Determining the greatest NFL players of all time for each team is no easy task.
Each team has produced countless Pro Bowlers, many All-Pros, and several Hall of Famers during their time in the league, and whittling down teams to just their top four is nearly impossible.
But coming to a decision on teams’ Mount Rushmores is supposed to be difficult.
Read below to see which player from each team made the Mount Rushmore and click the ensuing links to read the full lists for each team.
Larry Fitzgerald is arguably the best player in Cardinals’ history. The 36-year-old wide receiver was drafted No. 3 overall by the franchise in 2004 and has been a powerhouse in Arizona ever since.
After 11 Pro Bowl appearances and several seasons as the league leader in receptions and receiving touchdowns, Fitzgerald is still going strong. Fitzgerald still holds the franchise record in receiving yards (16,279), receptions (1,303), and touchdowns (116).
Matt Ryan, the best quarterback in the history of the franchise, was the No. 3 overall pick in the 2008 NFL Draft. In 2016, Ryan was a first-team All-Pro selection and was awarded the NFL MVP when he threw for 4,944 yards, an NFL record 9.3 passing yards per attempt, 38 touchdowns and a career-low seven interceptions.
Ryan has four Pro Bowls under his belt, and he is the Falcons’ leader in quarterback wins (109), completions (3,630), passing yards (38,568), passing touchdowns (244), and passer rating (93.7). In 2020, Ryan will enter his 13th season under center for the Falcons.
Ray Lewis, who pieced together an incredible career, was the heart and soul of the Ravens’ defense for 17 years. Lewis was a part of both Ravens’ Super Bowl titles, and he was honored as Super Bowl MVP back in 2001.
One of the greatest linebackers in NFL history, Lewis is a two-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year (2000 and 2003), and he’s one of the few players in league history to play in the Pro Bowl in three different decades.
Lewis, who is in the Ravens Ring of Honor, was a 13-time Pro Bowler, seven-time first-team All-Pro, and three-time second-team All-Pro honoree. He was a member of the NFL’s 2000s All-Decade Team and the NFL’s 100th Anniversary All-Time Team.
Bruce Smith was a part of the Marv Levy dream team that saw the Bills reach four Super Bowls. Arguably one of the best defensive ends in NFL history, the Virginia Tech star was selected first overall in the 1985 draft by the Bills.
In his 15 seasons with the Bills, Smith was an 11-time Pro Bowler and had eight First-team All-Pro selections in addition to being named NFL Defensive Player of the Year twice. To this day, he still is the NFL’s all-time sack leader with 200. He became a Hall of Famer in 2009.
It’s hard to believe that NFL’s 2015 MVP, who led his team to the franchise’s second Super Bowl appearance after going 15-1 in the regular season, was released just five years later and took a while to find a new home. Regardless, Cam Newton easily makes the Panthers top four players of all time.
The 2010 Heisman Trophy winner was selected No. 1 overall in the 2011 draft by then-owner Jerry Richardson. In his first professional game, Newton wowed after becoming the first rookie quarterback to throw for over 400 yards in a game. He was named NFL Offensive Player of the Year and was selected for the Pro Bowl that same season. The three-time Pro Bowler made several NFL firsts before constant injuries led to his eventual departure from the Panthers in 2020.
Gale Sayers spent seven NFL seasons with the Bears from 1965 to 1971; however, due to injuries, he only played in five seasons but he made the most of it. Sayers was a five-time first-team All-Pro, four-time Pro Bowler, NFL Rookie of the Year in 1965, and NFL Comeback Player of the Year in 1969. He suffered a left knee injury in 1970, and he dealt with a handful of other injuries that kept him sidelined for the majority of his final two seasons in the league.
Sayers, who led the league in rushing two times, scored 22 touchdowns during his rookie campaign — which was an NFL record at the time — and had 2,272 all-purpose yards. In 1968, he suffered a right knee injury and missed five games, but he came back the following year and led the league in rushing and was named the Comeback Player of the Year.
