I personally don’t think a WR can be considered the best ever simply because I think there is a dependence on the quarterback that can not be ignored even for the great Jerry Rice. Rice would have been a great player regardless, but he wouldn’t have been a legendary player if he was drafted by the Lions (Calvin Johnson just shut down his laptop after reading that).
Any time you have a Top 100 anything, no one is going to totally agree that is what make them interesting to debate. I think this particular list is pretty faulty, appears to be more of a popularity contest that who were actually the best players. I could point our several glaring errors (Brett Favre better than John Elway…Ed Reed better than Michael Irvin…Joe Namath being on the list at all), but I’ll save that for twitter.
For the record my top 5 players of all time:
1- Jim Brown
2- Joe Montana
3- Lawrence Taylor
4- Jerry Rice
5- Otto Graham
You can check out the Top 100 as rated by the NFL Network below:
Notes: Arguably the best receiver ever, Rice owns nearly every major receiving record, including most catches (1,549), receiving yards (22,895) and TD catches (197). Rice has at least 400 more catches than any other receiver.
Notes: The hard-nosed Brown was a star from day one, and when he surprisingly retired after nine years, he had rewritten the record books. Arguably the best runner ever, Brown remains the only rusher to average over 100 YPG.
Notes: Taylor was a playmaking linebacker who dominated opponents. He changed the game with his attacking style. In 1986, Taylor had 20.5 sacks and was named NFL MVP, the first defender to earn the award since 1971.
Notes: Montana turned the 49ers into the team of the ‘80s as he led them to four Super Bowl titles. He was MVP in three of those wins. He directed 31 fourth-quarter comeback wins, including the winning drive in Super Bowl XXIII.
Notes: The NFL MVP in 1977 and 1985, Payton was an NFL superstar. He ran for more than 1,000 yards 10 times, including a high of 1,852 yards in 1977, and by the time of his retirement, “Sweetness” had smashed the record books.
Notes: With 40,239 yards and 290 TDs, Unitas was the NFL’s most prolific passer at the time of his retirement. But numbers tell only part of the story. His leadership and poise are what really make him one of the all-time greats.
Notes: The “Minister of Defense” had 198 sacks (still No. 2 all-time) in 15 NFL seasons. After posting 124 sacks in 121 games with the Eagles, he signed with Green Bay in 1993 and soon helped the Packers win a Super Bowl.
Notes: Blessed with a strong arm, intelligence, determination and leadership, Manning has been compared to the NFL’s greats. He has smashed the record books, with more marks destined to fall. He has started 192 straight games.
Notes: The NFL’s first great pass catcher, Hutson’s numbers far exceeded those of his peers. He led the league in receiving eight times in his 11 seasons, and his 99 career TD catches stood 44 years as a league record.
Notes: A ferocious tackler, Lott anchored the 49ers’ first four Super Bowl teams and he finished his career with 63 INTs, adding an NFL-record nine more in the playoffs. Lott made 10 Pro Bowls at three positions (CB FS, SS).
Notes: Munoz was a fixture at left tackle for the Bengals for 13 seasons, beginning with his rookie campaign. His 11 Pro Bowls (all consecutive) were the most by an NFL player at the time of Munoz’s retirement (1992).
Notes: The leader of the “Steel Curtain” defense of the 1970s, Greene was a disruptive force who dominated foes. He had strength and determination, and twice he was named the NFL Defensive Player of the Year (1972, 1974).
Notes: An accurate thrower, Baugh’s passing ability helped change the game. He won a record six NFL passing titles, while also setting marks as a punter and defensive back. He led the NFL in passing, punting and INTs in 1943.
Notes: Jones came out of almost nowhere and blossomed into a dominating pass rusher at defensive end. Jones missed just five games in 14 NFL campaigns and was selected to play in eight Pro Bowls, including seven in a row.
Notes: One of the most electrifying runners until his surprise retirement after 10 seasons, Sanders smashed the record books despite being the Lions’ only real weapon. He was the first player to have five 1,500-yard seasons.
