Football teams from Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) have been competing since Dec. 27, 1892, when Johnson C. Smith (then known as Biddle University) defeated Livingston College in Salisbury, North Carolina, 5-0.

Jerry Rice pictured grinning at his teammate at Mississippi Valley State University.

The HBCU schools have a storied history and produced some of the greatest football players ever, many of whom are in the Pro Football Hall of Fame and NFL record books. They come from conferences like the MEAC and SWAC and programs like Grambling, Jackson State, Tennessee State and Florida A&M.

Based on factors such as being enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame or being all-pro and a Pro Bowler, making a team’s Hall of Fame and other research, we bring you the 100 greatest pro players ever produced by HBCU programs:

No. 1. Jerry Rice, Mississippi Valley State

Pos: WR. Years: 1985-2004.

Teams: 49ers, Oakland Raiders, Seahawks.

Arguably the greatest football player in the history of the NFL and the league’s greatest receiver. Three-time Super Bowl champion and Super Bowl and NFL MVP. Holds the NFL record for career receptions (1,549), career receiving yards (22,895), career receiving touchdowns (197). First-team all-pro 10 times.

Jerry Rice won three Super Bowls with the 49ers.

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2. Walter Payton, Jackson State

Pos: RB. Years: 1975-87.

Team: Bears.

Finished as the NFL’s all-time leading rusher with 16,726 (ultimately broken by Emmitt Smith). Had 21,264 rush/pass yards. Hall of Fame. Super Bowl champ.

3. Deacon Jones, South Carolina State, Mississippi Valley State

Pos: DE. Years: 1961-74.

Team: L.A. Rams.

 Hall of Fame. Five-time all-pro.

4. Willie Lanier, Morgan State. 

Pos: LB. Years: 1967-77.

Team: Chiefs.

 Super Bowl champion. Hall of Fame. Had 27 interceptions, 18 fumble recoveries.

5. Buck Buchanan, Grambling

Pos: DT. Years: 1963-75.

Team: Chiefs.

 Super Bowl champion. Hall of Fame. Played in 182 games, including 166 in a row.

6. Mel Blount, Southern

Pos: CB. Years: 1970-83.

Team: Steelers.

Four-time Super Bowl champion. Hall of Famer. Had 57 interceptions, 13 fumble recoveries.

7. Marion Motley, South Carolina State (transferred to Nevada)

Pos: FB. Years: 1946-53 (1955).

Teams: Browns, Steelers (one season).

Hall of Fame. Averaged 5.6 yards rushing; played both ways (LB) when Cleveland was in the All-America Football Conference before joining NFL.

Marion Motley (76) runs against the New York Giants.

8. Willie Davis, Grambling

Pos: DE. Years: 1958-69.

Teams: Browns, Packers.

Five-time NFL champion and two-time Super Bowl champion; 10 seasons with Packers; career 22 fumble recoveries.

9. Willie Brown, Grambling

Pos: CB. Years: 1963-78.

Teams: Broncos, Raiders.

Hall of Fame; 54 interceptions.

10. Ken Houston, Prairie View A&M

Pos: S. Years: 1967-80.

Teams: Houston Oilers. Redskins.

Hall of Fame. Returned nine interceptions for TDs; 49 career picks.

11. Art Shell, Maryland State (now Maryland Eastern Shore)

Pos: OT. Years: 1968-82.

Team: Oakland Raiders (L.A. 1982).

Two-time Super Bowl champion. Hall of Fame. Played 207 games. NFL 1970s all-decade team.

12. Lem Barney, Jackson State.

Pos: CB. Years: 1967-77.

Team: Lions.

Hall of Fame. Also punt-kickoff returner; 56 interceptions, 11 TDs; NFL defensive rookie of the year.

13. Roosevelt Brown, Morgan State

Pos: OT. Years: 1953-65.

Team: Giants.

Hall of Fame. Nine Pro Bowls.

14. Larry Little, Bethune-Cookman

Pos: OG. Years: 1967-80.

Teams: San Diego Chargers, Dolphins.

Two-time Super Bowl champion. Hall of Fame.

15. Leroy Kelly, Morgan State

Pos: RB. Years: 1964-73.

Team: Browns.

Hall of Fame. Combined 12,330 yards; five-time all-NFL. Two NFL rushing titles.

16. Richard Dent, Tennessee State

Pos: DT. Years: 1983-97.

Teams: Bears, 49ers, Indianapolis Colts, Eagles.

Super Bowl champion. Hall of Fame. Four Pro Bowls; 137.5 sacks (third all time when he retired), including 17.5 his second season. Super Bowl champ.

Richard Dent was elected into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2011.

17. Jackie Slater, Jackson State

Pos: OT. Years: 1976-95.

Team: L.A./St. Louis Rams 

Hall of Fame. Played 259 games; seven Pro Bowls; blocked for 24 quarterbacks and 37 running backs.

18. Emmitt Thomas, Bishop

Pos: CB. Years: 1966-78.

Team: Chiefs.

Hall of Fame. 58 interceptions (fifth-best all time when he retired), including 12 in 1974; 937 interception return yards. Longtime NFL assistant.

19. Harry Carson, South Carolina State

Pos: LB. Years: 1976-88.

Team: Giants.

Hall of Fame. Nine Pro Bowls; 14 fumble recoveries; 20 tackles in a 1982 Monday Night Football game versus Green Bay. Super Bowl champ.

20. Robert Brazile, Jackson State

Pos: LB. Years: 1975-84.

Team: Houston Oilers.