Sayers, who was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1977, is the youngest player to be enshrined at 34 years old. He was also a member of the 1960s All-Decade Team, and the 50th, 75th, and 100th Anniversary All-Time teams. His No. 40 jersey is retired by the Bears.
Ken Anderson may have been one of the most successful quarterbacks for the Bengals franchise during its history. Cincinnati selected Anderson in the third round of the 1971 draft. He spent 16 seasons with the Bengals and won one MVP award, one All-Pro selection, and was named to the Pro Bowl four times.
Anderson led the league in passing yards twice – in 1974 (2,667 yards) and in 1975 (3,169 yards). He made the playoffs four times during his career as well. He led the Bengals to Super Bowl XVI, where they lost 26-21 to the San Francisco 49ers. It was the furthest the team would get until the 1988 season.
Jim Brown is without a doubt the greatest player in Browns history and is considered as one of the greatest football players of all time
The unanimous All-American out of Syracuse was drafted No. 6 overall by the Browns in 1957. In his nine seasons with Cleveland, he rushed for 12,312 yards and 106 touchdowns and still holds the NFL record for average yards per game at 104.3.
The nine-time Pro Bowler and eight-time First-team All-Pro won one NFL championship title with the Browns in 1964 and was elected in the Hall of Fame in 1971.
Emmitt Smith might be considered the greatest Cowboys player to don the star. Smith didn’t spend his entire career in Dallas but he did the most damage while wearing the silver and blue. He won three Super Bowls and was named to the First-Team All-Pro four times.
Smith led the league in rushing four times and from 1991 to 2001 he rushed for more than 1,000 yards.
He finished his career as the all-time leader in rushing yards with 18,355, breaking Walter Payton’s record. Smith was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2010.
Simply put, Broncos legend John Elway is the greatest quarterback in franchise history. Elway, the No. 1 overall pick in the 1983 NFL Draft, was a nine-time Pro Bowler, three-time All-Pro, and he currently holds Broncos franchise records in completions (4,123), attempts (7,250), passing yards (51,475), passing touchdowns (300), and career victories (148).
Elway was a two-time Super Bowl champion, a Super Bowl MVP, and he is a member of the Broncos Ring of Honor, the NFL’s 1990s All-Decade Team as well as the NFL’s 100th Anniversary All-Time Team. Elway was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2004, which was his first year of eligibility.
Between 1989 and 1998, Barry Sanders was one of the most electrifying running backs on the gridiron. He abruptly retired at the age of 30 possibly spoiling any hopes of continued success at the time. Sanders led the league in rushing yards in 1990 (1,304), 1994 (1,883), 1996 (1,553) and 1997 (2,053). He finished his career with 15,269 rushing yards and 99 rushing touchdowns.
He won the NFL MVP award once, earned 10 Pro Bowl and six First-Team All-Pro selections. He was named the 1989 Offensive Rookie of the Year and the 1994 and 1997 Offensive Player of the Year. Sanders was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2004.
GREEN BAY PACKERS
A list of all-time players could easily be made up of just Green Bay’s quarterbacks and Bart Starr would no doubt top that list.
Starr was drafted No. 200 overall in 1956 during Green Bay’s downward slide from the Lambeau era. He would go on to become one of the greatest quarterbacks in NFL history under Vince Lombardi’s guidance and was only recently surpassed by Tom Brady and his six rings.
Starr led Green Bay to its first and second (consecutive) Super Bowl titles and helped the Packers to win five NFL championships. The four-time Pro Bowler was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1977.
Andre Johnson, the No. 3 pick in the 2003 NFL Draft, is the greatest wide receiver to suit up for the Texans. Now that All-Pro wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins was traded away to the Arizona Cardinals, Johnson’s franchise records should stand for the foreseeable future.
Over his Hall of Fame-worthy career, Johnson was a seven-time Pro Bowler and four-time All-Pro selection. He led the NFL in receptions twice (2006 and 2008), and he also led the league in receiving yards twice (2008 and 2009).
