Best player to wear each jersey number in NFL history: Tom Brady leads list of six active players


In Week 1, a minimum of 1,696 players will hold an NFL roster spot. Those players will join a fraternity that long pre-dates their existence. It is an opportunity to continue or begin their own legacy in that uniform. Over the course of history, teams have retired jerseys to honor their greatest athletes. CBS Sports took on the daunting challenge of naming the best player to wear each jersey number in pro football history. 

Table of Contents

No. 00: Jim Otto, C

Teams: Oakland Raiders

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If you are having a hard time recalling a player wearing 00 in the NFL, it is for good reason. The NFL disallowed the 0 and 00 jersey numbers in 1973 but not before Otto made his own legacy. The Wisconsin native went to three Pro Bowls and was a three-time All-Pro selection. The Pro Football Hall of Fame inductee revealed to PBS that he underwent 74 surgeries throughout his career and sustained 20 concussions. 

No. 1: Warren Moon, QB

Teams: Edmonton Eskimos, Houston Oilers, Minnesota Vikings, Seattle Seahawks, Kansas City Chiefs

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Moon went undrafted in 1978 but his career turned out just fine. He was selected to nine Pro Bowls and was named a first-team All-Pro in 1990. The former Husky spent six seasons in the Canadian Football League and won five Grey Cups during that time period. 

Moon became the first African American quarterback and the first undrafted quarterback to be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. His career ended having thrown for nearly 50,000 yards.

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No. 2: Matt Ryan, QB

Team: Atlanta Falcons

Ryan was the No. 3 overall selection in the 2008 NFL Draft. Since entering the league, he has been named to four Pro Bowls and was named a first-team All-Pro in 2016. His Falcons were the runner-up in Super Bowl LI. Ryan has 51,186 passing yards and the ticker is still rolling north. 

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No. 3: Russell Wilson, QB

Team: Seattle Seahawks

Wilson is a Super Bowl champion and a seven-time Pro Bowl selection. His career began on a promising note as NFL Rookie of the Year in 2012. Seattle has shuffled skill players and offensive linemen over the past eight years but the team has remained a contender. Wilson’s play is a primary reason. The mobile thrower has nearly 30,000 passing and 4,000 rushing yards to his name. 

No. 4: Brett Favre, QB

Teams: Atlanta Falcons, Green Bay Packers, New York Jets, Minnesota Vikings

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The Gulfport, Mississippi native emerged victorious in Super Bowl XXXI. He was selected to 11 Pro Bowls and thrice named a first-team All-Pro. Favre was the all-time leader in passing yards, passing touchdowns and quarterback wins, but no longer. The 2016 Pro Football Hall of Fame inductee was a gunslinger in the sense that he was willing to take more risks than the average quarterback. It led to three NFL MVP honors. He threw for 71,838 yards over the course of his career. 

No. 5: Donovan McNabb, QB

Teams: Philadelphia Eagles, Washington Redskins, Minnesota Vikings

McNabb was the No. 2 overall selection in the 1999 NFL Draft. His No. 5 jersey has been retired by Syracuse as well as the Eagles. He made six Pro Bowl appearances. His lone Super Bowl appearance concluded with a loss to the Patriots. The dual-threat quarterback achieved 37,276 passing and 3,459 rushing yards in his career. 

No. 6: Jay Cutler, QB

Teams: Denver Broncos, Chicago Bears, Miami Dolphins

Cutler played 12 seasons in the NFL and appeared in one Pro Bowl. He entered the league as the No. 11 overall selection in a year that also brought Matt Leinart and Vince Young. The Vanderbilt product was traded from Denver to Chicago in a package that brought back veteran quarterback Kyle Orton and two first-round picks. 

Cutler threw for 35,133 yards and 227 touchdowns over the course of his career. 

No. 7: John Elway, QB

Team: Denver Broncos

Elway was a two-time Super Bowl champion and nine-time Pro Bowl selection. The NFL’s 1987 MVP was responsible for some of the most memorable moments in league history, including “The Drive.” The Stanford graduate has since been inducted into the College Football and Pro Football Halls of Fame. He was elevated to an executive role with the Broncos in 2011. Elway threw for 51,475 yards and 300 touchdowns. 

Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and Bengals quarterback Boomer Esiason were also considered in this spot. 

No. 8: Steve Young, QB

Teams: Los Angeles Express, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, San Francisco 49ers

Young was selected in the 1984 NFL Supplemental Draft. He was a three-time Super Bowl champion and was named MVP of Super Bowl XXIX. His contributions to one of the NFL’s most successful dynasties are immeasurable. The Connecticut native accumulated league honors at every turn en route to a Pro Football Hall of Fame induction. 

The seven-time Pro Bowl selection threw for 33,124 yards and 232 touchdowns. 

No. 9: Drew Brees, QB

Teams: San Diego Chargers, New Orleans Saints

Brees is one of a few active players on this list. His career began in San Diego but ended when the franchise selected Philip Rivers in the first round of the 2004 NFL Draft. Brees’ potential was validated in New Orleans. Although he has not been named league MVP, the former Boilermaker has appeared in 13-Pro Bowls. He was named Super Bowl MVP in a championship effort. 

The 41-year-old holds the record for most career passing yards. He has thrown for 77,416 yards and 547 touchdowns.

No. 10: Fran Tarkenton, QB

Teams: Minnesota Vikings, New York Giants

Tarkenton has been inducted into the Pro Football and College Football Halls of Fame. The nine-time Pro Bowl selection was named an All-Pro on three occasions. He was the gold standard at the quarterback position at the time of his retirement. Tarkenton threw for 47,003 yards and 342 touchdowns. A brief stop with the Giants broke up a career that began and ended in Minnesota. 

