Famous NFL players from every state
Football teams at the high school, college, and pro levels will hit the field in a matter of days to begin preparations for the upcoming season. Football is one of America's most territorial sports, evident by the “Friday Night Lights” phenomenon across small Texas towns and Saturday tailgating traditions in the Southeast. Each state, though, has a proud claim to producing some of football's toughest and most talented warriors from California to the Dakotas.
Using information from Pro Football Reference's database of NFL athletes' birthplaces, Stacker lists famous players from every U.S. state. A majority of the selections are All-Pros with an abundance of hardware, including Super Bowl trophies and plaques in the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio. Some may surprise you, as certain NFL stars have become so ingrained in the fabric of a geographical area that many fans forget they had much humbler beginnings (for example, Doug Flutie, who created so many memories in Massachusetts, hails from another eastern state). Other states—such as Florida and Ohio—churned out football stars with such regularity that debates over the most famous inevitably arise. Then, of course, there are a few shoo-ins (could we talk about football in Louisiana without mentioning the Manning family?).
The list includes several Most Valuable Players and some long-forgotten studs. No matter the location, though, football remains a prime export throughout the country. While you may not visit every legendary gridiron locale across the union, this slideshow will take you on a cross-country trip chock-full of football knowledge. Click through to find out who is the most famous NFL star from your state.
You may also like: Best Overwatch players
Alabama: Terrell Owens
- Years active: 1996–2010
- Team(s): San Francisco, Philadelphia, Dallas, Buffalo, Cincinnati
- Alma mater: Chattanooga
Alabama or Auburn heavily recruit most local stars, but six-time Pro Bowler Terrell Owens played his college ball at Chattanooga, a much smaller institution. After flying under the radar in college, Owens truly made his mark in the NFL, amassing 15,934 receiving yards for five teams. Owens, who ruffled some feathers during his career, was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2018 but skipped the ceremony.
Alaska: Mark Schlereth
- Years active: 1989–2000
- Team(s): Washington, Denver
- Alma mater: Idaho
Born and raised in Anchorage, Mark Schlereth toiled to make a name for himself in football. After playing at Idaho—not exactly a magnet for national TV coverage—Schlereth was taken in the 10th round of the 1989 NFL Draft. But over a 12-year career at guard, he regularly helped his team reach the biggest stage of the sport and won three Super Bowls.
Arizona: Randall McDaniel
- Years active: 1988–2001
- Team(s): Minnesota, Tampa Bay
- Alma mater: Arizona State
Randall McDaniel spent most of his life in Arizona, starring in high school and college in the Copper State, before becoming a first-round pick of the Minnesota Vikings. In the Land of 10,000 Lakes, McDaniel made 12 Pro Bowls (nine times he was named First-Team All-Pro). After finishing his career in Tampa Bay, the guard was enshrined in the Hall of Fame.
Arkansas: Cortez Kennedy
- Years active: 1990–2000
- Team(s): Seattle
- Alma mater: Miami (FL)
Wilson, Ark., has less than 1,000 residents, but few are remembered like Cortez Kennedy. An All-American in college, Kennedy was the third overall pick of the 1990 NFL Draft and played his entire career with the Seattle Seahawks. Kennedy, a ferocious defensive tackle, made eight Pro Bowls, was the 1992 Defensive Player of the Year, and was elected to the Hall of Fame in 2012.
California: Tom Brady
- Years active: 2000–Current
- Team(s): New England
- Alma mater: Michigan
Although he will almost always be synonymous with the New England area, Tom Brady originated as a California kid, where he idolized San Francisco 49ers quarterback Joe Montana. Brady has surpassed Montana's achievements on the field, winning six Super Bowls and three MVP awards. In 19 seasons, Brady has thrown for over 70,000 yards and 500 touchdowns, leading many to consider him the GOAT—the greatest of all time.
Colorado: Christian McCaffrey
- Years active: 2017–Current
- Team(s): Carolina
- Alma mater: Stanford
Christian McCaffrey's father Ed won two Super Bowls with the Denver Broncos, making this family's lineage to Colorado quite strong. McCaffrey had a legendary prep career, which landed him at Stanford and eventually the Carolina Panthers, who selected him eighth overall in 2017. In two short NFL seasons, McCaffrey has established himself as one of the game's most dynamic and explosive players—he can run, catch, and even do damage in the return game.
Connecticut: Dwight Freeney
- Years active: 2002–17
- Team(s): Indianapolis, San Diego, Arizona, Atlanta, Detroit, Seattle
- Alma mater: Syracuse
For much of the 2000s, Dwight Freeney was recognized as one of the NFL's top defensive linemen. From the time he entered the league in 2002 through 2010, Freeney recorded 10 or more sacks seven times, and finished with 125.5 for his career. A seven-time Pro Bowler and Super Bowl champion, Freeney, who retired after the 2017 season, has a solid case for Hall of Fame induction.
Delaware: Tim Wilson
- Years active: 1977–84
- Team(s): Houston (Oilers), New Orleans
- Alma mater: Maryland
The First State is not #1 in producing football talent. According to Pro Football Reference, only 35 players throughout NFL history were born in Delaware. Fullback Tim Wilson was one of the longest-tenured players, a starter for much of his career with the Houston Oilers.
Florida: Frank Gore
- Years active: 2005–Current
- Team(s): San Francisco, Indianapolis, Miami
- Alma mater: Miami (FL)
In one of the richest states in terms of football talent, Frank Gore is a Florida guy through and through. Gore stayed in South Florida when he signed to play college ball at Miami, helping the Hurricanes win a national title in 2001. Last year, Gore played for the Miami Dolphins and moved into fourth place on the NFL's career rushing list. With 14,748 yards, Gore, a five-time Pro Bowler, might be headed to Canton after his football days are over.
Georgia: Cam Newton
- Years active: 2011–Current
- Team(s): Carolina
- Alma mater: Auburn
Cam Newton is an Atlanta native, and even though supporters of the city's Falcons might not be so appreciative that the quarterback now plays for the rival Carolina Panthers, quite a few athletes from the Peach State have made a mark in the NFL like Newton. After leading Auburn to a national title, Newton, often nicknamed “Superman,” became the top pick of the 2011 Draft. He has made three Pro Bowls and was named league MVP in 2015.2018 All rights reserved.