30 greatest NFL defensive players of all-time

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Dec 22, 2014; Cincinnati, OH, USA; ESPN broadcaster and former Baltimore Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis on the sidelines at Paul Brown Stadium. The Bengals won 37-28. Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

Defensive players are the harbingers of pain in the NFL. Here is a list of the greatest NFL defensive players to ever play the game.

The NFL has the prestige of hosting one of the most violent sports in the world. Although the game has it’s beauty with the aerial attack and the grace of the ball carriers, the heart of the NFL is in the bone-crushing hits and fearsome power that it’s players deliver to one another week in and week out. Most of those punishing hits are delivered by the designated stoppers of the NFL: the defensive players.

Defensive players have the time-honored tradition of inflicting pain upon offensive players for the sole purpose of preventing the other team from scoring. These are the players that teams lean on during the cold winters of the NFL playoffs to stop other franchises from winning the NFL title that every player sweats and bleeds for every year. They say that offensive wins games, but it is the defense and it’s players that win championships.

There are warriors on the defensive side of the ball that have struck fear into many offensive players who want nothing more than to avoid them completely. It is imperative that the best players on defense receive recognition for the havoc and agony they inflicted upon other players.

The main parameters of this list are based on longevity and impact on their specific era of football. They can be active (which none coincidently were) or retired, inducted into the NFL Hall of Fame or not, but their greatness cannot be denied. Here are the greatest defensive players to ever play in the NFL.

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