The other consideration for this selection was another Giants quarterback — Eli Manning


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No. 11: Larry Fitzgerald, WR

Teams: Arizona Cardinals

Fitzgerald has been the consummate professional since entering the league. In addition to keeping his name out of national tabloids, the Minnesota native has caught 1,378 passes for 17,083 yards and 120 touchdowns. The former No. 3 overall selection has been selected to 11 Pro Bowls. He is entering his 16th season with the Cardinals, who are a popular choice to show improvement in 2020. 

Quarterback Drew Bledsoe was also considered. 

No. 12: Tom Brady, QB

Teams: New England Patriots, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

It feels weird adding the Buccaneers as a team for whom Brady has played. Regardless of the category, Brady is likely to be recognized. The Michigan man is arguably the best NFL player of all-time. His six Super Bowl rings speak loudly for the three-time NFL MVP. The former sixth round pick has thrown for 74,571 yards and 541 touchdowns during his career. His tackling ability is just one area where the veteran falls short. He has just 13 total to his name. 

Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers could have created his own legacy in a different jersey number. Instead, he will always be overshadowed by Tampa Bay’s new commander. 

No. 13: Dan Marino, QB

Team: Miami Dolphins

Marino is likely the best NFL player to never win a Super Bowl. He has been inducted into the College Football and Pro Football Halls of Fame. The former No. 27 overall selection is a nine-time Pro Bowl and eight-time All-Pro selection. The quarterback has thrown for 61,361 yards and 420 touchdowns. His No. 13 has since been retired by the organization. 

No. 14: Dan Fouts, QB

Teams: San Diego Chargers

Fouts was the pilot of the Air Coryell offense. He took calculated risks downfield and was methodical in the team’s matriculation down the field. The Pro Football Hall of Fame inductee threw for 43,040 yards and 254 touchdowns. The former third-round selection was a six-time Pro Bowl selection and four-time All-Pro. 

Bengals quarterback Ken Anderson was also under consideration. 

No. 15: Bart Starr, QB

Team: Green Bay Packers

Starr performed at an elite level with the Packers before walking into a lengthy and storied coaching career. Champion of the first two Super Bowls, Starr was a four-time Pro Bowl and All-Pro selection. He had previously won five NFL championships and was named MVP in 1966. The Alabama native threw for 24,718 yards and 152 touchdowns. Starr has been inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. 

No. 16: Joe Montana, QB

Teams: San Francisco 49ers, Kansas City Chiefs

Montana was the other half of the potent 49ers quarterback duo. He won four Super Bowls and was named MVP in three. The Pennsylvania native was a six-time All-Pro in addition to going to eight Pro Bowls. The two-time regular season MVP threw for 40,551 yards and 273 touchdowns. His efforts led to his Pro Football Hall of Fame induction. 

Len Dawson and George Blanda were also intriguing options to wear the No. 16 jersey. 

No. 17: Philip Rivers, QB

Teams: San Diego/Los Angeles Chargers, Indianapolis Colts

Rivers was the No. 4 overall selection in the 2004 NFL Draft. Before venturing off to Indianapolis this season, he starred for the Chargers. The N.C. State product has gone to eight Pro Bowls. He has thrown for 59,271 yards and 397 touchdowns in his career. His career passing total should exceed 60,000 yards in 2020. 

No. 18: Peyton Manning, QB

Teams: Indianapolis Colts, Denver Broncos

“The Sheriff” was selected with the No. 1 overall selection in the 1998 NFL Draft. He won one Super Bowl with each Denver and Indianapolis. A fruitful marriage to the Colts ended when a neck injury threatened his career. The Broncos eagerly welcomed him in his twilight years. Manning was named to the Pro Bowl in 14 of his 18 seasons. He was also a 10-time All-Pro selection and a five-time NFL MVP. The ex-Volunteer threw for 71,940 yards and 539 touchdowns in his Hall of Fame career. 

No. 19: Johnny Unitas, QB

Teams: Pittsburgh Steelers, Baltimore Colts, San Diego Chargers

Unitas was initially drafted by Pittsburgh but was released before ever playing a down. He found a soft landing in Baltimore, where his Hall of Fame career took flight. He won one Super Bowl and three NFL championships during his 18 playing seasons. He was named to ten Pro Bowls and was an eight-time All-Pro. Over the course of his career, he threw for 40,239 yards and 290 touchdowns.

Lance Alworth was another candidate.

No. 20: Barry Sanders, RB

Team: Detroit Lions

Ronde Barber was nearly the choice here but I could not, in good faith, pick Sanders over Anthony Munoz for the Ultimate NFL Draft and turn around only to select Barber over Sanders, which is like saying Barber was better than Munoz. Sanders played 10 seasons in the NFL. He was sent to the Pro Bowl and named an All-Pro in each. Sanders rushed for 15,269 yards and caught near an additional 3,000 yards.

Brian Dawkins, Lem Barney, Mel Renfro and Ed Reed made this a very difficult selection. 


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No. 21: Deion Sanders, DB

Teams: Atlanta Falcons, San Francisco 49ers, Dallas Cowboys, Washington Redskins, Baltimore Ravens

It was always Primetime in the NFL during his 17 seasons. The valued defensive back and return man accumulated 53 interceptions, 10 defensive touchdowns and nine return touchdowns over the course of his career. The two-time Super Bowl champion went to eight Pro Bowls and was named a first-team All-Pro nine times despite concurrently dabbling in a professional baseball career. Sanders has since gone on to be inducted into the College Football and Pro Football Halls of Fame.