Johnson, the first-ever member of the Texans’ Ring of Honor, has quite a few franchise records under his belt: most career receptions (1,012), receiving yards (13,597), and touchdowns (64). He also has the most receptions (115) and receiving yards (1,598) in a single season.
Peyton Manning is not only the greatest quarterback in Colts history, but he is arguably a top-five player at the position in NFL history as well. Manning, the No. 1 pick in the 1998 NFL Draft, was under center for the Indianapolis Colts for 14 seasons. He led the franchise to eight AFC South titles, two AFC Championships, and one Super Bowl victory.
Manning, a record five-time NFL MVP, was a 14-time Pro Bowler, seven-time first-team All-Pro and three-time second-team All-Pro selection. He led the league in passing yards three times and passing touchdowns four times, was named the NFL Comeback Player of the Year in 2012, and honored as the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year in 2005. He currently holds NFL records for the most passing touchdowns in a single season (55), the most passing yards in a season (5,477), and is tied for the most passing touchdowns in a single game (7).
Manning, who was already inducted into the Colts’ Ring of Honor, was a part of the NFL’s 2000s All-Decade Team and the NFL’s 100th Anniversary All-Time Team. He will undoubtedly become a first-ballot Hall of Famer in 2021.
The Jaguars selected Fred Taylor with the No. 9 pick of the 1998 draft. He spent 11 years in Jacksonville and was among the top running backs in football for quite some time.
In his rookie season, Taylor ran for 1,223 yards on 264 carries. He also scored 14 touchdowns. His dominance would continue throughout his time in Jacksonville. He ran for 11,271 yards with 62 touchdowns over those 11 years. He ran for more than 1,000 yards seven times in his career.
Surprisingly, Taylor only made one Pro Bowl appearance — in 2007. That year, he had 1,202 rushing yards and five touchdowns.
KANSAS CITY CHIEFS
Will Shields is known as one of the best offensive linemen in the history of the NFL. Kansas City selected the future Hall of Famer in the third round of the 1993 draft. He would go on to play in every single game of his career since he made his debut. He only missed one start his whole career.
Shields was a 12-time Pro Bowl guard and a two-time First-Team All-Pro selection. He was named the 2003 Walter Payton Man of the Year and was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2015.
LAS VEGAS RAIDERS
Ken Stabler is arguably one of the best quarterbacks to have worn the Raiders uniform. Drafted in 1968, Stabler became the Raiders’ all-time passing leader for 40 years until his record was broken in 2019 by Derek Carr.
He led the franchise to its first Super Bowl win in 1976 and was named to the Pro Bowl four times.
LOS ANGELES CHARGERS
The Chargers moved down in the 2001 draft and still managed to land franchise-altering running back LaDanian Tomlinson instead of picking Michael Vick. Tomlinson spent nine seasons with the Chargers and racked up the accolades during that time.
Tomlinson led the league in rushing yards in 2006 (1,815) and 2007 (1,474). He also led the league in rushing touchdowns in 2004 (17), 2006 (28), and 2007 (15). Tomlinson’s 28 rushing touchdowns in a single season is the most ever recorded. He just narrowly beat out Shaun Alexander’s 27.
He was named the 2006 Offensive Rookie of the Year, won an MVP award, was named to the Pro Bowl five times and selected to the First-Team All-Pro three times. Tomlinson was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2017.
LOS ANGELES RAMS
Eric Dickerson spent 11 seasons in the NFL, and he is recognized as one of the greatest running backs in league history. Dickerson was a six-time Pro Bowler, five-time first-team All-Pro, the NFL Offensive Player of the Year in 1986, and he led the NFL in rushing yards four times (1983, 1984, 1986 and 1988).
Dickerson holds the NFL record for the most rushing yards in a single season with 2,105, rushing yards in a rookie season with 1,808, as well as rushing yards in a playoff game with 248. He finished with 13,259 rushing yards and 96 total touchdowns in his career.
