Greatest NFL Players – Jersey #’s: 1-25

Here are what I consider to be the top 100 players in NFL History according to their particular jersey numbers. I’m going to do this in four different posts in groups of 25. I will have a picture of the jersey that I feel is the best player in each group. I know you are bound to take issue with these. That’s fine. Let me know what you think. Here are the first 25:

(Corrections from comments in Red).

.00 Jim Otto – C – 60’s Raiders(Thanks to Rod Heneger)
1 Jim Thorpe – HB – 20’s Bulldogs – (Thanks to James Booth)
2 Charley Trippi – HB – 40’s Cardinals
3 Bronco Nagurski – FB – 30’s Bears
4 Brett Favre – QB – 90’s Packers
5 Paul Hornung – HB – 60’s Packers
6 Kevin Butler – K – 80’s Bears – (Thanks to Ron Milz)
7 John Elway – QB – 90’s Broncos
8 Larry Wilson – SS – 60’s Cardinals
9 Sonny Jurgensen – QB – 60’s Redskins
10 Fran Tarkenton – QB – 70’s Vikings
11 Norm Van Brocklin – QB – 50’s Rams
12 Tom Brady – QB – 00’s Patriots – (Thanks to Jimbo Booth)
13 Dan Marino – QB – 80’s Dolphins
14 Otto Graham – QB – 50’s Browns – (Thanks to Ron Milz)
15 Bart Starr – QB – 60’s Packers
16 Joe Montana – QB – 80’s 49ers
17 Red Badgro – WR – 30’s Giants
18 Peyton Manning – QB – 00’s Colts
19 Johnny Unitas – QB – 60’s Colts
20 Barry Sanders – HB – 80’s Lions
21 Deion Sanders – CB – 90’s Falcons
22 Emmitt Smith – HB – 90’s Cowboys
23 Devin Hester – CB – 00’s Bears
24 Lenny Moore – HB – 60’s Colts
25 Fred Biletnikof – WR – 70’s Raiders

Out of this group I struggled between Johnny U and California Joe. In the end, I had to go with Montana. Not just a great quarterback. Montana was the consummate leader, teammate, and a real live football player.

40 thoughts on “Greatest NFL Players – Jersey #’s: 1-25

  1. Number 8 Troy Aikmen, Number 14 Otto Graham he at least one a championship, Roger Staubach had a much better passer rating and he had just about as many yards with three less years. Johnny U was great but I think that Joe Montana being the best number 16 he has to be the best number 19 also. Talk to you later.

    Like

  2. Are you trying to stir up discord? With typical Cowboy bias…. How could #8 go to a strong safety over a 3-time super bowl quarterback in Troy Aikman? Please. At #12: Even though Bradshaw had more SBs than Roger Staubach, no one, including Terry would say he was the better QB… not a chance. AND BENNY BARNES DID NOT interfere with Swann!! Just to show I’m fair, #21 should go to LaDainian Tomlinson not Deion. Couldn’t find a 30’s era linebacker at #22 or are you throwing Cowboy fans a bone here? AND how come 00 gets no consideration with Jim Otto?

    Like

  3. Ok…I have to agree with you Rod. As a matter of fact Ron, made the same case. I recant – number 12 goes to Roger Staubach. I was going on Championship rings and I shouldn’t have. Staubach was the better player. But if that’s true, then Troy Aikman must stay off the list with the #8 jersey. If Bradshaw was an adequate QB on a great team, then so was Aikman. Aikman was an efficient QB, great with the short pass, great leader. That’s it. He was on a freakin’ allstar team. The whole offensive line should be in the hall and their FB and RB were both unreal. Too put it bluntly, Aikman did a great job handing the ball off to Emmitt. Larry Wilson, on the other hand, was a beast. He was an amazing player on a team that absolutely sucked wind. Wilson basically invented the safety blitz, often leading his team in sacks. Meanwhile, he was a ball hawk par excellence with 52 career interceptions for 800 yards and five touchdowns. One time he picked a ball off while both his hands were in casts. No way does he come off the list.

