He recorded more than 10 sacks in nine different seasons and finished his career with 137.5 sacks. He led the league in 1997 with 15.5 sacks. He also forced 29 fumbles, recovered 11 fumbles and even returned one of those recoveries for a touchdown (he also recorded one interception during his 14-year career).
22 CHRIS DOLEMAN
Chris Doleman was one of the best defensive ends of his time and proved to be one of the best defensive linemen in NFL history. Doleman, who was named to the 1990s All-Decade Team, retired in 1999 and was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2012. He had a storied career as he played with the Vikings, Falcons and 49ers before returning to Minnesota in 1999 before his retirement.
Doleman, who finished his career with 150.5 sacks, eight interceptions and two touchdowns, was an eight-time Pro Bowl selection and was a first-team All-Pro selection three times. He led the league in sacks in 1989 and recorded double-digit sack totals in eight different seasons, and he was still rushing the quarterback late in his career as he recorded a whopping 15 sacks in 1998.
21 RICKEY JACKSON
This linebacker played from 1983 through 1995 with the Saints and the 49ers. He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in February 2010. He finished his career with 128 sacks, 40 forced fumbles (29 recoveries), eight interceptions and more than 1,000 tackles. He was a six-time Pro Bowl selection and was a first-team All-Pro selection four times.
Rickey Jackson was part of a linebacking corps that was named the best in history by many people. Jackson was a great athlete, and he maintained a solid career until the day he retired. In his final eight seasons he started all but four games. He recorded more than 10 sacks in six different seasons and led the league in fumble recoveries twice late in his career (1990 and 1991).
20 WILLIE ROAF
Because Willie Roaf was an offensive tackle, he didn’t receive a lot of the credit he was due. Roaf was one of the most consistent and successful NFL players in history, and he managed to play great for most of the 1990s and a good chunk of the 2000s. Roaf was the eighth overall pick in 1993 and played his career with the Saints through 2001 then with the Chiefs up until his retirement in 2005. During that stretch, Roaf started in 189 games.
Roaf was so good that he was named to the Pro Bowl 11 times (1994-2000 and 2002-2005). Of course, he was named to the Saints Hall of Fame and he was one of the few players to be named part of the 1990s All-Decade Team and the 2000s All-Decade Team.
19 JONATHAN OGDEN
Here we continue with the second of three-straight offensive lineman who appear on this list. Sure, many offensive linemen were inducted to the Hall of Fame, and sure, that’s a boring selection for a lot of fans. But these are three of the best players in NFL history and they were crucial front to some very successful offenses. Of course, O-linemen are often overlooked. But they are among the most important pieces to a successful offensive attack.
Jonathan Ogden, who was named to the College Football Hall of Fame in 2012, was inducted to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2013. Ogden was named to the 2000s All-Decade team, and he was selected to the Pro Bowl 11 times (he was also a first-team All-Pro selection five times).
18 LARRY ALLEN
Here we look at a guy who was truly a super freak when you looked at his strength. Larry Allen is often dubbed the strongest man to have every played in the NFL. He recorded an official bench press of 705 pounds and a squat of 905 pounds. Allen was inducted to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2013 (he retired from the game in 2007). Allen was another one of the few players who were named to both the 1990s All-Decade Team and the 2000s All-Decade Team.
Allen, who played all but his final two seasons in Dallas, was selected to the Pro Bowl an astonishing 11 times. He played in more Pro Bowls than any other offensive player in Dallas Cowboys history.
17 TIM BROWN
This wide receiver proved to be one of football’s greatest wide receivers early on as he was drafted with the sixth overall pick in 1988. Tim Brown played with the Raiders and Buccaneers (he played here for just his final season) before hanging up his jersey in 2004. Brown was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2015.
Brown finished his collegiate career as the Heisman Trophy winner and the Sporting News Player of the Year. During his first season in the NFL, he was selected to the Pro Bowl and continued that trend as he was chosen nine times to play in football’s all-star game. Brown finished his accomplished career with 1,094 receptions, 14,934 receiving yards, 19,683 all-purpose yards and 105 touchdowns.