Dickerson, a member of the 1980’s All-Decade Team, was also a part of the NFL’s 100th Anniversary All-Time Team. He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1999, and his No. 29 jersey is retired by the Rams.
Despite never being able to claim the Lombardi Trophy, Dan Marino is without a doubt the most iconic name in Miami’s history.
Marino takes the cake when it comes to franchise records. He still holds the record for all-time leader in pass completions, passing yards, and most pass touchdowns. He also currently holds the team record for most wins with 147.
A nine-time Pro Bowler and three-time First-team All-Pro, Marino led the league in passing yards with 5,084 and 48 touchdown throws in just his second season, bringing Miami to its final Super Bowl appearance in 1984.
Fran Tarkenton is the best quarterback to come through the Vikings organization. He played 13 seasons with the team in two separate stints. He recorded 33,098 passing yards and 239 touchdown passes and is the team’s all-time passing leader.
Tarkenton was a five-time Pro Bowler and was named the MVP and Offensive Player of the Year in 1975. In his MVP season, he led the league with 25 touchdown passes and recorded 2,994 passing yards.
Tarkenton was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1986.
NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS
John Hannah, a left guard for the Patriots from 1973-1985, is one of the greatest offensive linemen in NFL history. Back in 1999, Sporting News ranked Hannah as the second-best offensive lineman of all-time behind Cincinnati Bengals legend Anthony Munoz.
Hannah, the inaugural induction into the Patriots’ Hall of Fame, was a nine-time Pro Bowler and 10-time All-Pro during his playing career. He was a part of the NFL’s ’70s and ’80s All-Decade Teams, as well as the league’s 75th and 100th Anniversary All-Time Teams.
Inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1991, Hannah has his No. 73 jersey retired by the Patriots.
NEW ORLEANS SAINTS
Drew Brees is clearly the greatest quarterback in Saints history. His accolades with the team are endless but let’s run through them anyway.
He is currently the all-time passing yards leader with 77,416 – 65,068 of which came from his time on the Saints. He is a 12-time Pro Bowl quarterback as a member of the Saints and a one-time First-Team All-Pro selection. He was the 2008 and 2011 Offensive Player of the Year. He has thrown for 5,000 or more passing yards four times and has led the league in passing touchdowns four times.
There’s no other Saints quarterback that really comes close to him statistically. He will forever be the player who changed the franchise from a laughing stock into a dangerous team for years on end.
NEW YORK GIANTS
To the outside observer, Eli Manning probably never made a difference. But to Giants fans, he was probably the most important player to come through in the organization over the last 10 years or so.
The Giants traded for Manning during the 2004 draft and he became the face of the franchise. Manning was the only quarterback in the team’s history to win two Super Bowls, beating the Patriots both times in what seemed like insurmountable odds.
Although he never led the league in any statistical passing category except for interceptions, Manning threw for 57,023 yards and 366 passing touchdowns. He retired ranked seventh in all-time passing yards – better than Fran Tarkenton, John Elway, Joe Montana, Johnny Unitas, Steve Young, Jim Kelly, Troy Aikman, and Y.A. Tittle. He was also ranked seventh in all-time passing touchdowns – higher than each of the aforementioned quarterbacks as well.
Manning is not in the Hall of Fame just yet. He retired after the 2019 season. He was never an All-Pro selection but was a Pro Bowler four times.
NEW YORK JETS
Joe Namath is the most iconic name in Jets history and is responsible for one of the greatest upsets in football, leading the franchise to its only Super Bowl win over the favorited Baltimore Colts in 1969.
Despite a slow start in his rookie season, “Broadway Joe” would go on to be a success in the AFL and eventually the NFL, becoming the first professional quarterback to pass for over 4,000 yards in a single season in 1967. He was named AFL MVP back-to-back years and was selected for the AFL All-Star team four times.
After the merger in 1970, Namath led the NFL in passing yards and touchdowns and was named to the Pro Bowl in 1972. He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1985.