    As for the #6 jersey selection…it pained me to put Bubby Brister here, but I could not think of another adequate 6 until Ron reminded me of Kevin Butler, the great Georgia Bulldog and Chicago Bear kicker. Thanks Ron.

    As for Ladanian beating our Deion? No way. Maybe by the end of his career. Maybe. Maybe. But for now, we’re gonna go with Prime Time. He was unreal. I’ve never seen the likes of that guy in my life.

    Emmitt Smith is no bone. As I stated earlier. A beast. A greasy, slippery, thunder footed, bowling ball.

    I’ll put Otto in at 00. Much better selection than Ken Burrough, the only alternate at that number.

    Like

  4. This must have been the way it was at the Council of Jerusalem – settling our differences. You have reminded me of the prowess of Larry Wilson and I concede. I do think you underestimate Aikman’s contributions, though. Think about it, he was essentially a player/coach during the horrific Switzer years. I think Deion was a great athlete but the debate will rage about his candidacy for the hall of fame. There will be no question with Tomlinson (in 7 seasons: over 10,000 yds and 100 TDs) and as you state, he has more to accomplish. Let no one despise him for his youth.

    Like

  5. Larry Wilson, as well as Jerry Kramer–and I’m certain you will have him as the all-time #64 if you get that far–is from Idaho. Ya gotta have Larry Wilson over Troy. Gotta go with Ladanian. Even though he plays offense, he probably already has more career tackles than Dion. :-). I have a favorite quote from Sammy Baugh. He was the Redskin qb when they lost to the Bears 73-0 in the NFL championship game. In the locker room after the game, a reporter reminded him that one of his receivers dropped a pass in the end zone on the Redskins’ opening drive. He asked Sammy if the outcome would have been different if the pass would have been caught. Sammy’s answer? “Yeah, it would have been 73-7.”

    Like

  6. What the heck is Deven Hester doing on this list? And at number 23 no less! Except for that glaring mistake, the list seems to be ok.

    Like

  7. Ryan, I appreciate your comments, man. Well thought out. Just wondering…do we know each other? Anyhow, in regard to your latest comment, I can’t see Ronnie Brown making a bigger impact on NFL History than Devin Hester. D-Hess will go down as one of the greatest special team return men of all time. I agree that Ronnie Brown may have some good years in front of him, but most Great RB’s are usually awesome right out of the gate (ie. Adrian Peterson – who will eventually take #28 away from Darrell Green). Brown has just been slightly above average so far and if RB trends hold true, his best years are already behind him.

    Like

  8. Yea I saw it and I pretty much agree. The thing is, its hard to remember who wore what number for every single player. I’m sure there is ones that were over-looking unfortunately.

    Like

  9. Dig around, bro. I’m wanting to compile a list of the best at each number but I need all the help I can get. It’s a challenging exercise because, as you say, it’s generally hard to find out who wore what number.

    Like

  10. James, I am so surprised that you agree with Ron about number #8! I’m shocked…really. I think if you had your way, there would be no non-cowboys on this list.

    I’m pretty sure that Thorpe wore #31.

    Like

  11. No my brother is the one that would put all the Cowboys on this list but I can’t deny a spot to one of the triplets. After reading this list I had problems with a couple spots with one being stated already #8, the other being Devin Hester at #23. So last night I pulled all my resources together and came up blank. I basically came up with only one other player, Ronnie Brown and he has yet to prove himself. I also believe he will get hurt again this year, sorry Dolphin fans. Devin Hester though will go down as one of the best returners ever. If only a couple more running backs would wear #23 opposed to the many running backs that wore #32.