LaDainian Tomlinson and Eric Allen were other dominant players to wear No. 21.

No. 22: Emmitt Smith, RB

Teams: Dallas Cowboys, Arizona Cardinals

The proud Gator was named to eight Pro Bowls and was a six-time All-Pro. He won three Super Bowls and was named MVP in Super Bowl XXVIII. His 18,355 rushing yards remains an NFL record. The same is true of his 164 rushing touchdowns. Smith was named NFL MVP in 1993. 

No. 23: Troy Vincent, CB

Teams: Miami Dolphins, Philadelphia Eagles, Buffalo Bills, Washington Redskins

Vincent was empowered to serve as NFL Players Association President by his fellow players after his playing career. The former No. 7 overall selection is a five-time Pro Bowl talent. The former Badger amassed 47 interceptions, 12 fumble recoveries, 12 forced fumbles and three defensive touchdowns during his career. 

No. 24: Champ Bailey, CB

Teams: Washington Redskins, Denver Broncos

The choice was between Willie Brown and Bailey. The former Bulldog does not have the Super Bowl validation of Brown but he has three times as many Pro Bowl selections (12). He was named a seven time All-Pro after being selected with the No. 7 overall selection in the 1999 NFL Draft. Over the course of his career, Bailey deflected 203 passes and intercepted 52. In 2019, he was a first ballot inductee to the Pro Football Hall of Fame. 

No. 25: Fred Biletnikoff, WR

Teams: Oakland Raiders, Montreal Alouettes

Biletnikoff’s name adorns the trophy distributed to college football’s best wide receiver each year. He was named MVP of a victory in Super Bowl XI. Biletnikoff has been selected to four Pro Bowls. Over the course of his career, he has accumulated 589 receptions for 8,974 yards and 76 touchdowns. After his playing career, he spent 18 seasons coaching wide receivers for the Raiders. 

No. 26: Rod Woodson, DB

Teams: Pittsburgh Steelers, San Francisco 49ers, Baltimore Ravens, Oakland Raiders

Woodson was the No. 10 overall selection in the 1987 NFL Draft. The Pro Football and College Football Halls of Fame opened their doors for him after his playing career had been exhausted. The Super Bowl champion was selected to 11 Pro Bowls and was named an eight-time All-Pro. A total of 71 passes were picked off by his hands. His 12 interceptions returned for a touchdown and 32 fumbles recoveries are both records. 

No. 27: Steve Atwater, DB

Teams: Denver Broncos, New York Jets

Atwater was sent to eight Pro Bowls and won two Super Bowls. He recorded 1,180 tackles and 24 interceptions during his career. The ex-Razorback was to be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame this year, but those proceedings were postponed until 2021 due to the coronavirus pandemic. Atwater was a two-time Super Bowl champion.

No. 28: Darrell Green, CB

Team: Washington Redskins

Green was recognized as the fastest player in the NFL during his playing career. He played until 2002 when he was 42-years-old. Twice a Super Bowl champion, Green was selected to seven Pro Bowls and has been named an All-Pro on four separate occasions. The No. 28 overall selection recorded 54 interceptions and six touchdowns. He was named to the Pro Football and College Football Halls of Fame.

Running back Marshall Faulk was also under consideration.

No. 29: Eric Dickerson, RB

Teams: Los Angeles Rams, Indianapolis Colts, Los Angeles Raiders, Atlanta Falcons

Dickerson went to six Pro Bowls and was a five-time first-team All-Pro throughout his career. He amassed an NFL record 2,105 rushing yards in a single season. He also holds records for the most rushing yards during a rookie season (1,808) and most rushing yards in a playoff game (248). The Texas native rushed for 13,259 yards and 90 touchdowns over 11 seasons.

Harold Jackson had also been considered. 


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No. 30: Terrell Davis, RB

Team: Denver Broncos

Davis was a member of two Super Bowl championship teams in Denver. He came along at the right time as offensive line coach Alex Gibbs was trying to install a zone blocking scheme. The California native cut and hit holes to the tune of 7,607 career rushing yards and 60 touchdowns. He was named to the Pro Bowl three times and was a three-time All-Pro in seven seasons. In 1998, the NFL named him their Most Valuable Player. Davis has been inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Ahman Green had also been considered.

No. 31: Donnie Shell, DB

Team: Pittsburgh Steelers

Shell has been inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame. The Pro Football Hall of Fame included him in the centennial class of 2020. While in Pittsburgh, he won four Super Bowls and was named to five Pro Bowls. The NFL recognized him as an All-Pro four times. Over the course of his career, he recorded 51 interceptions. 

No. 32: Jim Brown, RB

Team: Cleveland Browns

Brown wore many hats throughout his playing career: social justice activist, actor and football player. He was a physical running back that rushed for 12,312 yards and 106 touchdowns over nine seasons. In 1964, Brown won an NFL championship in Cleveland. He went to nine Pro Bowls and was an eight-time All-Pro selection. Football savants consider him to be one of the best backs to ever play the game. His No. 32 has been retired by the organization and he has since been inducted into the Pro Football and College Football Halls of Fame.

Running backs Marcus Allen, Edgerrin James and Franco Harris were also considered. 

No. 33: Tony Dorsett, RB

Teams: Dallas Cowboys, Denver Broncos

Dorsett is a Super Bowl champion. He was named to four Pro Bowls and is a three-time All-Pro. In addition, he won the Heisman Trophy and a College Football National Championship. The Pennsylvania native rushed for 12,739 yards and 77 touchdowns. His career included an additional 3,554 receiving yards and 13 receiving touchdowns. 