Hall of Fame. Seven Pro Bowls, 1970s’ all-decade team.

21. Len Ford, Morgan State (then Michigan)

Pos: DE. Years: 1950-58.

Teams: Browns, Packers (1958).

Hall of Fame. According to the Hall, Cleveland in effect created the first 4-3 defense to take advantage of Ford’s ability to rush the passer.

22. Rayfield Wright, Fort Valley State

Pos: OT. Years: 1967-79.

Team: Cowboys.

Two-time Super Bowl champion. Hall of Fame. Six consecutive Pro Bowls.

23. Michael Strahan, Texas Southern

Pos: DE. Years: 1993-2007.

Team: Giants.

Hall of Fame. Had 141.5 career sacks, including 22.5 in 2001 when he was NFL Defensive Player of the Year.

Michael Strahan was a vital member of the Giants' Super Bowl XLII-winning team.

24. Shannon Sharpe, Savannah State

Pos: TE. Years: 1990-2003.

Teams: Broncos, Baltimore Ravens.

Three-time Super Bowl champion. Hall of Fame. Had 815 receptions for 10,060 yards and 62 TDs. Played in 204 regular-season games.

25. John Stallworth, Alabama A&M

Pos: WR. Years: 1974-87.

Team: Steelers.

 Four-time Super Bowl champion. Hall of Fame. Had 537 catches for 8,723 yards and 63 TDs, all team records at the time of his retirement.

26. Aeneas Williams, Southern

Pos: DB. Years: 1991-2004.

Teams: Arizona Cardinals, St. Louis Rams.

Hall of Fame. Had 55 interceptions; made eight Pro Bowls. NFC Defensive Rookie of the Year. Played mostly CB but also made Pro Bowl once as safety.

27. Bob Hayes, Florida A&M

Pos: WR. Years: 1965-75.

Teams: Cowboys, 49ers (one season).

Super Bowl champion. Hall of Fame. Had 76 TDs, 7,414 yards. Also won gold medal in 100-meter dash at 1964 Tokyo Olympics.

28. Claude Humphrey, Tennessee State

Pos: DE. Years: 1968-81.

Teams: Falcons, Eagles.

Hall of Fame. Had 122 sacks, made six Pro Bowls, played in 171 games.

29. Elvin Bethea, North Carolina A&T

Pos: DE. Years: 1968-83.

Team: Houston Oilers.

Hall of Fame. Eight Pro Bowls. Played in 210 games.

30. Donnie Shell, South Carolina State

Pos: DB. Years: 1974-87.

Team: Steelers.

Four-time Super Bowl champion. Had 51 interceptions, 19 fumble recoveries; played 201 games. Five Pro Bowls.

31. Charlie Joiner, Grambling

Pos: WR. Years: 1969-86.

Teams: Houston Oilers, Bengals, San Diego Chargers.

Hall of Fame. Had 750 catches, 12,416 yards, 65 TDs, 20 100-yard receiving games. At the time of his retirement his 18 seasons were longer than any other receiver in history.

32. L.C. Greenwood, Arkansas-Pine Bluff

Pos: DE. Years: 1969-81.

Team: Steelers.

Four-time Super Bowl champion. Six-time Pro Bowler; 170 games.

33. Lemar Parrish, Lincoln (Mo.) 

Pos: CB. Years: 1970-82.

Teams: Bengals, Redskins, Bills.

Eight-time Pro Bowler and three-time first-team all-pro. Had 47 interceptions, 176 games.

34. Ed “Too Tall” Jones, Tennessee State

Pos: DE. Years: 1974-89.

Team: Cowboys.

Super Bowl champion; stood 6-9; played in 224 games. Three-time Pro Bowler.

Standing at 6-foot-9, Ed "Too Tall" Jones was a menacing presence on the Cowboys' "Doomsday Defense."

35. Ben Coates, Livingstone

Pos: TE. Years: 1991-2000.

Teams: Patriots, Ravens (one season).

Super Bowl champion. Had 499 receptions for 5,555 yards and 50 TDs.

36. Ken Riley, Florida A&M

Pos: DB. Years: 1969-83.

Team: Bengals.

Had 65 interceptions in 207 games, including eight in his final season with two TDs.

37. Everson Walls, Grambling

Pos: DB. Years: 1981-93.

Teams: Cowboys, Giants, Browns.

Super Bowl champion. Had 57 interceptions (133 of them with Cowboys). Made four Pro Bowls, including rookie season when he had 11 interceptions.

38. Raymond Chester, Morgan State

Pos: TE. Years: 1970-81.

Teams: Oakland Raiders, Baltimore Colts.

Four Pro Bowls. Super Bowl champion. Had 364 catches for 5,013 yards and 48 TDs (37 with Raiders).

39. Steve McNair, Alcorn State

Pos: QB. Years: 1995-2007.

Teams: Houston Oilers, Titans, Ravens.

 NFL MVP in 2003. Threw for 31,304 yards and 174 TDs (156 with Oilers/Titans).

Steve McNair was a threat in the pocket and on the run.

40. Otis Taylor, Prairie View A&M

Pos: WR. Years: 1965-75.

Team: Chiefs.

Three-time first-team all-pro, Super Bowl champion. Had 410 catches for 7,306 yards and 57 TDs.

41. Winston Hill, Texas Southern

Pos: OL. Years: 1963-77.

Teams: Jets., L.A. Rams (one season).

Super  Bowl champ. Three-time All-AFL, four-time Pro Bowl. In 1970 selected to the all-time AFL team. Read the rest of the list.