Who are the greatest NFL players of all time?

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If you’ve been paying attention to sports media over the past few months, you’ve possibly heard something about a fairly obscure debate regarding the question of whether Michael Jordan or LeBron James is the greatest basketball player of all time.

Borrowing (stealing) that idea, we came up with an idea for a PFT Live draft.

Four rounds. Florio vs. Simms. The best players in league history.

And Simms blew it. Badly. (He probably should be used to it by now.)

Click the triangle in the box for the video, and feel free to post in the comments any ideas we can borrow (steal) for future PFT Live drafts.

80 responses to “Who are the greatest NFL players of all time?

  1. My dad repeatedly said Jim Brown…..Jim Brown….Jim Brown…so I’ll stick to that..

    If I had a different opinion at any point during that encounter I’d wake up the next day wondering exactly what happened…

    At times it was refreshing…at least it was a new day…

  2. Pointless.

    Can’t come to any rational consensus.

    How can it be quantified whether Barry is better than Reggie, or LT.. or Jerry Rice.. or Ronnie Lott..

    I know what I’ve seen. I know who I’d pick. I couldn’t care less if anyone sees things the same way.

  3. too difficult to compare across generation. Dr. Z would tell you jim parker but the whodat general would tell you joe horn and theres a whole lotta opinions in between

  4. i dont want to hear any mention of cheater jerry rice…he admitted he sprayed stickum, on his already designed to help catch the ball, gloves….he is out of the conversation.

  5. probably the most boring part of the offseason.

    Good job though stealing an ESPN bit.

  6. If criteria is era-dominating play and changing the way the game is/was played:
    1) Brown (DQ’d if you ask which one)
    2) Brady
    3) White
    4) Taylor

  7. bill russell is the best nba player of all time, period.
    lebron and michael are battling for #2

    jim brown is the best nfl player of all time, period.
    rice, lawrence taylor, and brady are battling for #2

  8. QB: Tom Brady (no, I’m not a Pats fan, just realistic. My personal favorite has always been and will always be Dan Marino, but I’m not a Dolphins fan either)

    RB: My personal favorite is Sweetness, but in reality, probably Jim Brown

    WR: Jerry Rice (for the cheater commentors, come on, really?)

    Off. Line: Anthony Munoz

    Defensive Player: Lawrence Taylor

  9. It’s really hard to compare across certain positions. Rice vs a QB is pretty tough. Hard not to say Rice is a better football player than any QB, but QB is a more important position than WR and has a bigger impact on games. Brown is yet another story… He was like Wilt Chamberlain. Unstoppable in his era. LT on defense is probably as close to that you could come.

    I think an all NFL team is probably the best way to go when determining the best ever. Who would you take at every position.

  10. There is not now, and never will be, a singular GOAT in a team sport. If you were to ask any one of the players in consideration, all of them would tell you that they were NOTHING without the team that surrounded them.

  11. Walter Payton was the best I ever saw. I’ve heard Jim Brown was better and that may be the case, but I never saw him play save a few highlights. He did everything well- he lacked breakaway speed, but he could run, he could catch, was an excellent blocker either in the backfield or downfield, threw for 6 TD’s in his career, and was the Bears’ back-up punter for a time (although he only punted once).

    And he put up great numbers in his first few years behind a bad-to-mediocre O-line and playing with some awful QB’s (Gary Huff, Bob Avellini, Mike Phipps, Vince Evans, and others worse) who from 1975 to 1981 threw for about 75 TD’s and 150 INT’s. They could stack the line against him and he would still excel.

  12. aarons444 says:
    May 29, 2018 at 1:10 pm
    Pointless.
    Can’t come to any rational consensus.
    How can it be quantified whether Barry is better than Reggie, or LT.. or Jerry Rice.. or Ronnie Lott..
    I know what I’ve seen. I know who I’d pick. I couldn’t care less if anyone sees things the same way.
    ==========================================================================================
    Taking it a bit serious, huh?

    It’s just opinions and for fun. It’s not life or death. No one is asking anyone to quantify anything.

  13. These sort of lists are fun but ultimately, how can it possibly be compiled. Different eras, different competitions, and constant and repeated video scrutiny current players are subjected to. Not to mention failing memories. Jordan couldn’t get past Magic until he retired early, and couldn’t beat Bird until his back problems set in and the Celtics aged out.

