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Experts List the Top 5 New York Rivals and the Greatest Giants Players of All Time

The New York Giants are one of the NFL’s oldest teams, having joined the league in 1925. Big Blue ranks third as the NFL’s all-time winningest team. They have won eight NFL championships, four pre-Super Bowl era titles, and four Super Bowls. Throughout the decades, the Giants had some integral players help them in their success. That being said, let’s take a look at the best NY Giants Players of all time. 

Throughout the long legacy of the NY Giants, the team gained iconic status through memorable players like Frank Gifford and legendary coach Vince Lombardi. The Giants’ resilience and adaptability have seen them transition from New York to San Francisco and back again, achieving more Super Bowl victories and maintaining a loyal fan base that cherishes their rich football heritage.

Other icons such as Lawrence Taylor, with his unparalleled defensive prowess and game-changing plays, epitomize the franchise’s rich history. Additionally, Eli Manning’s clutch performances, including two Super Bowl MVP awards, have solidified his status as a beloved figure, embodying the resilience and determination that define the New York Giants’ storied persona as a team.

Among the many talented athletes who have donned the red, white, and blue, who are the greatest? StudyFinds did the research, consulting 10 expert sports and fan websites to find the best Giants players of all time who have played a huge role in all of their accolades. If we didn’t list your favorite player of all time, please, share with us in the comments section below!

brown and black Wilson football
Wilson football (Photo by Dave Adamson on Unsplash)

1. Lawrence Taylor

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New York Giants

When researching the best NFL New York Giants players, the number one name that kept coming up was Lawrence Taylor. “Lawrence is considered by many to be the greatest defender to ever play in the NFL. He is one of only two defensive players to win an NFL MVP award, and he won Defensive Player of the Year on three occasions. He won two Super Bowls with Big Blue and L.T. is known as the ultimate Giants player,” says BolaVIP.

"He really has no weaknesses."

– Then-@Giants LB coach Bill Belichick on Lawrence Taylor (1984) @LT_56 pic.twitter.com/5CzAw6XSDC

— NFL Legacy (@NFLLegacy) July 11, 2019

You can’t deny these facts; As a rookie, Lawrence recorded a career-high 133 tackles, 9.5 sacks, eight passes defended, two forced fumbles, a fumble recovery, and an interception. “Taylor is probably the best linebacker and perhaps the best all-around defensive player in the history of the NFL. He finished with 132.5 sacks and was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1998,” shares The Grueling Truth.  

Like others on this list, Lawrence was a member of the Big Blue Wrecking Crew. “Lawrence Taylor spent his entire career with the Giants, and in the process became one of the greatest linebackers of, not only his generation, but one of the greatest football players of all time. From the early ‘80s to the early ‘90s, Taylor dominated the field with his explosive brand of play,” shares The Sportster.

2. Michael Strahan

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Locked On Giants (New York)

Strahan is widely regarded as one of the best players of the 2000s, most likely because he led the league in sacks twice in that decade. “Love him or hate him, Michael Strahan managed to go from nothing special to one of the all-time greats for the New York Giants. Spending his whole career with the team, Strahan helped The Giants pick up a Super Bowl win back in 2008 against Tom Brady and the Patriots,” shares The Sportster.

Strahan was named the NFL Defensive Player of the Year in 2001, and he only continued to shine from there. “He helped the Giants beat the undefeated New England Patriots in Super Bowl XLII. The Giants sacked Brady five times in the greatest upset in football history, with Strahan claiming one sack. Since retiring as a Super Bowl champion, Strahan has kept himself busy as a football analyst on FOX Sports,” informs Yardbarker.

After retiring in 2006, Strahan had a string of successful hosting gigs like “Good Morning America,” but he’ll probably never become as popular as a TV personality as when he was dominating on the football field. “Strahan is the Giants All-Time leader in sacks, was defensive player of the year in 2001 and 2003—setting the single-season record for sacks in ’01 with 22.5—and made the Pro Bowl seven times,” says Bleacher Report.

3. Harry Carson

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New York Giants

Harry Carson was just as important as an influential leader both on and off the field. “Harry Carson was one of the toughest linebackers in Giants history. He played with reckless abandonment and elevated his game when it mattered most. He was a part of the Crunch Bunch and Big Blue Wrecking Crew,” says BolaVIP.

5️⃣3️⃣ days until Giants football with HOFer & Super Bowl Champ Harry Carson! pic.twitter.com/mYBBl7Kzoh

— Talkin’ Giants (@TalkinGiants) July 19, 2023

Harry spent his entire career with The Giants. He was a major factor in the football’s first Super Bowl win. “Harry was such a good linebacker that he actually acted as the team captain for ten years, managing to lead the team in tackles for about five of those years. He had six All-Pro team nods and was selected for nine Pro Bowls. Carson is also considered to be a member of the Big Blue Wrecking Crew, the name for The Giants’ dominant defensive line in the mid to late eighties,” informs The Sportster.

After achieving everything on his impressive resume, Carson was rightfully elected to the Hall of Fame in 2006. “The Hall of Fame linebacker flourished in defensive coordinator Bill Belichick’s 3-4 defense. The longtime Giant went to nine Pro Bowls and was a member of the Big Blue Wrecking Crew defense that dominated the NFL in the ’80s. He helped the Giants win their first Super Bowl in 1986 and then retired two years later,” says Yardbarker.

4. Frank Gifford

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New York Giants

In Frank Gifford’s second season the halfback was named to the Pro Bowl, which would be his first of seven consecutive Pro Bowl selections. “Gifford would get his eighth Pro Bowl honor in 1963. The halfback had his best statistical season 1956, the year the Giants won the NFL Championship where he put up 1422 total scrimmage yards,” informs Rookie Road

Tiki Barber may stand alone with many of the Giants team rushing records, but he does not hold a candle to Frank Gifford. “Gifford was an offensive machine and a triple threat on offense. He could do it all; pass, run, catch, return kicks, and even played some very good defensive back. Speaking to his incredible versatility, he made the Pro Bowl eight times and did so at three different positions—running back, defensive back, and wide receiver (flanker as it was known then),” says Bleacher Report.

After Frank Gifford starred as an All-American at the University of Southern California, the Giants selected him in the first round of the 1952 NFL Draft. “Gifford was an exceptionally versatile player with a wide range of skills (ultimately being selected to the Pro Bowl at three different positions). He began his Giants career in 1952 as a defensive back but was a two-way player the next season. Beginning in 1954, Gifford primarily played running back under offensive coordinator Vince Lombardi, although he also saw some action on special teams in the next several years. Gifford gave credit to Lombardi for everything that he accomplished in football,” explains Sports Illustrated.

5. Mel Hein

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Mel Hein never missed a game. “Mel was such a great offensive lineman that he made the All-Pro team eight times and became the first and only offensive lineman to win the NFL’s League MVP. He was induction into the Hall of Fame in 1963, the first induction class in NFL history,” says The Grueling Truth.

It was normal for players to play on both sides of the ball in the early days of football, and Hein was a center and a linebacker. “In Hein’s career, the Giants made it to seven NFL Championships and won two. Hein mainly got his accolades from 1938 to 1941,” explains Rookie Road.

If there is anyone who could challenge Rosey Brown as the Giant’s best offensive lineman, it’s Hein. “Hein is the first and only offensive lineman to win the MVP award, playing 15 years with the Giants and never missed a single game due to injury. Hein was Chuck Bednarik before there was a Chuck Bednarik; he dominated as the team’s starting center and middle linebacker, often making as many plays on defense as he did opening holes on offense,” states Bleacher Report.

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