He is a member of the Pro Football and College Football Halls of Fame. His 99-yard run in 1983 against the Vikings is tied for a league record.

No. 34: Walter Payton, RB

Teams: Chicago Bears

Payton is a Super Bowl champion. He made nine Pro Bowl appearances and was an eight-time All-Pro. The NFL’s MVP in 1977 accumulated 16,726 rushing yards and 110 rushing touchdowns. He caught an additional 4,538 yards and 15 touchdowns. In addition to his illustrious football career, Payton was active in the community. The league created the Walter Payton Man of the Year award to recognize players doing well by others. He has been inducted into the Pro Football and College Football Halls of Fame.

No. 35: Aeneas Williams, DB

Teams: Phoenix/Arizona Cardinals, St. Louis Rams

Williams did not play football at Southern until his junior year. He joined the team as a walk-on and the rest is history. The eight-time Pro Bowl selection was also a five-time All-Pro. Over the course of his career, he accumulated 795 tackles, 55 interceptions and 13 touchdowns. Williams has since been inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. 

No. 36: Jerome Bettis, RB

Teams: Los Angeles/St. Louis Rams, Pittsburgh Steelers

Bettis made life difficult for opposing defenders between the tackles. The Super Bowl champion rushed for 13,664 yards and 91 touchdowns during his 13 seasons. He went to six Pro Bowls, was a three-time All-Pro and has since been inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. The 48-year-old is currently eighth on the league’s all-time rushing list. 

LeRoy Butler had also been considered.

No. 37: Jimmy Johnson, DB/WR

Teams: San Francisco 49ers

The former No. 6 overall selection recorded 47 interceptions over the course of his career. He went to five Pro Bowls and was named an eight-time All-Pro. The former Bruin played on both sides of the ball. The Pro Football Hall of Fame welcomed him in 1992. 

No. 38: Eugene Daniel, CB

Teams: Indianapolis Colts, Baltimore Ravens

Daniel played 14 seasons in the NFL between the Colts and Ravens. His career resulted in 762 tackles, 38 interceptions and four touchdowns. His 97-yard interception return is the longest in Colts history. 

No. 39: Larry Csonka, RB

Teams: Miami Dolphins, New York Giants

Csonka won two Super Bowls with the Dolphins. The former No. 8 overall selection went to five Pro Bowls and was thrice named an All-Pro. The Pro Football and College Football Halls of Fame inductee recorded 8,081 rushing yards and 64 rushing touchdowns during his career.   


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No. 40: Gale Sayers, RB

Team: Chicago Bears

The Pro Football and College Football Hall of Famer was indefensible as a rusher and a return man. He compiled 4,956 rushing yards, 39 rushing touchdowns, 3,172 return yards and eight return touchdowns over the course of his career. He went to five Pro Bowls and was a five-time first-team All-Pro. The Nebraska native has the odd honor of being named Comeback Player of the Year and Rookie of the Year during his seven year career.

Former Colts cornerback Bobby Boyd had also been considered. 

No. 41: Eugene Robinson, DB

Teams: Seattle Seahawks, Green Bay Packers, Atlanta Falcons, Carolina Panthers

Robinson went undrafted in the 1985 NFL Draft. He was named to three Pro Bowls and was named an All-Price twice. Over the course of his career, he recorded 1,415 tackles and 57 interceptions. Most teams would gladly welcome that level of production from an undrafted free agent.

No. 42: Ronnie Lott, DB

Teams: San Francisco 49ers, Los Angeles Raiders, New York Jets

Lott won four Super Bowls during his illustrious career. The former No. 8 overall selection was an eight time first-team All-Pro. He initially began his career as a cornerback before making a transition to safety. The tip of his pinky finger was amputated as a result of a tackle in 1985. His career ended with 63 interceptions, 16 forced fumbles, 17 fumble recoveries and five touchdowns. 

The Pro Football and College Football Halls of Fame recognized his physical play style when he was inducted.

No. 43: Troy Polamalu, DB

Teams: Pittsburgh Steelers

Polamalu had an instinctual feel for the game. Images of him timing the snap to hurdle the offensive line and sack the quarterback were common on Sundays. The Pro Football and College Football Halls of Fame inductee recorded 32 interceptions, 14 forced fumbles and three touchdowns. The California native won two Super Bowls in addition to being named a six-time All-Pro and an eight-time Pro Bowl selection. 

He was the No. 16 overall selection in the 2003 NFL Draft. 

No. 44: Dick LeBeau, DB

Team: Detroit Lions

LeBeau has been a nightmare for the Browns. Cleveland drafted him in the fifth round but cut him during training camp of his rookie season. He went on to play 14 seasons with the Lions and later became a successful strategist for the Steelers and, most recently, the Titans. The Ohio native is a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame. He was selected to three Pro Bowls and was also a three-time All-Pro. 

As a defensive back, he recorded 62 interceptions and four touchdowns. 

No. 45: Gary Fencik, DB

Team: Chicago Bears

Fencik played in two Pro Bowls and was named a five-time All-Pro. The Yale graduate recorded 38 interceptions and a touchdown in his career. As a rookie, he ruptured his lung in a preseason game with the Dolphins and was consequently cut. The Bears benefited from their rash decision. 

No. 46: Tim McDonald, DB

Teams: St. Louis/Phoenix Cardinals, San Francisco 49ers

USC has done a notable job with defensive backs as evidenced by this list. McDonald is a Super Bowl champion. He was selected to six Pro Bowls and is a six-time All-Pro. The former Trojan recorded 1,263 tackles, 40 interceptions and 16 fumble recoveries. His post-playing career has included coaching stops with the Jets and Bills. 