    I’m still a Jordan guy though, and give me Brady every time because he lifts up a whole team, not just his individual self. And in an era of stiff future H.O.F. QB competition like Rodgers, Manning, Brees, and Roethslisberger his run is unprecedented.

  14. In no particular order:
    Thomas Edward Patrick Brady, Jr.
    Jerry Rice
    Jim Brown
    Reggie White
    Lawrence Taylor
    Otto Graham
    Deacon Jones
    Chuck Bednarik

  15. muffedpunts says:
    May 29, 2018 at 1:30 pm
    bill russell is the best nba player of all time, period.
    lebron and michael are battling for #2

    jim brown is the best nfl player of all time, period.
    rice, lawrence taylor, and brady are battling for #2

    ……………………………………………………………………………

    lmao bill russel!!! dude was out there dunking on 5 foot 10 white dudes playing center…of course he won 10 rings….smdh

  16. joshgordonsbong says:
    May 29, 2018 at 2:05 pm
    muffedpunts says:
    May 29, 2018 at 1:30 pm
    bill russell is the best nba player of all time, period.
    lebron and michael are battling for #2

    jim brown is the best nfl player of all time, period.
    rice, lawrence taylor, and brady are battling for #2

    ……………………………………………………………………………

    lmao bill russel!!! dude was out there dunking on 5 foot 10 white dudes playing center…of course he won 10 rings….smdh
    ________

    I guess you never heard of Wilt Chamberlain.

  17. ftomasic1961:

    michael jordan was never called for traveling
    reggie white put pam cooking spray on his jersey so OL couldn’t hold
    anthony munoz held on every play
    dick butkis got his best shots in after the whistle
    brett favre was doped with pills for an entire MVP season
    big daddy lipscomb used his arm as a club to the side of the head
    deion sanders gets weekly botox

    so what? they all played the game as it was played in their time. anyone could have put stickum on their gloves back then — in fact, i assume they all did, but nobody came running to hart lee dykes with a microphone in the aftermath of deflategate like they did to rice.

    steoids is something else entirely, outside of that, it’s all fair game.

  18. 1. Brady
    2. Gronkowski
    3. Edelman
    4. Burkhead.

    Bonus greatest coach of all time: Belichek
    greatest co-ordinator of all time: McDaniels

  19. joshgordonsbong says:

    May 29, 2018 at 2:05 pm

    muffedpunts says:
    May 29, 2018 at 1:30 pm
    bill russell is the best nba player of all time, period.
    lebron and michael are battling for #2

    jim brown is the best nfl player of all time, period.
    rice, lawrence taylor, and brady are battling for #2

    ……………………………………………………………………………

    lmao bill russel!!! dude was out there dunking on 5 foot 10 white dudes playing center…of course he won 10 rings….smdh

    ===============

    Uh….there was this guy named Wilt Chamberlain who had 3in and about 50 pounds on Russell, and Russell beat him quite often. He’s not my #1, but he’s certainly near the very top.

  20. Rob Brzezinski is a Magician says:
    May 29, 2018 at 2:17 pm

    joshgordonsbong says:
    May 29, 2018 at 2:05 pm

    child, please. wilt chamberlain?!? yah, heard of him and his TWO championships. you counting his stats from the globetrotters? wilt is not in the top 5 all time, maybe not top 10.

    bill russell is the greatest player in the history of team sports. he won 2 high school championships, NCAA championship, olympic gold, and EIGHT STRAIGHT nba championships while winning 11 of 13.

    the year wilt scored 100 pts, russell won the trophy.

    in 21 winner-take-all games, bill russell was 21-0.

    brush up, yall.

  21. ldloudin says:
    May 29, 2018 at 1:24 pm
    If criteria is era-dominating play and changing the way the game is/was played:
    1) Brown (DQ’d if you ask which one)
    2) Brady
    3) White
    4) Taylor
    ——————–

    If that is your criteria then your answer is missing the single greatest player in NFL history, the guy who changed the game, who dominated his era unlike any before or since.

    That player is the Alabama Antelope – Don Hutson.

    8x leading the league in receptions. 2x finishing 2nd and his rookie year finished 6th.
    7x leading the league in Rec yards, 3x finishing 2nd and one time 3rd.
    9x leading the league in receiving TDs and 2x finishing 2nd.
    8x leading the league in receiving yard/game 3x finishing 2nd.
    8x leading the league in rec touchdowns.
    Led the league in total scoring 5 straight years.
    3 x led the league in yards from scrimmage and top 10 all 11 years and top 5 9 straight years.
    Led the league in interceptions and top 10 5x.
    Back to Back MVP.
    1st team all-pro 8 consecutive years.