    Like

  12. Hey I agree on the #8 thing. I personally lean toward Steve Young but I see where one can make an argument for Aikman. Also this list without Jim Thorpe WOW! Wasn’t he the first member of the HOF? Dude you got to find a place for him. According to the HOF web site he wore #1, #3,and #21 another site had him wearin #31. I know that Moon, Nagurski, Deon, and Taylor were great players but we are talking JIm Thorpe here. Last Roger Staubach at #12 since when did you start listening to Milz. He is fourth in line the first choice HAS to be Tom Brady. He has more TD’s, more yds passing, more completions, less interceptions, better completion %, and more rings. Two and three being Jim Kelly and Terry Bradshaw.

    Like

  13. James, You’re right. There is no other #23 that would be a legit option over Hester.

    Jimbo, I could see replacing Moon with Thorpe. What web site said he wore #1? I only found #31. I’ll take another look.

    Also, maybe we should think about replacing Staubach with Brady. I’ll look at the stats.

    In regard to #8 – We only have three legit choices – Aikman, Young, and Wilson. I have to stay with Larry Wilson. The guy was unbelievable. As I stated earlier…

    “Aikman was an efficient QB, great with the short pass, great leader. That’s it. He was on an allstar team. The whole offensive line should be in the hall and their FB and RB were both unreal. Too put it bluntly, Aikman did a great job handing the ball off to Emmitt. Larry Wilson, on the other hand, was a beast. He was an amazing player on a Cardinals team that absolutely sucked wind. Wilson basically invented the safety blitz, often leading his team in sacks. Meanwhile, he was a ball hawk par excellence with 52 career interceptions for 800 yards and five touchdowns. One time he picked a ball off while both his hands were in casts. No way does he come off the list.”

    Like

  14. Jimbo, Thanks man! I’ve never seen this list before. That will be helpful. It affirms a lot of things I’ve said already…namely – there is no significant #23 in NFL History besides the recent phenom, Devin Hester.

    Like

  15. As I looked at the stats, I could not deny that Brady beats out Staubach. Given, Staubach lost four years to the Navy before beginning his NFL career. Still, Staubach played 11 seasons and won 2 Superbowls. Brady has played only 8 seasons and has three under his belt, has won the NFL MVP once and the Superbowl MVP twice, is considerably better at completion percentage and the all important TD/INT ratio. Besides all of that, he is better looking than Roger…I mean…not that I would know.

    Like

  16. According to every news cast in the world Tom Brady plays well when number one he sees the film of defenses before each game and number two the reason Tom Brady was not as mobile as Roger Staubach is because Bill Belicheks hand is in Tom Bradys tuckas making him do everything. According to the news without Bill Tom Brady would be a nobody. The other reason Tom Brady should not be above Roger is because roger never whinned about everytime he got hit and he never blamed anybody for a loss but himself. Do i sound bitter if I do its mainly because he beat Peyton all those years.Roger has to stay he had great character.

    Like

  17. Ron

    The reasons that Staubach’s rushing numbers were greater are 1: He was not as accurate as Brady (fact), and he had to run, and 2: He was to scared to stay in the pocket. Tom Brady would put up better numbers than Staubach if he played left handed! You have to realize that great players come from other places than Tennesse or Dallas. Your just jealous Brady isn’t a Cowboy. How can you even bring up character being a Cowboy fan.
    I guess they do have some “CHARACTERS” on the team. Get over it Dude.

    Like

  18. I guess we will use the Christian model to pick the winner 1. Roger is a Christian oh well we dont need any of the other numbers if we are going to use a Christian model. Top that Jimbo and remember God may smite you if you go against one of his.