No. 47: Mel Blount, CB

Teams: Pittsburgh Steelers

The former third round pick has been inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. He has 57 interceptions and two touchdowns to his name. Blount retired as a four-time Super Bowl champion. The Georgia native was a five-time Pro Bowl selection and was named a six-time All-Pro. 

No. 48: Stephen Davis, RB

Teams: Washington Redskins, Carolina Panthers, St. Louis Rams

Davis was a fourth-round pick in 1996. He played in three Pro Bowls and was named a first-team All-Pro in 1999. Over the course of his career, he recorded 8,052 rushing yards and 65 touchdowns. 

No. 49: Dennis Smith, DB

Team: Denver Broncos

During his 14 year career, he went to six Pro Bowls. The former No. 15 overall selection recorded 15 interceptions and was sacked 15 times. The California native was a three-time All-Pro. Smith was a member of the same USC secondary as the aforementioned Ronnie Lott. 

No. 50: Mike Singletary, LB

Team: Chicago Bears

Singletary was a prominent member of the vaunted 1985 Bears defense. He was noted for his physical playing style. The Super Bowl champion has been inducted into the Pro Football and College Football Halls of Fame. The Baylor product recorded 1,488 tackles, 19 sacks and seven interceptions in his career. The NFL named him NFL Defensive Player of the Year twice. Singletary has gone to ten Pro Bowls and was named a nine-time All-Pro. 

The 49ers named him head coach from 2009-10.


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No. 51: Dick Butkus, LB

Team: Chicago Bears

Sam Mills was a worthy adversary at this point but Butkus has the accolades for a stronger case. He went to eight Pro Bowls and was named an eight-time All-Pro. Butkus, who has an award given to college football’s best linebacker named in his honor, was named NFL Defensive Player of the Year twice. Despite his Lithuanian heritage, the linebacker grew up in Chicago. He recorded 22 interceptions and 27 fumble recoveries during his career. 

No. 52: Ray Lewis, LB

Team: Baltimore Ravens

Lewis is a polarizing figure but his legacy was cast in cement. The former No. 26 overall selection went to 13 Pro Bowls and was named a 10-time All-Pro. The Florida native is a two-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year. Lewis was named MVP in one of two Super Bowl titles. He was responsible for 2,061 tackles, 41.5 sacks, 31 interceptions, 17 forced fumbles, 20 fumble recoveries and three defensive touchdowns. 

The linebacker has been inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. 

No. 53: Mick Tingelhoff, C

Team: Minnesota Vikings

Tingelhoff joined the Vikings as an undrafted free agent in 1962. “NFL champion” can be used to describe the offensive lineman. The former Cornhusker won six Pro Bowls and was a seven-time All-Pro. He started every game in which he played over the course of 17 seasons. The Pro Football Hall of Fame inductee was not elected until his 32nd year of eligibility. The Nebraska native appeared in all four of Minnesota’s Super Bowls. 

No. 54: Randy White, DL/LB

Team: Dallas Cowboys

The No. 54 jersey has no shortage of options. White was chosen over productive linebackers like Zach Thomas and Brian Urlacher. White was named MVP of Super Bowl XII. He has been to nine Pro Bowls and was named a nine-time All-Pro selection. The Delaware native recorded 52 sacks during his career. He has since been inducted into the Pro Football and College Football Halls of Fame. 

No. 55: Junior Seau, LB

Teams: San Diego Chargers, Miami Dolphins, New England Patriots

The list has essentially served as a reminder that the Trojans used to be a powerhouse. Seau has 12 Pro Bowls and a Defensive Player of the Year award to his name. He was named a ten-time All-Pro. The California native recorded 1,849 tackles, 56.5 sacks, 18 interceptions and 11 forced fumbles en route to the Pro Football Hall of Fame. 

Linebacker Derrick Brooks was also under consideration. 

No. 56: Lawrence Taylor, LB

Team: New York Giants

Taylor has two Super Bowl championship rings in his trophy case. He went to 10 Pro Bowls and was named a 10-time All-Pro. The 1986 NFL MVP was the former No. 2 overall selection in the 1981 NFL Draft. The Giants viewed the linebacker position as a luxury when they selected Taylor. It was a gamble that rewarded them with a Hall of Fame career. He recorded 1,089 tackles, 132.5 sacks, 56 forced fumbles and nine interceptions. 

No. 57: Rickey Jackson, LB

Teams: New Orleans Saints, San Francisco 49ers

Jackson was a Super Bowl champion with the 49ers. He has been selected to six Pro Bowls and was named a five-time All-Pro. The Florida native accumulated 1,173 tackles, 128 sacks, eight interceptions and 40 forced fumbles over the course of 15 NFL seasons. Jackson has been inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. 

No. 58: Jack Lambert, LB

Team: Pittsburgh Steelers

Lambert won four Super Bowls as a member of the Steelers. The NFL Defensive Player of the Year recorded 1,479 tackles, 28 interceptions and 23.5 sacks. He has been selected to nine Pro Bowls and is an eight-time All-Pro. Lambert was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1990. 

No. 59: Jack Ham, LB

Team: Pittsburgh Steelers

Former Steelers are dominating yet another list. The same happened with our Ultimate NFL Draft last month. Ham has recorded 32 interceptions and two touchdowns. The Pro Football and College Football Hall of Famer went to eight Pro Bowls and was an eight-time All-Pro. Like Lambert and Blount, Ham was named an honorable mention to the CBS Sports Steelers Franchise Five

No. 60: Larry Grantham, LB

Team: New York Titans/Jets

Grantham was drafted into the NFL and the AFL. His team was victorious in Super Bowl II. His career resume had previously included AFL all-star recognition as well as an AFL championship. 

