Football's All-Time Top Ten


ESPN is asking fans to have a crack at it. Unfortunately, fans demonstrate their ignorance of history in their rankings–but I won’t spoil it for you. They give you ten choices and ask you to rank at least five; I ranked all ten. Here are my Top Ten All-Time NFL Players:

1. Jerry Rice
2. Jim Brown
3. Otto Graham
4. Walter Payton
5. Joe Montana
6. Sammy Baugh
7. Barry Sanders
8. Johnny Unitas
9. Don Hutson
10. Lawrence Taylor

Who’d they leave off, football fans? I’m sure somebody is going to say “Emmitt Smith”, but no, he’s probably the next RB in line, but a notch below Brown, Payton, and Sanders. The other player that I might put on this list ahead of one or two of these guys is Reggie White. What think ye?

And in five years, high up on that list will be Peyton Manning, probably at least 5th.


  1. Mark Merritt on February 4, 2010 at 12:21 am

    Agreed with both White and Manning. Also agree that Sanders is better than Emmitt Smith. Of course, the fact that the Cowboys are like the NY Yanks of the NFL never helped my opinion of Mr Smith.

    • Byron on February 4, 2010 at 11:33 am

      Yeah, I’m with you on the Cowboys thing; I have a natural bias against them, but then again, he didn’t make the Top Ten list from ESPN, but three other backs did, evidence that we’re not alone in our thinking vis a vis Emmitt. I’d still rank him as the next back in line, but I’ve always wondered how many yards Sanders would have gained as a Cowboy (and one who didn’t retire in the prime of his career).

  2. Graham on February 5, 2010 at 1:12 pm

    In the top 10 footballers, no space for Pele or David Beckham?

    • Byron on February 6, 2010 at 12:06 am

      You mean that game where you don’t use your hands? We call that “soccer” on this side of the pond…

  3. John on February 7, 2010 at 5:34 pm

    Sanders? Sure, if you want someone to dance around on carpet and lose yards (read, kill drives) two out of every five plays, ten go ahead, rank him up there.

    But, if you want a guy who can pound the yards, get one or two when needed plus break the long ones, I’ll take Smith over Sanders every, single, time.

    Brown and Payton, yeah, they’re the two best at RB, no question in my mind.

    I’d also rank White, and I’d put LT higher on the list than he is on the ESPN list, simply because of the way he changed the game. I could see a couple of other guys from NFL history who belong on that list ahead of a couple on there, I believe. Peyton Manning? Will be the best quarterback ever by the time he’s done.

    Of course, selecting a best football ever is kind of pointless. So much diversity in the various positions with wildly different job duties, unlike basketball or, to a lesser extent, baseball.

    Wow, okay, that’s my Web comment for the first quarter of the year. Now I’m crawling back off under my rock….

    • Byron on February 7, 2010 at 10:13 pm

      Hey, thanks for the input. I know that Sanders had a lot of losing yardage plays; I still say that if he’d been drafted by the Cowboys and Emmitt by the Lions, Sanders would have the all-time rushing record, with more yards than Emmitt, and Emmitt Smith would have had a nice career that may–or may not–have even put him in the Hall of Fame.

Leave a Comment