15 NFL Players Who Should Have Their Numbers Retired

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15 NFL Players Who Should Have Their Numbers Retired


Outside of getting inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, the highest honor for an NFL player may be having their number retired by the team that they spent the majority of their career with.

Teams may have different criteria when it comes to making the decision to retire a player’s number, but there are a few general things to look at when considering a player for such a high honor.

The first thing to consider is how long a player played for a team. Ideally, teams would like to honor players who played their whole career with one team, but in this era of free agency it is hard for a player to stay with one team. So, as long as a player plays a strong majority of their seasons with one team they should be considered.

The second thing to consider is championships and numbers. Some players could have average numbers with a bunch of championships, while others could have put up great numbers while playing for a bad football team. Players who have both are no brainers, but sometimes a player puts up such good numbers that it is hard to ignore their contributions even if they may have never won anything during their career.

There are a lot of extremely talented players currently playing in the NFL, but which current players have played well enough and long enough to deserve consideration for having their number retired by their teams?

Here is a look at 15 current or recently retired NFL players who should have their number retired by their teams.

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Tom Brady #12 – New England Patriots

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Tom Brady is a no-brainer to have his number retired by the Patriots when he retires.

In his 13-year NFL career, Brady has thrown for over 43,000 yards and 324 touchdowns and has won three Super Bowls and five AFC Championships. He has also won two MVP awards and been selected to three All-Pro teams.

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Tony Gonzalez #88 – Kansas City Chiefs


Tony Gonzalez has put up the best numbers ever for a tight end over his 16-year NFL career, the majority of which he spent with the Chiefs.

Gonzalez has caught 1,218 passes for over 14,000 yards and 101 touchdowns in his career. He is also a nine time All-Pro and a member of the NFL’s 2000s All-Decade Team. He has never won a playoff game in his career, but he is perhaps the best tight end in NFL history.

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Ray Lewis #52 – Baltimore Ravens


Ray Lewis has been the heart and soul of the Ravens defense for his entire 17-year NFL career.

Lewis has one Super Bowl ring and has been selected as an All-Pro 10 times and has twice been selected as NFL Defensive Player of the Year. He is also the only player in NFL history to have over 40 career sacks and 30 career interceptions.

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Peyton Manning #18 – Indianapolis Colts


Peyton Manning may play for the Denver Broncos now, but he built his legacy with the Colts.

In his 15-year NFL career, Manning has thrown for over 58,000 yards and 425 touchdowns. Despite the big numbers, Manning has only won one Super Bowl, but he is a four time MVP and holds the Colts franchise record in every meaningful passing stat.

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Drew Brees #9 – New Orleans Saints

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Drew Brees may not have been drafted by the Saints, but he may be the most important player in the franchises history.

Brees led the Saints to their only Super Bowl championship and has been selected to four All-Pro teams. He has thrown for over 44,000 passing yards and 312 touchdowns. He also holds the single season passing yards record (5,476) and holds the record for most consecutive games with a passing touchdown (54).

On top of being a great player on the field, Brees has been just as good off the field in post Katrina New Orleans.

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Adrian Peterson #28 – Minnesota Vikings

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Adrian Peterson is only in his sixth season, but he has already become the best running back in Vikings history.

Peterson has run for 7,988 yards and 71 touchdowns and will surely eclipse the 10,000 yard mark by the end of his career. He was selected to the All-Pro team in four of his first five years and won the rushing title in 2008.

His return this year from a devastating knee injury has been nothing short of miraculous and is the main reason the Vikings are in the playoff hunt.

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Brian Urlacher #54 – Chicago Bears


The Bears have a proud history on the defensive side of the ball, and Brian Urlacher has been the leader of their defense for most of his 13-year career.

Urlacher is the Bears career tackle leader and also holds the Bears record for most tackles in a season. He is a five time All-Pro selection and a member of the NFL 2000s All-Decade Team.

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LaDainian Tomlinson #21 – San Diego Chargers


In his 11-year NFL career, nine of which he spent with the Chargers, LaDanian Tomlinson had one of the best careers of any running back ever.

His 13,684 rushing yards is fifth best in NFL history and his 145 career rushing touchdowns are the second best all time. He was also a six time All-Pro selection, won the NFL MVP in 2006 and was a two time rushing leader.

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Champ Bailey #24 – Denver Broncos

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Throughout his NFL career, Champ Bailey has been one of the premier shutdown cornerbacks in the league.

Bailey has 51 career interceptions and has been selected to the All-Pro team six times throughout his career. Bailey is also a member of the Broncos 50th Anniversary Team and is a member of the NFL 2000s All-Decade Team.

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Ed Reed #20 – Baltimore Ravens


For years Ed Reed has been the best playmaker on the defensive side of the ball in the NFL.

Reed revolutionized the way the safety position is played. He has 60 career interceptions, seven of which he has returned for a touchdown, and is an eight time All-Pro selection.

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Reggie Wayne #87 – Indianapolis Colts


Reggie Wayne was a free agent this past offseason and decided to stay with the Colts even though they were going to draft a rookie quarterback and were going through a total roster reconstruction.

Wayne has 946 career catches and 12,813 yards and 76 touchdowns. He also is a three time All-Pro selection and has a Super Bowl ring.

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Ben Roethlisberger #7 – Pittsburgh Steelers


At 28,866 passing yards, Ben Roethlisberger is the Pittsburgh Steelers career passing yards leader. He has also taken the Steelers to three Super Bowls and won two. I would not be surprised if he wins at least one more before he retires.

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Ronde Barber #20 – Tampa Bay Buccaneers


Ronde Barber has played his entire 16-year career with the Buccaneers and was one of the best defensive backs of the past decade.

Barber has stuck with the Bucs through the good times and some really bad times, but he has one Super Bowl ring to show for it. He was the first defensive back in NFL history to record 20 interception and 20 sacks for a career and he is the active leader in defensive touchdowns scored with 12.

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Eli Manning #10 – New York Giants

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Eli Manning might be the most ridiculed two time Super Bowl winning quarterback in NFL history.

Through his nine-year career, Manning has racked up over 30,000 passing yards and has thrown 200 touchdowns to become the Giants all-time leader in that category. He was also voted the MVP in both of his Super Bowl wins.

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Andre Johnson #80 – Houston Texans


Andre Johnson has been with the Texans for 10 of the franchises 11 years of existence.

Not only has he been the best player in franchise history, but he has been one heck of a wide receiver as well. His 10,714 receiving yards and 55 touchdowns have been good enough to earn Johnson four All-Pro selections and now that the Texans are good he has a chance to win a Super Bowl ring.