Here at the Take No Prisoners Sports Blog factory, we take pride at being as non-biased as we can be. Let’s face it! We are sports writers. We analyze, make an assessment then put it in writing.

The NFL Network recently submitted its list of the top 100 greatest NFL players. It made a big buzz all around the sports world. It also stirred some controversy. So in tribute to the NFL players, past and present, Take No Prisoners has put together a list of the top 10 players of all time, according to the opinion’s of TNP!

1.  JIM BROWN- Drafted by the Cleveland Browns in 1957 and played until 1965, Brown made the Pro Bowl from 1957-1965 where he earned MVP honors three times. He was an All Pro nine times and NFL league MVP three times. He retired as both the NFL’s career (12,312 yards) and  single season rusher (1,863 in 1963), as well as all-time leader in all-purpose yards (15,549), rushing touchdowns (106), and total touchdowns. One might ask how great this guy was. I’ll give you some perspective….the late great Walter Payton, who started his career in 1975, surpassed Brown’s career rushing in 1984. The twist is, the NFL didn’t start 16 regular season games until 1978 (13 years after his retirement), and the first four years of his career the league played 12 regular season games, while the later part of his career they played 14 games. Plus, Brown played only three-quarters most of the time. Add up all of his stats and productivity with the fact that he left the game at the prime age of 30 and Brown is my clear-cut choice as the greatest NFL player of all time. Can you imagine if he played as long as Emmitt Smith, the current career leading rusher? BANANAS!!!

2.  JERRY RICE- Rice’s body of work speaks for itself. He’s the career record holder in just about every single meaningful receiving category known to man. His career numbers are so distant from the rest of the pack, it’s unfathomable to think anyone could ever come near it. Can you name a player who will come close to breaking these numbers….Receptions (1,549), Receiving yards (22,895), Touchdown receptions (197), Yards from scrimmage (23,540), All-purpose yards (23,546), and Total touchdowns (208). I doubt if that player is even born yet.

3. JOE MONTANA- Montana was one of, if not the most poised football players in history. His ability to take command of a game separated him from most of his peers. When you utter the words “comeback” in football, Montana’s name is usually in the discussion. Mr. Clutch is responsible for over 30 fourth quarter comebacks during his illustrious career. His masterful performance against the Dallas Cowboys in the 1982 NFC championship put his career on the map. In that game, Montana’s 49ers  started on its 11 yard line and drove all the way down to the Cowboys’ 6 yard line. Montana rolled right and found tight end Dwight Clark in the back of the end zone. That play would forever be known as “The Catch”. The four-time Super Bowl champion would lead his team to a memorable fourth quarter comeback in Super Bowl XXIII against the Cincinnati Bengals as they would drive 92 yards to victory.

4. JOHNNY UNITAS- When it comes to the quarterback position, Johnny Unitas is one of the NFL’s poster boys. There’s nothing he couldn’t do at QB. Often know as “the Golden Arm”, Unitas was a touchdown machine as he still holds the records for throwing at least one touchdown pass in 47 consecutive games. He engineered an 80 yard drive in overtime during the 1958 NFL championship game where critics considered the game to be the greatest ever.

5. LAWRENCE TAYLOR- Lawrence Taylor changed the culture of how to play defense the way Michael Jordan redefined the way you play the game of basketball. LT created the blueprint on how to attack on defense from stripping the ball to getting around an opponent en-route to the quarterback. He was a quarterback’s nightmare and players and coaches always knew where old #56 was on the field. Taylor hands down was the most dominant force on defense. Taylor is the last defensive player to be NFL MVP in 1986.

6. WALTER PAYTON- Walter Payton was one of the most prolific football players in NFL history. When Payton ran the ball he made defenders pay when they tackled him. He became known as “Sweetness” for his graceful style of running. Payton rushed for 1000 or more yards, 10 of his 12 seasons in the NFL. As a result, he retired as the all-time career leading rusher.

7. DEACON JONES- Hands down the greatest defensive end ever! Deacon Jones had an uncanny ability to get by his opponent and to the quarterback. Jones used a once legal maneuver called a head slap to gain an advantage to rush the passer. He basically was a sack machine and took pride in terrorizing quarterbacks. Jones played in an era where sacks wasn’t a recorded stat in the NFL. If that were the case, the “Secretary of Defense” would probably still be the career sack leader.

8. RONNIE LOTT- If the NFL wanted to ever create a prototype image of the perfect defensive back, Ronnie Lott is your guy! Lott sparked fear to anyone receiver coming across the middle take make a catch. This guy brought the pain every play and you better know his where-a-bouts or you would get more than just your feelings hurt.

9. O.J. SIMPSON- O.J. Simpson was the complete running back. He was the first back to rush for at least 2000 yards in a season and the only back to carry out that feat during a 14 game season. His record 143.1 yards per game in a single season has yet to be broken.

10. GALE SAYERS- Gale Sayers is arguably the greatest kickoff return specialist in league history. Sayers, a running back, stormed out of the gates during his rookie season recording 22 touchdowns (a rookie record), scoring six touchdowns in one game (NFL record), gained 2,272 all-purpose yards (1,374 of those by way of rushing), and collecting “Rookie of the Year” honors. Nicknamed “The Kansas Comet”, because of his speed when he returned kicks, Sayers finished his career averaging 30.56 yard per kickoff return.

Honorary Mention:

BARRY SANDERS- Barry Sanders is probably the most elusive running back ever to run the ball in the NFL. The things Sanders could do on the field was phenomenal. You know you have a great back when he can go full speed, stop at a dime, change directions and gain large amounts of yards in the process. He could easily take a busted play and switch gears to create a positive. His ability to make a tackler miss is reminiscent to a Tim Hardaway crossover in basketball…he’ll make you look stupid!

By Keith Madyun

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