16 KURT WARNER
Kurt Warner had just way too good of a career for a quarterback who went undrafted. Warner was deservedly inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2017, and proved to be the best undrafted player in the NFL’s history. Warner was a Super Bowl champion, a four-time Pro Bowl selection, the two-time MVP, a two-time passing touchdowns leader and led the league in passing yards once.
Warner’s postseason performances really set him apart from the rest of the guys on this list. Warner, who won a Super Bowl and was the MVP of that game, ranks first all-time in playoff completion percentage, 66.5 percent, first in yards per attempt with 8.55 and second in passer rating, 102.8. That’s an amazing career for a guy who was signed by the Packers in 1994, then dropped. Warner didn’t reappear in the NFL until the Rams signed him in 1998.
15 JEROME BETTIS
Jerome Bettis was inducted to the Hall of Fame because there may not ever be a better power rusher to ever play the game again. Bettis just beat the heck out of defensive lines on the way to his sixth spot on the all-time rushing leader list. Bettis also ranks 11th with 91 career rushing touchdowns. Bettis recorded a stunning eight seasons with more than 1,000 rushing yards. Although Bettis was never a running back who scared defenses with his receiving ability, his rushing skills crushed a lot of guys on this list.
Bettis, a Super Bowl champion, finished his career with six Pro Bowl appearances before retiring in 2006. Bettis was eventually inducted to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2015. Bettis was part of six playoff runs, and in 2005 he finally was part of a championship team. For his career in the postseason, Bettis rushed for 674 yards and nine touchdowns.
14 KEVIN GREENE
Kevin Greene has been all over the NFL as both a player and a coach, but was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2016 for his playing career than ended in 1999. Greene, who has been a linebackers coach for the Packers and Jets, currently ranks third for overall sacks as he finished his career with 160 (he also forced 23 fumbles and recorded five interceptions).
Greene was a fifth round draft pick back in 1985 and played for the Rams, Steelers, Panthers and 49ers (his final season was a second one-year stint in Carolina). Greene was named the NFL’s Defensive Player of the Year when he led the league in sacks (that was the second time he accomplished that feat). Greene was also a five-time Pro Bowl selection and was named to the 1990s All-Decade Team.
13 CRIS CARTER
Cris Carter was a fourth round supplemental draft pick in the 1987 draft. He went on to be one of the Vikings best wide receivers in team history (he also played for the Eagles and a season with the Dolphins). Carter was also selected to eight-straight Pro Bowls and was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2013. Carter, who was named to the 1990s All-Decade Team and has his No. 80 retired by the Vikings, finished his career with 1,101 receptions, 13,899 receiving yards and 130 touchdowns.
Carter led the NFL in receiving touchdowns three times (1995, 1997 and 1999) and was named the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year in 1999. Carter, who has been a featured analyst on ESPN, HBO and Yahoo Sports, is the only player drafted in the supplemental draft to eventually be elected into the Hall of Fame.
12 MICHAEL STRAHAN
Here we have one of today’s more-known Pro Football Hall of Famers. Michael Strahan was a star when he was in the league, and he’s becoming even more of a household name as he keeps showing up to host television shows. Strahan played his entire career with the New York Giants after he was drafted with the 40th overall pick back in 1993 (he retired in 2007). The defensive end had just an amazing career.
Strahan was the NFL Defensive Player of the Year in 2001 when he set the NFL record of 22.5 sacks in a season. But that wasn’t the only time he led the league in sacks. Strahan accomplished that feat again in 2003, when he was also named the NFC Defensive Player of the Year for the second time. Strahan, who was named to the 2000s All-Decade Team, was a seven-time Pro Bowl selection and a four-time All-Pro selection.