    In both the 1941 and 1942 seasons Hutson had more than 2x more rec yards than the next player, 3x more receptions and 2x more TDs.

    Never been any player at any position who out did all other players like Hutson. He invented the modern passing game that took the rest of the league 40 years to catch up.

  22. Don Hutson doesn’t get the love he deserves. He finished so far ahead of everyone else in receiving records, it was a bit like how Babe Ruth was so far ahead of everyone else (not saying Hutson is at Ruth’s level).

    No love for Sammy Baugh? He still has a few passing records, was a historically great punter, and played DB (31 career interceptions, 11 in one season).

  23. I’m still a Jordan guy though, and give me Brady every time because he lifts up a whole team, not just his individual self.
    ======

    8 Super Bowl teams… twice with the top ranked defense.. 3 more that were top 5.. 2 that were top 10… only ONE that was average (15th 2014)

  24. Never been any player at any position who out did all other players like Hutson. He invented the modern passing game that took the rest of the league 40 years to catch up.
    ======

    … and he 3-peated, since half of the commenters think Championships are the only measure of greatness.

  25. muffedpunts says:
    May 29, 2018 at 2:41 pm
    Rob Brzezinski is a Magician says:
    May 29, 2018 at 2:17 pm

    joshgordonsbong says:
    May 29, 2018 at 2:05 pm

    child, please. wilt chamberlain?!? yah, heard of him and his TWO championships. you counting his stats from the globetrotters? wilt is not in the top 5 all time, maybe not top 10.

    bill russell is the greatest player in the history of team sports. he won 2 high school championships, NCAA championship, olympic gold, and EIGHT STRAIGHT nba championships while winning 11 of 13.

    the year wilt scored 100 pts, russell won the trophy.

    in 21 winner-take-all games, bill russell was 21-0.

    brush up, yall.
    _________

    I was replying to the guy who said Russell was playing against 5’10” white guys, making the point that Chamberlain was legitimate competition that Russell regularly beat. Why don’t you brush up on your reading comprehension?

  26. ldloudin says:
    May 29, 2018 at 1:24 pm
    If criteria is era-dominating play and changing the way the game is/was played:
    1) Brown (DQ’d if you ask which one)
    2) Brady
    3) White
    4) Taylor

    12 33 Rate This

    ————————

    That’s a pretty darn good list. I’d put Rice in at 5 and call it good.

  27. aarons444 says:
    May 29, 2018 at 2:35 pm
    1. Brady
    2. Gronkowski
    3. Edelman
    4. Burkhead
    =====

    BSD

    (Belichick System Dynasty)

    ——————————–

    Your jealousy sure is delicious.

  28. aarons444 says:
    May 29, 2018 at 3:09 pm
    I’m still a Jordan guy though, and give me Brady every time because he lifts up a whole team, not just his individual self.
    ======

    8 Super Bowl teams… twice with the top ranked defense.. 3 more that were top 5.. 2 that were top 10… only ONE that was average (15th 2014)

    ——–

    Good point that is often overlooked. Even the 2014 defense was better than their ranking would indicate especially the secondary with Revis and Browner. That defense was underrated even Deion Sanders said so himself.

  29. brady is the GOAT end of story by any rational analysis and it’s not close.

    knock yourself out on who’s in second place. too far back to be identifiable.

  30. aarons444 says:
    May 29, 2018 at 3:09 pm

    I’m still a Jordan guy though, and give me Brady every time because he lifts up a whole team, not just his individual self.
    ======

    8 Super Bowl teams… twice with the top ranked defense.. 3 more that were top 5.. 2 that were top 10… only ONE that was average (15th 2014)

    ——————————
    That’s better than Montana. 🙂 Every single one of Montana’s 4 Super Bowls was with a defense ranked in the top 8 in the league in scoring.

    Brady also won AFC Championships with a team who’s defense ranked 31st in the league in total yards allowed per game and 31st in passing yards allowed per game and just 15th in scoring. And this past season, the 29th ranked defense in yards, 30th in passing and 20th in rushing. And Montana never did that either. 🙂 In fact lesser QB’s would have their team sitting at home in January with stats like that.

