Joe Montana or Johnny Unitas. The Namath thing is a joke.
I hate the Cardinals. I hate the Cubs.
Let's. Go. Reds.
"Per Aspera Ad Astra"
The Biggest NFL Star Ever almost by definition has to be a quarterback. QB has been the glamour position for at least the last 50 years. I don't necessarily believe that Johnny Unitas, Joe Montana, Bret Favre and Peyton Manning are the four greatest QBs of all time, but they may be the four most famous quarterbacks of the last half century. It's probably "pick 'em" between those four for the title of Biggest NFL Star...if not ever, at least in the last fifty years. I'm not sure where to rate players such as Red Grange or Sammy Baugh, who played while pro football was not nearly as big a sport as it is now, and without all of the media we have today.
"Hey...Dad. Wanna Have A Catch?" Kevin Costner in "Field Of Dreams."
I think the most interesting thing about this discussion/argument is that the list is so varied. What that tells me is that the NFL's desire to put the "shield" over the individual players works and that the game of football really requires 53 men to win. If we were to ask the same question about basketball we would have a very short list and baseball's list would be pretty short too. Football's seems to be pretty lenghty.
Variatio delectat - Cicero
Namath was the perfect player for the perfect era in television. His endorsements were legendary. The white shoes, shaving his fu manchu, wearing the pantyhose..... seems silly and insignificant now but were big stories back in the day. He was Broadway Joe, the spokesperson for the sexual revolution and the Playboy lifestyle.
His prediction of victory in Super Bowl III was legendary. Lying poolside in Miami Beach and calmly guaranteeing the win while the media didn't give the Jets a ghost of a chance was the essence of "cool".
Plenty of players were better, but no player ever had the social impact that Broadway Joe had, IMO. Maybe OJ because he was a black man accepted by the whole world in his endorsement deals was more socially significant, but I'll still give the nod to Namath.
"Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover."
~ Mark Twain
Player: "Broadway" Joe Namath
Overall: Vince Lombardi
(I typed this before reading any of the other posts.)
Akili Smith...no wait, Kijana Carter...no, David Klingler
What if this is as good as it gets?
William "The Refrigerator" Perry was about as big a star as one could get in the mid '80s. Dude guested on the A-Team, had his own GI Joe:
For a year or two, I can't really think of anyone who he shared the NFL stage with. He had it pretty much all to himself and was everywhere.