The NFL was originally founded in 1920, with 10 teams spanning over four states, it was then known as APFA, The American Professional Football Association. Before this, any professional playing was done on a regional level and rarely crossed state lines, but with the formation of the NFL, over the years the sports' reach grew national. Now with 32 teams covering 24 states, the NFL is the United States of America's most popular sport with huge TV viewership and multi-million dollar sponsorship deals, making it a multi-billion dollar organization. With each NFL team allowed to have 53 players on its roster, including an additional five-player practice squad, the number of players in the league is around 1,696. Here is a list of the top 10 players with the most appearances in the NFL. For accurate predictions, check out the NFL expert picks.
10. John Carney – Placekicker – 302 appearances
With his career starting as an undrafted free agent for the Cincinnati Bengals in 1987, his career spanned 8 NFL teams, and he is being the third-oldest player to ever play in a game at the age of 46. He is also only one of two players to ever play across four decades.
9. Jerry Rice – Wide receiver – 303 appearances
Widely received as one of the greatest wide receivers in NFL history, Rice’s career began with the San Francisco 49ers in their 1985 draft. Rice is still a career leader in many of the NFL's statistical categories, such as receptions, touchdown receptions, and receiving yards. To this day he holds the title of the highest points scored by a non-kicking player, at 1,256.
8. Phil Dawson – Placekicker- 305 appearances
Dawson played for the Cleveland Browns between 1999-2012, and holds the record for most field goals made. Dawson moved to play for the 49ers in 2013, and retired in 2019 with his original team. The impressive career of Dawson is still highlighted by the “Phil Dawson Rule” following a missed call by referees. Not to mention, “the Dawson Bar” is characterized by hitting the same post twice during a kickoff.
7. Tom Brady – Quarterback- 306 appearances
Another impressionable figure within the NFL is Tom Brady, widely considered one of the greatest quarterbacks in history. With ten Super Bowl appearances and 664 touchdown passes, Brady has been recognized as the oldest NFL MVP in 2017.
6. Jason Hanson- Placekicker – 327 appearances
Holding the NFL record for most seasons played with one team, Jason Hanson spent his 21-year career playing for the Detroit Lions. His loyalty and commitment to the Lions have made him a firm favorite within the franchise.
5. George Blanda – Quarterback, Placekicker – 340 appearances
Playing 26 seasons and scoring more points than anyone in the history of American football at the time of his retirement is George Blanda. Amazingly, Blanda was one of two players to play in four different decades by the time he retired in 1976.
4. Jeff Feagles – 352 appearances
With a career that spanned 22 seasons, Feagles never missed a game, which to this day is an unmatched record. Initially being taken on by the New England Patriots in 1988 as an undrafted free agent, he also played for the Philadelphia Eagles, Arizona Cardinals, Seattle Seahawks, and New York Giants.
3. Gary Anderson – 353 appearances
As the very first South African to play in a regular-season game, he remains the record holder for the Stealers all-time scorer at 1,343 points. For the year 1998 while with the Pittsburgh Stealers, he maintained a 100% successful field goal percentage.
2. Adam Vinatieri – Placekicker- 365 appearances
Having 14 seasons with the Colts under his belt, Vinatieri has the most Super Bowl wins by a kicker. The retired Placekicker holds the record for most field goals made and most postseason points.
1. Morten Andersen -Placekicker- 382 appearances
Finally, Morten Andersen is a Danish-born retired placekicker who holds the NFL record for regular-season games played. Apart from that, Andersen is also the Saints’ all-time leading scorer with 1,318 points. With a place in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, Andersen performed exceptionally well during his football career.
To summarize, the NFL is truly a star-studded event that holds a dear place in all of our hearts. The role it plays in society today is enormous, and the players above all deserve to be recognized for their national efforts.