Football Legends

Who doesn’t love the rush and sheer intensity of professional football? We could say it’s one of America’s greatest team sports. Though it takes teamwork to make it to the Big Game, there are those individuals that stand out and really drive their team to a win. Here’s our list of some of the greatest NFL players and be sure to catch every touchdown from every game Sunday afternoons with NFL RedZone from the NFL Network.

Johnny Unitas – Quarterback
Colts, Chargers, 1956-1973

If there is one moment that sums up Johnny Unitas’ career as one of THE best NFL players of all time it would have to be the 1958 NFL title game known as “The Greatest Game Ever Played.” With two minutes left and the Giants leading 17-14, the Colts go for a last-ditch drive bringing the contest into overtime on a short field goal and claim the title for Baltimore.

Jim Brown – Running Back
Cleveland Browns, 1957 – 1965

For nine seasons, Brown dominated the field rushing 12,312 yards and boasted 106 touchdowns. With this stellar track record, it was certainly a surprise when Brown decided to retire at the age of 30 during the height of his career. But having served as the record holder for just about every rushing mark out there at the time, one has to wonder if he had nothing left to prove.

Dick Butkus – Linebacker
Bears, 1965-1973

With a hyper-focused goal to play every game like it was his last, Dick Butkus was a force to be reckoned with on the ground as the ringleader of the Monsters of the Midway. Butkus could bring the speed and agility necessary to tackle any opponent in his path.

Walter Payton – Running Back
Bears, 1975-1987

Affectionately nicknamed Sweetness, Walter Payton was best known for his durability as he went on to destroy the NFL record book for rushing in his time. In his 13-season career, Payton put 16,726 rushing yards and 110 total touchdowns under his belt.

Joe Montana – Quarterback
49ers, Chiefs, 1979-1994

Known as Joe Cool—given his calm demeanor—Joe Montana became the expert in late-game comebacks with 31 fourth quarter come-from-behind wins. But of all his career highlights including being named All-NFL three times, most will remember “The Catch” during the 1982 NFC Championship Games against the Dallas Cowboys.

Lawrence Taylor – Linebacker
Giants, 1981-1993

To say Lawrence Taylor is a force to be reckoned with would have to be an understatement. With an astounding rookie season at 122 tackles, 9.5 (132.5 overall) sacks and 8 passes defensed, Taylor was a literal defensive weapon.

John Elway – Quarterback
Broncos, 1983 – 1998

What could be said about John Elway? How about that he is the only player in NFL history to pass for more than 3,000 yards and rush more than 200 yards in the same season not once but seven times back-to-back! In the beginning of his 16-year career, Elway managed to use his cannon arm to carry the Broncos to two consecutive Big Game wins in ’87 and ’88.

Reggie White – Defensive Lineman
Eagles, Packers, Panthers, 1985-1998

With a nickname like “Minister of Defense,” Reggie White completely dominated the field. Opposing right tackles were no match for this left defensive end as White barreled upfield, taking down any and all lineman in his path only to make way for the quarterback. In fact, White retired from the NFL as the all-time sack leader with 198.

Jerry Rice – Wide Receiver
49ers, Raiders, Seahawks, 1985 - 2004

Some may call Jerry Rice the best wide receiver of all time. With perhaps the best season stretch of any wide receiver in 1986 that included 86 caught passes for a league-leading 1,570 yards how could you argue? Rice has also played more games than any other wide receiver with 20 seasons under his belt. Career milestones include 1,549 receptions, 208 touchdowns and 22,895 receiving yards to name a few.

Brett Favre – Quarterback
Falcons, Packers, Jets, Vikings 1991-2010

Although he took a few snaps for the Falcons, Favre’s career really took off with the Green Bay Packers. Known as The Gunslinger, Favre racked up a slew of titles including MVP three consecutive seasons (a record no other player holds).

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Reprinted from with permission. © 2017 Ziff Davis, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

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