11 CURTIS MARTIN
In just 11 seasons, it’s insane that Curtis Martin was able to rush for nearly 15,000 yards. The crazier part is that Martin’s most rush attempts in a season, 371, came in 2004 when he was 31 years old. Martin rushed for 1,697 that season. Martin ranks fourth for career rushing yards and 13th for career rushing touchdowns. It didn’t shock anyone when Martin was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2012.
He’s without a doubt, one of the best running backs to play in the NFL. He rushed for more than 1,000 yards in all of his first 10 seasons and played in nearly every game through that stretch. It was only in his last season where he failed to meet that mark when he played in just 12 games. Martin even added more than 3,000 receiving yards throughout his career. He could have been higher on the list had a knee injury not ended his Hall of Fame career.
10 MARVIN HARRISON
Marvin Harrison was really, really good on the field. He is often considered one of the most talented and productive wide receivers in NFL history. Sure, he played most of his time with quarterback Peyton Manning, but that’s no reason to think any less of the extremely skilled wide receiver. Harrison was inducted to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2016 (which was the same year his coach, Tony Dungy, was inducted).
Harrison was a first round pick in the 1996 draft and played every season through 2008 with the Colts. He led the league in receiving yards twice and was the receiving touchdowns co-leader in 2005. He was an eight-time Pro Bowl selection, and also named to the 2000s All-Decade Team. Harrison finished his career with 1,102 receptions for 14,580 yards and 128 touchdowns.
9 LADAINIAN TOMLINSON
LaDainian Tomlinson was without a doubt one of the most talented athletes to ever rush the ball in the NFL and he was rightfully inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2017. By the end of his career, Tomlinson ranked fifth in career rushing yards (13,684) and second in career rushing touchdowns (145). Tomlinson even threw seven touchdowns during his 11-year career. The most impressive part is that Tomlison’s last season was mostly spent on the bench, so his totals mostly came from 10 seasons in the league.
L.T. was a five-time Pro Bowler, who led the league in rushing yards twice and rushing touchdowns three times. He holds the record for most rushing yards in a season (28), and is tied for the most consecutive games with a touchdown (18).
8 WARREN SAPP
It was hard to believe a guy who was as big as Warren Sapp was able to move so swiftly and quickly. Sapp had amazing size, talent and even grace as he powered through just about everyone’s offensive front. Sapp was the 12th overall pick, he played with the Buccaneers (1995-2003) and the Raiders (2004-2007) and was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2013.
Sapp, whose No. 99 is retired in Tampa Bay, was named to the 1990s All-Decade Team and the 2000s All-Decade Team. He was the Defensive Player of the Year in 1999 and was a seven-time Pro Bowl selection. Sapp started 188 games and recorded 96.5 sacks, forced 19 fumbles and even posted four interceptions with three touchdowns during his time in the NFL.
7 DERRICK BROOKS
Derrick Brooks was a really good linebacker who was instrumental during the Tampa Bay Buccaneers Super Bowl run. In 2002, Brooks played so well that he was named the NFL’s Defensive Player of the Year. Brooks had a lot of good seasons as he went to the Pro Bowl 11 times and was an All-Pro selection nine times (1997-2005). Brooks retired in 2008 and was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2014. He was named to the 2000s All-Decade Team and the Buccaneers retired his jersey No. 55.
One of the craziest aspects of Brooks career was that he was active for all 224 games throughout his 14-season career and he was still a Pro Bowl selection during his last season when he was 35. He even started 221 of those games in his career (the only times he didn’t start was for three games during his rookie season).
6 JUNIOR SEAU
Although Junior Seau’s life ended tragically, his career was one of the best in the NFL’s history. Unfortunately, the ultimate honor of being inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame occurred in 2015, which was a few years after Seau’s death. Seau retired from football after the 2009 season, and just a few years later was found to have committed suicide at age 43. It was discovered he suffered from chronic brain damage, that has been found in other deceased NFL players.