No. 61: Nate Newton, G

Teams: Dallas Cowboys, Carolina Panthers

Newton is another undrafted free agent that entered the NFL and had a long career. He won three Super Bowls in addition to individual recognition. The six-time Pro Bowl selection was also named an All-Pro twice. His career actually began with the rival Redskins but they cut him before he ever played a game. 

No. 62: Jim Langer, G

Teams: Miami Dolphins, Minnesota Vikings

Langer won back-to-back Super Bowls (VII and VIII) with the Dolphins. His journey was similar to a few of the other linemen on this list. He entered the NFL as an undrafted free agent and was cut by his first team (the Browns). His career would end following six Pro Bowl appearance and six All-Pro honors. The Minnesota native was a member of Miami’s 1972 perfect season. 

No. 63: Gene Upshaw, G

Team: Oakland Raiders

Upshaw carried a lot of hype into the league and delivered. The two-time Super Bowl champion was the No. 17 overall selection in the 1967 AFL Draft. He won two Super Bowls in addition to being named an eight-time All-Pro. Upshaw played 15 seasons with the Raiders and went to six Pro Bowls. The California native later served as the executive director of the NFL Player’s Association and was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. 

Peyton Manning’s long-time center, Jeff Saturday, was also considered. 

No. 64: Randall McDaniel, G

Teams: Minnesota Vikings, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

McDaniel was a dominant player throughout his career. He went to 12 Pro Bowls and was named an All-Pro nine times. The former No. 19 overall selection played 14 seasons in the NFL. He has since been inducted into the Pro Football and College Football Halls of Fame. 

No. 65: Tom Mack, OL

Team: Los Angeles Rams

Mack was a Cleveland native that went on to play for the Wolverines. His father, Ray, played eight seasons at second base for the Indians. The No. 2 overall selection in the 1966 NFL Draft went on to play in 11 Pro Bowls and was named an eight-time All-Pro. In 1999, he was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. 

No. 66: Larry Little, G

Teams: San Diego Chargers, Miami Dolphins

Little entered the league as an undrafted free agent. It did not slow down an impressive playing career, however. He was a two-time Super Bowl champion. The Georgia native appeared in five Pro Bowls and was named a seven-time All-Pro. Little was vital to Miami’s offensive success during their perfect season in 1972. 

No. 67: Bob Kuechenberg, G

Team: Miami Dolphins

Kuechenberg is the third member of this list that played along the Dolphins offensive line during their perfect season and went on to be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. He won two Super Bowls during his career and was named a three-time All-Pro. Kuechenberg was sent to six Pro Bowls. 

No. 68: Will Shields, G

Team: Kansas City Chiefs

Shields was a mauler in the run game and helped pave the way for the likes of Marcus Allen, Priest Holmes and Larry Johnson. He played in 12 Pro Bowls, which is a league record. He was also named an All-Pro following seven of his 14 NFL seasons. Shields has since been inducted into the Pro Football and College Football Halls of Fame. 

No. 69: Jared Allen, DE

Teams: Kansas City Chiefs, Minnesota Vikings, Chicago Bears, Carolina Panthers

Allen was just as entertaining off the field as he was on the gridiron. He was selected to five Pro Bowls and was named an All-Pro four times. He scored an NFL record four safeties in addition to 136 sacks, 31 forced fumbles and six interceptions. On a random note, Allen had committed to Washington before the Huskies pulled his scholarship offer over an alleged yearbook stealing prank. 

No. 70: Logan Mankins, G

Teams: New England Patriots, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Mankins played nine seasons for the Patriots and yet somehow did not win a Super Bowl. He was recognized six times as an All-Pro and was sent to seven Pro Bowls. The lineman was sent to the Buccaneers in exchange for tight end Tim Wright and a fourth round pick to finish out his career. 

No. 71: Walter Jones, OT

Teams: Seattle Seahawks

The ex-Seminole appeared in nine Pro Bowls in addition to being named a six-time All-Pro. He started every game in which he played over the course of 13 seasons. Jones was a member of the NFL 100th Anniversary All-Time team and has since been inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Jason Peters is certainly on the heels of Jones.

No. 72: Ed “Too Tall” Jones, DE

Team: Dallas Cowboys

Standing at 6-foot-9, Jones is the tallest player to make this illustrious list. An athlete in every sense of the word, the Tennessee native was also a boxer and had opportunities to play in Major League Baseball. He was sent to three Pro Bowls and was named a three-time All-Pro. His career sack total (57.5) would be much higher but the statistic did not take effect until 1982. 

No. 73: John Hannah, G

Team: New England Patriots

“Hog” played under Bear Bryant at Alabama before entering the NFL as the No. 4 overall selection. He is arguably the best interior offensive lineman in league history. His career resulted in nine Pro Bowl appearances and 10 All-Pro honors. 

Larry Allen and Joe Thomas would have been considered in almost any other debate among linemen.

No. 74: Bruce Matthews, OL

Team: Houston/Tennessee Oilers/Titans

Matthews was an iron man playing 19 NFL seasons. He went to 14 Pro Bowls from 1988-2001 and was named an All-Pro nine times during the same period. His brother, Clay Matthews, was a legendary NFL linebacker as well. His 14 Pro Bowls has tied a record set by Merlin Olsen. Most impressively, he did not start 100 games at any one position. He earned starts at all five offensive line spots during his career. 

Bob Lilly and Olsen were a few other offensive line legends that deserve recognition. 