    🙂

  31. Johnny Manziel!

    Already the greatest CFL QB that ever existed and he hasn’t played a snap.

    🙂

  32. Of course there can be no real answer.

    But the discussion cannot be serious without including the player who was widely considered to be the greatest NFL player of all time … for many decades.

    That player is Sammy Baugh

  33. Jim Brown was the greatest FOOTBALL PLAYER as he could have played EVERY position and the one he did play he dominated to such a degree that it has never been matched by another generation’s best over who was second.

  34. Rob Brzezinski is a Magician says:
    May 29, 2018 at 1:38 pm
    After watching the Packers with and without him last year, I’d have to say Aaron Rodgers is the greatest NFL player of all time. He makes a Division III team a playoff contender.
    //////////////////////////

    I agree Rodgers is very good. But DIv III? Even as the Packers are projected ahead of the Minnesota Pretenders? Where does that put the Vikings, a team that is utterly futile and perennially fails, year after year after year? You think Cousins is the difference-maker?

    Let’s get serious for a second: Are you just joking, or is it you simply can’t control yourself from picking fights? You do the latter a lot. No joke.

  35. Best offensive lineman all time was Jim Parker of the Baltimore Colts.
    In an era when O lineman could not use their hands at all, he could block the sun.

  36. stellarperformance says:
    May 29, 2018 at 5:45 pm
    Rob Brzezinski is a Magician says:
    May 29, 2018 at 1:38 pm
    After watching the Packers with and without him last year, I’d have to say Aaron Rodgers is the greatest NFL player of all time. He makes a Division III team a playoff contender.
    //////////////////////////

    I agree Rodgers is very good. But DIv III? Even as the Packers are projected ahead of the Minnesota Pretenders? Where does that put the Vikings, a team that is utterly futile and perennially fails, year after year after year? You think Cousins is the difference-maker?

    Let’s get serious for a second: Are you just joking, or is it you simply can’t control yourself from picking fights? You do the latter a lot. No joke.
    _________

    I was engaging in hyperbole. You know, like when you say the Packers are the team to beat in the NFC North and there’s no debate about it. Oh wait, you were serious?

  37. That’s better than Montana. 🙂 Every single one of Montana’s 4 Super Bowls was with a defense ranked in the top 8 in the league in scoring.
    =====

    Sounds about right.

    Montana had to dethrone Landrys Cowboys.

    Belichicks defenses almost retired him… TWICE

    He had the historic Bears defense to contend with.

    And some guy named Gibbs… he got to 4 Super Bowls.

    … yep. Montana only got to 4. Because he had REAL competition in his way.

  38. Rob Brzezinski is a Magician says:
    May 29, 2018 at 6:16 pm
    I was engaging in hyperbole. You know, like when you say the Packers are the team to beat in the NFC North and there’s no debate about it. Oh wait, you were serious?
    /////////////////////////////////

    Aren’t they? If they weren’t, the Vikings would’ve been satisfied with Pro-Bowl caliber play from their quarterback position three years in a row. Instead, they decided to fix something that wasn’t broken………because they aren’t going to benefit from Aaron resting for a year.

  39. 1. Jerry Rice
    2. Joe Montana – never threw a pick in a SB and never lost one.
    3. Tom Brady.
    4. Whoever you want to put here…

  40. who is the GOAT pizza salesman and used equipment salesman?
    ======

    The guy that beat the Patriots in the Super Bowl twice?

    With teams that had no business winning?

  41. aarons444 says:
    May 29, 2018 at 6:16 pm
    That’s better than Montana. 🙂 Every single one of Montana’s 4 Super Bowls was with a defense ranked in the top 8 in the league in scoring.
    =====

    Sounds about right.

    Montana had to dethrone Landrys Cowboys.

    Belichicks defenses almost retired him… TWICE

    He had the historic Bears defense to contend with.

    And some guy named Gibbs… he got to 4 Super Bowls.

    … yep. Montana only got to 4. Because he had REAL competition in his way.
    —————————-
    My point was…. Brady has still taken below average defenses to Super Bowls as I said. Montana never did. Montana’s Super Bowl winning Niners defense was never ranked lower than top 8.

    The point about playoff competition is countered by the fact that every single team Brady and the Pats have beaten in a Super Bowl other than the Panthers (who were roided up anyway) is far superior to the AFC tomato cans that faced Montana’s Niners. All of them were great to historically great. The AFC was much worse relative to the NFC compared to today. The AFC has won 4 of 6 Super Bowls, they had a long stretch in the 80s and 90s where they didn’t win any.