But Seau is still one of the more deserving players on this list, and it’s a tragedy that he wasn’t around when his name was finally called. Seau was a 12-time Pro Bowl Selection, a first-team All-Pro selection eight times and one of the best linebackers to play the game. He was named the Defensive Player of the Year in 1992, the NFL’s Man of the Year in 1994 and he was also a part of the 1990s All-Decade Team.
5 DEION SANDERS
Deion Sanders was one of the best players to watch who have appeared on this list. In fact, Sanders may have been on of the best defensive athletes to watch in NFL history. He was selected with the fifth pick in 1989, played through the 2005 season and was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2011. Sanders was so fun to watch as he was locking down the league’s best receivers. Although Sanders made his mark on the game because of his play as a cornerback, he was also a really good punt returner and even wowed the crowd as he switched gears and played wide receiver.
Sanders was a two-time Super Bowl champ who was selected to the Pro Bowl eight times and was a first-team All-Pro selection during each one of those years. Sanders, a member of the 1990s All-Decade Team, was also named the Defensive Player of the Year in 1994.
4 MARSHALL FAULK
Marshall Faulk was truly a dual-threat running back. He finished his career with 12,279 rushing yards with 6,875 receiving yards. That ability to attack as a rusher and a receiver allowed him to be the fastest player to gain 16,000 yards from scrimmage, which he did in 129 games. Then, he became the fastest player to reach 17,000 yards, which took 142 games. What’s more impressive? Faulk, at one point, had four-straight seasons with more than 2,000 yards from scrimmage.
There’s no surprise that the two-time MVP and eight-time Pro Bowl selection ended up in the Hall of Fame. Faulk was also selected to the Pro Bowl for five straight seasons and redefined the way that running backs began to play. No matter how many running backs play the game, Faulk will continue to be regarded as one of the best in NFL history.
3 BRETT FAVRE
Brett Favre was finally inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2016 so there’s no need to worry about his potential return to the NFL. But Favre is often under-valued by younger fans who remember him more for his time following his debut on the Madden cover. Favre was an all-star through the 2009 season, but he let his aging body play in the NFL for way too long. Favre played through too many injuries for his body to hold up as long as it did.
But Favre was still good late in his career Favre was a Pro Bowl selection from 2007 through 2009. He didn’t get bad until his final season in 2010. But after the injuries and the surgeries he had gone through, no one blamed him. There wasn’t a person out there who could have expected 11-time Pro Bowl selection and three-time league MVP post performances like he did when he was in his 20s and 30s (though Favre did play until he was 41 and was selected to the Pro Bowl when he was 40).
2 JERRY RICE
Jerry Rice was so good for such a long time. It’s crazy he was able to compete in the NFL for so long. He began in 1985 with the 49ers and played all the way through the 2004 season. Rice was so good he was named to the NFL’s 1980s All-Decade Team, the 1990s All-Decade Team and the 75th Anniversary All-Time Team. The Pro Football Writers Association named Rice the Most Valuable Player in 1987.
Rice consistently led the league in some of the most important statistical categories. Rice, a 2010 Hall of Fame inductee, led the league in receiving yards six times and was a six-time receiving touchdowns leader. Rice also has the most career receptions (1,549), receiving yards (22,895) , receiving touchdowns (197) and all-purpose yards (23,546).
1 EMMITT SMITH
Here we have one of the best and most talented athletes in NFL history. Of course, Emmitt Smith proved to be one of the best rushers while playing in Dallas for most of his career, but he also showed he was deserving to be called one of the best players to suit up in the NFL. Smith was named the league’s Most Valuable Player twice (in 1992 and 1993) and was a three-time Super Bowl champion who was also named the game’s MVP in one of those three victories.
Smith has one of the most accomplished NFL resumes. He led the league in rushing yards four times and was the league-leader in rushing touchdowns during each one of those seasons (1991-1993 and 1995). More importantly, Smith has the career records for rushing yards (18,355) and rushing touchdowns (164).