Who is the Greatest NFL Player of All Time?

Jersey number 80 of Jerry Rice (49ers)


Jersey number 80 of Jerry Rice (49ers)

Brandon Renaud, Staff Writer

For many years, sports fans from all over the world have had their own opinions and perspectives on who is the greatest football player of all time. Some might argue Tom Brady is the greatest of all time, some could say Lawrence Taylor is the greatest ever, or some could even claim Jim Brown is the greatest of all time. Quite honestly, every NFL legend has their own unique stories and style of play that millions of sports fans could see as the greatest ever. 

For instance, let’s take a look at Tom Brady’s illustrious NFL career. For the past twenty-two years, Tom Brady has won seven Super Bowls and has accumulated over 70,000 passing yards and over 600 touchdown passes. Brady also ties the NFL record with the most pro bowls selections by any player in NFL history. In addition, he has the most wins by a starting quarterback and the most playoff wins in NFL history which goes to show how dominant he was both in the regular and postseason. However, just because you are first in nearly every category does not necessarily mean you are the greatest of all time. Don’t get me wrong, what Tom Brady has accumulated in his NFL career is jaw-dropping, but there are a few other NFL legends who set the bar before Brady arrived in the NFL.

Before there was Tom Brady, Jim Brown, a legendary running back for the Cleveland Browns possessed a rare style of power, speed, stamina, and balance. He won three MVPs and led the NFL eight times in rushing yards which was insane considering he played in the 1950s. Also, Brown had eight first-team all-pro selections and he averaged 100 rushing yards per game which were inhuman considering the 1950s were an era of defense rather than offense. With that being said, considering Jim Brown was able to produce stellar numbers and accolades in the 1950s, many fans considered him to be the greatest NFL player of all time. As a matter of fact, not only did fans regard him as the greatest ever but one of the most iconic pioneers the NFL has produced. Even though Jim Brown hung up his cleats decades ago, the impact and legacy he spread across the sports world will never be forgotten and he still is in the conversation for the greatest ever to play the game. 

After Jim Brown left football, there was one freakishly athletic, and dominant player that forever changed the way football was played. His name was Lawrence Taylor and he took over the NFL the second he was drafted by the Giants first overall in 1980. Lawrence Taylor, an iconic outside linebacker for the New York Giants, single-handedly took over games and changed the way offensive coordinators and coaches called games. Taylor played in a position where it was difficult to be elite for such a long period of time, and he successfully did that for thirteen years. On top of that, Taylor was the league’s MVP in 1986 when he notched 20.5 sacks, 105 total tackles, two forced fumbles, and five passes defended which was sensational. By the time Lawerence Taylor retired from football, many fans debated if Lawerence Taylor was not only the greatest defensive player ever but the greatest player of all time. 

In spite of everything mentioned above, the greatest football player of all time belongs to the one and only Jerry Rice. During his twenty-year career in the NFL, he ranks first in receiving yards (22,895), receptions (1,549), total touchdowns (208), and career all-purpose yards (23,546). He also has the most points scored than any other non-kicker in NFL history with 1,256 which is phenomenal considering he was a wide receiver. Additionally, Jerry Rice was both elite and consistent for decades because he had 17 seasons with over 1,000 receiving yards and seven consecutive seasons with 10 or more touchdown catches. Jerry Rice not only revolutionized the wide receiver position but he played the game of football it was meant to be.