  42. aarons444 says:
    May 29, 2018 at 6:49 pm
    who is the GOAT pizza salesman and used equipment salesman?
    ======

    The guy that beat the Patriots in the Super Bowl twice?

    With teams that had no business winning?
    ————
    We all know wins are mainly a team accomplishment more than a QB accomplishment.

    Funny how for certain QBs people forget that the same is true for losses.

    🙂

  43. I don’t ned Simms nor Florio to tell me Tom Brady is the GOAT and it is not even close.

  44. Goat can’t be that good if he can’t figure out how to get paid after 18 years.

  45. joshgordonsbong says:

    May 29, 2018 at 2:05 pm

    muffedpunts says:
    May 29, 2018 at 1:30 pm
    bill russell is the best nba player of all time, period.
    lebron and michael are battling for #2

    jim brown is the best nfl player of all time, period.
    rice, lawrence taylor, and brady are battling for #2

    ……………………………………………………………………………

    lmao bill russel!!! dude was out there dunking on 5 foot 10 white dudes playing center…of course he won 10 rings….smdh
    =====================================================

    Players Russell played against:
    Dolph Schayes 6-7
    Jerry Lucas 6-8
    Clyde lovellette 6-9
    Zelmo Beaty 6-9
    Bob Petit 6-9
    Willis reed 6-9
    Walt Bellamy 6-11
    Nate Thurmond 6-11
    Wilt chamberlain 7-1

    These are the best on the list- many HOFers there, but yeah, you go ahead and thin the 6-9 Russell was playing against 5-10 white guys….

    No respect for the history of the game whatsoever.

  46. The point about playoff competition is countered by the fact that every single team Brady and the Pats have beaten in a Super Bowl other than the Panthers (who were roided up anyway) is far superior to the AFC tomato cans that faced Montana’s Niners. All of them were great to historically great.
    =====

    1989 Broncos – #1 defense
    1988 Bengals – #1 offense, Boomer Esiason League MVP
    1984 Dolphins – RECORD SETTING OFFENSE, 2nd team to score 500 points, Marino broke every major single-season passing record
    1981 Bengals – #3 offense, Ken Anderson MVP

    The Pats lost to 2 Giants teams that can be argued as the worst Super Bowl representatives in the history of the game.

  47. How much of Brady’s success is the system he plays in? Montana took the Chiefs to the AFCC, Peyton took the Broncos to the SB so we have definitive proof that their success was more than the system they played in for most of their careers. Brady had an opportunity to prove he was more than a product of the Patriots system by playing for another team but refused. According to the Wickersham article, Brady went to Mr. Kraft and lobbied to keep his job. So unfortunately, Brady’s legacy will never be his own and will forever be tied to Belichick and the Patriots system.

  48. The Pats lost to 2 Giants teams that can be argued as the worst Super Bowl representatives in the history of the game.
    ______________________________________________________________________________________________________

    Not quite. That would go to the Rex Grossman led Chicago Bears in the 2007 Super Bowl.

    Those two Giant teams also went into Green Bay twice and beat the heavily favored Packers. Pats were favored and should have won both games. Giants just got hot at the right time and made historic runs. Nothing to be ashamed of. In fact, having the 5 other SB wins makes Pats fans rest easy.

  49. Not quite. That would go to the Rex Grossman led Chicago Bears in the 2007 Super Bowl.
    ======

    2006 Bears – #2 offense, #3 defense, greatest ST weapon in history

    2007 Giants – 14th offense, 17th defense
    2011 Giants – 9th offense… 25th defense TWENTY FIFTH

    The ’79 Rams deserve mention here… but that was a down year for a team with an exceptional D that made the Playoffs 8 years in a row, and multiple Title Games.

    The Giants were flat out aberrations. Terribly average, any way you look at it.

  50. Rex Grossmman’s QB rating was 73.9 in 2006. Barely cracked 3000 yrds, with 23 TDs and 20 INTs.#joke

  51. Goats don’t cheat,,,,,,you hear me******* Tommy??????**********************************************************

  52. I can only list player I saw in my era since the 80s. Apologies to legends in the past. The Mt. Rushmore players I enjoy watching the most in no repeated position and in no particular order:

    Barry Sanders
    Lawrence Taylor
    Jerry Rice
    Tom Brady

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