No. 75: “Mean” Joe Greene, DT

Team: Pittsburgh Steelers

The former No. 4 overall selection played 13 seasons in the league. He won four Super Bowls and was an eight-time All-Pro during that period. His No. 75 jersey is one of two — Ernie Stautner being the other — to be retired by the Steelers franchise. Greene also made 10 Pro Bowls and has been inducted into the Pro Football and College Football Halls of Fame. 

No. 76: Orlando Pace, OT

Teams: St. Louis Rams, Chicago Bears

The Ohio native played 13 seasons in the NFL. During that time, he appeared in seven Pro Bowls and was named a four-time All-Pro. The Super Bowl champion has been inducted into the Pro Football and College Football Halls of Fame. The Jets held the No. 1 overall selection in the 1997 NFL Draft before trading it to St. Louis. The pick was ultimately used to select Pace. 

Offensive guard Steve Wisniewski was also considered here. 

No. 77: Willie Roaf, OT

Teams: New Orleans Saints, Kansas City Chiefs

Roaf appeared in 11 Pro Bowls during his 13 season career. He was named a nine-time All-Pro and started every game in which he played. The former No. 8 overall selection has since been inducted into the Pro Football and College Football Halls of Fame. 

Jim Tyrer was also considered here. 

No. 78: Anthony Munoz, OT

Team: Cincinnati Bengals

I had already slighted Munoz in our Ultimate NFL Draft. I thought about losing sleep over that decision, but was determined not to let it happen again. In this position, I was faced with another difficult choice: Bruce Smith — an 11-time Pro Bowl pass rusher — or Munoz. Both are deserving but I was not going to overlook Munoz a second time. In 13 NFL seasons, he was selected to 11 Pro Bowls and was named an All-Pro 11 times. There is an argument that he is the best offensive tackle of all-time. 

No. 79: Ray Childress, DT

Teams: Houston Oilers, Dallas Cowboys

Childress was the No. 3 overall selection in the 1985 NFL Draft. He accumulated 76.5 sacks and 19 forced fumbles during his career. The Tennessee native was a five-time Pro Bowl selection and a six-time All-Pro. His three fumble recoveries in a 1988 game against the Redskins remains a single-game NFL record.


USATSI

No. 80: Jerry Rice, WR

Teams: San Francisco 49ers, Oakland Raiders, Seattle Seahawks

Few would argue with the assertion that Rice is the best NFL wide receiver of all-time. The first ballot Hall of Famer holds the record for most points scored by a non-kicker. Rice holds the NFL records for receptions (1,549), receiving yards (22,895) and receiving touchdowns (197). He was named MVP in one of his three Super Bowl victories. Despite not possessing blistering speed, the Mississippi native took pride in every element of his game: catching, blocking and route-running. 

He went to 13 Pro Bowls and was named an All-Pro 12 times during his 20 NFL seasons. 

No. 81: Carl Eller, DE

Teams: Minnesota Vikings, Seattle Seahawks

The hometown product played an integral role in the defense known as “The Purple People Eaters.” Eller was an NFL champion and the former No. 6 overall selection. He earned six trips to the Pro Bowl and was a seven-time All-Pro. The Pro Football and College Football Halls of Fame have inducted him.

Wide receiver Terrell Owens had also been considered. 

No. 82: Raymond Berry, WR

Team: Baltimore Colts

Berry and quarterback Johnny Unitas had a special connection. The wide receiver showed his patented toe-tap drills in an ESPN episode of Peyton’s Places. Berry was a two time NFL champion. He went to six Pro Bowls and was a six-time All-Pro. Over the course of his career, he accumulated 631 receptions for 9,275 yards and 68 touchdowns. The Texas native is a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

No. 83: Ted Hendricks, DE

Teams: Baltimore Colts, Green Bay Packers, Oakland/Las Angeles Raiders

Hendricks has the distinction of being the first Guatemalan born NFL player. The four-time Super Bowl champion went to eight Pro Bowls during his 15 season career. He was also a six-time All-Pro. Hendricks recorded a remarkable 26 interceptions from his edge rushing position. He has been inducted into the Pro Football and College Football Halls of Fame. 

No. 84: Randy Moss, WR

Teams: Minnesota Vikings, Oakland Raiders, New England Patriots, Tennessee Titans, San Francisco 49ers

Moss holds the record for most receiving touchdowns in a season (23). The six-time Pro Bowl receiver entered the league as the No. 21 overall selection. He was a six-time All-Pro. His career ended with 982 receptions for 15,292 yards and 156 receiving touchdowns. His efforts led to a Pro Football Hall of Fame induction. 

No. 85: Jack Youngblood, DE

Team: Los Angeles Rams

Youngblood played his entire career with the Rams. He went to seven Pro Bowls and was an eight-time All-Pro. The Florida native has been inducted into the Pro Football and College Football Halls of Fame. The former No. 20 overall selection initially backed up Deacon Jones. Many of his records still stand with the Rams. 

No. 86: Buck Buchanan, DT

Team: Kansas City Chiefs

Buchanan is a Super Bowl champion. The two-time Pro Bowl selection and former All-Pro has been inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. His career spanned 13 seasons.

No. 87: Reggie Wayne, WR

Team: Indianapolis Colts

Marvin Harrison and Wayne are Peyton Manning’s best known receivers. Wayne caught 1,070 passes for 14,345 receiving yards and 82 receiving touchdowns in his career. The Super Bowl champion entered the league as the No. 30 overall selection. He went to six Pro Bowls and was a three-time All-Pro. At this time, he has not been inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. 

