10 best NFL players from state of Mississippi all-time
The state of Mississippi has provided the NFL with an abundance of talent. So much so that making a list of the top 10 NFL players from the Magnolia State is virtually an impossible task.
But that won’t stop us from giving it a shot. To make it a bit easier, we’re paring down the list to only those who were born in Mississippi. This list is based on their NFL careers, discarding stellar college performances.
So here goes, a list of the 10 best NFL players who were born in the state; with the city in parenthesis.
1. Jerry Rice (Crawford)
There were a trio of frontrunners to choose from, but Rice’s numbers are hard to beat. The 16th overall pick of the 49ers in the 1985 NFL Draft out of Mississippi Valley State, Rice made 13 Pro Bowls, played in four Super Bowls (winning three), and is the NFL all-time leader in receiving yards (22,895), receptions (1,549), touchdown receptions (197) and total touchdowns (208). He was NFL Rookie of the Year in 1985 and inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2010.
2. Walter Payton (Columbia)
Sweetness had 16,726 career rushing yards, second in NFL history to the 18,355 put up by former Florida Gator Emmitt Smith. The Jackson State product was the fourth pick overall by the Chicago Bears in the 1975 draft. Payton played 13 seasons with the Bears, winning one Super Bowl (1985) and earning nine Pro Bowl invites. He was first-team All-Pro six times and the NFL’s MVP in 1977. He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1996, the same year the Bears retired his number (34).
3. Brett Favre (Kiln)
The only player to win three consecutive NFL MVP Awards (1995-97), Favre guided the Packers to back-to-back Super Bowls and earned 11 Pro Bowl nods over his illustrious career. Following a stellar career at Southern Miss, which included a win over Alabama, Favre’s 71,838 passing yards are surpassed in NFL history only by former Tennessee great Peyton Manning (71,940). Favre holds the all-time record with 6,300 pass completions and is second to Manning (539) with 508 passing touchdowns. He is also third all-time in wins (199). He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2016.
4. Jackie Slater (Jackson)
The Jackson State standout, a college teammate of Payton’s, Slater played 259 games on the offensive line for the NFL’s Rams (1976-95). A third-round draft pick by the team he played 20 years for, Slater made seven Pro Bowl appearances, was a first-team All-Pro three times and NFC Lineman of the Year four times. He was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2001.
5. Lem Barney (Gulfport)
A seven-time All-Pro, Barney was selected in the second round by the Detroit Lions in the 1967 draft. With 27 interceptions over his career at Jackson State, Barney went on to become one of the most feared defensive backs in pro football. In 2004, the Lions retired jersey No. 20, which was worn by Lions legends Barney, Billy Sims and Barry Sanders. Barney was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1992.
6. Frank “Bruiser” Kinard (Jackson)
A standout tackle and All-American at Ole Miss in 1936, Kinard was a third-round draft pick of the NFL’s Brooklyn Dodgers in 1938. He played seven seasons with the former NFL franchise and was a five-time Pro Bowl selection. He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1971.
7. L.C. Greenwood (Canton)
A 10th-round draft pick of the Pittsburgh Steelers in 1969, Greenwood became a key member of the Steel Curtain defense which won four Super Bowls in the 1970s. The University of Arkansas-Pine Bluff product was a six-time Pro Bowl pick and finalist for the Pro Football Hall of Fame in both 2005 and 2006, but was not elected.
8. Charlie Conerly (Clarksdale)
One of the greatest quarterbacks to play at Ole Miss, Conerly threw for 19,488 yards and 173 touchdowns over 14 NFL seasons. He was drafted in the 13th round by the Washington Redskins of the 1945 draft but played his entire career with the New York Giants. A two-time Pro Bowl pick, Conerly played in four NFL Championship Games, including a 47-7 victory over the Bears in the 1956 title game in which he threw for two touchdowns.
9. Steve McNair (Mount Olive)
After accounting for more than 16,000 yards during his playing days at Alcorn State, Air McNair went on to throw for 31,304 yards and 174 touchdowns over a 13-year pro career. The Co-NFL MVP in 2003, McNair was named to three Pro Bowls and led the Tennessee Titans to a Super Bowl; injuries forced his retirement after the 2007 season.
10. Archie Manning (Drew)
No Mississippi football all-time list is complete without the name Archie Manning. While playing for a pitiful New Orleans Saints team, which selected him in the first round of the 1971 NFL Draft, Manning endured 11 seasons (1971-82) with the franchise before finishing his pro career with two-year stints at Houston (1982-83) and Minnesota (1983-84). He made the Pro Bowl twice and was the NFC Offensive Player of the Year in 1978. The Ole Miss legend threw for 23,911 yards and 125 touchdowns in his pro career.
Wesley Walls, Willie Brown, Wilbert Montgomery, Harold Jackson, Hugh Green, Eric Moulds, Tim Bowens, Jimmy Patton, Kent Hull, Sammy Winder and Deuce McAllister.
Not born there, but played in Mississippi
Eli Manning, Gene Hickerson, Patrick Willis.