    Like

  19. Ok I have got to make a comment I guess at #8 (Troy Aikman) the most accurate passer in the post season should’t even have compettiion with a saftey and at number 12 are you kidding me Tom (the cheated my way to 3 super bowls) Bradey. We will see what he does when he doesn’t know what the defense is getting ready to do, Staubach all the way. Pretty soon Sonny is going to have to go back and sit in his chair because Romo is on his way. O yeah I did go there. Just a Cowboy hommer “How Bout them Cowboys”

    Like

  20. Bill (Cowboys Rule) Roberson, you should be ashamed for asserting that Aikman should be chosen over the great Larry Wilson. I’ll listen to your Staubach arguement all day long. I feel you. But Aikman? Be serious. The guy did a fantastic job of handing the ball off to Emmitt. When he finally did have to throw a pass all he had to do was stand flat footed all day long behind one of the best offensive lines to ever be assembled. On any other team, Aikman would have been a tool. Just watch footage of that first year…you remember don’t you?…1989?…the year before Emmitt and the offensive line. I don’t think Aiman made a single play that whole year. He finished 1989 with an 0-11 record as a starter, completing 155 of 293 passes for 1,749 yards, 9 TDs, 18 INTs. Pitiful. That was the Aikman that we would have seen had he been with any other team. In 1990 the Cowboys drafted the great Emmitt Smith and, well, you know the rest of that story.

    Larry Wilson, on the other hand, was the Atlas of the NFL. He hoisted the entire Cardinals franchise on his shoulders and won games for them almost single handedly, without help from any other significant player. Again, the guy once picked off a pass with a cast on each arm!!! Dude?! Wilson was a beast! I’ll give you Emmitt. I’ll give you Moose. But Aikman? Please… You gotta come with something better than that.

    Like

  21. Yes, that is it exactly. Cowboy logic. And although I greatly appreciate your passion for your team, along with you sweet dance moves, I must remind you that we are not honoring Cowboy logic here. Instead we’re seeking out the kind of logic that Plato suggested. Like…actual logic. That said I do agree with Jimbo – Tony Romo’s does serve a sweet rack of ribs, so sweet and greasy that it makes it kinda hard to hold the football for an extra point. You smellin’ what the Tunamelt is cookin’?

    Like

  22. It’s fine to have Tom Brady or Terry Bradshaw or any other number 12 who played–except for Joe Willie Namath, who was extremely talented, but the most over-rated player of all time who is only in the hall of fame because of one game. Roger will be my hero regardless. Remember, the rules were a little different then. The 70’s were a defensive decade, no doubt. The rules were changed to help the passing game after that. Roger was extremely tough and, when he retired, he had the highest quarterback rating of all time. But I can live with Brady, I suppose.
    But I must make another confession. Steve Young is definitely my number 8. He was not only a great passer — I believe he now has the all-time highest passing rating for any retired quarterback, though Peyton Manning should have it when he retires — but I think he could have made the hall of fame as runner if he had chosen to be a running back. An amazing athelete, he probably could have been a star at any position, except maybe offensive left tackle.

    Like

  23. YOUR LIST IS RATHER LACKING, HOWEVER BESIDES THE CONTENT DO YOU REALIZE DEVIN HESTER, WHO WEARS 23 (BUT I AM SURE SOMEONE BETTER HAS WORN IT IN THE PAST), IS NOT A CORNERBACK (CB) AT ALL. HE IS A WIDE RECEIVER AND HE IS NOT EVEN AS GOOD AS SANTANA MOSS OR AMANI TOOMER, SO I DON’T SEE HOW HE IS ON THIS LIST. DON’T PUBLISH FALSE INFORMATION.

    Like

  24. Tom Brady for #12???? That has to be a typographical error, Roger Staubach without question gets the nod for #12.

    Like

  25. I’m sure I will find more, but for now reconsider the great CB for the 49ers Jimmy Johnson at #37 and possibly Rod Woodson for #26 although Herb Adderley was also specatacular.

    Like

  26. The carafe is left hanging naturally, and you must be extra
    careful in securing it for the brewer. While you can find many coffee
    brewers which might be inexpensive, you always get whatever you pay for, since the saying goes.
    You’ll find some good characteristics with the Keurig B40 Elite Brewing System, that assist explain why it can be actually so popular with coffee-drinkers.

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s