The first official football game was played in New Jersey in 1869, a collegiate matchup between Princeton and Rutgers. But for years, football has been viewed as a sport of the South.

From the passionate high school football scene in Alabama to the fervently supported SEC conference at the college level, fans just seem to care a little more about their favorite teams around the Bible Belt.

But do Southern cities actually produce more NFL players than others around the U.S.?

PointAfter combed its NFL Players database, which dates back to the dawn of the NFL, to identify the cities that have produced the most professional footballers in league history.

The results showed there are 27 cities where at least 100 NFL players have been born.

Spoiler alert: 5 of them are Southern municipalities (more if you consider Texas and Florida part of the South, a blasphemous stance that we don’t share).

Key Takeaways: Cities With the Most NFL Players

  • Southern Dominance: While football is often associated with the South, the data reveals a nationwide distribution of cities producing NFL players.
  • Top Producer: Los Angeles, CA, emerges as the top city, debunking the myth that the South dominates in producing professional footballers, with a staggering 471 NFL players.
  • Notable Contributions: Cities like Chicago, IL, and Houston, TX, also make significant contributions, highlighting the diverse geographic backgrounds of NFL talent.
  • Surprising Insights: The list includes cities from across the United States, demonstrating that talent in football spans beyond regional affiliations, with cities in the Midwest, Northeast, and West Coast all contributing notable numbers of players.

Note: The NFL Players database was built from data obtained from Sportradar. Of the 25,556 player listings in the database, 24,442 have birth city affiliations that we used for this article.

#27. Minneapolis, MN

Number of NFL players: 100

Famous retired natives: Dominique Byrd, Mike Arthur

Notable active players: Larry Fitzgerald, Terrell Suggs, James Laurinaitis

#26. Baltimore, MD

Number of NFL players: 108

Famous retired natives: Calvin Hill, Antonio Freeman

Notable active players: Tavon Austin, Kyle Fuller

#25. Jacksonville, FL

Number of NFL players: 112

Famous retired natives: Laveranues Coles, Harold Carmichael

Notable active players: Rashean Mathis, Josh McCown, Cliff Avril

#24. Brooklyn, NY

Number of NFL players: 113

Famous retired natives: Randy Cross, Lyle Alzado

Notable active players: Dunta Robinson, Andrew Quarless

#23. Omaha, NE

Number of NFL players: 118

Famous retired natives: Ahman Green, David Vobora

Notable active players: Dan Carpenter, Niles Paul

#22. Columbus, OH

Number of NFL players: 122

Famous retired natives: Brady Quinn, Terry Glenn, Gregory Bell

Notable active players: Lance Moore, Isaiah Pead, Jeff Cumberland

#21. San Francisco, CA

Number of NFL players: 125

Famous retired natives: Tedy Bruschi, Dan Fouts, Jordan Gross

Notable active players: Desmond Bishop, Lamarr Houston, Shayne Skov

#20. Birmingham, AL

Number of NFL players: 135

Famous retired natives: Cornelius Bennett, Andre Tippett

Notable active players: Evan Mathis, Marcell Dareus, Karlos Dansby

#19. Memphis, TN

Number of NFL players: 136

Famous retired natives: Claude Humphrey, John Bramlett

Notable active players: Michael Oher, Barrett Jones, Morgan Burnett, Dontari Poe

#18. San Diego, CA

Number of NFL players: 146

Famous retired natives: Marcus Allen, Junior Seau, Terrell Davis

Notable active players: Tony Romo, Nick Novak, Ryan Lindley, Jairus Byrd

#17. Atlanta, GA

Number of NFL players: 150

Famous retired natives: Ken Whisenhunt, Jamal Lewis, Jon Stinchcomb

Notable active players: Cam Newton, Robert Mathis, Bruce Irvin

#16. Milwaukee, WI

Number of NFL players: 152

Famous retired natives: LaDainian Tomlinson, Richard Seymour, Bart Scott, Derrick Mason

Notable active players: Colin Kaepernick, DeAndre Levy, Lance Kendricks

#15. Baton Rouge, LA

Number of NFL players: 160

Famous retired natives: Vince Young, David Carr, Brian Dawkins, Warrick Dunn, Keith Brooking

Notable active players: Stephen Gostkowski, Jeremy Hill, Eric Reid, Phil Dawson

#14. New York, NY

Number of NFL players: 165

Famous retired natives: Vinny Testaverde, Doug Marrone

Notable active players: D’Brickashaw Ferguson, Tarell Brown, Mike DeVito

#13. Washington, DC

Number of NFL players: 172

Famous retired natives: Shawne Merriman, Brian Westbrook, Byron Leftwich

Notable active players: Andrew Luck, Vernon Davis, Vontae Davis

#12. St. Louis, MO

Number of NFL players: 176

Famous retired natives: Lawyer Milloy, Dan Connolly, Bryan Cox

Notable active players: Sheldon Richardson, Adrian Clayborn

#11. Cincinnati, OH

Number of NFL players: 176

Famous retired natives: Don Hasselbeck, Rocky Boiman

Notable active players: Luke Keuchly, Carlos Hyde, Brent Celek

#10. Philadelphia, PA

Number of NFL players: 186

Famous retired natives: Marvin Harrison, Eddie George, Rich Gannon, Mike Mayock

Notable active players: Brent Grimes, Chris Culliver, Jahri Evans

#9. Pittsburgh, PA

Number of NFL players: 201

Famous retired natives: Dan Marino, Bill Cowher, Johnny Unitas

Notable active players: Sean Lee, Aaron Donald, Matt Schaub

#8. Cleveland, OH

Number of NFL players: 204

Famous retired natives: Archie Manning, Desmond Howard

Notable active players: Travis Kelce, Aqib Talib, Jason Kelce

#7. New Orleans, LA

Number of NFL players: 216

Famous retired natives: Reggie Wayne, Marshall Faulk, Kordell Stewart

Notable active players: Peyton Manning, Eli Manning, Mike Wallace, Odell Beckham Jr.

#6. Dallas, TX

Number of NFL players: 251

Famous retired natives: Jimmy Johnson, Tim Brown, Willis McGahee

Notable active players: Jared Allen, Von Miller, Terrance Williams

#5. Detroit, MI

Number of NFL players: 257

Famous retired natives: Jerome Bettis, Larry Foote

Notable active players: Antonio Gates, Allen Robinson, Calvin Pace

#4. Miami, FL

Number of NFL players: 275

Famous retired natives: Santana Moss, Brian Griese, Sean Taylor

Notable active players: Teddy Bridgewater, Frank Gore, Amari Cooper, Elvis Dumervil

#3. Houston, TX

Number of NFL players: 304

Famous retired natives: Randy Moss, Michael Strahan, Mike Singletary

Notable active players: Martellus Bennett, Josh Gordon, Brian Orakpo

#2. Chicago, IL

Number of NFL players: 465

Famous retired natives: Dick Butkus, Shannon Sharpe, Simeon Rice

Notable active players: Charles Tillman, Jason Avant

#1. Los Angeles, CA

Number of NFL players: 471

Famous retired natives: Warren Moon, Keyshawn Johnson, Lance Briggs, Mark Brunell

Notable active players: DeSean Jackson, Jordan Cameron, Vontaze Burfict, Tyron Smith

Wrapping Up

While the heart of football might beat strongest in the South, the journey to the NFL crosses state lines, from the sunny fields of California to the historic grounds of Pennsylvania.

The cities producing the most NFL players reflect a rich tapestry of American football culture, underscoring the sport’s nationwide appeal and talent pool.

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