No. 88: Alan Page, DT

Teams: Minnesota Vikings, Chicago Bears

The Canton, Ohio native returned home for a special induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1988. The former No. 15 overall selection has also been inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame. Page went to nine Pro Bowls and was also a nine-time All-Pro. The NFL honored him as their Most Valuable Player in 1971. He was a two-time National Champion with the Irish and was also a two-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year. 

In his post-playing career, Page was appointed an Associate Justice of the Minnesota Supreme Court. President Donald Trump presented him with the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2018.

No. 89: Steve Smith, WR

Teams: Carolina Panthers, Baltimore Ravens

Smith was a fiery competitor on the football field. He made his share of enemies throughout his fruitful career. The California native recorded 1,031 receptions for 14,731 yards and 81 touchdowns. He was also successful as a return man. Smith was a five-time Pro Bowl selection and three-time All-Pro. 


USATSI

No. 90: Julius Peppers, DE

Teams: Carolina Panthers, Chicago Bears, Green Bay Packers

Peppers has been one of the most problematic pass rushers in league history. He has amassed 159.5 career sacks — fourth most in NFL history — and forced teams to game plan against his unique length and skill set. The nine-time Pro Bowl selection has the second most forced fumbles (51) in league history. The former Rookie of the Year also has six All-Pro selections in his satchel. He had the second most blocked kicks (13) as well as the longest interception return (97) by a defensive lineman. Peppers, a former walk-on with the Tar Heels basketball team, will be a first ballot Hall of Fame inductee later this decade. 

No. 91: Kevin Greene, LB

Teams: Los Angeles Rams, Pittsburgh Steelers, Carolina Panthers, San Francisco 49ers

Greene is a five-time Pro Bowl selection and a three-time All-Pro. He was named Defensive Player of the Year in 1996 when he recorded 14.5 sacks. In his career, he recorded 160 sacks. Following his playing career, he coached outside linebackers with the Packers and Jets. One of those coaching seasons ended with a Super Bowl.

Greene was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2016.

No. 92: Reggie White, DE

Teams: Philadelphia Eagles, Green Bay Packers, Carolina Panthers

White was a brute along the defensive line. He was throwing around blockers as if they were bags of flour. His career began with the Memphis Showboats of the USFL but it took off when he joined the NFL. In 16 seasons, he recorded 198 career sacks and 33 forced fumbles. The two-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year went to 13 Pro Bowls and was also a 13-time All-Pro. White won Super Bowl XXXI with the Packers.

Since his playing days have come to an end, he was inducted into the College Football and Pro Football Halls of Fame. He also appeared in two professional wrestling events.

No. 93: John Randle, DT

Teams: Minnesota Vikings, Seattle Seahawks

Randle joined the NFL as an undrafted free agent. He amassed 137.5 sacks in a career that ended within the walls of the Pro Football and College Football Halls of Fame. The Texas native was a seven time Pro Bowl selection and a six-time All-Pro. 

No. 94: DeMarcus Ware, LB

Teams: Dallas Cowboys, Denver Broncos

Ware was the No. 11 overall selection in the 2005 NFL Draft. The Alabama native retired in 2017 after recording 654 tackles, 138.5 sacks, 35 forced fumbles and three interceptions. He should be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame one day. A champion in Super Bowl 50 with the Broncos, Ware was a nine-time Pro Bowl selection and a seven-time All-Pro. 

Ware is the Cowboys franchise leader in sacks (17) and forced fumbles (32). 

No. 95: Richard Dent, DE

Teams: Chicago Bears, San Francisco 49ers, Indianapolis Colts, Philadelphia Eagles

Dent was a member of the glorified 1985 Bears defense. The Atlanta native was a Super Bowl MVP in one of his two championships. Inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, Dent was a four-time Pro Bowl selection as well as a four-time All-Pro. He recorded 137.5 sacks and eight interceptions during his career. 

No. 96: Cortez Kennedy, DT

Team: Seattle Seahawks

Kennedy played 11 seasons in Seattle. The former No. 3 overall selection went to eight Pro Bowls and was a five-time All-Pro. In 1992, he was named NFL Defensive Player of the Year when he recorded 14 sacks; it was an impressive feat considering the Seahawks went 2-14 that season. The Pro Football Hall of Fame opened their doors for him in 2012. 

No. 97: La’Roi Glover, DL

Teams: Oakland Raiders, New Orleans Saints, Dallas Cowboys, St. Louis Rams

Glover was a hoss up the middle. He recorded 433 tackles, 83.5 sacks, 16 forced fumbles and eight fumble recoveries during his career. The California native went to six Pro Bowls and was a four-time All-Pro. 

No. 98: Jessie Armstead, LB

Teams: New York Giants, Washington Redskins

Former Steelers defensive tackle Casey Hampton and Armstead were on pretty equal footing here. Armstead went to five Pro Bowls and was a four-time All-Pro. Neither player has been inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, but both have been recognized individually by their respective organizations. Armstead recorded 967 tackles, 40 sacks and 12 interceptions during his career.

No. 99: Warren Sapp, DT

Teams: Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Oakland Raiders

Sapp edged out accomplished edge rusher Jason Taylor for this final spot but it may all prove to be moot in the long run. Aaron Donald is breathing down the necks of both Taylor and Sapp. 

Sapp was the No. 12 overall selection in the 1995 NFL Draft. He won Super Bowl XXVII. In 1999, the Florida native was named Defensive Player of the Year. The defender started every game in which he played recording 573 tackles, 96.5 sacks, 19 forced fumbles, four interceptions and three total touchdowns. Sapp went to seven Pro Bowls and was a six-time All-Pro. The Pro Football Hall of Fame inductee won a national championship with the Hurricanes. 

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