Notes: Lewis is an intimidating linebacker with the ability to change a game with his aggressive play. Twice he was named NFL Defensive Player of the Year (2000, 2003) and he also took home MVP honors for Super Bowl XXXV.
Notes: The legendary Nagurski’s reputation as a bulldozing runner, fierce blocker, and rugged linebacker survives 80 years after he made his NFL debut. A charter member of the Hall of Fame, he helped the Bears win three titles.
Notes: The first player to be named MVP three straight years, Favre is the all-time leader in almost every passing category, including yards (69,329) and TDs (497). He broke Jim Marshall’s mark for consecutive starts at any position.
Notes: Brady ranks among the best in the NFL ever, having assaulted the record books in his 10 years in the league en route to leading the Pats to three Super Bowl wins in four years and a perfect 2007 regular season.
Notes: The Hall’s youngest inductee (34), the “Kansas Comet” burned out far too early due to injury. A dynamic runner and kick returner, Sayers danced through defenders for 9,435 combined net yards in just 68 games.
Notes: Elway’s cannon arm and football savvy produced 51,475 passing yards and a remarkable 47 fourth-quarter comebacks. He capped his 16-year career by leading the Broncos to back-to-back Super Bowl victories.
Notes: Hannah was a top guard in the NFL, earning Pro Bowl status nine times. A fierce blocker, he was the anchor of a talented front line that paved the way for the Pats to pile up a then-record 3,165 yards rushing in 1978.
Notes: The Dolphins got the steal of the 1983 draft when Marino surprisingly fell to them at No. 27. By the time he retired following the 1999 season, the prolific Marino had put his name atop nearly every NFL passing record.
Notes: Dallas’ first-ever draft pick and first Hall of Famer, Lilly started out at defensive end but moved to tackle later with impressive results. He was dominant as a pass rusher and run defender, using his quickness to create havoc.
Notes: Olsen anchored the Rams’ “Fearsome Foursome” from his defensive tackle position. He made the Pro Bowl as a rookie in 1962…and every season after that through 1975 for a record 14 all-star nods in a row.
Notes: The all-time rushing leader (18,355), Smith was the heart and soul of Dallas’ 1990s championship teams. In 1993, he was MVP of both the season and Super Bowl XXVIII. He ran for 1,000 yards in a record 11 straight years.
Notes: Lambert was a vicious tackler who was recognized as the premier linebacker of his era. He started in the middle as a rookie and remained there. He led Pittsburgh in tackles every season except his last.
Notes: The NFL’s sack leader (200) despite constant double-teaming, Smith terrorized offenses with his speed and strength. He was Defensive Player of the Year in ’90 and ’96, and had 10-plus sacks in an NFL-record 13 years.
Notes: The first full-time offensive lineman inducted into the Hall, Parker had been a two-way tackle in college but settled in on the offensive side in the pros. He wound up playing half of his career at tackle and half at guard.
Notes: The first successful T-formation quarterback in NFL history, Luckman led the Bears to four championships, including one in his MVP season of 1943. Luckman still owns most of the Bears passing records.
Notes: Sanders was arguably the most feared corner of his era, using his speed and glue-like cover skills to shut down receivers. A return specialist and occasional receiver, Sanders scored 22 TDs, including nine off his 53 INTs.
Notes: The No. 1 pick in 1949, Bednarik started at both center and linebacker. But while he was a two-way player for a large part of his career, it was his fierce linebacker play that turned heads. He missed just three games in 14 years.
Notes: A longshot to make the Colts, Berry tirelessly practiced running precise routes. It worked, as Berry and Johnny Unitas became one of the all-time best pitch-and-catch duos. He had a then-record 631 catches in 13 years.
Notes: Thorpe excelled at every sport he played, and already was the most famous athlete in America when he began playing pro football in 1915. Five years later, he was named the fledgling NFL’s president.