Reggie White was not only one of the best defensive ends in franchise history, he may be the best player at the position in league history. Taken with the No. 4 overall pick in the 1984 Supplemental Draft, White was a two-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year, 13-time Pro Bowler, and 13-time All-Pro selection, which included eight first-team nods.
White, who led the NFL in sacks twice, finished with 198.0 career sacks, which is second all-time behind Bruce Smith’s 200 sacks. During his eight years with the Eagles, White had 124 sacks in 121 games. He was a first-team selection for the ’80s and ’90s All-Decade Teams, as well as the NFL’s 75th and 100th Anniversary All-Time Teams.
Both the Eagles and Green Bay Packers retired White’s No. 92 jersey. He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2006, his first year of eligibility.
Jack Lambert was the starting middle linebacker over an 11-year career with the Steelers. Lambert won four Super Bowl titles with the franchise and, according to the Pro Football Hall of Fame, Lambert was “the greatest linebacker of his era.”
Lambert, the NFL’s Defensive Player of the Year in 1976, was a nine-time Pro Bowler, eight-time All-Pro, six of which were first-team honors, and he was recognized as the Defensive Rookie of the Year when he entered the league in 1974.
Lambert, a Pro Football Hall of Famer in 1990, was also a part of the Steelers’ All-Time Team, as well as the ’70s and ’80s All-Decade Teams, and the NFL’s 75th and 100th Anniversary All-Time Teams. He finished his career with 1,479 tackles, 28 interceptions, and 23.5 sacks in 146 games played.
SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS
The best quarterback to don the Niners gold and red uniform, Joe Montana tops the list of top four players in franchise history. The Notre Dame championship quarterback was drafted in the third round in 1979 by the 49ers, where he would go on to play as a backup for his rookie and most of his second season. Montana was able to bring San Francisco its first Super Bowl win in his first full season as starting QB.
The 49ers won three more rings under Montana, who became the first player to ever earn three Super Bowl MVPs. In his 14 seasons in San Francisco, Montana was selected for the Pro Bowl seven times and was named First-team All-Pro three times. He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2000.
Steve Largent, easily one of the best wide receivers in league history, is the undisputed top Seahawks player of all-time. An All-American out of the University of Tulsa, Largent was a late-round draft pick in 1976. He would go on to have a 14-year career with the Seahawks where he was selected to the Pro Bowl seven times and was named First-team All-Pro in 1985.
When Largent retired in 1989, he held six all-time NFL receiving records and became the first player to ever catch 100 touchdown passes. He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1995.
TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS
Warren Sapp was a bit of an enigma when he played on the Buccaneers. Tampa Bay selected Sapp in the first round of the 1995 draft out of Miami. He played nine years for the Buccaneers as a defensive tackle before moving to the Oakland Raiders. He recorded 77 sacks and 406 tackles during his time in Tampa.
Sapp had most of his success with Tampa Bay. He earned seven Pro Bowl appearances and four All-Pro selections. He was named the 1999 Defensive Player of the Year with 12.5 sacks and four forced fumbles. Sapp was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2013.
Earl Campbell was an electric running back whose career was over too soon. Campbell played about seven seasons for the Oilers before he was traded to the New Orleans Saints and then abruptly retired.
He led the league in rushing for three straight seasons – 1978 to 1980. He rushed for more than 1,000 yards five out of his first six seasons. He was also carrying the ball more than 300 times a season. Campbell was a five-time Pro Bowler and three-time First-Team All-Pro. He was the Offensive Player of the Year three times and won the MVP award in 1979 – his second season in the league.
He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1991.
Darrell Green could be one of the better overall players to come through the Redskins organization. He played in 295 games for Washington during his 20 seasons in the NFL. In that span, he was a seven-time Pro Bowler and an All-Pro once. He was also on two of the Redskins’ Super Bowl teams.
Green finished his career with 54 interceptions, 1,202 combined tackles, and eight total tackles. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2008.