When the NFL formed in 1920, football already had a strong following in the United States. That popularity allowed young players to earn decent livings while honing their skills. Today, the NFL has a long history of amazing players. These four stand out as some of the best.
Jim Brown is a former NFL fullback recruited by the Cleveland Browns in 1957. Over eight seasons, he won numerous awards and set records that took decades to beat. Everything about the player comes from a athleticism rarely seen in any sport.
Among Brown's accomplishments, he:
- Set a record of scoring 100 touchdowns in just 93 games
- Is the only NFL rusher to average more than 100 years per game
- Was voted into the Pro Bowl every year he played
- Is the only NFL player to score at least four touchdowns in six games
Brown accumulated a remarkable 12,312 rushing yards during his career.
After retiring from the NFL, Brown became an actor and appeared in several famous movies, including "The Dirty Dozen" and "I'm Gonna Git You Sucka."
Jerry Rice joined the San Francisco 49ers in 1985 and continued to play for them until 2000. He played for the Oakland Raiders between 2001 and 2004. He last played with the Seattle Seahawks after a 2004 trade.
Any wide receiver who played for the 49ers, Raiders, and Seahawks has undeniable talent. Rice, however, outshines practically every player in NFL history. In fact, a 2010 television series on the NFL Network named Rice as the top player of all time.
Rice accomplished so much during his career that it's nearly impossible to recall all his feats. He was 1985 All-Rookie and NFC Rookie of the Year. He scored 193 touchdowns and 182 receiving touchdowns during his career. He had four seasons with 100 or more receptions and 11 seasons with 50 or more receptions.
Although no one can definitely name one person as the best player in NFL history, Jerry Rice stands above all but a few players. If he wasn't the best, then it's only because he tied with a few other amazing players.
Image via Flickr by cliff1066
Joe Montana's name is synonymous with football. You can't talk about the greatest players without mentioning the iconic quarterback. Montana stands out because he wasn't particularly large or fast. But he had the right temperament to lead teams to victory, even when successful outcomes looked dire.
Montana wasn't a flashy player. He was a player who concentrated on his job and got things done. There's no other way to explain how he managed to complete 83 out of 122 passes during his four Super Bowl appearances.
Montana started his career in 1979 as a round three draft pick for the 49ers. He retired in 1994 after playing with the Kansas City Chiefs for two seasons.
Walter Payton was born in Columbia, Mississippi, in 1953. After attending college, he was drafted by the Chicago Bears in 1975. He stayed with the team until his retirement in 1987.
During his dozen years as an NFL running back, Payton set numerous records that younger players have yet to break. Some of his most noteworthy, unbroken records include:
- Most consecutive regular season starts by a running back
- Most consecutive seasons with more rushing attempts than anyone in the NFL
- Most career touchdown passes by a non-quarterback
Payton played 190 regular season games, during which he accumulated 16,726 rushing yards and scored 100 rushing touchdowns.
Future Stars of the NFL
The NFL is the most popular sports organization in the United States, so it will probably exist for another century or more. Some of today's players may end up as some of the top talent in NFL history. Fans can keep up with their favorite players by checking resources like DocSports.com college basketball picks. In all likelihood, there is a young player who will one day get mentioned on lists like this one.
Do you agree that the players on this list represent the best talent in NFL history? Which young players do you think people will read about a century from now?